Consumers in Thailand hold increasingly positive views of Chinese vehicles due to favorable pricing, advanced technology, and appealing design aesthetics, according to a study of the regional automotive market conducted by Vero and Chinese integrated marketing management company WeBridge.
The study, titled “The Road to Southeast Asia: A Study of Consumer Perceptions and Market Opportunities for Chinese Automotive Brands” delves into the nuanced landscapes of Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
The study found that 72% of Thai consumers have generally favorable perceptions of Chinese cars, particularly for their affordability, technological features, and sleek and modern designs, appealing to price-conscious Thai consumers looking for budget-friendly options without compromising functionality, smart features, and style.
This correlates with a broader interest in Chinese products among Thai consumers. The study revealed that positive views of Chinese brands are linked to their seamless integration of online and offline distribution channels (41%), overall affordability of products and services (31%), positive recommendations and reviews (12%), functionality and design (12%), and cheaper shipping and import taxes (7%).
To gain a better understanding of what’s driving Thailand’s automotive industry, we also narrowed down the factors influencing car purchases. Findings revealed that 43% of Thais view car ownership as a personal preference and lifestyle choice, 27% prioritize fuel savings, 19% care about design quality, 11% value performance, and 8% consider it a way to elevate social status.
Meanwhile, the study did indicate some challenges for Chinese automotive brands. Sentiments in the study indicated that complex car loans and the high costs of car insurance compound financial concerns for Thai consumers, respectively making up 26% and 15% of conversations about barriers to purchase. Expensive maintenance and repairs are also a considerably significant concern, accounting for 8% of conversations.
Leveraging favorable sentiments can elevate Chinese EV brands’ stature in Thailand
Chinese electric vehicle (EV) makers can capitalize on their increasing prominence in Thailand by positioning themselves as tech-driven, offering cutting-edge innovations to align with the preferences of the local market, according to executives at Vero. And as Thailand pushes for green mobility, Chinese brands can strengthen their efforts to promote the environmental benefits of EVs, signifying a more sustainable and future-forward lifestyle.
“Chinese EVs have already captured a significant share of the Thai auto market, and their position is only going to grow more pronounced as they build facilities in Thailand and address consumer pain points such as charging infrastructure and battery swapping. China is a world leader in electric vehicles and green mobility, and using this expertise to help Thailand achieve its own sustainability goals can further cement Chinese EV brands’ reputations,” said Quang Do, Vero Vice President of IMC Consulting, who was among the executives leading the study.
Prangthong Jitcharoenkul, Account Director and co-leader of Vero’s mobility practice in Thailand added that it is also essential for Chinese auto brands to localize their approach. By understanding consumer behaviors and the socio-economic situation in Thailand, they can deliver tailored narratives that resonate with their target market.
“Chinese EV brands can leverage their current positive reputation among the target market. For example, they can highlight how the latest technology addresses Thai consumer pain points and highlight the role regional culture plays in which vehicles are introduced in each market. The study indicates that Chinese brands are in a good position among Thai audiences, and that they should lean into this positive sentiment to better compete with other players in the growing EV market,” said Ms. Jitcharoenkul.
Read the full study at this link. English and Mandarin versions are also available for download.