BANGKOK: Women in Thailand are more likely than those in other parts of Asia Pacific to consider that they are accurately represented in advertising, according to research, but they may not always find it relatable.

Market researcher Mintel surveyed 3,900 people in three markets and found that more women in Thailand paid attention to advertising (58%) than did their counterparts in Indonesia (50%) and Australia (41%).

And 57% of female Thai respondents thought their gender was fairly represented, compared to just 39% in Indonesia and 26% in Australia.

But Delon Wang, manager of trends, APAC, Mintel, contrasted that with the low proportion of Thai women who said they became self-conscious of their looks because of the use of models (37%) and celebrities (38%) in ads.

“The attention towards advertising versus the effect of advertising represents a rather ambivalent attitude towards endorsements and celebrity portrayal,” he suggested.

“This brings attention to the possibility that ordinary consumers do not see themselves on a comparable level with models and celebrities used in advertising and are thus unlikely to be influenced – especially metropolitan Thai consumers within the 18-24 age range,” he told Campaign Asia Pacific.

Wang further argued that attitudes towards gender representation in advertising could simply reflect the widespread acceptance of gender roles in Thai society.

Shannon Kalayanamitr, co-founder and former chief marketing officer of Orami, a female-focused ecommerce platform, noted the country’s patriarchal past – when “even the language was structured for male usage”.

And while Thai society continues to be more conservative than it might appear to an outsider, things are changing, she said.

“In terms of advertising and branding, I think it is starting to get not just politically correct, but a little bit more targeted because brands realise that women hold the purchasing power in the family,” she observed.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by WARC staff