Identifies common practices used in selling in this market, including sales material that needs to be in the local language.
American products generally enjoy a good reputation for technological sophistication and high quality in Laos. The consumer products of Laos’ regional neighbors are far better known, however, and the Lao market can be difficult for American products due to their relatively high prices. To compete successfully, some U.S. firms have combined routine advertising with workshops, training programs, trade shows, and product launching events for wholesalers and distributors, as well as customers. U.S. products that enter the Thai market are often found in the Lao market as well. Though new product labeling requirements are under consideration, Thai products with Thai language packaging are ubiquitous in Laos and most educated Lao can read Thai, so Thai language packaging often suffices. American products that include Lao-language packaging and/or promotional materials are likely to be positively received.
Trade Promotion & Advertising
Advertising and trade promotion are important marketing tools for American products. Radio, print, SMS, social media, and internet advertising are widely used in Laos. Since nearly all Lao who own televisions watch Thai advertisements, a good reputation and strong advertising campaign in Thailand will likely have a positive effect on Lao consumers as well.
To reach the large youth population in urban centers, advertisers increasingly use social media and popular websites. Many large companies advertise in local newspapers and magazines, though distribution is dwarfed by the readership of popular internet sites.
Since the start of 2022, Laos has reduced a national VAT from 10 percent to 7 percent to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19, however the tax is not uniformly collected.
Sales Service/Customer Support
Relationships are important in Laos, though the concepts of after-sales service and customer support are relatively new and not widely expected.
Local Professional Services
The legal community is small in Laos and it is wise to seek recommendations. Please see the U.S. Citizen Resource website for information on local professional services.
Limitations on Selling US Products and Services
“Strategic” industries may be subject to special requirements. Consult the Lao Trade Portal and the official gazette for the latest information.
- Laos Investment Promotion Department (WordPress › Error (investlaos.gov.la))
- American Lao Business Association
- Lao Land Portal
- Lao Electronic Gazette
- U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos https://la.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/
- U.S. Census Trade data
- CIA World Factbook
Principal Business Associations
LNCCI is the main business association in Laos, and several other organizations work on business issues within Laos, including:
- The American Lao Business Association (a member of the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce)
- The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council
- The European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Laos
- The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Laos
- Other foreign chambers, including Vietnam, Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, and others.