Survey: Thais love pills, not push-ups

Thais are increasingly concerned with good health and wellness, but do very little about it, keeping their unhealthy habits, notes a report by Mindshare Thailand, a global marketing and media network.

According to Consumer Health 2012, sales of health products grew to 61 billion baht last year, up from 37 billion in 2007, or about 10% annually. Vitamins and dietary supplements led the market, followed by herbal or traditional products and over-the-counter drugs.

The survey sampled 3,000 people, and 84% were happy with their health and the promotions and policies offered by the government and companies.

However, women exercised less than before, at only 38% compared to 52% in the 2008 survey, while men tended to eat less fruit and vegetables, at only 43%, down from 51% in 2008.

Still, in previous decades there were more deaths from airborne viral infections and self-inflicted behaviour such as road accidents to unhealthy lifestyles, meaning overall Thailand is healthier.

Pathamawan Sathaporn, head of business planning at Mindshare, said the popularity of health and wellness purchases reflects economic development and a better quality of living in Thailand.

Ms Pathamawan singled out the local ageing population as the key for marketers, as it is set to become the biggest group in society. Thailand's life expectancy has risen from 55.2 to 69.9 years for men and 61.8 to 74.9 years for women. The number of single adults, couples without kids and divorcees are also slated to increase, she said.

Some 37% of Thais in the survey were single, divorced or widowed, while 45% had no children.

The report said as obesity becomes a new concern for Thais, the younger generation is happy to look for quick fixes such as cosmetic surgery and skin lasers.

It also found stress is likely to increase and be found earlier in life. Herbal and traditional products are expected to boom in response, reaching 14 billion baht in Thailand sales in 2015, the report listed.

In addition, vitamins and dietary supplements will become closer to the daily food and beverages we consume, it predicted.

"Marketers should clarify their target group and seek the best way to communicate with them. For example, if we want to communicate with obese people, we should talk to them like friends," she suggested.

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Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn