Vietnam is a fascinating country.  From the moment I touched down in Ho Chi Minh City I was bombarded with a dizzying array of sights and sounds, riding in a taxi from the aiport through busy Sunday night traffic.  I’ve never seen so many motorcycles in one place, as young couples cruised the streets, mingling with people transporting babies, chicken coops, even fridges, on the backs of their bikes.  Crossing the street is like playing Frogger on Legendary difficulty.

As a marketer, I’ve been struck by the differences between a developing country like Vietnam, and the relatively mature, sophisticated market in Australia.  The scope for growth is so immense that competition with other players is less important, and just getting consumers to realise your product exists is half the battle.  The distribution networks rely much more on small businesses and face-to-face contact.  Mobile telecommunications dominate fixed infrastructure.  Most businesses are so labour-intensive; I reckon the simple act of installing automatic doors into every building in the country would put about 10% of the population out of a job!

I spent a whirlwind four days in the country, mostly locked in negotiations in a hotel room in Hanoi, so I didn’t get to see much of the real Vietnam.  I’m definitely hoping to return soon for a more leisurely stay.

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