Atip Bijanonda, president of Housing Business Association Thailand (HBA), has years of great experience in property, real estate and housing industry. He has shared an exclusive overview with SMAhome about the smart home demands in Thailand, and pointed out that home security systems and appliance remote controls via cloud network is popular in Thai market.
1. Please give us a brief introduction of HBA.
HBA is the major association in the residential real estate market of Thailand. The association has been established for 36 years, and has more than 200 members now.
HBA has two main missions, propelling legislative regulations on real estates and promote housing projects. For example, when the government is issuing new laws related to properties, HBA usually is part of the work force to develop the regulation. Also, we promote real estate products for all dealers and developers, no matter they are our members or not.
Our members consist of leading residential real estate companies in Thailand, including those on the stock market. Supalai Public Company Limited, one of the top five developers in Thailand, is an example. In addition to developers, advisers from banks and governments are parts of members.
There are actually more than 1000 developers in Thailand nation-wide. Though we are located in Bangkok, some developers in the rural areas gather into smaller associations and work with HBA as well. HBA takes care of issues related to real estate in every province.
2. What are the major demands of smart home in Thailand?
Developers in Thailand used to introduce basic home security and lighting control systems to their residential projects. Nowadays, with more information in the market, IoT control is popular for Thai consumers as well.
When talking smart home demands, we should see the market in three segments: entry-level, mid-class and luxury ones. Projects of the entry-level ones usually come with the basic home security settings such as the doorphone and one-spot CCTV system at the entrance; mid-class projects deploy the multi-spot home security and basic lighting control solutions. For high-end projects, whole-house security and lighting control are equipped with home entertainment systems.
Project developers provide different deployment plans according to the budget and preference. For example, entry-level project buyers care more about the total cost of ownership rather than complete smart home solutions.
Nevertheless, with more information on the market, users’ interests to “IoT-control” ability of home appliances are growing. Remote air conditioner controlling is an instance. People are fond of the functionality that the air conditioner automatically turns on at the preset temperature before arriving homes.
3. Does Thai have preferred brands for smart home?
Brands such as Samsung, Panasonic, Siemens and some other European names are popular among luxury projects. The middle-class market, which accounts for around 60% of the total residential projects now, is mainly dominated by Chinese and Taiwanese products at the moment.
Now the smart home market is still young in Thailand. The market offering is a bit limited. If companies are promoting new products in Thai market, they need to educate users.
From the perspectives of a developer, preferred smart home products include home security, lighting control, home appliances and home entertainment solutions for those high-end projects
Apart from in-house solutions, community security is another growing demand. As the labor wages is growing in this country, security guards are getting more costly. If security solutions integrated with new technology can take place of the security guards, it will be very interesting for the market.
4. What are users’ common concerns about smart home?
The first concern is if the installation of smart home would affect the interior design. They do not like the exposed wires, so wireless products are getting popular.
After-service is the other concerned. There have been many cases that users can not find the contact to fix the breakdown systems or to maintain the system. They are forced to change the whole smart home system as the original one cannot be fixed or integrated with other sub-systems.
Last but not least, the affordable price is a key factor for customers to decide the smart home installation.
5. Suggestions to international smart home manufacturers who are interested to work with Thai developers.
First of all, they need to provide sufficient information. Providers cannot leave consumers learning the system by themselves; instead, you should make product features easy to understand and user-friendly. In this way, products can have wider market acceptance.
To enter Thailand, international brands have to have the clear market segmentation target. Mid-class users can be price sensitive, while high-end project buyers like luxury branded products. Each market segment have different requirements for the vendors to fill in.
For newcomers, the pilot project is a must to start the market foothold. Customers do not believe in brochures or flyers, but if you have a real case to see, to refer, you are more countable. Some Chinese suppliers have been doing well on this. To build their pilot projects, they offer good priced products with aesthetic design for mid-class buyer, despite the product lifespan is not the best.
In addition, as I mentioned, the service is very important. Companies who provide bad service will have a bad reputation in the market. Customers need consistent services for after-sales maintenance and supports.