‘Womenenomics” The Real Economic Force Behind the Rise of Vietnam

Sourcing in Vietnam
Recently the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Shinzo Abe delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly outlining the status of Japan’s economy. In one part of his speech he mentioned for structural reform of the Japanese economy and his country’s need to tap into the most underutilized economic resource in Japan: Japanese women.

Ms. Kathy Matsui in 1999 coined a phrase entitled “Womenomics” best describing this potential economic stimulus. This concept of Womenomics, according to Ms. Matsui, could add 15% to the gross domestic product of Japan! Now 14 years later her thesis is being seriously considered by the most powerful man in Japan.

It goes without saying that many Asian countries have not really tapped into this potential economic reform power of Womenonics, especially in the Southeast countries. There are gaps of inequality deeply embedded in the culture and society of all ASEAN countries. Most countries follow parochial Confucius practices largely a controlling factor by men over women enforcing this economic inequality gap.

Or maybe not. There is one Asian country that we believe is going against the tide and ‘unofficially’ shortening this economic inequality gap.

This country is Vietnam. Women in Vietnam, especially between the ages of 30 and 55 years of age, are slowly paving the way to sustained job creation, sophisticated consumerism and creating the demand of a robust service industry in Vietnam. Vietnamese women are contributing to the gross domestic product much more than official statistics say.

Noteworthy facts and statistics of Vietnam and Vietnamese Women:

  • 2nd youngest population in Asia
  • 3rd largest female working population in Asia
  • Smallest urban population in Asia but with Urban Upper class is emerging led by women
  • Female consumers in Vietnam have money and wear the pants in the family (decision makers)
  • New wealth segments are developing, requiring new and sophisticated shopping venues lead by Vietnamese women shopping tastes and habits

Vietnamese women are the decision maker and take responsibility of ALL purchases in a typical household in Vietnam.

Incomes and Investments
According to research conducted over the past few years by private research agencies, especially the FTA Research and Consultant agency in HCMC, Vietnam, most agree that Vietnamese women are the major decision makers for household durable goods. They also save 14% of their totally monthly income and invest another 9% in gold and real estate, on average.

This demographic are a dynamic group where most are managing their own business, and still have a full time job and then they manage the affairs of home.

“Vietnamese women are the decision makers and take full responsibility of ALL purchases in a typical household in Vietnam.”

They earn on average about 20 million VND ($1000 USD) either as a single wage earner or slightly higher with a combined monthly salary with their husbands wage, and, from their own business.

They invest heavily in their children (education, electronics, hobbies) and more and more are purchasing houses and cars. Women within these groups are quite assertive in climbing the corporate ladder for promotion and increase in wages.

Buying Power
However, they dislike shopping online and WOM (word of mouth) influences are more important than local newspapers, magazines, radio and the Internet.

When they do make purchases they search for information before making a purchase and are willing to pay for global brands. They do not follow trends as much as younger women (20 to 30 years old) and choose products following their own developing tastes.

Personal Development
They are creative and willing to explore new experiences much more than men, and very shrewd in their shopping experiences. More Debit and Credit cards are held by Vietnamese women than men.

Around 32% of women between the ages of 30 and 55 upgrade their skills by taking programs and courses for their career, job and personal development Foreign languages, a second degree and a Master degree round-out their interests.

So, maybe Japan should look to Vietnam and study how Vietnamese women are influencing the economics of their country.

And international companies and their brands thinking of doing business in Vietnam should focus their energies on this extremely influential demographic of women between the ages of 30 and 55 years old. They have the purchasing power and the money in their hand ready to spend! spend! spend!

Shinzo Abe: Unleashing the Power of ‘Womenomics’, The Wall Street Journal – Asia Edition Sorry subscribers only.

Womenomics: Kathy Matsui, Goldman Sachs
Ms. Matsui indirectly refers to Vietnam in the video as part of the next wave of growth markets that includes Nigeria and Pakistan. She mentions that the gap of inequality is large and lies opportunity for growth.

TEDxTokyo – Kathy Matsui – Womenomics

FTA Research and Consultant HCMC, Vietnam