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National brands embracing the world

Released at: 08:09, 11/12/2019

National brands embracing the world

Photo: Viet Tuan

Vietnamese enterprises need to build their brands towards "going global" for the Vietnam National Brand Program to be truly successful.

by Nghi Do

Vietnamese travel company Saigontourist Travel attends more than 20 international tourism fairs and events in different countries and territories every year, in particular key fairs in Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and the US. “These are good opportunities for us to boost our marketing and promotion strategies and Vietnam’s tourism sector in international markets,” a representative from Saigontourist told VET. “It is a challenging mission for any enterprise to build a successful and sustainable brand in international markets.”

Efforts successful

As a prestigious brand in the domestic market, Saigontourist has consistently cemented its position and developed in key traditional tourism markets such as North America, Western Europe, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and Asia-Pacific in recent years. “We focus on setting up and developing international relationships to attract foreign visitors to Vietnam,” the representative said.  

Having a great deal of experience in winning over domestic and international customers, the representative added that building a brand in the tourism industry is a process of creating unique and distinctive features at tourist destinations. Brand building is a combination of each and every product and service from a wide range of industries such as agriculture, tourism, arts, education, and health related to tourist destinations. And a brand can be utilized to offer these unique values to potential customers. 

Some Vietnamese brands of different products and services have already found a foothold in international markets beyond an initial impression, and are supported by the community of overseas Vietnamese. 

Building a brand and exploring markets, especially foreign markets, are, however, still issues for many Vietnamese businesses, according to Mr. Nguyen Phan Huy Khoi, Chairman of the Viet Lao Economic Corporation (Vilaoco). Awareness of branding in the business community has improved, though, and resources for the task are also on the rise. “It’s clear that agriculture and agricultural products are a strength of Vietnam, but nowadays we mainly stop at cross-border trade. Vietnamese products are sent to foreign traders but few businesses actively exploit the international market directly. This is regrettable,” he said. 

There are many reasons for this, but in general, there are obvious weaknesses at Vietnamese enterprises, such as low foreign language skills, a lack of confidence in generating market demand, and inexperience in creating consumer trends. “These limitations are quite common in a developing country, and there are also a lack of mechanisms, policies, and programs to encourage export activities,” Mr. Khoi said.

Of a similar mind, Mr. Dang Thanh Phong, PR Manager at the Mobile World Investment JSC (MWG), told VET that differences in language, culture, and geography mean marketing campaigns must be crafted carefully and resources spent for a Vietnamese brand to penetrate into international markets. A major Vietnamese retailer with chains around the country, MWG has invested in and expanded its brand into Cambodia over the last two years. “We plan to open more electronic product stores after launching mobile device chains,” he said. 

To build its brand in a foreign market, Saigontourist Travel devised specific strategies to tackle the difficulties, such as conducting long-term market research, identifying tastes, and boosting spending to meet the needs of guests and staff. “Marketing and other expenses in attending international tourism fairs overseas can be quite high,” he said. 

Best of brands

The Vietnamese travel company and 49 other local companies have won places in international rankings in recent times. Half are national brands under the Vietnam National Brand Program (Vietnam Value), such as Thaco, Hoa Phat, Vinamilk, Habeco, Vietcombank, Vietnam Airlines, Cadivi, Viglacera, and Saigontourist. According to Forbes’ rankings, the total value of these 50 brands now stands at more $9.3 billion. No Vietnamese brands appeared in such rankings in the early 2000s.

Launched in 2003, Vietnam Value is the Vietnamese Government’s long-term trade promotion program and aims to introduce and promote the country’s prestigious quality products. The program has helped increase awareness over the last 15 years among ministries, sectors, and businesses about the importance of building, developing, and protecting brands. It has also honored many prestigious products and enterprises and supported local businesses to improve their capacity and build their brand.

Vietnam’s national brand value in 2019 stands at $247 billion, up 5.4 per cent against 2018, according to Brand Finance’s annual report on the most valuable and strongest national brands. This reflects a uniform improvement in terms of investment environment, policies, administrative procedures, and tariffs, and also the significant contribution made by the Vietnam Value program.

The Vietnam National Brand Program this year focused more on information and the promotion of products and services recognized as national brands, pushed import and export activities, and enhanced the presence of Vietnam Value in the international arena. The program also helps identify and initiate improvements in administrative procedures, mechanisms, policies, and resources related to branding activities, Mr. Khoi said. This has boosted momentum and created a positive atmosphere for many domestic businesses to boldly promote their products and services and reach out to the world.

After Saigontourist Travel was recognized as a Vietnam National Brand, the prestige and brand of its three main business lines have been on the rise. Its partner network continues to expand in tourism regions and markets of potential, such as Eastern and Central Europe, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, Africa, and South America. In international cruises, Saigontourist Travel actively contributes to the promotion and inclusion of Vietnam on the itineraries of famous global cruise lines.

Participation in the Vietnam National Brand Program helps businesses improve their reputation for quality products and gain easier access to domestic and foreign markets through trade promotion programs organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which are becoming more professional and effective. “Above all, the benefit to the business is not limited to a branding promotion strategy but in participating in a major common mission: building and developing a Vietnamese brand together,” Mr. Khoi said. 

Building national brands

In October, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the Vietnam National Brand Program from 2020 to 2030, which aims for over 1,000 products becoming national brands.

The objective is to build Vietnam’s image as a reputable country with high-quality goods and services, increasing the attractiveness of the country and pride among Vietnamese people, and contributing to promoting foreign trade and improving national competitiveness.

In the 2020-2030 period, the program will focus on building and developing Vietnam’s brand in association with outstanding values in individual brands, with the goal of effectively unifying and synchronizing strategies on the import and export of goods and services. Export turnover of Vietnam National Brand products are to reach a higher level than the national average, of 20 per cent per year, in evaluations by prestigious rating agencies. 

Mr. Khoi suggested that the National Brand Program be strengthened and the criteria for inclusion made more rigorous, with a screening system for selecting products and services within program, while improving business training and tackling limitations at domestic enterprises when trying to penetrate into international markets. In addition to a spirit of entrepreneurship, it is necessary to build a spirit of “Going Global” for every entrepreneur and Vietnamese enterprise.

The Saigontourist Travel representative said Vietnamese products and services becoming successful and sustainable brands in international markets requires local businesses have a strategic branding strategy, along with a sense of cooperation, to build the national image and conquer the world. 

The Vietnam National Brand Program this year focused more on information and the promotion of products and services recognized as national brands, pushed import and export activities, and enhanced the presence of Vietnam Value in the international arena.

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