Survey finds Thais more trusting online

Survey finds Thais more trusting online

Thai consumers are less sceptical of the content they see and more accepting of brands online, says market research agency Kantar TNS.

"Connected consumers in Thailand are far more trusting than consumers in other countries in the region when it comes to their online activities," Kantar TNS said in its latest Connected Life report.

Kantar TNS surveyed 70,000 people across 56 countries and conducted 104 in-depth interviews as part of the 2017 Connected Life study. The research explored consumer trust in brands in relation to four themes: technology, content, data and e-commerce.

The study found that optimism around connectivity is still high in Thailand, and consumers for the most part have not yet been made aware of the trade-off intrinsic to a connected lifestyle that has made consumers elsewhere more cynical about the way companies are using personal information.

Just 20% of Thai consumers have concerns about the amount of personal data brands have on them, compared with 40% of customers globally and 56% in Australia. Only 22% are averse to connected devices monitoring their activities online if it makes their lives easier, compared with 56% of consumers in South Korea and 62% in New Zealand.

In an age of "fake news", 40% of connected consumers in Thailand trust the information they consume on social media channels. This is higher than the global average of 35% and substantially higher than consumers in markets that have had a longer relationship with digital channels, like Japan (18%) and Korea (17%).

For many Thai consumers, social media remains a credible place to hear brand messages, which are generally seen to have relevance, particularly if they demonstrate an understanding of local culture and nuances.

To some degree, this accepting attitude reflects how Thai people feel about brands, with 39% trusting large global brands. Levels of trust in this area vary significantly between emerging and developed markets in Asia: in Vietnam and Myanmar, more than half of consumers (54% in both) trust big global brands, but consumer trust falls significantly in developed markets like Australia and New Zealand, where just 19% and 21% trust big global brands.

"People in Thailand are still relatively open to engaging with brands online," said Arpapat Boonrod, chief executive of Kantar Insights Thailand. "The majority are comfortable sharing their personal data and don't mind having their activities monitored by their connected devices. This presents a great opportunity for brands to leverage this data to truly deliver personalised, relevant content through digital channels and build meaningful relationships."

The mobile-first environment of Thailand has also resulted in connected consumers who are more willing to try newer forms of interaction with brands -- 41% of consumers are happy to interact with chatbots online, while only 28% say they want brands to have an offline presence.

The lack of traditional customer service channels in some more rural areas, coupled with the rise of mobile means that innovative advances in online customer service are a welcome development. Chatbots in instant messaging services such as Line have also been present in Thailand for longer than in other markets, which may explain why this acceptance of AI-powered interaction is far higher than in other countries in the region. In Australia, for example, only 22% accept chatbots as a form of brand interaction.

One-quarter (25%) of Thai consumers said that they are willing to pay for products using their mobile phone. This is not as high as other mobile-first markets such as Cambodia (38%) and Myanmar (36%).

With a high population of unbanked consumers, innovative solutions and financial literacy are needed to overcome local barriers and entice people to use newer payment options.

"Trust is fragile," said Michael Nicholas, global lead of Connected Solutions of Kantar TNS. "Brands in emerging countries see higher levels of consumer trust today than in developed markets, but they shouldn't take it for granted. To build and protect trust, brands need to put the customer first. That means understanding their motivations, understanding the right moments to engage with them, respecting their time as valuable, and being more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data."

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