Dateline Southeast Asia

Win a boy band: Thailand’s drinks draw silly season gets under way

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock
As temperatures begin soaring in Thailand, pulses will also start racing among soft drinks buyers tantalised by the big name prizes on offer once again this season, including cars and opportunities to meet their favourite boy bands.

Thailand’s summer months have traditionally coincided with a flood of prize draws from beverage manufacturers in the country’s packed market.

This year, they are collectively poised to inject as much as THB4bn (US$111m) baht into marketing campaigns for a share of Thailand’s soft drinks business. As usual, this is prompted by the heavy competition between the many local brands in the market as they fight for a share after the dominant Coca-Cola and Pepsi have taken their chunk of the THB157bn (US$4.5bn) market. 

The competitive landscape of soft drinks in Thailand remained fragmented with the presence of many domestic players​,” market analyst Euromonitor said in a recent assessment of the country. 

Domestic soft drinks players thrived thanks to their competitive pricing, attractive marketing campaigns and wide distribution networks. Nevertheless, Coca-Cola (Thailand) continued to lead the industry by a high margin thanks to its strong brand equity and wide brand portfolio​.”

Other soft drink leaders include Oishi, Ichitan, Tipco fruit juice, Singha drinking water, Sponsor, Carabao Dang and Est cola. According to Euromonitor, they collectively face “a slowdown in performance​” until 2021, mainly due to the maturity of the carbonates, ready-to-drink tea and energy drinks categories. 

Growth over the next four years is expected to be largely supported by healthier options, such as bottled water, juice and sports drinks.

This summer, at least one beverage manufacturer will give lucky winners prizes of blocks of gold, while Thai Drinks Co-promoted Est Cola, which occupies a little over 10% of the market, will be offering chances to win a Toyota Yaris or an exclusive trip to Koh Samet with Got7, a Korean boy band. 

Jesdakorn Ghosh, senior vice-president of Thai Drinks Co, told the Bangkok Post that he was setting aside THB300m (US$8.6m) for a three-month summer campaign.

He said that a rebound in spending on soft drinks at supermarkets so far this year suggested that the drinks market might even see positive growth, while expected hot weather will encourage customers to consume more. 

Thailand’s government has been mulling measures to regulate the beverage prize draw season, though so far it has done little more than to put pressure on companies to manufacture healthier products.

Thais consume on average 104g, equivalent to 26 teaspoons, of sugar a day—over twice the level recommended by the World Health Organisation—according to official figures.

Bottle cap contests, which have consumers looking for for codes under the cap, have gained in popularity lately after they were introduced by high-profile businessman Tan Passakornnatee several years ago.

Thai people like lucky draw campaigns​,” said Sutha Jienmaneechotchai, deputy director-general of the Department of Health. “Letting companies freely arrange the promotions has boosted consumption​.”

Meanwhile, the government has been continuing to promote initiatives to encourage healthier eating and drinking habits, while planning to bring in a soda tax. 

It has also launched a “Healthier Choice​” logo programme and regularly publishes academic studies to communicate to consumers the dangers of excessive sugar consumption.

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Ifad to boost prospects for Cambodian farmers by easing access to credit

The United Nations’ agricultural funding agency will provide more than half of the US$62m set aside to expand commercial agricultural markets for 75,000 smallholder households and developing better links between producers and buyers.

Cambodia

Ifad, which has extended loans to Cambodia worth US$180m since 1996, will fund this project to the tune of US$36.3m, with the remaining millions coming from Cambodia’s government and private businesses.

Interestingly, the beneficiaries themselves have pledged over US$8m to the “Accelerating Inclusive Markets for Smallholders​” project.

Our goal is to enable poor smallholders to take advantage of market opportunities by working with others in the agribusiness sector to identify areas of potential growth​,” said Benoit Thierry, Ifad’s programme manager for Cambodia, explaining that the fund would help improve smallholders’ access to financing, and aid their ability to tap into new markets within the Asean economic community. 

We also make it a point to include opportunities for women and young adults in all activities​,” he added.

Though the proportion of Cambodia’s poor has dropped from over the last decade from 53% to 17.5% in the eight years to 2012, rural areas’s economies have become stagnant. 

Ifad insists that livelihoods can be improved if high-value agriculture in particular were developed in the country for domestic and export markets.

But first it must address challenges that include fractured supply links between farmers and markets, and the difficulty smallholders face in securing proper finance.

The project aims to organise and guide farmers and small and medium businesses to intensify and diversify production and boost the market value of agricultural products by improving on the quality of production and processing​,” Ifad said. 

It will also develop and promote value chains through an “innovation fund​” established with rural banks to provide direct finance to innovative business proposals by stakeholders across the 15 provinces that will initially feature in the project.