Consumers are paying more attention to nutritional value when choosing what to eat or drink, in order to maintain long-term mental and physical health. They are more aware of ingredients and how they can be beneficial. Nutritional value and how that impacts the body or mind are coming under the microscope. Hoai Anh Pham, Strategic Planner adds, ‘seemingly ‘unhealthy’ brands may partner with nutritionists to use synergistic ingredient combinations to create dishes that enhance the bioavailability of nutrients. Labelling on products is also important. ‘Unhealthy’ brands should be transparent and clear on promoting benefits like immunity, gut health, eye health and so on.”
In a 2021 study, health and wellness are cited as the top concerns for Vietnamese consumers, followed by food safety. Food poisoning too, has been a growing concern. In 2019, 76 cases of food poisoning were reported, with 2,000 people infected, 1,918 people hospitalized and 8 cases of death. ”To combat these concerns, ‘unhealthy’ brands should look to share food origins, making sure that ingredients are fresh and sourced ethically, or organically, regardless of the final product,’ says Hoai Anh Pham.
In order to ensure the safety of the products they are buying; consumers are moving away from traditional shopping locations. Taku Tanaka, CEO & Co-founder of KAMEREO notes that ‘Vietnamese people are switching from buying food and vegetables from wet markets to buying in supermarkets. This is especially true in Ho Chi Minh and Ha Noi where GDP per capita is much higher than other provinces.
Availability and reach
How consumers access food and drink is also evolving. Post-pandemic consumers across Southeast Asia are shopping online more. 44% of digital consumers across Southeast Asia spent more on packaged and fresh groceries online, with 80% of consumers indicating that they plan to continue buying groceries online. The routes to access food and drink are more varied than ever; social media platforms, delivery apps, websites, and messaging services run alongside traditional methods. Brands should look to invest in availability on all platforms, as ease and availability also influence consumer choice around food.
Recommendations for brands
American food has been traditionally seen as more unhealthy than other cuisines. For western or US-based brands looking to break into the Vietnamese market, adapting taste is key. As Vietnamese consumers look for healthier options, products which have less sugar appeal more.
Customer experience is another great way to engage consumers. For location-based purchases, brands should make sure that the environment is clean, with a good atmosphere and excellent and friendly service.
Sustainability is also key, and an area that Vero believes consumers will be looking to even more in the future. Using renewable energy, or green materials that don’t harm the planet, will make food brands seem more appealing.
To learn more about how brands can help tap into Vietnam’s changing eating habits, download Vero’s whitepaper.