BANGKOK: Global marketing leaders need to understand the cultural nuances of Thailand if they are to harness the country’s undoubted creativity to best effect, according to an industry figure.

John Wigglesworth, Managing Director / Asia Research Recruitment, highlights three factors that, he says, have the potential to inhibit a company’s creative output if not addressed. (Read more on this subject here: Addressing cultural inhibitors to creativity in Thailand.)

Thailand remains a hierarchical society in which there is a deeply ingrained deferment to one's superiors, he notes in an article first published in Thailand 2020: Principles for Marketing Success.

“Hierarchical and authoritarian management stifles not only creativity, but also its bedfellow – collaboration,” he observes, which can derail what should be an integrated campaign.

“Companies need to take a great deal of care in their hiring decisions, and be very sure that management-level hires possess the right leadership philosophy for their particular business need,” Wigglesworth advises.

Read more articles from Thailand 2020: Principles for Marketing Success – a series edited by Craig Griffin, Chief Research Officer, FUEL Research & Consulting, and Dave McCaughan, Storyteller @ Bibliosexual and Chief Strategy Officer at
While Silicon Valley espouses experimentation and a fail-fast approach, the notion of failure carries a different weight in Thailand, where it entails loss of face.

That “can have a profound impact on [people’s] propensity to share or propagate ideas due to an innate fear they might be received negatively by others.”

One possible solution is to make creative sessions more intimate, with maybe only three or four attendees to reduce formality. An alternative is to take the creative process out of the office, allowing people to shed their “cultural camouflage” and speak their minds more freely.

Finally, Wigglesworth notes how Thai culture embraces “a deep-seated yearning for harmony” which manifests itself as an avoidance of conflict.

“If a colleague … proposes an ill thought-out creative idea, then to highlight this to them would be fundamentally at odds with the idea of Kreng Jai,” he explains (Kreng Jai loosely translating as ‘consideration of others’).

Wigglesworth suggests emphasising the importance of collaborative effort the value of each individual’s contribution to a successful outcome.

“Team members are much more likely to challenge others’ thinking if they feel it weakens the overall project,” he says.

Sourced from WARC