iPhone sales have doubled in the most recent quarter in Southeast Asia, as status-conscious consumers are buying Apple products in record numbers.
“This cost more than two months worth of my salary,” 23-year-old Vietnamese office worker Pham My Linh told Reuters when purchasing an iPhone 5. “But I need it, to feel more confident when hanging out with friends and colleagues.”
Apple is seen as an aspirational brand for lower-income Asian consumers who are willing to go into debt or sacrifice in other areas, even housing, in order to appear more prosperous by owning an Apple product. The company has experienced a recent sales boom in Vietnam, one of the poorest countries in that region.
Three of Apple’s fastest-growing markets – India, China, and Vietnam – have low per-capita incomes. China comes in at $5,720, with India and Vietnam registering at just $1,550 each.
For those who either don’t want to, or can’t spring for an iPhone, knockoffs are available for as little as 2 million Vietnamese dong ($95).
“There are a lot of people out there who can’t afford an iPhone but still want to look rich, which is why shops like mine can do well,” shop owner Nguyen Duc Hai said. “Why pay 10 times more for a real iPhone just to build a luxury image and show off?”