Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon as the locals call it), and Da Nang are cities thick with development. I live in Saigon, which has bloomed into a metropolitan city. Its streetscape is constantly transforming with new trendy shops, cafes and restaurants popping up on every corner. Roads are bustling with motorcycles at all hours and Saigon dwellers seem to possess a never-ending source of energy.
It hasn’t always been that way. Two decades of war slowed Vietnam’s economic rise. However, globalization coupled with a new generation of ideas and approaches are contributing to its entrance into modern business. Vietnam has reached a crucial stage of development as the country climbs to lower-middle-income nation status with a young population and a burgeoning middle class.
The country has become a manufacturing hotspot at the expense of neighboring China, where labor costs are now increasing. Many companies also feel Vietnam is a stable place to base their operations for the long-term. Vietnam is a potent mix, made all the headier, because many see in it echoes of the East Asia tigers: traditionally Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. These nations all made developmental leap in the 1960s and 1970s. More recently, people look at how China has transformed itself—and many believe Vietnam is next.
The Long Road to Recovery
Rising out of post-war struggles, Vietnam is repositioning itself as an economic force in the region. With 50 percent of the population less than thirty-four years of age – a young, dynamic population is a marketer’s dream. For this demographic group, the war signifies a piece of history from which they feel increasingly detached.
Their ranks are also joined by the hundreds of thousands of overseas Vietnamese who are returning home. Armed with a foreign education and cross-culture skills, they hope to help their homeland fulfill its potential. They are the children of those who fled after 1975.
In so many ways the wheel is coming full circle. Since 1975, Vietnam has honed many valuable lessons and come such a long way. The country now realizes that centralized, top-down economic planning is not the most effective way to meet the needs of consumers.
Vietnam’s vibrant economy is led by the empowerment of locally and regionally-owned businesses like THP that are steadily shaping the economic terrain for the better. Learn more about Vietnam’s rise by getting your own copy of Competing With Giants, which can be purchased here.