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High expectations over shopping experience

Released at: 22:34, 05/03/2015

High expectations over shopping experience

CBRE study finds Vietnamese shoppers place more emphasis on security and cleanliness than price.

by Hoang Thu

According to CBRE’s Asia Pacific Consumer Survey 2014, released on March 5, Vietnamese consumers as well as consumers in Malaysia and Singapore have high expectations regarding an overall shopping experience. Vietnamese consumers reported seeing certain improvements in large malls, small malls and high-street outlets over the past three years. More than 60 per cent said that the shopping center they visit most often had seen new designs, better layout and services, and improved public spaces. More than 50 per cent report the addition of either international brands or more entertainment facilities.

The survey also found that the Asia Pacific region shared very similar preferences, including affordability, cleanliness, and security, which were ranked as the most valued factors among all age groups. However, unlike the other Asia Pacific countries, where price was the most important factor, Vietnamese consumers put more priority on security and cleanliness. Although Vietnamese shoppers appreciate a wide range of retailers within their shopping destination, the presence of specific retailers, department stores, or foreign brands are less important. Entertainment facilities turned out to be less important versus the “basic” ingredients of price, cleanliness and security. Given that contemporary shopping centers increasingly focus on food services, entertainment services and events, which are designed to create a compelling experience for shoppers, this outcome may seem disappointing.

Nevertheless, when CBRE took a closer look at the results it found that more than 50 per cent of respondents from 18 to 34 years old feel that such facilities are fairly important or very important in their decision making. “The rapid growth of young Vietnamese consumers highlights that a strong experiential offering consisting of leisure (including food and beverages) and entertainment will be a powerful tool for shopping centers to ensure long term competitiveness and thus the increased value of retail real estate,” said Mr. Richard Leech, Executive Director of CBRE Retail Services, Southeast Asia.

It is of the utmost importance to tailor retail venues to match consumers’ preferences. Landlords and developers must ensure this is done at the conceptual stage. Before selecting a site and planning access routes, developers must understand the modes of transport that consumers will use as well as the time they are willing to spend travelling to a desired shopping center. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents were willing to travel up to 30 minutes to get to their preferred shopping center. “The completions of Metro lines in the next few years will certainly shorten the travelling time customers are willing to spend,” noted Ms. Dung Duong, Head of the CBRE Research and Consulting Department, Vietnam.

She also commented that although the outlook for the bricks-and-mortar format still remains upbeat, shopping center operators must be aware of the challenges posed by online retail. This is crucial for shopping center management and related areas such as marketing. According to the CBRE survey, in the next two years 25 per cent of respondents expect to shop less often in a store, with 45 - 50 per cent of respondents saying that they would shop online via desktop/laptop or smartphone/tablet more often than they do now. Surprisingly, an even greater proportion of consumers (69 per cent) aged from 55 to 64 actually think that they will use their smartphone/tablet more frequently to buy non-food items.

Therefore, it is suggested that retailers and landlords take advantage of this trend and conduct more online selling and advertising via social media and their well customized Business to Customer (B2C) websites. In addition, CBRE recommends landlords adapt their strategy to boost both e-commerce and offline business activities by leveraging “big data”, which can track levels of consumer engagement, implement Online to Offline (O2O) strategies, and create simple and useful applications for those who want to shop via their smartphone/tablet.

CBRE conducted this first ever consumer survey in August 2014, interviewing 11,000 consumers in eleven major cities across Asia Pacific to determine where and how they shop for non-food items such as clothing, shoes, accessories, skin care products, and electronics goods, particularly in relation to their changing behavior and expectations of different types of shopping destinations. Vietnam was included in the survey, with a total of 1,000 respondents from 18 to 64 years old, split equally between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

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