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Global Market Watch: Vietnam


Let’s keep the celebration alive! As we continue to embrace language growth and diversity in honor of this year’s theme for International Translation Day, “Translation Quality for a Variety of Voices,” let’s take a more in-depth look at a rising star in the global economy: Vietnam. So, what is it about the Vietnamese economy, society and language that merit your attention when planning to expand your global reach?

The Vietnamese economy is on the rise. Vietnam’s economy grew more than 5% last year and economic growth in Vietnam has averaged more than seven percent annually over the last decade, proving more resilient than the rest of Asia, with the only exceptions being economic powerhouses China and India. In addition, according to an Associated Press-Gfk survey of Vietnamese over the age of 18 conducted earlier this year, 85% of respondents stated that the Vietnamese economy is stronger than it was five years ago, and 87% said they expect it to be even stronger in the next five years.


Spending power is gaining steadily. With the economy and per capita income on the rise, spending power is increasing steadily in Vietnam. The number of those living below the poverty line has officially fallen from 58 percent in 1993 to 11 percent in 2009. The top growth sectors include: IT, oil and gas, banking and financial.  

Doing business is getting easier. Although Vietnam is still a planned economy under Communist rule, broad economic reforms (known as “Doi Moi” or “renovation”) have been introduced in Vietnam, driving a boom in foreign investment and making it easier to do business there.


The majority of the population is young.  Vietnam’s “Gen-X” is driving much of the cultural change and resulting economic growth with more than 60 percent of Vietnam’s population having been born after 1975. So, the majority of Vietnamese are under the age of 35.


The percentage of online usage is high. The Vietnamese also have a very high online presence due, in part, to the youth of the population as well as the government’s increased push for infrastructure development in telecommunications since the early 1990s. According to the Internet World Stats website, out of 89.5 million people in Vietnam, 24 million are reported to be on the internet. 


The Roman script reduces the language gap. The Vietnamese language transitioned from a Chinese script to one based on the Roman alphabet during French colonial rule in the latter part of the 19th century. As a result, Vietnam has a 90% literacy rate and is a well-educated population overall. The Roman script also makes it much easier, and presents far fewer challenges, when localizing into Vietnamese.


The US Vietnamese population is booming. In addition to looking at Vietnam when planning for language growth by reaching out to new markets, keep in mind that the US Vietnamese population is also booming. Vietnamese boasts more than a million speakers in the United States and is among the country’s ten most commonly spoken languages. 


Keep dialects and regional variations in mind. Vietnamese has three major dialects: northern, central and southern with fairly significant differences between the northern dialect, in particular, and the other two. In addition, due to political and cultural differences, the Vietnamese spoken in the United States also differs significantly from what is spoken in Vietnam. So, be sure to specify the target audience and locale when localizing into Vietnamese.


Take Vietnamese culture into consideration. When doing business or communicating with the Vietnamese, it is also important to take culture into consideration. Developing strong, harmonious relationships is key to successful business endeavors with the Vietnamese. The importance of saving and giving face by not publicly criticizing or disagreeing with a person and by complimenting and respecting others is also key to doing business and effectively communicating with the Vietnamese. Another factor to consider when marketing to the Vietnamese is the importance of family and the pride and loyalty it instills.


With a booming economy and a young population that has a strong internet presence, the Vietnamese market can help expand your global reach while still providing a good return on your investment in language growth. Contact us today with more questions on this and other key global markets!



Note: Some of the information in this eTip was adapted from the Global Watchtower article “Vietnam: The Future is Now” by Rebecca Ray

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