You may think that most mobile phones in Vietnam are the cheap feature phones, but actually the smartphone sales ratio has increased to 60% already. Among that, Apple is one of the most popular brand. Vietnamese are the status-seekers and love brands. “Facebook” and “Apple” are the ones they love. Although I hear that young stars in the other Asean countries start to get away with those brands due to too much of commonness, those brand have absolute values here in Vietnam. iPhone sales in VN in March 2014 has increased by 250% and Tim Cook has referred to Vietnam in his speech.
Having said that, the income of Vietnamese uni-graduate is a couple hundred US dollars monthly while iPhone cost more than $700 USD. How can they afford buying it? I ran the simple survey using our service of Q&Me.
Through our survey, we summarised the income and spending image of Vietnamese youth. The average income of the respondents are around $400 USD. The biggest difference of the spending (against Japan) can be found at housing cost. Many youth live in shared-house. Bathroom, toilet and kitchens are shared and the cost is $30-$40 USD monthly. On the other hand, it is one of the characteristic of Vietnam that many youth send money back to their parents. At last, Vietnam has many good and cheap telecommunication services and you could get 3G at $5 USD monthly.
Vietnamese manage to secure money to buy iPhone from this kind of spending cycles. Usually they save the salary of 2-3 months to pay for the device. Not many people afford buying new one and many used iPhones, which are imported from the other countries, are available. Vietnamese check the cheapest iPhone pricing through internet to find the best deals.
Borrowing money is quite common to buy iPhones as well. Consumer money loan services are not common in Vietnam yet but they borrow money from friends frequently. Most have had borrowed the money in the past and half are now “in debt” from friends. They think borrowing money a bit casually thinking that a small amount count be returned to them easily once they got a new salary. I myself have been asked from my staff to pay salary in advance as she has a plan to go to Thailand.
On the other hand, some mobile chain stores have started the money loan services that could be used when they buy smart phones. Vietnamese love cash but increasing consumer demand may change this situation.