Vietnamese Online Industry: SWOT Analysis (part 2)

Hi guys,

I wrote a SWOT analysis about Vietnamese Online Industry half a year ago. I have received a lot of comments, feedbacks from various friends about the accuracy and content of that analysis.

6 months later, the situation in Vietnam has changed much.
Some of the Threats last time have become reality. So i decided to write an update or part 2 of that analysis.

Updated 2019: Since this post was written back in 2008, more than 11 years ago, here is an updated post on 8 key facts about Vietnam digital marketing landscape.

Part I: Strength

The internet is still growing strong in Vietnam in terms of number of online users.
We see the same trend now compared to 6 months ago. Most internet users are youngsters and they go online for purely entertainment activities.
These include: listening to music, Instant messaging, looking for cool gadgets to buy, forums etc…

As in for Google and Yahoo, Yahoo is still investing substantially in Vietnam. The main office for Yahoo Vietnam is located in Ho Chi Minh city and they are aggressively recruiting new people.
You can refer to the Yahoo Singapore job site for more information on openings.
Most of the positions for Vietnam right now are for Community, Search and Media.

Google is the opposite of Yahoo if i am not mistaken. During the last 6 months, Google has been trying to launch Google Adsense in Vietnamese but none of the big portals pick it up.
The same goes for the normal brick and mortar sites.
Google launched Orkut in Vietnamese as well, hiring Bates141 to do the PR work. However, i don’t think it’s getting any where for the near future.
You can refer to the screen shot below taken from Google Insights for Search, evaluating orkut in Vietnam

orkut in vietnam

We can see the spike started in Apr and lasted for about 1 month. Right now it’s cooling off again. Right now it seems that Google decided to stop putting much efforts into Vietnam but rather focus on other markets in the region.
As long as Google has the unchallenged leadership in generic Search in Vietnam, they are still alright i suppose.

Another Good thing about Vietnam market is the booming of not only social networking sites as mentioned previously but other services as well.
For example, i find it’s great to use mapping service tool like www.diadiem.com
It’s effective, easy to use and does not have many advertisement.
I hope that more and more similar services will be available in Vietnam besides those existing brand name classified ads sites etc…

Part II: Weaknesses

Infrastructure & Price of Online related services

The infrastructure in Vietnam hasn’t improved that much during these 6 months.
We still see the common problem where people get disconnected easily while surfing.
I am not going to touch on any price related services at this point simply because of the sky high inflation rate in Vietnam right now.
Everything is increasing so let’s wait until it cools down and we can have a better picture.

Local talent

For local talent, it’s getting better actually with more and more people are exposed to Online marketing or Search Engine Marketing. The number is still relatively small but we definitely see a substantial increase over the past 6 months.
It might be because of the high inflation rate which makes company rethink their marketing model or investment firms start to put even more money into Online related activities.
However, one of the main things is English. This is still a very big issue for Vietnamese talents who want to work regionally or for a foreign company.

E commerce & Tax Law

Previously in Vietnam, only debit cards were popular. However, right now more and more banks are providing credit cards (visa, master cards or even American express).
This will help tremendously since now it’s even easier to buy stuff online and it shows that the demand is there.

Payment gateway and local online merchants are still missing though. We understand that for these to change, it might probably take another year or two.

Market size, lack of transparency when doing business, Intellectual rights

These issues still remain. However, Intellectual rights problems are getting slightly better because of the liberal in reporting/publishing news so companies are more cautious when it comes to IP.
The growth of Online market is affected by the uncertain economy/high inflation as well.
It’s mostly from the clients’ side, especially banking/finance sectors, in which they are cutting back budget etc…
However, it doesn’t really affect how foreign investors view the market though. They actually see this as an opportunity to grab as much share as possible at a cheap price.

Part III: Opportunities

I briefly touched on Opportunities above when mentioning about foreign investors.
I believe we are going to see the same scenarios in Online marketing industry as in other industries.
Some big brand name overseas will try to be snatch as much share of the big local companies as possible at cheap price because the economy is going through some tough time and then straight the way sell them later on because they still think that it’s hard work & a slow burn to be successful in Vietnam.
Another portion of these investors will continue pouring money in companies like managing a hedge fund and expecting out of 30 companies, one of them will survive and prosper.

We, however, start to see another group, which is more genuinely care about the local market and wants to have long term success here.
Investment is not a big challenge since it’s still relatively cheap to invest in Online businesses compared to other businesses in Vietnam.

Besides, the government starts to implement more strict measures to make sure that state owned corporations refocus back into their core businesses rather than investing in non sense businesses and trying to excel in every single “easy to make money” field.

While FPT in general is going down sharply in the last 6 months, i still think that VnExpress business is doing quite well. They changed the layout of the site substantially in the past 6 months. It looks very professional now with all the common functions internationally like RSS feed, social rating, etc…

Part IV: Threats:

I guess it’s clear now that sustainable business growth is something that Vietnamese shouldn’t take for granted.
Economic downturn always results in cutting marketing budget. Ideally when working with smaller budgets, marketing managers need to be more creative and cautious with their money (in terms of return on Investment). However, as we know reality is far from that.
People are lazy and hence, many times they are not willing to try something new, something that may prove to be of better choice in times like these.
This issue poses a big threat to start up companies/start up departments in Online marketing field because Online is still a relatively new concept to Vietnamese market.

Other threats like living costs and living environment are getting worse.
We understand this because of the state of the economy. However, it also discourages overseas Vietnamese to return to Vietnam to work in the near future or companies who wants to hire good foreigner managers overseas to go to Vietnam.

Ok guys, it’s getting late and i have training tomorrow so have to cut it short.
Any comments/feedback are welcome as per usual.

Good night and see you next time!
Chandler

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