Vietnam is increasingly becoming a top destination country for doing business and investing and catching closer attention from foreign entrepreneurs and multinationals/ international firms. Various corpporate groups can be interested in different business sectors, but below are what we believe the top 5 thriving business sectors from our local perspectives.
Please read the below for executive summaries or download the insightful presentation below each summary.
Vietnam’s retail sales have grown dramatically over a long period of time, maintaining a 5-year CAGR of 17.6% (2010-2015) despite the economic slowdown in these years, to reach almost US$110bn in 2015.
In particular, modern retail is growing extremely fast, though notably in big urban areas, and is taking up an increasing portion of total retail sales. The emergence of the modern retail formats and the participation of foreign retailers have brought a breath of fresh air and greatly changed the face of retail in Vietnam, bringing more choice and convenience for consumers.
Although the modern retail channels has many advantages in attracting customers and is forecast to grow strongly in the future but in general, shopping at traditional retail market still accounts high proportion until 2015 (at least 70%). Under competitive pressure from modern retail channels, local wet markets and other forms of traditional retail in Vietnam have been renewing and upgrading infrastructure as well as enhancing customer service to bring more benefits to consumers.
Food & Beverage
Vietnam’s food and beverage sector currently accounts for 37 per cent of its GDP and is one of the rising stars in the market. The strong economic growth and the development of a financially well-off consumer group has directed a change in consumption habits and led to the emergence of retail systems.
There are currently 750 supermarkets, 130 shopping centres and 9,000 traditional markets in the country. In addition, the annual production of beer, wine and spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks will rise to 4.25 billion litres, 360 million litres, and 9.2 billion litres in 2020. Vietnamese consumers are shifting towards consumption of beverages with higher value, creating gaps to exploit the high-end beverage segments. Though both local and foreign players have attempted to respond to this shift, overseas companies currently enjoy the edge as Vietnamese consumers favour international brands.
As Vietnam ranks fourth most popular destination in Asia with over 10,013,000 visitors in 2016, the increasing tourism contributes towards the demand for western-style products such as beef, cheese, seafood, wine and seasonings.
The health supplements (also known as functional foods or dietary supplements) sector is one of the fastest growing food sectors over the past decade, with an average annual growth rate of 20%. In 2015 total market value was approximately $1.1 billion.
Foreign brands tend to be positioned in the premium segment to attract mid-high end consumers, while local brands generally concentrate on the mass market. In addition, foreign players are also more active in non-herbal/traditional dietary supplements, while local players are more prominent in herbal/traditional/curing products. Imported products account for 40% of the market share. The most popular official retail channels are direct selling and pharmacies, healthcare & beauty care retail shops and foreign product specialty stores.
Herbal, traditional and curing supplement products account for more than 70% of the market (top selling product is gingseng). The main areas of health concern are skin heath/ skin care, anti-aging, mental health/ neuroleptic, eye health, digestive health, and heart health.
E-commerce and E-payment
E- commerce, enabled by rising internet and smartphone penetration, are expanding their reach in Vietnam. Mobile internet penetration is broadening access and changing the way consumers interact, compare prices, research goods, and make purchases. The barriers between traditional commerce, including malls, big-box stores and main street, and virtual channels are blurred.
Business models are converging and enterprises are experimenting with social-media marketing, multi-channel approaches and alternative payment methods in order to expand their footprint and market share. In parallel, the traditional borders and structures of payments are also beginning to blur. Vietnam is still searching for its answer to the future of cashless payments.
As the industry continues to evolve and grow, there is a high probability that payment solutions built on the platforms of e-Marketplaces, e-Tailers, or mobile Chat applications (apps) will revolutionize point-of-sale choices and play a prominent role, either as a catalyst or as actual providers in the market for new digital payment solutions.
Agribusiness sector continues to play a considerable role in Vietnam’s transition to a market-based economy, despite its shrinking portion in GDP (18.1% in 2015, versus 16.1% in 2014). The country’s strength in agricultural output is built upon a large rural base where agricultural labor accounts for 44.3% of the workforce and 65.7% of the population is located in rural areas (2015).
Besides production to satisfy [increasing] domestic demand, Vietnam is also playing its part on the agricultural import and export markets. Opportunities are abundant at all levels of the value chain as levels of production continue to improve through the application of intensive farming and advanced technologies. Vietnam’s agriculture is export-focused and dominant crops include rice, coffee, rubber, cashew, and seafoods.
Over the past 15 years, Vietnam has significantly increased productivity in rice growing and it has become the largest rice exporter in the world. In more recent years, aquaculture and fruit production have grown substantially and are export-oriented as well. As purchasing power and consumer awareness are improving, the domestic market becomes more and more interesting. Surging domestic consumption combined with increasing demand for high value products have also pushed up imports of agricultural products into Vietnam with meat and meat products enjoying the highest growth, followed by rubber, animal feed and feed grain, sugar and cotton.