Direct sales to see 5% growth
Online media helping boost industry appeal
Thailand's direct sales industry is expected to grow by 5% in terms of sales and the number of people entering the business in the first four months of the year. The positive growth projection comes in spite of the economic slowdown.
Pakapun Leevutinun, president of the Thai Direct Selling Association (TDSA), said despite the overall economic environment, the group has seen a gradual improvement in consumer purchasing power from the start of 2016.
Both sales figures and the number of people applying to become members of direct sales companies under the TDSA are expected to grow by 5% year-on-year during the first four months of the year, bringing the tally of direct sales representatives and members in Thailand to 11.05 million.
TDSA expects both sales and membership to increase throughout the year.
The group forecasts the direct sales business this year to expand by 5% from last year's sales value of 73 billion baht.
Mrs Pakapun said the business growth would come from both traditional and online channels.
"Direct sales via online channels in Thailand continue to grow month by month," she said.
"Online media has played an important role in helping customers determine which products to buy," Mrs Pakapun added.
Meanwhile, the TDSA recently undertook the task of conducting two market surveys to evaluate the overall strengths and weaknesses of the Thai direct selling business. The results will be used to develop the industry as a whole so that it will have long-term, sustainable growth.
The first survey, which covered Thai consumer behaviour and attitudes and included 1,951 samples, has already been completed. Another study will attempt to form an overall picture of the Thai direct sales business and is expected to be finished shortly.
According to the completed survey, which covered direct sales consumers in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Songkhla, social media, particularly Facebook and Line, has more influence on customers aged 18-36 than radio and print media.
Only 17% of customers sampled, however, are willing to make orders online, even though they spent nine hours on social media per day.
Nearly 46% bought products via the direct sales channel. The three most popular categories were health, beauty and personal care products.
With this in mind, direct sales companies will move towards using more digital marketing activities to recruit younger customers to join the direct sales industry.