Tech companies argue they provide choice for consumers to do what they want
As more Thais use delivery apps and other online services to skirt chores and make their lives easier, is this trend leading to a lazier society, or simply freeing up more time for people to work harder and spend time raising a family?
Apps like GrabFood, Line Man and HappyFresh have fallen under the umbrella of what is termed the “lazy economy”, when new technology is used to easily outsource chores and other daily tasks to an army of part-time workers.
Eunjung Lee, Line’s senior vice-president for global business, said Line Man is not encouraging laziness, as she often uses the time saved from app-based deliveries to do more work.
Line, like competitors Grab and Go-Jek, strives to be a superapp, a one-stop platform that fulfils all users’ needs, making their online experience as simple as possible.
“I think these types of services give customers more time to spend on what they want to do and enriches their lives,” she said. “It’s not necessarily about being lazy, which has a negative connotation, because in many cases it means more time for working.”
Ms Lee said these apps mean users can choose between chores they enjoy or find relaxing, such as cooking, and avoid those they find tedious like doing laundry.
David Lim, vice-president of marketing at the grocery delivery service Happy-Fresh, said different consumers use such apps for varying reasons.
HappyFresh is an Indonesian startup that arrived in Thailand about 2.5 years ago.
Mr Lim said young women with children and a job use the service because they do not have enough time to do grocery shopping. They want to either spend more time with their kids or get ahead at work, but also want fresh home-cooked meals for their families.
Women make up about 80% of HappyFresh’s business.
Men mainly use the service to order beer and pizza, showing the variation in customer needs, he said.
“Our customers have reached a stage in their lives where they have sufficient income to pay for a service they don’t want to do themselves,” Mr Lim said. “It allows people to get out of the house only when they need to, giving them more time to themselves to focus on work or their personal lives.”
But is it making Bangkokians lazier?
According to a 2016 survey by UBS, Bangkok had the fifth-longest working hours in the world at 42.13 hours per week, right behind New Delhi.
Thais are also spending more time on Netflix this year compared to 2018, said Pradon Sirakovit, communications manager at Netflix Thailand.
But he bristled at the idea technology is creating a lazy economy, terming it an “economy of consumer empowerment, preferences and choice”.
Streaming services have reduced a pain point for access to entertainment from traditional TV and movie rental services, both saving customers time and helping them spend it, said Mr Pradon.
“We provide consumers with choice and control,” he said. “By offering choice, consumers globally have instant, affordable access to high-quality storytelling from around the world, suitable for every age, taste, and culture. We also offer control, launching full seasons of Netflix originals that empower consumers to watch their favourite shows anytime they want, wherever and on any device.”