Vietnam's Generation Z may not make much money, but they have a weakness for eating out

By Staff reporters   December 8, 2017 | 11:45 pm PT
Vietnam's Generation Z may not make much money, but they have a weakness for eating out
Vietnamese young people line up to buy fast food at a restaurant in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Huy Manh
To make their decision on where to eat out, these internet-savvy post-millennials still prefer word of mouth to online tips.

Vietnamese youngsters born between 1995 and 2002, or Generation Z, have emerged as potential consumers for dining brands, according to new market research that found they are willing to spend a big chunk of their budgets on eating out, regardless of how much money they make.

Generation Z, also known as Post-Millennials, the iGeneration, Founders, Plurals, or the Homeland Generation, is the demographic cohort following the Millennials.

A recent poll of 16,000 respondents in Vietnam's three biggest cities - Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City - by Decision Lab showed that Vietnam's Generation Z, which accounts for 15 percent of a population of roughly 93 million, spend on average VND890,000 ($40) a month eating out.

Vietnam's average annual income was around $2,200 last year.

The HCMC-based market research firm said 56 percent of respondents earned no money or made less than VND3 million ($132) per month, and only 35 percent of them made between VND3 million and VND7.5 million a month.

Unlike the previous generations who had their meals at home and at a fixed time, the new generation uses food services outside their homes at any time, the research found.

Interestingly, this internet-savvy generation say they do not trust advertisements, online feedback or recommendations from celebrities, and are much more interested in advice from their families to make their choice on where to eat out.

In the third quarter alone, the respondents dined out 133 million times.

Fast food restaurants were the most frequented diners, making up 25 percent of the venues of choice, followed by roadside restaurants with 18 percent and convenience stores with 17 percent.

Bubble tea is the queen of drinks, compared to coffee and alcoholic drinks that were preferred by older generations.

On a typical morning, 15.6 percent of respondents said they drank milk tea, 12.5 percent said fresh milk and 12.1 percent said coffee with milk.

Decision Lab predicts that milk tea will continue to be the beverage of choice in the future.

Urban Vietnamese have recently found themselves at the center of online criticism over their “wasteful spending habits" because they are willing to spend VND50,000-60,000 on a cup of bubble tea and do so several times a week.

The cost is claimed to be twice that of a typical office lunch in a country where the average annual income is expected to reach $2,400 this year.

The majority of comments criticizing the "wasteful spending" came from young people who had been working for quite a while, aged from 28-40. Those who defended these habits were mostly aged from 18-25, or young people with high incomes.

The former, born from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, grew up in a transitionary period when traditional Confucian values still largely shaped lifestyles and moral standards. These were tough times economically and belt-tightening was part of life, even a worthy “trait”. This generation was also the first to access the internet and western cultures and ideals.

“What we see here is an interesting generational gap, but not the gap between parents/grandparents and their children,” Phan Tuong Yen, a psychology lecturer at Hoa Sen University in Saigon, told VnExpress International in October. “It’s much closer than that and it’s clearly a conflict of personal values."

It’s those born from the mid 1990s onward who have welcomed a strong cultural wave that carried the concepts of freedom, individuality and right to indulge along with an economic boom.

The bubble tea generation “feel they are part of this booming wealth, more so than in the earlier days of austerity,” said Yen.

“Therefore, the notion of freedom between these two generations somewhat differs, and so does the concept of cautious spending.”

go to top