Faith-based businesses: Your good luck is their bad luck

PHOTO: Faith-based businesses surged during the pandemic, but are struggling as life gets better.

There’s big money in misery. In times of economic downturn and instability, many Thais turn to spiritual practices such as prayer, amulets, and fortune telling for support. As a result, many faith-based businesses have emerged to offer solutions to people’s problems. But as the economy grows stronger and more stable, faith business profits are falling.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, reliance on superstition and prayers increased, with people visiting revered places and seeking talismans for spiritual support. The Deputy Commerce Minister explained Thai faith.

“According to data collected by Mahidol University’s College of Management, Thais normally rely on five beliefs to bolster their spirits. They are horoscope [daily, weekly and monthly], amulets, auspicious colours, lucky numbers and the supernatural.”

The country’s economic woes resulted in the rise of faith-based businesses. Fortune tellers and others have worked with online influencers and celebrities to share their experiences and promote their services.

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However, very few of these businesses are registered as companies, as most prefer to rely on word of mouth to attract clients. The Commerce Ministry has encouraged faith-based businesses to register as companies to give them more credibility and broaden their market, in light of the surge in demand.

In 2020, 11 faith-based businesses registered as companies, with a total capital of 7.59 million baht. Not all were making big money though. That year the 11 companies recorded just 1.52 million baht in profits.

The number of businesses nearly doubled in 2021 as the pandemic dragged on. Some 20 businesses registered capital of 13.41 million baht, but they actually lost money overall. Revenue reports revealed 1.86 million baht in declared losses for the year.

Despite the losses, the number of faith-based companies increased in 2022 again to 24, but the total capital of the companies nearly quadrupled to 49.54 million baht.

But while more companies are legally registering, data suggests that fewer people are spending less money on seeking spiritual support. This highlights a stark truth: people depend on spirituality and faith when times are tough but don’t need it when things are going better.

Now that the restrictions and major effects of the Covid pandemic are over, and jobs and prosperity are returning to Thailand steadily, will the growing number of faith-based companies thrive or wither?

Good news for you could mean bad news for fortune tellers. Who could’ve predicted that?

Thailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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