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Following Political Unrest, Most Thai Consumers Ready to Return to Normal

3 minute read | June 2010

It has been just over a month since the peak of the May political unrest in Thailand, but most Thai consumers (seven out of 10) say their lives are already back to normal, or will return to normal within a month. A recent study by The Nielsen Company analyzed Thai consumers’ attitudes towards the unrest as well as changes in consumer behavior and media consumption during that time including how consumer behavior is expected to change going forward.

TV and the Web key places for information

When asked what main sources of information were relied on during the unrest, most Thai consumers claimed TV (95%) was their key source of information, followed closely by Internet (94%), Newspaper (76%) and Radio (43%) respectively. Interestingly, consumers also indicated non-traditional sources of news such as online blogs (35%) and Twitter (25%) were important channels too, perhaps reflecting a need to engage and interact with one another.

Increased TV viewing and Radio listenership

During May 13-21, 2010 the number of people in Bangkok who watched TV increased by 23 percent compared to the same period in 2009. On Wednesday May 19, when the red shirt sites were reclaimed and the curfew started, the number of people watching TV increased by 36 percent compared to the same day last year. Similarly, the number of people who listened to the radio in May 2010 increased by 14 percent.

Food categories ranked high on consumers’ buy lists during the crisis

Nielsen’s Retail Index indicated that overall fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) growth slowed in May 2010 to 4.9% vs. 8% in April 2010 as consumers focused on purchasing necessity products.

“During the political unrest, we observed more people eating at home. This meant that more Bangkok households purchased categories such as rice and frozen food. At the same time, households stocked up on other basic food categories including fresh food, milk powder, instant noodle, canned fish and ready-to-eat meals” said Aaron Cross, Managing Director of Consumer, Nielsen Thailand. “The negative impact of the red shirt protests in May on FMCG growth was slightly more prevalent in Greater Bangkok than Upcountry. However, we are of the view that FMCG growth will return to normal from June.”

Consumers to focus on value, quality time with family and savings after the unrest

Seven out of 10 consumers expected their lives would return to normal immediately or within a month after the political unrest. Following the May unrest, more consumers indicated they plan to focus on spending more quality time with family (53%), staying at home (49%), saving (39%) and seeking value for money (25%).

“The events of May were significant. Subsequently we have seen a rise in national pride as Thailand looks to recover and get back on its feet in the second half of 2010. This is evidenced by one quarter (24%) of consumers indicating they are planning to buy more Thai products post the May events” said Cross.

When asked about their financial plans after the unrest, consumers claimed they plan to increase deposits in saving accounts/fixed savings (31%), increase Omsin Lotto (30%), Gold (22%) and increase life insurance (20%) in their future investment portfolios.

Nielsen’s integrated study report comprises insights from an online survey (targeting 500 internet users aged 18 and above), Nielsen Retail Audit, Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panel, Nielsen Television Audience Measurement and Nielsen Radio Ratings.

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