Capitalizing on Vietnam’s Healthy and Sustainable Living Trend: A Guide for International Retailers

Many Vietnamese consumers are reducing the frequency at which they eat out, increasing how often they cook at home, and being more careful when choosing fresh food in an endeavor to eat healthier. In this article, we discuss how international retailers can take advantage of Vietnam's healthy and sustainable living trend.

In Vietnam, a dynamic nation rich in culture and tradition, the winds of change are sweeping through the consumer landscape, steering it in a new direction: healthy and sustainable living.

As the world grapples with pressing environmental challenges and a growing awareness of individual well-being, Vietnamese consumers are increasingly prioritizing eco-friendly choices and responsible consumption practices.

With an expanding consumer class and rapid urbanization, the market potential for sustainable products and services has never been more promising in Vietnam.

In this article, we explore the burgeoning healthy and sustainable living trend in Vietnam and shed light on how foreign retailers can best cater to the country’s conscious consumers.

Vietnam’s healthy and sustainable living trend explained

According to a survey conducted by the Business Association of High-Quality Vietnam Products, consumers pay attention to fundamental factors, such as perceived quality, durability, and cost, as well as product safety, the freshness of the product, the knowledge of the nutritional content, and the country of origin.

Customers are willing to spend a lot of money on goods that are considered ‘green’ and/or ‘clean’ and made from sustainable resources. Many consumers stated that they prefer to purchase organic, biological, and non-GMO goods.

Consumers are also highly concerned about food safety and cleanliness. According to the survey, 43 percent of respondents said they were worried that firms may utilize illegal chemicals in the manufacture and preservation of food or sub-par raw materials.

Factors driving the trend

Customers' awareness of environmental pollution and sustainable products

Recently, Vietnamese customers have become more aware of environmental pollution and sustainable products. According to a survey by PwC, more than 90 percent of respondents are willing to pay more for products with verified origin and products using sustainable materials.

This awareness has led to significant demand for sustainable options. Companies are adapting their strategies to meet these changing preferences, emphasizing transparency, eco-labeling, and sustainable practices to appeal to conscious consumers in Vietnam.

A thriving consumer class

According to Mckinsey & Company, in the next 10 years, 37 million additional individuals in Vietnam will join the consumer class ( spending at least US$11 per day). Also, according to the online portal of the Ministry of Construction, Vietnam is one of the fastest-urbanizing countries in East Asia. As of September 2022, it’s estimated there are 888 urban areas across the country, with an urbanization rate of roughly 41.5 percent.

Vietnam's increasing consumer class and rapid urbanization have resulted in an escalating demand for high-quality food products. As disposable incomes rise, consumers are seeking better-quality and safer food options. They prioritize products that are nutritious, hygienic, and meet international standards. This trend has led to an increased preference for organic, natural, and premium food items.

Challenges faced by retailers

Higher cost to invest in R&D

Retailers in Vietnam are facing higher costs to invest in research and development (R&D) as they attempt to catch up with the growing healthy living trend. The surge in demand for health-conscious products necessitates substantial R&D expenditure to develop innovative and nutritious offerings that cater to changing consumer preferences.

Additionally, investing in R&D facilities and technology can be financially demanding for retailers seeking to stay competitive in this rapidly evolving market.

Finding suitable suppliers

For retailers trying to catch up with the healthy living trend in Vietnam, finding suitable suppliers may pose significant challenges.

Firstly, the ability to source high-quality and organic ingredients or products may be limited, as the local market’s supply of suppliers meeting this criterion is limited.

Secondly, ensuring reliable and consistent supply chains can be problematic due to the need to adhere to stringent quality standards. These challenges demand diligent research, establishing new partnerships, and potentially navigating cultural and language barriers to successfully meet consumer demands in the evolving Vietnamese market.

Strategies for foreign retailers

Promote local and sustainable products

Retailers can adopt effective strategies to promote local and sustainable products. Firstly, they can create dedicated sections of their stores or create displays that highlight locally sourced items, emphasizing their origin and positive environmental impact.

Secondly, collaborating with local farmers and producers can strengthen the supply chain and build a sense of community support. Engaging with sustainability-focused organizations and certifications can enhance credibility and trustworthiness, ultimately fostering a more environmentally conscious shopping experience.

Highlight health labels and certifications

Retailers can effectively promote health labels and certifications by visibly displaying them on product packaging and in-store displays. Providing detailed explanations of each label's significance through signage and educational material can help to enhance consumer awareness. Collaborating with health experts for informative workshops or events will reinforce the importance of informed, health-conscious choices. By prioritizing transparency and information dissemination, retailers can empower customers to make better decisions.

Selecting suitable suppliers

Retailers can catch up with the healthy living trend by employing effective supplier selection strategies. Clearly define health and sustainability criteria, and assess potential suppliers' adherence to these standards. Prioritize transparent supply chains and certifications, such as organic and fair trade. Collaborate with innovative suppliers investing in R&D to meet changing consumer preferences. Consider sourcing locally. Negotiate fair prices and terms. Foster open communication and continuous evaluation to maintain a dynamic supply chain aligned with the healthy living trend.

Case studies

MM Mega Market

Formerly Metro Cash & Carry, a ‘giant’ wholesaler in Europe, MM Mega Market (MM) brand is one of the few merchants to make an investment in quick, competent, and cutting-edge laboratory assessments of foods to verify the quality and safety of their products.

Furthermore, its last-mile delivery system has recently been digitized so that the delivery time is shortened and the food supplied to the client is fresher and maintains its quality.

Saigon Co.op

Saigon Co.op recently implemented a new set of technical requirements for fresh foods. Furthermore, Saigon Co.op has stated its practice of regularly conducting random sample testing to verify the accuracy of standards set by suppliers. This meticulous approach guarantees the safe delivery of fresh foods such as vegetables, fruits, and meat to customers, while also upholding their quality throughout the entire process.

Outlook for market growth

The healthy and sustainable living trend has become an undeniable force in the Vietnamese market, reshaping consumer preferences and presenting retailers with a remarkable opportunity for growth. By tapping into the healthy and sustainable living trend, retailers can not only boost their sales but they can also play a pivotal role in driving a positive change in Vietnam’s eating habits.


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