According to the World Bank, Vietnam is expected to achieve upper-middle income status by 2035. How will this manifest at the individual, company, and country levels?
Written by: Dan Levin
On January 31st, 2018, together with Crystal T. Lam, Managing Director at Vinawood Ltd. and an enthusiastic group from MIT in Boston, we gathered thought leaders from across sectors, industries, and ranks to discuss the future of Vietnam. We wanted to know how they perceived the local market through the lens of their expertise and how they planned to keep pace with developing trends.
Our process for this evening ideation session was grounded in a sense of discovery using fun, exploratory tools that facilitated and organized a free flow of ideas and insights. Not only do these types of think tanks help us explore the existing and future landscapes of the areas in which we work, they also expand our perspectives to influence our design work across the globe. By asking the right questions, we know we can spur the types of discussions that inspire us all – as designers, manufacturers, and consultants.
As Vietnam evolves, what’s our role as thought leaders?
How can we adjust our product or marketing strategies to reflect changing consumer preferences?
How will economic growth impact the existing labour force?
What will future infrastructure needs look like?
Maintaining Social Capital: Creating the Next Generation of Citizens
As Vietnam continues to experience the changes that inevitably arise with increased urbanization, the nation’s knowledge workers and entrepreneurs will play a pivotal role in shaping the future. By prioritizing education, Vietnam can build upon its social capital to create agents of change that will usher in the next generation of citizens. Currently predominantly educated outside of the country, college students can make a marked difference by being afforded schooling on home soil. Protecting its social capital also extends to the nation’s desire to maintain its unique culture despite a growing presence of, and investment by, global brands.
The Growing Sophistication of Vietnam’s Middle Class
Bolstered by political stability and the fruits of urbanization, Vietnam’s middle class is growing and while this segment of the population evolves, so too does the economy. Much like the increase in outbound Chinese tourism, Vietnam is experiencing a surge in its middle class, which is now equipped with more disposable income. According to a recent Financial Times article, outbound tourism from Vietnam has been growing at an annual rate of 10-15% over the past few years. The rising sophistication of its middle class requires an equal shift in the basic needs and demands of this growing population. In Vietnam, basic needs come in the form of more diverse housing options to represent growing wealth and the infrastructure to match – particularly that which is required with the increasing number of automobiles on the road.
Remaining Rooted: Inspiring Future Growth
Vietnam’s economic growth will depend in part upon foreign investors and developers that can act as role models by providing examples of high quality products and services. However, a foreign company’s winning strategy will live in a tailored approach that reflects the nation’s three distinct cultures in some manner – the north, central, and south influences. As a nation, the people of Vietnam are dedicated to preserving their local culture. The country’s history of colonization, war, and international influence can be harnessed to create art and design expressions that are unique to the country. By creating and supporting domestic brands that can compete with international brands on price and quality, local economic engines can contribute to Vietnam’s economic and social capital growth.