LIFESTYLE SURVEY: Sex in the city, life in the fast lane


Spending sprees, designer clothes becoming the norm in Kingdom’s top four cities

Advocate pre-marital sex? Like to spend like there’s no tomorrow? Attracted to designer brands but forced to go for cheaper products? Yes, you are probably an urban Thai.

The latest Optimum Media Direction (OMD) Thailand survey has found that an increasing number of Thais living in urban areas are fast adopting a metropolitan lifestyle by spending more on designer products and having sex before marriage.

The “Optimum Insights” field survey was conducted last September among more than 1,500 Thai consumers aged 15-49 and living in four major cities: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Hat Yai. Similar surveys were conducted last August in Singapore and last October in Malaysia.

Narong Tresuchon, general manager of OMD Thailand, said that 47 per cent of respondents living in those cities said they spend most of what they earn. Another 15 per cent said they save as much as possible for a better future. Approximately 32 per cent said they make an effort to save. And 6 per cent thought savings unimportant.

The survey also found that Thai consumers have less money in their pocket to afford luxury designer brands. It found that 43 per cent of respondents do not buy such brands, because they are beyond their means, but they would buy them if they had enough money. About 31 per cent said they do not buy designer brands, because they are not good value. Only 5 per cent said they would buy designer brands because they are better quality.

Narong also said that Thai consumers have been spoiled by retailers’ aggressive sales promotions aimed at extracting money from customers’ pockets.

The survey also found that 83 per cent of Thai respondents are happy with their life now that the economy has improved. Only 2 per cent are very unhappy, mainly single females, who also list family as the most important factor in their life. The survey showed that 65 per cent believe family, spouse and children to be most important.

The survey also found that Thai consumers do not want to live life alone, with 38 per cent of respondents saying that life is incomplete without marriage, compared with 52 per cent of Singaporeans and 66 per cent of Malaysians. Only 25 per cent of Thai respondents said they are satisfied being single.

Narong said approximately 34 per cent of respondents agreed that divorce is an unhappy matter.

The survey also found that more than 50 per cent of respondents do not believe in pre-marital sex. About 31 per cent said pre-marital sex is okay if the couple plan to marry each other. And 18 per cent are “very okay” with pre-marital sex, because it is part of life.

Narong said these findings were quite different from Malaysia, where 71 per cent of respondents reported they are “not very okay” with pre-marital sex.

Asked about a “gig” (Thai slang meaning an unofficial relationship between a couple, closer than just friends, but not quite lovers), approximately 37 per cent of respondents did not know what a gig was. About 18 per cent said that gigs are not acceptable. And 32 per cent said that gigs are acceptable, but they did not have one. However, 14 per cent said they have at least one gig.

Approximately 52 per cent consider homosexuality unacceptable.

The survey also found that most Thais do not lead an active lifestyle. Most respondents do not exercise, saying they have no time (55 per cent) and try to compensate by eating healthy (65 per cent). In regard to social events, most prefer to listen instead of actively participate in a conversation (53 per cent). Approximately 54 per cent would make suggestions but generally do not like to be decision-makers.

Thai consumers are generally well informed. About 42 per cent of respondents said they are interested in both international and local news, while 44 per cent are better informed about national events. Approximately 68 per cent enjoy listening to music, and 15 per cent said they could not live without it.

“The ‘Optimum Insights’ survey proves that Thai consumers have become urbanised and accept many outside practices, such as pre-marital sex and spending addictions,” said Narong.

Sean O’Brien, managing director of OMD Thailand, said that technology is a key driving force in media change and the relationship between media and consumers.

“Thai consumers have more options in terms of media and consumer content,” he said.

Grouped into categories, approximately 26 per cent of Thai consumers are leaders, well informed and tech-savvy. About 23 per cent are savers, value-seekers and family-oriented. The survey also found that 22 per cent are career-minded, prefer advertised brands and are potential leaders, while 15 per cent are image-conscious, spendthrifts and open-minded. About 14 per cent are down to earth and work hard to make ends meet.

Published on February 03, 2005

Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn

The Nation

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