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Poll: Phuket prefers Coke

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Poll: Phuket prefers Coke | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Just under half (49.6%) of respondents to a recent Gazette poll said they prefer the taste of Coca-Cola (Coke) over that of three other competing brands on the market – Pepsi, Est and Big Cola.

The poll, which ran online from August 2 to September 1, was answered by 514 unique respondents, who were asked which cola brand (sold in Phuket) they thought tasted the best.

Six choices were: Big Cola; Coca-Cola (Coke); Est; Pepsi; Undecided and Don’t know, haven’t tried them all.

Respondents were broken up into three demographics as follows: Thai nationals (40 or 7% of all votes); Local Foreign Residents (335 or 65% of votes) and Tourists/Visitors to Phuket (139 or 27% of votes). Coke had an undisputed margin in all demographics, claiming exactly half the votes from both tourists/visitors as well as foreign residents/expats; the iconic brand had a slightly lower preference penetration rate (43%) among Thai respondents, however.

Claiming the second most votes in the poll overall, and in each demographic, Pepsi drew 21% or 108 total votes (20% of Thais, 21% of expats and 22% of tourists). Despite commanding an undeniably strong market presence in a short window – now going on 11 months since debuting on the Thai cola market – Serm Suk Pcl’s Est brand failed to win over a loyal following among Gazette readers, with only 5.8% of respondents choosing it (8% of Thais; 7% of expats and 4% of tourists).

Not surprisingly, generic brand, Big Cola had the least amount of votes with 4.3% or 22 total votes, while 4.1% or 21 respondents said they were undecided and 15.2% or 78 respondents admitted that they had not tried all brands and thus could not choose just one. Despite Coke’s clear margin in the poll, Phuket area manager at local distributor Nam Thip, said that the results probably did not reflect the actual market.

“I definitely think we [Coke] have a higher loyalty and market reach in Phuket than the poll results [49%]. For one, Phuket has a lot of foreigners, who tend to lean towards Coke. “Secondly, our market [penetration] reaches nearly 100% of the area, where-as the other brands don’t… Coke has had a loyal follow-ing, around the world and in Thailand for a long time coming, and we’re definitely not falling behind in Phuket,” he said.

In distant 2nd, Pepsi remains ever-fluid in the Phuket market. The sales manager of its local distribution arm, Supercheap, told the Gazette that the brand is starting to reclaim some of the market share that it had lost late last year following the launch of similarly-branded, Est. “I think many customers were initially confused about the new [Est] brand. Since it looks and tastes similar to Pepsi, I think many assumed we had just changed names [from Pepsi to Est],” she said.

Not only are the two brands similar, consumers’ confusion may have further been fueled by Pepsi’s repositioning strategy of moving away from Thailand’s refillable glass bottle market, in which Serm Suk – the producer of Est – has long had a logistical stronghold over.

Prior to Pepsi selling its majority shares in Serm Suk to Thai Bev Pcl (the producer of Chang beer) late last year, Serm Suk was Pepsi’s Thai bottler and distributor nationwide for nearly six decades.

And despite Pepsi’s claim that Thailand’s refillable glass bottle segment is on the decline, it is undeniable that this segment still has a significant consumer reach, especially at local Thai eateries across the Kingdom, where as of late last year, Pepsi had vanished overnight, immediately replaced by the newer and similarly branded, Est cola.

However, Supercheap’s sales manager responsible for Pepsi sales and distribution in Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga provinces, says that sales are starting to pick up again. “Consumers are more aware of the difference in the brands now. Taste is one important factor, but our stronger and more established brand is also a major factor,” she said. Serm Suk’s sales manager responsible for Est’s distribution across Southern Thailand (based in Surat Thani), didn’t think the Gazette poll reflected the brand’s actual market share.

“As far as I know, our market penetration is not that low [5.8%]. From my point of view, our brand should have a better result… I think the poll must reflect the opinions of only some in Phuket, many of whom are probably foreigners that tend to be branded to Coke.

“Our target customers are mainly Thai people. So, I think poll results will vary depending on the market. All in all, it’s possible that preference [for Est] in Phuket and the Southern region is lower, but it’s definitely higher in the whole of Thailand,” she concluded.

Last but not least (well, technically, last and least) – Big Cola, with its product differentiation of being caffeine-free and competitively-priced, continues to claim a bigger share of the pie.

A Southern Thailand area representative of the generic brand’s local distributor, AJE Thai Co Ltd, said that the Gazette’s taste preference poll results reflect the company’s actual market share.

“Our market share in Southern Thailand is about 5%, and our sales have continued to increase every month since January. They dropped a little in June but rebounded after that. “We aim to maintain our momentum in the market reinforced by our two key selling points: a caffeine-free cola [sold] at a lower price for everyone,” she concluded.

Do you have a poll suggestion? Click the contact link in the side bar to email us.

Have your say in the latest poll by clicking here.

Additional reporting by Anthika Muangrod

— Steven Layne

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military

Maya Taylor

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Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook

Facebook has confirmed the removal of 185 accounts run by the Thai military and allegedly involved in information-influencing. The social media giant says the accounts were deleted for engaging in what it calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. In total, 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups have been removed from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. It’s the first time Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.

The accounts were associated with the Thai military and were targeting people in the southern provinces, Facebook said its regular report on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country has been the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the majority-Muslim, Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.

Facebook says the deleted accounts were most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both openly military pages and pages that hid their links to the military. Some of the fake profiles pretended to be people from the southern provinces.

The report mentioned a post by the now-removed account named “comprehending the operation” in Thai. The page posted the logo for Amnesty International Thailand and wrote “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Any case is not big news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we don’t see anything from the NGO.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role nor money.”

On another now-removed account, named “truth about my home Pattani” in Thai, a post said “Muslim leader declares southern border is a peace zone. The southern separatists started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under control by different believers so that people would come and fight for their religion. This was declared that the action clearly violates Islam faith.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “Southern border is not Jihad zone.”

When contacted by Reuters, the military had no comment on the removal of the Facebook accounts, with a spokesman saying the organisation does not comment outside of official press conferences.

The head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, has confirmed the reasons behind the platform’s decision.

“This is the first time that we’ve attributed one of our takedowns to links to the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.”

He adds that the accounts had spent around US$350 on advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. One or more of the pages had about 700,000 followers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were removed because of their misleading behaviour and not because of the content being posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism of insurgent groups in the south.

It’s not the first time accounts linked to the Thai military have been removed by a social media platform. In October, Twitter removed 926 accounts it says had links to the army and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai army has denied any involvement with the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended an account posting pro-monarchy content that was found to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.

To read the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, click HERE.

SOURCES: Reuters| Facebook

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Central Thailand

Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers

Maya Taylor

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Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

An airline executive has been arrested in the central province of Samut Songkhram, after complaints from150 employees that they had not been paid. Chawengsak Noiprasan, who had a court warrant issued against him in October, was taken to Don Muang police station from a property in the Bang Khan Take sub-district. He is a board member of Siam Air Transport.

The airline began operations in October 2014 with services out of Don Mueang to Hong Kong, using 2 Boeing 737-300s. 2 Boeing 737-800s were added to its fleet in late 2015. It expanded by adding Zhengzhou and Guangzhou in China to its network in early 2015. In late 2015, the airline launched flights to Macau and Singapore. In 2017, the airline ceased all operations.

But according to an article in the Bangkok Post, the carrier operates a number of scheduled and charter flights from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. The Post reports that, as Chawengsak signs the company’s legal paperwork, all legal matters concerning the airline fall to him.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau says the executive has admitted to ignoring a 30 day notice issued by the labour inspector and ordering the payment of wages to 150 workers. It’s understood he is also wanted in relation to 7 other cases.

The authorities sought Chawengsak’s arrest following complaints from employees who say they haven’t received their wages for 2 months. It’s understood the airline had previously deferred salary payments for over 8 months. 150 workers filed an official complaint with Don Mueang police and also approached media outlets, asking them to pressure the airline into paying the money owed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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