While ‘wining and dining' is part of the Vietnamese culture, you may now have to go to greater lengths to suitably impress. Senior businessmen in Vietnam prefer you demonstrate your wealth, power and skill by acquiring items of rarity and expense. Business is going well and you are about to be introduced to a prospective investment partner. You'll want to look sharp and be on your game. If you happen to be doing business in Vietnam, throwing in a free lunch may not be enough to clinch the deal.
Despite being illegal to trade since 1975, recent research shows that rhino horn is the latest ultimate status symbol -- a gift demonstrative of respect, and of competence in negotiating deals and initiating business relationships. It could even ensure you preferential treatment. Whether it's a piece of rhino horn given as a gift, or the offer of a ‘millionaires detox drink' at the end of the evening, rhino horn is seen as the perfect accompaniment when striking that business deal.
In 2013 Lynn Johnson, founder of Breaking The Brand, had the opportunity to interview several users of genuine rhino horn in Vietnam. She found that the users were wealthy, hence purchasing genuine rhino horn wasn't a problem, and they confirmed its value as "purely symbolic." At least one of the users was working for an international business and Johnson urges global firms developing operations with Vietnam businesses to consider "developing appropriate codes of conduct to avoid staff being involved in accepting a gift of rhino horn."