Despite of the fact that Thailand are ranked 20th in the list of countries by population with reaching to 69 million people in 2019, Thailand today is entering a new era of slow population growth and is predicted to decline in the near future.
With the most rapid fertility decline among Southeast Asian countries, it has led to a declining in number of child births. From the past, a Thai woman had on average six children over her reproductive life.
Today the average number of children is only 1.5 children per Thai woman.
With this dramatic transition in Thai society, it is effecting to the change in population structure, which lead to changes in age structure, health systems, economic impact and geographical distribution, respectively.
Besides the lowering of the growth rate, a major demographic consequence of this rapid fertility reduction will be an inevitable ageing of the population. Moreover, recent years, life expectancy at birth of Thai people increased amazingly for both men and women.
This implies that it will make the absolute sized of the older population (aged 60 and over) wider compared to others.
The rapidity of population ageing in Thailand implies that the country will face emergent issues related to social security, health care costs, and intergenerational equity and so on. Health workforces such as particularly doctors, nurses, and physio-therapists are required for elderly and chronic disease people. This is important to note that new businesses in long-term care services for older persons are attractive.
Since the number of working-age population is declining, it could be considered a barrier to more rapid economic development. It could be better if new businesses consider those elderly people as experienced workers and hired them as their employees.
Both rural and urban areas are more affected by the overall aging of the population than by migration or urbanization patterns. A source of concern is the inequity between rural and urban areas caused by the brain drain, when more educated and skilled workers migrate to urban areas because they are unable to find appropriate jobs in rural areas.
Experts predict that by 2021, Thailand will become an aging society, that is, a population that has up to 20 percent aged 60 and above. This, combined with a low birth rate and an increasing number of children moving away from home for work means that there are fewer people available to take care of the senior members of their family.
This would trend towards a need for more health services, especially for the less mobile ones who are not entirely independent. Efforts have been made to provide community health care, for non-critical seniors.
Issues, however, abound. A lack of trust in the system combined with low of available funds for many seniors result in many putting off or avoiding treatment until critical care is needed. Universal health care is available, but usually is for emergencies, with little to no coverage for follow up care afterwards.
Thai is the national and official language of Thailand and spoken by the vast majority of the population. Use of English is more common in larger businesses, particularly in Bangkok, but fluency is low for the most part. For the survival of any business in Thailand there needs to be people who speak both languages to make it easier to work with the people there.
Displaying positive emotions in social interactions is also important in Thai culture. Respect for hierarchy and power distance is considered very important, hence bun khun and the wai to emphasize deference to parents, teachers and bosses.
Serenity is valued, conflict, disrespect or anger is to be avoided or minimized whenever possible. Businesses should capitalize on the culture of collectivism (not individualism) because in Thailand people believe in strength of the group.
Thailand is the world’s most heavily Buddhist country. About 93.6 percent of all the people in Thailand are Buddhists (nearly all of them Theravada Buddhists). About 4.6 percent of the population is Muslim. Christians are 0.9 percent of the population; Hindus, 0.1 percent; and Sikhs, Baha’i Faith, and others, 0.6 percent.
These barriers are in varied form and in gives general impact on trade indirectly. They include technical and health regulations, government procurement and distribution policies, various government subsidies, financial aids and transportation policies.
The main problems of disconnected markets and lack of knowledge of foreign markets are obstacles related to the problem of information asymmetrics. Here in the each individual company lacks the information regarding the demand and supply situation in neighboring countries and also does not have the incentives to enter into it.
Some of the main informal trade barriers include corruption among customs officers is rampant, with businesses gaining tax advantages by bribing officers to allow imports with artificially low values stated.
Protectionism, Thai-style involves partnering with a stronger manufacturing country, incentivizing investors, as it did with the shirt market decades ago, then slowly adding requirements for materials to be locally sourced – yarn, fabric, and eventually even the base cotton. With low labor costs, combined with Japanese technology, Thailand was soon able to manufacture textiles of Japanese quality, at lower prices.
Phenny is a 30 year-old married woman of Chinese descent who was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. She lives with her husband in a small condo in central Sukhumvit, near Central World. Both work full-time in different industries. Since there is no public transportation near either of their workplaces, they drive to work in separate cars. When she arrives at the office, she scans her fingerprint at the reader to check-in. The scanner keeps track of her hours and time at work.
She does not eat at home. Instead, she and another five employees pay the administrative assistant 600 THB a month each to prepare breakfast for them, and together they share their morning meal in the break room at around 8:30 AM. The company provides certain foods such as bread, milk, rice, coffee and several snacks for free in the well-stocked kitchen.
After breakfast, she begins her work as an Assistant Sales and Service Manager on the third floor. Her immediate peer group contains logistics, service support members and other administrative employees in a semi-open workspace. Also sharing the workspace is the accounting team, although they are clustered together in another part of the room. With the exception of the sole Service Manager, the staff on this floor are all female.
In the open space, Phenny can chat directly with her assistant, the service team, logistics and purchasing about any questions. The relaxed environment allows for some chit-chat, though not a lot.
Alongside that, the use of social media, specifically LINE chat is a major part of not only personal, but also business communication as well. Although e-mail is still the standard for electronic communication and documentation, with LINE, Phenny can request a price from vendors, check in on out of the office staff, and respond back to managers and customer queries quickly and efficiently. LINE isn’t just for casual conversation anymore. In fact, a large majority of business people use it, even those with limited social media profiles.
There is a one-hour lunch break, but she works through it, and has her co-workers bring something back for her. An accountant has a birthday today, and a cake with candles is presented to her as the office sings Happy Birthday.” She takes a slice of cake.
The work day officially ends at 5 PM, and though the majority of employees leave around that time, she tends to work through 6 or even 7. Today, however, is the badminton group meeting, so she packs up at around 5:30. This is sponsored by the company, as well as twice-weekly after-work aerobics instruction and an unofficial football team. With five other co-workers, she plays for an hour and a half before she drives home. Other days, when she is not too tired, she will spend an hour at the gym.
At home, both Phenny and her husband are too tired to cook, they order dinner through LINEman – tuna and salmon salad for her, and fried chicken for him. There’s milk and bread in the refrigerator, and packages of MaMa in the pantry, but the contents are otherwise spare.
After dinner, with Netflix on the TV, she checks and responds to the LINE messages that have popped up and e-mails that she did not have time to address during the work day. Bed time is 11 PM, a little later than usual, since it is Friday, and she works 5 instead of 6 days a week.
Tomorrow, she will visit her mother, who lives with her two aunts, uncle and younger brother in their family home. None of her aunts or uncle has children. Prior to her marriage, she also lived at home, where her mother was the primary breadwinner before her stroke. In the morning she will pick up her mother and together they will prepare an offering to the monks. They do this once a month and on special occasions, when she has time. Although she is Buddhist, she is not devoutly so.
When both return to her family home, Phenny gives some money to the aunts and uncle who helped raise her and her brother after her parents divorced. They, especially her aunts are highly opinionated, conservative and influential in her life. When was looking into purchasing a car a few years back, she had considered German-built models due to safety concerns. However, due to intense pressure and nagging from her family to buy Japanese,” she relented and bought a Honda SUV, just to keep the peace.
When single, Phenny was expected to follow the more Chinese practices with her family, such as Ching Ming where the family visited their ancestors’ graves to sweep and burn offerings. Now that she’s married and moved out, these requirements are relaxed, partially due to her no longer being physically present all the time, but also because she now belongs” to her husband’s family.
His parents, in contrast, are a mix of Chinese and Thai who observe the traditional Thai holiday practices, such as Songkran, though they tend to be, in her words, more chill” – less controlling, less elitist and less prejudiced.
Localization a Global Company in Thailand. If we take YouTube. Google launched a Thai version of YouTube under a new local domain called Youtube.co.th. The reason for this was because the amount of YouTube viewers in Thailand were quite high.
Thai people watch YouTube for almost 1 million hours a day with more than one billion views per month. The sole purpose for this was to boost brand and local content. Searching for content in Thai would be more accurate.
Local site meant that YouTube will work more closely with local creators and video makers in Thailand can start earning money from there videos. It also launched the YouTube partner program and made the Thailand the 62nd country with its own local version.
There are a number of social and cultural aspects that businesses need to take into account, should a new or existing company decide to expand into Thailand.
The first step, and a critical one, would be to learn the Thai language. Although English is used more and more in the professional workplace, the ability to communicate effectively to a majority of the population is paramount and shows a certain amount of respect and sensitivity to the culture. It has been said that language is what brings people together.
Loyalty is a paramount and essential part of Thai culture. This doesn’t just include loyalty to friends, family, or their long-term relationships, but extends to brands as well. From the 7-11 they buy their favorite flavor MaMa noodles from, to brands of deodorants, shampoos and Chang beer, Thai consumers are less likely to fluctuate between, say, Chang and Leo, despite sales and other markdowns of latter. This means, not only long-term customers, but also potential long-term employees. Rotating and/or new management would not go over well with Thai workers, who value stability. Be loyal to them and they will be loyal to you.
In short, certain Walmart way” of doing things, including refusing to learn the native language and replacing high-level managers every two years would fare about as well in Thailand as it did in Germany.
Although work-life balance is considered an important factor in business, Thai workers tend to average more hours than U.S. or European standards. Many work six days a week, preferring Sundays off to spend with the family. The average vacation length is one week. National holidays such as Songkran are observed by most businesses as well.
Although Thailand’s rapidly aging population may cause issues as employees move out of the work force and into retirement, this is partially mitigated by the influx of potential workforce towards more urban areas of the country, such as Bangkok, and an increase of women entering the workplace.
That said, many manufacturing companies are looking into robotics and AI processes to automate dangerous, mundane and repetitive tasks. Although more expensive at the onset, the longer operational hours, lower error rate and ability to do things in hazardous environments may be one step to finding a solution to a lower number of factory workers.
Nearly 64 percent of Thai women are currently in the workforce, mainly in administrative and white-collar jobs. They are usually college educated, technologically apt and in married households, tend to be in charge of the money. This means, they are more likely to responsible for a majority of online as well as brick-and-mortar purchases.
The popularity of online sites such as Shopee and Lazada can attest to that. For businesses, that means a digital presence, such as a web site with emotionally appealing, fun and engaging content is a must. E-commerce availability is a draw to convenience to potential buyers online.
Many women such as Phenny shop big,” only once a month or so, and that is mainly for clothes or larger bulk items such as tissues and when there is necessity such as preparation for a wedding. Thai consumer buying habits follow a similar trend when it comes to purchases. Buying bulk or shopping for the week” from large-scale retailers such as Makro are less popular than running down to the corner 7-11 daily for small purchases and impulse buys, such as a sandwich, a beer or a snack.
In summary, businesses who wish to make inroads and succeed in Thailand’s market should make the effort to adapt and integrate by learning the native language, benefit from Thai social behaviors, including close-knit group, loyalty and hierarchy, realize the power and potential of women in the workforce, look to better automation processes, and capitalize on technological and social media trends in the current market.
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