Thailand is a republic country located in the center of mainland Southeast Asia. The country consists of diverse ecosystems, including hilly forested areas in the northern frontier, fertile rice fields in the central plains, the broad plateau in the northeast, and the rugged coasts along the narrow southern peninsula. An interesting fact about the country is that until the 20th century, its primary occupation was agricultural. Later, in the 1960s due to an increase in population and wanting to utilise rich resources, people moved to its capital, Bangkok, and to other cities. Bangkok is a metropolitan city and an urban center in the country but there are also other sizable cities, such as Chiang Mai in the north, Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat), Khon Kaen, and Udon Thani in the northeast, Pattaya in the southeast, and Hat Yai in the far south. Therefore, the target market of Thailand for digital marketing practices reaches the people within the country as well as Cambodia and neighbouring provinces due to the movement and settlement of the people of Thai origins there.

Ethnic groups, languages spoken and religion of Thailand

More than 97% of the population in Thailand, have settled in the neighbouring provinces and have indirect influence on the native land.1 Other minor communities are speakers of Mon, Khmer, and other Mon-Khmer languages of the Austroasiatic family. In the uplands of western and northern Thailand, you will find people who speak languages belonging to several other language families. Thailand is also home to a large number of immigrants and their descendants, mostly from China but some from South Asia. Most of the languages spoken in Thailand belong to one of the four major language families: Tai (a subfamily of Tai-Kadai languages), Mon-Khmer (a subfamily of Austroasiatic languages), Austronesian, and Sino-Tibetan. In addition, English is widely used in Thailand for commercial and many official purposes. However, the official language is Thai. In Thailand, more than 94.6% are followers of Buddhism who have settled in Thailand from Sri Lanka. This religion is also seen in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and parts of southern China and southern Vietnam.1 In every settlement in Thailand, there is at least one temple-monastery (wat) where a huge number of monks can be found wearing yellow robes. The rest of the religions comprise of Muslims and Christians. Therefore, our target audience for marketing is mostly Buddhists and the business language of communication is English.

Demography and Settlement Patterns

The country’s age groups are mainly divided into teens (16.9%), youths (21.4%), middle-age adults (23.7%), followed by those up to the age of 60.1 As there is a mix of audiences from all ages, different marketing strategies must be formulated to target the various age groups. The dominant settlement of the country is still in rural areas. Though there are areas of urban development, people tend to settle in rural areas. Still, there is a huge market penetration and reach in the densely populated cities and well-known metropolis like Bangkok, Thonburi, Samut Prakan, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Hat Yai, Surat Thani, and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Digital Occupancy

Out of the total population of 61.71 million, 93.39 million have mobile phone connections and internet access, and 52 million are active internet and social media users.2 On average, people spend 9 hours online, 3 hours using social media apps, 3.5 hours watching television, 1.5 hours listening to music on live streaming services, and 2 hours playing games daily.2 Currently, there is a 75% internet penetration and social media penetration in the country.2 By 2023, the internet connection is estimated to rise to 82%.2 Therefore, there is a massive influence of digital marketing in Thailand and we can expect to obtain significant reach, see the spread of brand awareness, and procure potential clients. Hence, potential mediums of marketing penetration are through ads on television, social media promotions, showcasing banner ads on music apps, and display and banner advertisements on gaming apps and platforms.

Mobile Marketing

There are 50.18 million existing mobile internet users in the country which adds up to 97% of online mobile users, 95% of smartphone online users, and 4.1% of other regular mobile phones.2 On average, an estimated 5 hours is spent by an individual online daily on mobile phones.2 Additionally, 88% of the smartphone users play games online, 46% on PCs, 28% on tablets, and 18% on games consoles.2 Therefore, mobile marketing initiatives not only help in B2B connections but can also penetrate into the gaming platform through display ads, pop-up ads, and more.

Mobile Marketing Penetration

Thailand has around 93.39 million mobile users of which all use 3G and 5G connections. Out of the total mobile connections, 95% use chat apps, 97% have social networking apps on their mobile, and 89% use video or entertainment apps.2 67% use games apps, 58% use e-commerce and shopping apps for online purchases, and 65% of the population use music apps.2 In addition, 72% have map apps and 65% have banking apps on their smartphones.2 Digital marketing practices on these platforms are used by the majority of people in the country as most of them are engaged online. Hence, pop-up ads, banner ads, and display ads on these platforms help in the spread of brand awareness throughout the country.

Digital Innovations

Other than mobile marketing, the Thais use the latest digital innovations like voice search (47%), have a monthly TV subscription (54%), and own a smart home device (3.7%). Year on year, there is 43% more usage or adoption of smart home devices, and on average, this sector has made US$400,000 in 2019.2 As the use of digital innovations is increasing every year, there is a lot of opportunities for businesses to reach and advertise on digital platforms in the form of banner ads, display ads and normal advertisements on online TV subscription, pop-up ads on voice search platforms, and banner ads and pop-up ads on smart home devices. These practices help in the spread of brand awareness and provide good click through rates (CTRs).

Social Media Marketing

Out of the total population, nearly 75% or 52 million are active social media users. 25 to 34 year-olds are major users, followed by 18 to 24 year-olds and 35 to 44 year-olds.2 In addition, on average, the age group of 16 to 64 year-olds engage approximately 3 hours on social apps daily.2 Also, there is a 4.7% increase in social media penetration every year.2 The top social apps are Facebook, used by 94% of the active social media users.2 On par with Facebook, the next top app used is YouTube where 94% of the online video is watched by active users.2 Besides these two channels, LINE app holds 85% of the total social occupancy.2 Another popular social app is Facebook Messenger which engages 76% of users.2 Apart from the above four top social apps, Twitter is used by about 55% of active social users.2 Therefore, social media should be used to target consumers in the age groups of 25 to 34 years, followed by 35 to 44, and 18 to 24. One should strategise plans for penetrating, marketing, and campaigning on the top four social media platforms in the order of ranking – Facebook, YouTube, LINE, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and Instagram – which can help to reach a wide audience across the country.

Source of New Brand Discovery

Thailand is a huge market for digital advertising and marketing. 41% of the people use search engines to discover new brands while 38% discover them through ads on television.2 The other 34% discover brands through television shows or films, ads on mobile or tablet apps, and ads on social media.2 In terms of new brand consumption, 33% view ads on websites, 32% on brand or product websites, and 31% on product comparison websites.2 Another 29% and 27% learn about new brands through recommendations or comments on social media and consumer review websites, respectively.2 Therefore, digital marketing practices like banner ads, cost-per-click campaigns, pop-up ads and many other activities help consumers get a better knowledge of a company, the services provided, and build brand awareness.

Dominative E-commerce

After discovering their favourite brands on search engines, 90% of Thais search on e-commerce sites, following which 82% of them will shop online.2 34% of the shoppers purchase goods on a laptop or desktop while the rest purchase through mobile devices.2 US$5.5 billion is the total value of the e-commerce market, a 14% increase in economic value yearly.2 Online banking also takes a prominent role as 32% of the online shoppers use credit card as a mode of payment, and 20% and 25% make payment through bank transfers and e-wallets, respectively.2 In addition, 34.84 million people shop consumer goods on e-commerce portals. Therefore, mobile marketing and desktop ads on e-commerce portals aim not only to target and reach B2C audiences but also B2B business operations. As millions of people shop on e-commerce portals, it is easy to spread brand awareness, gain potential leads, and also run promotional advertising campaigns on these platforms.

Value of Digital Ad Market

Last year, Thailand’s ad value was US$894 million, and on average, this represents an increase in investment by 14% year-on-year.2 US$166 million was channelled towards social media advertising, a 19% increase in investment every year.2 US$171 million and US$108 million were spent on banner ads and video ads and the expenditure has increased by 10% and 18% respectively.2 Therefore, the value of digital advertising spikes every year and has shown potential to grow even more in the years to come. Display ads on search engines, e-commerce portals, banner ads, video ads, social media campaigns, and classified ads give good CTRs and garner potential leads for businesses.

Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic to the Digital Economy

Nearly 30% of the financial sector, more than 20% of the F&B sector, and more than 35% of the online media business streams have seen a spike in search volumes compared to the situation pre-Covid as banking, food and commodities, and the media are essential day-to-day utilities.3 Travel has dipped by nearly 50%; advertising, construction, manufacturing, real estate and many more sectors also decreased by nearly 10% to 20% in the economy compared to pre-Covid times.3 This is mainly due to the fear stemming from the pandemic.3 Therefore, it is recommended to run campaigns and promotions online where users conduct searches to fulfill their needs, seek services or gain satisfaction from products.

Conclusion

Thailand is a rich country with unlimited resources and huge digital penetration in the market. Prominent and engaging social apps, dominant e-commerce activity, increase in usage of digital innovations and mobile and digital devices provide massive opportunities for marketing practices in Thailand. Being aware of people’s online activity pre-Covid and post-Covid allows new or existing businesses to penetrate and resume their promotional activities on their specific platforms. There is a huge potential in Thailand to run various digital marketing initiatives and this country is considered one of the well-known Southeast Asian countries for businesses to thrive in.

References

  1. Charles F. Keyes, James A. Hafner, E. Jane Keyes (7 Jun 2020). Thailand. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Thailand/Chinese#ref52653
  2. Simon Kemp (18 February 2020). Digital 2020: Thailand. Retrieved from https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2020-thailand
  3. Johan Hedin (16 April 2020). Updated:Digital Marketing Trends in Thailand. Retrieved from https://www.marketingignite.com/digital-marketing-trends-in-thailand/#