While mobile internet usage has been slow to catch on in Vietnam, the popularity of digital media is set to surge in the year ahead, according to a report issued on July 12 by Nielsen, a global insights and measurement company.

According to the report, a pre-release of data from Nielsen's inaugural Southeast Asia Digital Consumer Report, to be available on September 30, 41 percent of Vietnamese internet users have accessed the internet from a mobile phone, the lowest level of take-up in Southeast Asia .

However, Vietnam has the strongest mobile internet adoption intent of any market in the region, with three quarters of Vietnamese consumers intending to use mobile internet in the next 12 months.

And while only 21 percent of Vietnamese consumers currently own an internet-capable mobilephones, 46 percent will consider purchasing a smartphone in the coming year.

Darin Williams, managing director of Nielsen Vietnam , said: "Vietnamese love to spend on technology and stay connected, despite lower buying power compared to some of their Asian neighbours. One of the significant advantages is that Vietnam is not faced with the legacy technology issues encountered in most Western and developed nations."

While they represent a relatively smaller base compared to other countries, Vietnamese consumers have been adopting some of the latest smartphones and many plan on buying them in the future.

For this trend to continue, however, mobile infrastructure need to be developed and service providers should focus on a smoother customer experience, Williams said, adding that prices should come down for the majority of consumers to be able to adopt and use the mobile internet.

"Provided these conditions are met, we expect to see a significant upswing in usage over the next two years, given Vietnam 's enthusiasm for technology as well as growing affluence," he said.

According to the survey, social networking on the internet is very popular, with 96 percent of Vietnamese internet users having visited a social networking site.

Vietnamese netizens are the most likely in Southeast Asia to engage with companies via social media, with almost 79 percent having "liked" or followed a brand, company or celebrity, which is 10 points higher than the average of 69 percent for Southeast Asia .

Vietnamese internet users are the most likely in Southeast Asia to be influenced by information found obtained via social media platforms.

At least 58 percent trust consumer opinions posted online and 81 percent use social media as a resource in purchase decisions.

Brands and companies that want to break through the increasingly cluttered and competitive landscape will be those that have a live and active presence on popular international social media sites such as Facebook as well as local Vietnamese platforms./.