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Foreign names as a sign of quality   2011-06-19 - Tuoi Tre

As many Vietnamese believe foreign products are better than domestic ones, real estate developers are now vying each other to give their projects foreign names to attract customers.

Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7 for instance isn’t lacking when it comes to apartments with foreign names.

On an area of thousands of square meters near Kenh Te Bridge on Nguyen Huu Tho Road in Tan Hung Ward, there is a big billboard advertising the Era Royal Plaza apartment project.

Nearby, at the Nguyen Huu Tho – Nguyen Thi Thap crossroads is a would-be 30-floor apartment complex named Sunrise City. The ads surrounding this construction site are also written in English, marketing such features as child care service, library, and music room.

Kenton Residences, Hoang Anh Gold House, and Dragon City are other examples of local buildings christened with English names in this suburban district.

Downtown HCMC, foreign-named buildings have also mushroomed up.

In a short distance on Le Thanh Ton Road from the crossroads with Ton Duc Thang to the crossroads with Thai Van Lung, dozen of buildings with exotic names such as Gemadept Tower, The Nomad, Saigon Sky Garden, The Lancaster, and Saigon Plaza dazzle passers-by.

Even buildings and apartments in less cosmopolitan locations tend to have an English name such as Aroma in Binh Duong and Five Star in Long An.

A chairman of a real estate firm estimated that 70 percent of the projects carried out since 2000 have foreign names.

A chairman from another real estate firm, which also has an English name, said he had wanted to name his company and its project in Vietnamese, but eventually decided to adopt English names for both.

“We just followed the trend,” he said.

He said another reason was that the foreign firm in charge of designing, consulting and monitoring his company’s project often misspelled its Vietnamese name, so his company simply switched to an English name for convenience’s sake.

Le Hoang Chau, head of the HCMC Real Estate Association, said the reason underlying this trend is a misconception of many Vietnamese customers that foreign products are better than domestic ones.

Nguyen Xuan Chau, CEO of a real estate investment consultant firm, said a foreign name was a marketing strategy.

The foreign name gave a sense of better quality and thus resulted in greater appreciation from local customers, he said.

Le Hoang Chau said the ultimate benefit for investors was to be able to charge higher prices thanks to this misconception.

Nguyen Van Duc, deputy director of Dat Lanh Real Estate Corporation, said customers are willing to pay more for projects that have foreign names.

Duc’s firm, however, uses Vietnamese names for its projects to prove that domestic products are equal to foreign ones, he said.

Chau said investors need to take into consideration national pride when they name their projects, although there is no law that forbids them to use foreign names.

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