Vietnam: New Assessments of Consumption Patterns in a (Re) Emergent Capitalist Society



Citation:

Clifford J. Shultz, II and Anthony Pecotich (1994) ,"Vietnam: New Assessments of Consumption Patterns in a (Re) Emergent Capitalist Society", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, eds. Joseph A. Cote and Siew Meng Leong, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 222-227.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, 1994      Pages 222-227

VIETNAM: NEW ASSESSMENTS OF CONSUMPTION PATTERNS IN A (RE) EMERGENT CAPITALIST SOCIETY

Clifford J. Shultz, II, University of New England and Columbia University

Anthony Pecotich, University of Western Australia

[We wish to express our sincerest gratitude to Mr. Le Bang ambassador of the Permanent Mission of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United Nations (and former Director of the Americas, Ministry of State), Dr. Le Xuan Nghia and his colleagues at the Institute for Research on Market and Price, Hanoi, and Mr. Nguyen Xuan Que and his colleagues at the College of Marketing, Ho Chi Minh City, and the consumers in Vietnam who graciously gave of their time to help us. We also thank the Arizona State University FGIA program and the Columbia University Chazen Institute for helping to fund this research.]

ABSTRACT -

The purpose of this paper is to extend a research stream on Vietnamese consumption patterns. The results presented are an assessment at the two-year mark of a longitudinal study. Our objective is to describe consumption phenomena in Vietnam at a critical phase of the nation's transformation to market socialism. We also examined the nation in the context of its policy designed to create a "third way" to prosperity, a free-market economy under the aegis of authoritarian Communist Party leadership. Interpretations and emergent themes are presented.

INTRODUCTION

The magnitude and rate of change currently being lived by consumers in Vietnam is stunning and perhaps the best way to introduce this phenomenon is to compare two separate experiences by one of the authors. The first experience occurred during the first visit to Vietnam in 1992; the second experience during a recent 1994 visit.

Hanoi, Government Guest House May 2, 1992

After returning from a leisurely walk around beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, where my physical features as a non Asian provoked curious stares (sometimes entire groups would stop to cluster around us, but few people would attempt to speak because we were presumed to be Russian or because the curious on-lookers could speak no English) I went to my room and discovered a nest of ants in my bed. I then went downstairs to the reception area and politely voiced a complaint with the attendant at the front desk. Without pausing to ponder the question or without trying to understand my perspective as a customer-i.e., someone who is paying for a service and who has a level of expectation to be met if I am to be satisfied-she glared at me with an intensity that seemed to pierce my soul, then simply and dispassionately responded, "Are you afraid?" And with that response I realized that the concept of customer satisfaction would take a while to become a part of Vietnamese commerce.

Hanoi, Phung Hung State Hotel, January 9, 1994

After completing a wonderful French-Vietnamese meal at the fashionable restaurant, "202," whose clientele this night was entirely non Vietnamese (Australians, French and a few Americans), I hailed a taxi (a form of transportation new to Hanoi in the last six months), and returned to my state-run hotel. I was pleasantly greeted by the receptionist and given the key to my room, number 323. I walked up two flights of stairs that overlooked a courtyard, turned to my room and was met outside the door by a an attractive, fashionably and seductively dressed young woman, laden with the scent of Dune (I knew the brand as it happens to be my wife's favorite perfume). She dangled before me the key to room 207 and inquired in perfect English about my interest in a "massage..."

Extraordinary Change and New Assessments

Whatever the opinions one may have about the practices and policies of the government of Vietnam, the Vietnamese people are very quick learners. The result of this learning curve is extraordinary change. Indeed change is the emergent theme that best describes the consumption environment in Vietnam and it has been made possible because the government, still controlled by the Communist Party, recognized its necessity (Quan Doi Nhan Dan 1992). Presently, however, we are witnessing a growing populist movement among consumers that demands change. Now there is a legitimate belief that the government, regarded by many observers as an authoritative institution willing to implement draconian methods to control its citizens, is simply incapable of slowing let alone stopping the changes and the concomitant emergence of a far reaching consumer culture (Shultz and Le 1993). Nguyen Xuan Oanh (1994), former President of the Republic of Vietnam, has articulated well the impetus for this transformation: "There is an urge by everyone to catch up to the rest of the world."

The purpose of this paper is to extend a research stream on Vietnamese consumption patterns. We intend to re-examine the emergent themes from the consumption phenomena in Vietnam that we have described previously (cf., Pecotich and Shultz 1992; Shultz and Pecotich1993; Shultz, Pecotich and Le in press) and expand those themes with data collected at a critical phase of the nation's transformation to market socialism. The results presented are an assessment at the two-year mark of a longitudinal study. They provide an indication of Vietnam's particular experiences during its on-going transition from communism to a form of market-driven economy and the effects of this transition on the 73 million consumers of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as they continue to create their "third way" to prosperity, a free-market economy under the direction of authoritarian Communist Party leadership (Hanson 1991; Williams 1992).

Reviewing the (Re)emergence of Capitalism

Generations of war, political and physical division, and almost thirty years of a US-led trade embargo, had pushed Vietnam to the brink of collapse. After reunifcation (or liberation, depending on one's political orientation) and a series of ill-conceived Marxist economic plans, the nation had emerged as one of the world's poorest. Living conditions were so deplorable in some regions the government was seriously concerned about a popular revolt. In 1986 the Sixth Party Congress of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam acted to defuse the situation by agreeing to implement a policy referred to as doi moi, i.e., economic renovation or change for the new (See Karnow 1991; Shultz, Pecotich and Le in press; Vo 1990 for synopses of the conditions that precipitated doi moi). With this policy change the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has generally improved life quality for the nation's people and it has solidified power; recent policies have nearly brought inflation to single digits and the pace of Vietnam's transformation is accelerating.

Various aspects of the transformation have been detailed in business, economics, and policy periodicals (see Brown 1988 for a review of these articles up to 1988; see Shultz Pecotich and Le in press for references between 1988 and 1992; Fforde 1993; Freeman 1993; Shultz and Le 1993; UNDP 1993). Entire periodicals and news letters, e.g., Vietnam Investment Review, Vietnam Today, Vietnam Business Journal, Vietnam Economic Commentary and Analysis, that report issues and topics associated with the nations economic renaissance are now being published.

Scholarly work with consumer behavior as the primary focus was begun by us in May 1992. The emergent themes from our initial work included the effects of North and South discrepancies, poverty, and apparatchik resistance on consumer behavior; the emergence of a consumer culture and an interest in popular culture; a desire for American participation in their economic reform; a tendency to stockpile nonperishable consumer goods, to recycle or to lateral cycle durable goods; a concern about ecological and social degradation; and a sense of industriousness buoyed by a guarded optimism (Pecotich and Shultz 1992).

Recently, we noted that those themes were dynamic; that is, they are evolving as Vietnamese society continues to adjust to government policies and the corresponding infusion of new ideas, technologies and products. For example, we observed a growing fragmentation of attitudes and opinions among Vietnamese consumers and that buyer-seller dynamics are changing. We also observed a new and more vigorous entrepreneurial spirit among some retailers while others were not adapting so well; the tendency to continue stockpiling, recycling and lateral cycling; a widening gap between state vs. private enterprises on many dimensions; the impact of competition; consumerism and a concern about assimilating all Vietnamese into the new Market-oriented Vietnam; a desire to own property; more private sector advertising and generally improvement of life quality through material possessions. Furthermore we noticed a rapidly growing infatuation with popular culture and some tensions between government policy and private ambitions, for example the extent of government regulation and appropriate levels of foreign involvement (especially American). [At the time of our second assessment of Vietnam's transformation to a market economy the trade embargo was still in effect and the US government gave no indication it was about to lift it. Almost to a person, Vietnamese would ask us when we thought it would be lifted and eagerly awaited its demise.] Lastly, we continued to be impressed by Vietnamese resolve and the efforts by the people "to make it all work" (Shultz, Pecotich and Le in press).

METHODS

Throughout our study data have been collected on and off site and via secondary sources. Our methods include a combination of ethnographic tools and analyses of secondary data provided by the United Nations, ASEAN, institutions within the Vietnamese, American and Australian governments, and various universities in the United States, Vietnam and Australia. Generally, our site data are collected by using interpretivist methods associated with naturalistic inquiries described by Lincoln and Guba (1985) and formalized for consumer researchers by Wallendorf and Belk 1989 (see Shultz, Pecotich and Le 1993 for a detailed discussion of our methods).

During the past two years we have continued to expand the network of contributors and therefore to acquire new perspectives and to validate earlier findings, and have interviewed informants on and off site with the specific purpose of attaining insights into consumer behaviors, attitudes and opinions, and the phenomenon of consumption and consummation (cf., Holbrook 1985; 1987) in a unique transforming socialist economy. Site methods of data collection included personal interviews, observations, photographic recording, photographic autodriving, and journal documentation.

Some interviewees, as well as other scholars, assisted with microaudits between visits. We originally coined this term in an earlier manuscript (Shultz, Pecotich and Le in press) and differentiate it from the internal audit (Wallendorf and Belk 1989, p. 79) because it involves individuals who are not members of the research team or do not have a vested interest in the research outcomes: a microaudit is a convergence of debriefing and auditing.

Our research team is continually evolving, but always consists of primary and secondary members. For this paper, primary members are an Australian consumer researcher and an American consumer researcher. We have also included Vietnamese scholars as primary members of the research team at various stages of our research. The national diversity of the team is significant and warrants mentioning as it helps overcome interpretive bias and potential difficulties associated with political sensitivities from asking questions about market reforms in an authoritarian socialist country (During the first two phases of data collection, no diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the U.S. were in effect and conducting business in Vietnam was, for an American, a direct violation of the Trading with the Enemy Act; on February 3, 1994 Vietnam was removed from the list of nations affected by this Act, the trade embargo was lifted and formal diplomatic relations were initiated). Researchers and interpreters from several research institutes, universities, and private firms in Vietnam, with whom we had made contact, became secondary research team members. They provided helpful insights, assisted with translations, and helped to triangulate across researchers.

We have discussed before our concerns about using interpreters to collect data on politically sensitive issues, e.g., attitudes and opinions about market reforms in an authoritarian socialist country (Pecotich and Shultz 1992). We reiterate that these concerns tend to dissipate in-country because of the candor of our interpreters and our successful efforts to use "official" interpreters, unofficial interpreters from the private sector, and Viet Kieu (Vietnamese who have emigrated). We have always taken special precautions to maintain the quantity and quality of our field notes: we record as much detail as possible and then discuss observations and notes as frequently as possible; triangulate across sources, sites, and researchers; conclude each day with memoing.

The consumption activity that we examine tends to include purchase allocations and expenditures, the kinds of products consumed, and consumption outcomes (Belk 1988; Dholakia and Firat 1988; Dholakia, Sharif and Bhandari 1988). We use purposive sampling to determine specific sites (e.g., markets, restaurants, kiosks, recreation areas, etc.) people, and time of contact. In essence we generally seek areas and institutions where one is likely to encounter buyer-seller exchanges, venues of post-purchase consumption, product usage, or disposal, and the participants of each.

Site selection, time, and duration of our first visits are cooperatively determined by us and the Vietnamese government. The sites include virtually every place and thing we encounter from when we land in Vietnam until we leave. We tend to follow itineraries and schedule visits to specific sites of interest, but we also visit sites and conduct interviews extemporaneously. In addition to collecting new data with each visit we also conduct memberchecks to verify the credibility of the findings from earlier visits. We believe this relatively unstructured approach is consistent with the spirit and methods of other naturalistic inquiries, and that it does indeed facilitate the emergence of themes as the project unfolds.

Our focus, presently, is urban consumption with a recognition and acceptance of variances among rural peoples. To date, almost all of our data have been collected in and around three large urban centers: Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Vung Tau. In each city our objective has been to immerse ourselves in as many consumption venues as possible. A synopsis of those venues is listed below.

Hanoi

Dong Xuan Market (the city's largest and most centrally located market; much wholesale activity).

Hang Da Market (smaller retail market).

Hom Market (newer; functioning well below capacity).

Hang Dao Street (a retail "strip" with increasingly "upscale" shops and boutiques).

Trang Tien Street vicinity (the location of a set of state run stores).

Other sites (e.g., individual shops, restaurants, hotels, kiosks, etc. around the city).

Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Thanh Market (analogous to Hanoi's Dong Xuan).

An Dong Market (new and multi-storied; at edge of Cholon, traditional ethnic Chinese district; Taiwanese JV Hotel at the top).

Cu Chi district (and Ba Chieu Market about an hour outside HCMC).

Other sites (Le Loi Boulevard, Dhong Khoi Street, Nguyen Hue Boulevard, and Ham Nghi Boulevard).

Vung Tau

(Smaller city, but influential port on the southern coast; integral to Vietnam's oil and shipping industries)

All local markets; many shops hotels, and other consumption venues.

We continue to expand our library of field notes, transcribed notes, color slides, black and white slides, and miscellaneous artifacts. As a cooperative gesture we have also given or participated in six lectures/seminars at Vietnamese research institutes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with an agreement to conduct more during future visits, and have provided consumer behavior text books and course syllabi. Below we describe the most noteworthy changes between visits two and three.

INTERPRETATIONS AND EMERGENT THEMES

As previously stated emergent themes are dynamic. The following interpretations and emergent themes are a synopsis of our observations and are intended to capture that dynamism.

Fragmentation of Attitudes and Opinions

Along with change this macrotheme pervades all other themes. It is becoming increasingly difficult to generalize about the Vietnamese condition. Class stratification was inevitable and now that entrepreneurship is encouraged, prices are determined by market forces, and social programs are being reduced, people's opinions and attitudes understandably tend to vary as a function of one's personal or family condition relative not only to conditions before doi moi, but relative to the conditions of one's peer group as well. And now that the embargo has been lifted many Vietnamese are almost euphoric in their optimism about the future. Some Vietnamese, however are less optimistic and are learning that the state will no longer provide the social safety net, modest as it was, to which they had become accustomed. In summary what one can consume and the extent to which one can consume has changed radically. More specific emergent themes vis-a-vis this fragmentation are addressed below.

Market Segmentation Trends: Entrepreneurship and the Reciprocal Customer-retailer Evolution

Vietnam's urban centers are now dominated by entrepreneurs and "liberated" consumers. Consumer expectations continue to rise, especially in terms of depth and breadth of product lines. Once Vietnamese consumers had three retail options: traditional markets that typically offered raw goods and produce, state-run shops, and the black market. Now the number of options is proliferating at a dizzying pace. Particularly conspicuous are the new specialty boutiques for silks, electronics and cameras, as well as restaurants and five-star hotels that cater to the emerging middle class, upper class and the crush of expatriate Asians, Europeans and Americans that are descending upon the cities. Traditional markets such as Dong Xuan are becoming less fashionable and therefore less desirable locations to begin a business.

Consumption patterns historically have been roughly divided along North-South and urban-rural lines. More recently, segments discriminated by age have emerged, or more precisely old-thinking vs. new thinking, as have segments of haves vs. have-nots: The urban nouveau riche, tourists, expatriates, and generally those people receptive to the seduction of goods associated with popular culture are rapidly becoming dominant segments. Rural Vietnamese (80% of the population) usually do not have access to the fruits of doi moi, but there is some evidence to indicate the consumer culture continues to diffuse slowly to many rural areas. Even in the most remote regions, consumers hope to live "the Honda Dream," a double entendre used to describe a particular motor scooter brand and model, as well as the accompanying status that implies one has "made it." Moreover, the tendency for people to leave remote rural and agricultural areas with hopes to find opportunities in urban centers-especially the metropolitan hubs such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang-is growing despite government efforts to curb internal migration.

An outcome of the growing number of visitors is the emergence of two basic price structures: prices for Vietnamese and prices for non-Vietnamese. Merchants see visitors as big spenders inclined to purchase expensive or frivolous products and services. Merchants, not surprisingly, also tend to sell more aggressively to this more profitable segment. Profit margins for tourism and expatriate services are huge and tourism is arguably the fastest growing industry; much of the development is structured around milking this cash cow.

Tourists, Viet Kieu and expatriates are frequently catalysts to the changes in consumption patterns. These groups bring important skills and capital into the country and they are all consumers with deep pockets and help to influence retail growth and domestic consumer demand, because they bring products and consumption values that are diffusing into Vietnamese culture. One obvious example is the slow Americanization of the Vietnamese commercial language and the proliferation of artifacts (brands, fashion items) associated with pop culture.

Popular Culture

Many Vietnamese, especially young Vietnamese have become completely smitten by popular culture. Interest (obsession?) in Western fashions and social trends, for example, is equivalent to anything one would find in any cosmopolitan center in the world. Unquestionably goods, brands, and symbols associated with popular culture and conspicuous consumption have captured the hearts, minds (dong and dollars) of many Vietnamese. Madonna, Coca Cola, Bart Simpson, Discos, and the Terminator are as popular in Vietnamese cities as they are in Perth, Peoria, or Paris. Many of these products used to be black market goods smuggled across borders appropriately referred to as "the Marlboro Line." Brand mimicry and trademark infringement are also now common. Although the government has recently begun to crack down on some brand pirates, eradicating brand mimicry will be a formidable if not an impossible task.

These trends have significant implications for policy makers. Given the new consumer ethos and irresistible seduction of new products that are flooding the country, conflict between the consumer culture and the conservative Vietnamese government is inevitable. Representatives of several ministries continue to express concern about foreign countries and multinational corporations making Vietnam little more than a "consumer market" for foreign goods at the expense of traditional products and local producers.

State vs. Private Enterprises

A massive privatization plan is intended to inject capital into the system and to make companies more efficient. While this plan mostly affects heavy industry, interesting relationships and norms of behavior are evolving among state and private enterprises, and consumers. State-run stores are increasingly out of favor. Some manage to survive and even thrive if they can adapt to competition. Most consumers like this trend, but some older, rural, or traditional consumers prefer the state-run stores, even though these shops may be objectively inferior in many ways, because they are familiar to them.

Social Change

Traditional values are also in danger: some Vietnamese have resorted to aggressive begging or prostitution; the prevalence and openness of the latter is startling. AIDS is also becoming a problem. To the government's credit an awareness campaign has been initiated. Many authorities are disturbed by these trends, yet some interviewees claim the authorities see some of the illicit activity as a valuable source of hard currency.

Indeed, virtually everything in Vietnam is being made into a marketable commodity. The legendary tunnels of Cu Chi, for example, are now open to tourists, but have been enlarged so that large-framed Australians, Europeans, and Americans can participate. Visitors also have the opportunity to rest half way through the tour-and of course enjoy a Coke from the snack stand-and then fire a genuine AK 47 (for one US Dollar per round). As the trade-offs of a liberalized economy continue to be debated, social change marches on because most sectors accept the necessity of entrepreneurship, free enterprise, and cash.

Stockpiling

The tendency to stock pile products as a hedge against inflation is disappearing. The US dollar, however is still the preferred unit of currency (even by the government) and some authorities estimate that US dollars account for over half the currency in circulation (Huynh 1994). All merchants now compete for market share, but there is still a proclivity for retailers to imitate rather than to innovate and the product line and merchandising strategies of many shops are identical. Despite this phenomenon, some establishments are less successful than others; some are failing, but usually not because of poor effort. Instead many businesses fail because the merchants are uncomfortable competing vigorously against a neighbor, are uncomfortable with promotion and/or simply do not have the business skills to manage their operations beyond those skills that are required to manage a kiosk, even without the sociocultural forces that may inhibit them. The re-emergence of ethnic Chinese-traditionally an influential merchant class in Vietnam-and the growing numbers of joint-ventures with other nations, have been instrumental to the growth of more sophisticated retail operations. At this juncture consumers tend to benefit because of the increase in the variety and sophistication of available goods. The down-side is that land prices in the cities are sky-rocketing and many locals are being driven out of areas in which families have lived for generations.

Consumerism

During this "shake-out" phase, caveat emptor is still the rule rather than the exception. Quasi-stockpiling, essentially replacing original products with "false goods" and then selling the false goods in the original packaging continues to be a preferred tactic among retailers (Shultz Pecotich and Le in press). But for product warranties from manufacturers, consumers still tend to have little recourse with product dissatisfaction. Recently, the government has made overtures toward establishing and standardizing consumer protection laws, but this movement is just beginning and institutionalization and uniformity are a long way off.

Recycling and lateral cycling

We originally noted that nothing goes to waste in Vietnam. This too is changing. With the influx of plastic packaging and the emergence of a middle class that does not live hand-to-mouth, waste and refuse is becoming problematic.

Ownership of property

Private ownership of property is still technically forbidden, but liberal policies make leases tantamount to ownership. The Vietnam housing boom continues and home ownership is still a strong desire for many Vietnamese, but costs are making this goal more difficult.

Private Sector Advertising

The first signs of non party sponsored marketing communications were the explosion of outdoor advertising. More recently television has been employed as a medium. The concept is so novel that programmers run as much as twenty minutes of advertisements in succession, much to the delight of the viewers, who often find the ads to be more entertaining then scheduled programs. That advertising has truly become mainstream is surprising only when we recall that just four years ago only political advertising was allowed.

Gaps in transformation between North and South; urban and rural populations

Although Vietnam is now politically unified, social, marketing, and consumption traditions initially divided the nation along North-South and urban-rural lines. The differences between North and South are rapidly diminishing, but including rural Vietnamese in the reform process continues to be difficult. Poverty, malnutrition and inadequate health care are still significant problems for many people in the provinces (Marr 1994), and as the cities continue to prosper they will attract many of these rural people whose presence will then further strain the infrastructure and diminish the overall living conditions.

The growing irrelevance of apparatchik resistance

The process of doi moi is now irreversible as long as inflation is kept in check and people will be able to consume (Le Xuan Nghia 1993).

Because we have successfully controlled inflation, the consumer-based economy will continue (Le Xuan Nghia 1994).

Even though many Vietnamese do not favor a consumer culture and the social change that follows, as we have alluded, the proverbial genie is out of the bottle. The party continues to debate how far reforms should go, but we believe the party will continue to label the reforms "market socialism" rather than claim the reforms conflict with socialist dogma. Occasionally individuals will be punished for flagrant violations, but it is highly unlikely we will witness the likes of the Tiananmen Square debacle. The party objectives now include political stability with sustained economic reform. Whether the economic model that facilitates these objectives is staunchly Marxist, some derivative of the Lee Kuan Yew model, or something altogether different, does not seem to matter. Maintaining power, improving the lives of the people, and "leading the way," however does matter. So, we will continue to see incongruities such as current issues of Western newspapers and T-shirts bearing the likenesses of Disney characters and NBA stars, juxtaposed with reports announcing the arrest of Vietnamese champions of political reform.

Freedom

To many Vietnamese, freedom does not connote a desire to be politically active or involved in political processes; instead it indicates "a desire to be free to go about one's daily life without the fear of war, economic chaos, or the assaults to human dignity that accompany poverty (Shultz, Pecotich and Le in press)." This desire is very powerful as is the desire by Vietnamese to control their nation's destiny. Some observers of consumer cultures might justifiably argue the Vietnamese may fall prey to the exploits of multinationals, but most Vietnamese seem to feel liberated by a kind of normalcy or integration with the consumer societies found in other countries.

Development, degradation, and social traps

Vietnam, with time, capital, and wise political and economic management, may be only a generation's time removed from Asian Tiger status. This transition will have far-reaching repercussions for their traditions and their environment. We still believe social and ecological problems that result from the complex interaction of agriculture technologies, economic development, and the trappings of conspicuous consumption and profiteering will be difficult for Vietnam to manage. The UNDP, Vietnamese Government and NGOs are acting to curb population growth, to manage more prudently scarce resources, and to assist with nutrition and health care, but present conditions and future obstacles will make difficult the Vietnamese desire to become the next Asian Tiger.

Foreign involvement and American participation

The euphoria following the end of the embargo may be unduly optimistic. Yes, the U.S. will invest, but the total investment package may fall short of expectations. Both consumers and policy makers welcome the official return of Americans. Consumers will have greater access to American brands that enjoy very favorable images; fledgling companies will have greater access to American management know-how. The government also welcomes American capital and expertise, but somewhat ironically, also welcomes the U.S. as a political and economic counter-balance to the growing regional influence of China and Japan, historical adversaries.

We can only speculate on the market share ramifications of America's re-entry. Many Asian, European and Australian firms have leveraged the U.S. absence to capture share and to create powerful brand images. Nevertheless, smuggling and consumer desire assured that many American products never really left Vietnam. Consequently, we believe that policy decisions, corporate effort and consumer demand will help some American products and brands to become dominant.

CONCLUSION

In earlier papers we have concluded with a reference to Vietnamese resolve (Pecotich and Shultz 1992; Shultz, Pecotich and Le in press). It is difficult for Westerners to imagine the difficulties Vietnamese have endured for decades, yet adversity has not dampened their resolve to be a sovereign nation and to integrate into the global economy on their terms. Their (re) emergence as a capitalist economy and the effect this policy shift has had on consumers is remarkable. Vietnam will continue to fine-tune its version of market socialism. This process will not always be smooth, but we maintain that Vietnam will progress toward its goal of becoming an Asian Tiger and that, relative to living conditions prior to doi moi, most consumers will be better for it.

REFERENCES

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Shultz, Clifford J. II, Anthony Pecotich and Khai Le (in press), "Marketing and Consumption in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," Research in Consumer Behavior: Consumption in Marketizing Economies, eds. Clifford J. Shultz, II, Russell W. Belk and Gnliz Ger, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

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Williams, Michael C. (1992), Vietnam at the Crossroads, London: Printer Publishers Ltd.

----------------------------------------

Authors

Clifford J. Shultz, II, University of New England and Columbia University
Anthony Pecotich, University of Western Australia



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1 | 1994



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