Last week, after a huge sale of brand-name products on Dinh Le Street in downtown Ha Noi caused heavy traffic congestion, Viet Nam News asked readers what they thought about the craze for branded products and luxury goods in Viet Nam.
Many readers showed their disapproval of consumerism, while others objected that people should not be judged for what they choose to buy. Here are some of the responses:
Thomas Clark, American, Ohio, USA
Brand consciousness is not only an attempt to impress others, but also an attempt to assuage our buying consciousness into thinking that we have exchanged our capital for worthwhile quality.
Are chic labels worth it? Ten years ago, my son, an expatriate presently living in China, asked me once to bring him a pair of Adidas Sambas when I visited from the US. I paid $40 at a sporting goods store here for shoes that he would have paid $85 for in China, their country of manufacture.
Corporations like to call this "branding:" keeping their prices artificially high in order to protect the value of their name. Of course, this is why production of counterfeit goods is so profitable. I remember a Cartier watch saleswoman encouraging me to buy one, saying "Go ahead, you deserve it." I could have purchased a very convincing counterfeit in Shanghai for much less than 1/1000 of the cost, deceiving everyone but myself.
Robert Fries, Texas, USA
What do I think of such crazes? It's crazy. Why pay so much money, even if there's a discount, for a name? Consumers pay to display a brand name on their handbag to announce to everyone, "Look at me, I am so special. I have a fancy handbag."
When I see people carrying them, I think, "Look at them. Paid too much and now they carry it around providing free advertising for the company."
Companies know consumers well. Most of the companies are well-versed in psychology and use that knowledge to sell products that maybe people do not even need.
I think with the ingenuity of Vietnamese, a craftsman could produce a similar product much more cheaply and keep the profits in the local community.
Vy Nguyen, Ha Noi
In my opinion, it is people's choice to buy or not buy something. If they choose to buy a skirt rather than books, it is still their choice. People should not be judged for their consumption choices. Besides, I doubt that low earners would be remotely interested in buying branded products. Only those who can afford to buy these would flock for them. So I guess it is not crazy to buy something you can afford.
What I disapprove of, however, is the illusion that you are in a higher "league" if you can afford to buy expensive goods. To admire and support some brands is okay, but it should not turn into an obsession. There is more to life than beautiful skirts or expensive perfume.
Andrea Kim, Korean, HCM City
I'm not surprised at all at the Vietnamese obsession with branded products. It's not news that consumers in emerging markets such as Viet Nam and other countries like China, Thailand, and Indonesia are obsessed with these products. And also, it's quite normal that if you offer such a high discount, people will jump to buy. You can find such crazy sales in Western countries as well.
Despite talks about cutting down on spending, many Vietnamese are still earning more and they deserve to use these kind of products or high-quality authentic ones. Rising consumerism can be good for the country.
However, you should note that many of those who lined up to buy these products on August 7 are dealers who will sell these items to others and make money out of it.
The authorities should not be worried about whether Vietnamese have money to buy these products. Instead, they should focus on raiding those who sell fake items and ensure that customers, even foreigners, can trust the quality of products sold in Viet Nam.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Anyone who pays for fashion and needs to show off trademark products is a slave that lives a shallow life. Sure, Apple computers are of great quality. Everyone knows BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
I feel sorry for anyone who thinks it's important to display ABC shirts and XYZ handbags. One of my rich students took me to a five-star restaurant in Taiwan. The chair was comfortable and service was impeccable, but the rice was rice and the tofu was tofu.
There is only so much you can do with tofu. Maybe if I carried out a Dolce & Gabbana doggie handbag someone would be impressed? — VNS