COVID-19 has affected the world in many ways not least in changing consumer demands. This applies as much in the US as elsewhere in the world.
Kwanapa Phivnil, Consul Commercial, Thai Trade Center Los Angeles says there are several significant shifts that Thai exporters should keep in mind when trading with the US.
Increasingly consumers are switching from offline to online purchases. Grocery delivery has grown by 30%, online order and pick up at a store has grown by 67%, with Amazon’s estimated online purchases for 2021 expected to reach $850-930 billion.
“More and more new e-commerce platforms have emerged both B2B and B2C, such as: online Asian grocery WEE; Faire.com or Tundra.com targeting B2B; Etsy.com for crafts; Wayfair.com for crafts, furniture and home décor; and chewy.com for pet supplies,” Phivnil says.
With people increasingly staying at home there has seen an increase in demand for domestic consumer products, such as health and beauty products, gardening and kitchen tools, ready-to-cook meals, ethnic food, electronic gadgets, electrical appliances, indoor sport equipment and family entertainment.
Generation Z and Millennial are the groups with the greatest purchasing power in the US. Their purchases are driven by the 4+1S principle, according to Phivnil. This is: Smart, Small, Speed, Save and Safe. Smart refers to consumers’ preference for technological solutions, Small to size of goods and convenient service, Speed to ease of purchases and payment, Save to value for money, and Safe to both health and sustainability.
Phivnil also recommends that digital technology is used to enhance customer service and increase sales. Digital technology can be used to create a traceability system so customers will know the origin of their product.
“Overall, brand loyalty has decreased during the pandemic,” she says. “Many brands are out of stocks while people want to buy things easily and conveniently. So it’s a good time for new brands to present themselves in the market.”
Over the past 10 years, US imports from Thailand have grown every year at an average of 5.8%, and this year they are expected to grow at 6.47%, representing an export value of $36.56 billion. The US is Thailand’s number one export market.
The Green Economy is the current focus of the US Administration. Phivnil believes that environmental measures will be enforced both in the US and upon those who wish to export to the country.
The work plan of Thai Trade Center in LA is based on three principles. The first is to build on Thailand’s strengths to match consumer demand and drive into both B2B and B2C markets. The second is to create brand and product awareness, mainly focusing on promoting Thai food. The third is to strengthen Thai entrepreneurs marketing capability by using experts in various fields as coaches.
Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi