Expats say it’s smart to buy made-in-Vietnam

November 18, 2009

VietNamNet Bridge – A mini-survey reveals that expats have found many Vietnamese goods to be good values. 

Since July, when a Politburo resolution called on consumers to buy goods made in Vietnam, newspapers have been ruminating on why many Vietnamese seem to favor foreign brands.  Now Saigon Tiep Thi, a business paper, has reported on its mini survey of the preferences of 100 expats –  70 who are working in HCM City and 30 in Hanoi.

 

Foreigners use made in Vietnam goods

 

Saigon Tiep Thi was pleasantly surprised to find that the expats in its sample relied on Vietnamese products for their food, drink and office supplies.

 

Jon Dillingham, a 25 year-old American in HCM City City, said he has two principles when he buys goods. First, he tries to buy goods with a good local reputation that are made near where he lives.  Thus, Dillingham explained, he can buy goods at the lowest possible prices, because producers and distributors do not have big costs for packaging, transportation, import taxes and advertising. This will also help protect the environment.  Second, he is skeptical of advertising claims.  “I purchase goods that I find fit my taste and meet my needs, not because other people purchase them,” he said.

 

Dillingham said he always purchases rice grown in the Mekong Delta.  It is really absurd, he thinks, that some Vietnamese people prefer to eat rice grown in Thailand or Taiwan.  He also finds it strange that Vietnamese people like agro-industrial foods.  Introducing industrial methods, Dillingham reasons, will only lower the quality of agricultural products because chemicals will be used, and the foods will no longer be ‘natural.’

 

Miles Fah, a Canadian, 43, previously drank Czech and German beer, but now he likes drinking Saigon Beer. At first, Fah tried Saigon beer just out of curiosity: he wanted to know how beer brewed from rice differed from beer brewed from barley.  Soon he became a fan of Saigon Beer.

 

Every time he visits his friends and family in Canada, Fah brings them Trung Nguyen Coffee as a gift from Vietnam.

 

Dillingham’s also become a fan of Vietnamese coffee.  He’s a frequent visitor to Highlands Coffee shops, not just for the good coffee, but also because of the chain’s pleasant atmosphere.

 

Saigon Tiep Thi is pleasantly surprised that its foreign sample liked the  Highlands and Trung Nguyen brand coffees and coffee shops better than the shops in the Starbucks chain.  Lee One Seek, a Korean, confessed that before he came to Vietnam, he was a Starbucks afficianado, but now he does not drink Starbucks any more because Vietnam’s coffee is better.

 

Lee was one of a group of South Korean office workers interviewed at Viet Media, a South Korean-Vietnamese joint venture In HCM City.  All said they rate Chinsu Soy Sauce highly. They also said they drink Vinamilk dairy products and use Vietnamese bottled water at the office.  For use in the events it organizes, Viet Media always purchases pens and paper from local bookstores or gifts like silk scarf and picture frames from Vietnamese Khai Silk.

 

Karla from El Salvador, living in the upscale HCMC suburb of Phu My Hung, said that she has been very satisfied with a set of Minh Long chinaware. The dishes are in good condition after five years’ use.  Karla believes that many Vietnam made products are very good and she has introduced them to her friends.

 

Vietnamese producers need to improve service quality

 

Jon Dillingham said that he likes a sarsaparilla drink marketed by Chuong Duong Beverages. However, he complains, he can only find his xa xi at a few sidewalk shops or variety stores; cafes do not offer it.

 

Tejendra Singh (India) uses a lot of honey, but he hasn’t found a brand that satisfies him.  Singh complains that when he shops at supermarkets, the sales staff have difficulty communicating with foreigners. They can’t tell a foreigner what he or she needs to know about a product.

 

Karen Amber (US) said she finds it hard to learn the origin of the products displayed at shops. When she asks the shop owners or salespeople, they say they do not know, or perhaps they lie.  Often she ends up with something that doesn’t satisfy her; in such cases, she has to throw it away instead of returning it to the shops.  Also, Amber cannot understand why goods are always ‘over-wrapped,’ so that there’s lots of waste material that may harm the environment.

 

Tony Magnifico confesses he’s an ‘oversized man’, and that gives him problems purchasing clothes in Vietnam.  Magnifico once bought a pair of trousers at Ben Thanh Market, but the stitches ripped as soon as he tried to wear them. After that, he hasn’t tried to purchase clothes in Vietnam any more.

 

Magnifico’s also found it difficult to return products if they turn out to be unsatisfactory.  Sellers are reluctant to return the cost when products break down. “Sellers never take responsibility, so the buyers suffer,” he said

 

Karla also finds it hard to find clothes in Vietnam. Small shops do not have items in her size, but only goods that fit Vietnamese. Meanwhile, at the Parkson or Diamond trade centres, the clothes – mostly imports — are too expensive. If she orders clothes from tailors, she says, she has to pay two or three times as much as their Vietnamese customers.

 

Reflecting on the results of its survey, Saigon Tiep Thi concludes that if Vietnamese producers can only satisfy the nation’s 100,000 expats, they will be able to expand their sales, not only to those 100,000 foreigners, but to many other foreigners all over the world, because the expats will be wonderful ambassadors to introduce Vietnamese goods.

 

VietNamNet/SGTT

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