Market researcher TNS Vietnam takes a qualitative look at the evolving role of Vietnamese women in celebration of International Women’s Day.
TNS is part of Kantar, a data investment management division of WPP, and one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups.
“Today in Vietnam, as they have done throughout the country’s history, women play a vital role in all aspects of society,” says David Watts, research director and head of qualitative research at TNS Vietnam.
“As the pressures of modern life grow and women strive to balance tradition with modernity, there is an important role for manufacturers to play in understanding and empathizing with their changing lives, to develop more relevant and beneficial products, and to form deeply connected brands.”
The changing lives of women in Vietnam
According to TNS’s research, while there are more opportunities available for women today than in the past, this also leads to additional stress and responsibilities.
Women are now much more able to prove their abilities and succeed in the workplace, especially in urban areas, however traditional family and household responsibilities still remain. This means busier lives and better time management are required to maintain their personal and professional lives.
Photo: Tuoi Tre
Women today are attempting to balance both tradition and modernity, while enjoying the best of both.
In today’s Vietnam, women feel more able to experiment and define themselves how they want as norms evolve and change.
Increasingly, women are engaging with a range of activities previously considered uncommon. For example going to beer clubs with friends or colleagues, where old stigmas attached to drinking have all been removed. In addition, women today are much more likely to be meeting up with friends at events, traveling for work and dating more casually than in previous generations.
Today’s woman feels more empowered to express herself in thought and action. However, more traditional values around caring for a family and respecting elders continue to be upheld and remain a core part of their identity.
A woman prepares meals for her son. Photo: Tuoi Tre
At the same time as maintaining social traditions, women still face pressure to be up to date and informed.
With much greater access to information than in the past via new media and the Internet, as well as through the ever-present influence of friends and relatives, women are expected to use this information in their important role as nurturers.
For example, as the Vietnamese market becomes increasingly flooded with new products, there is growing awareness of health and safety threats in food and other household items. Being well informed is an important part of fulfilling a woman’s responsibilities, and so the modern Vietnamese woman is expected to make smart decisions for herself and her loved ones.
As the main food shoppers, for women with families, balancing the budget is also important. However as the economy changes, increasingly they are seeing less and less in their baskets for their money. It therefore follows that it is women who are becoming more and more discerning in terms of the brand value choices they make every day.
The role of digital media and the way it has shaped women’s behavior in Vietnam are significant. With increasing engagement online, searches for information about worldwide trends, products and services are commonplace, as is the need to connect socially and express themselves via social media.
The rapid growth in smartphone ownership, with 72 percent of urban women currently owning smartphones, has been an influential factor in the evolution of modern Vietnamese women, keeping them up to date and connected.
Socializing online now takes up more time for young women than socializing in real life. With the growing popularity of social networking, women can now express themselves more easily in public forums, often becoming a cathartic channel to share deeper emotions, challenges and pressures, as well as offering empathy and support to others.
A woman uses a hi-tech device in her work. Photo: Tuoi Tre
As women become increasingly busy and time poor, convenience and efficiency become more important.
Women value products and services which allow them to complete their daily tasks quickly and effectively, without feeling they are taking shortcuts or neglecting their role.
Compared to the past, women are now more open and receptive to options which free up their time to focus on more important things, including spending quality time with the family or pursuing personal hobbies.
The modern Vietnamese woman – differences in life stages
Through this qualitative research, TNS has observed differences throughout the various life stages of Vietnamese women.
For young women aged 18-22, there is a trend towards exploration and a yearning for freedom and self-expression.
For women who are considered young adults (23-30), it is a time for proving themselves in careers and establishing a family. Along with opportunities granted to them in the professional realm, there is also a desire to consolidate their personal image as well as engaging socially with their peers.
Women aged 31 to 45 are focused more on family responsibilities (often combined with work) and experience the most pressure balancing home and work life. This is where the stress of balancing tradition and modernity reaches its peak.
A mother reads a book with her daughter. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Finally, as Vietnamese women progress beyond age 46 one can see a general trend towards a more health-conscious attitude and a bigger focus on self-actualization, with greater clarity about themselves, their needs and how to express them.
Young women are particularly important in this time of transition, as it is them who change trends and become pioneers in evolving the role of women.
TNS said it expects the modern Vietnamese women to continue to evolve, with greater exposure to information and the outside world, while core Vietnamese values and traditions will also continue to remain relevant and important to their identity.
“The younger generation is important to watch as ‘future shapers’, building on the changes and new opportunities provided by previous generations, but with greater freedom than in the past to forge their own identities,” the research company said.