“The majority of international brands available in Myanmar today are relatively new to the market, and as a result consumers are still familiarising themselves with these brands. They place a great deal of importance in the recommendations of those in their trusted circle of family and friends. For new brands looking to establish a foothold in the market, building awareness, trial and, ultimately, trust is critical to success.”
That’s one of the key takeaways from Nielsen’s latest report out today on Myanmar’s young population and increasing consumer purchasing power that are “fuelling opportunities for brands”.
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The opening quote comes from U Thurein Nyein, General Manager at Nielsen MMRD; while it seems to address “international brands”, startups eyeing the super-emerging market would do well to sit up and take note.
The report also found that Myanmar consumers had among the highest mobile engagement of any market in Southeast Asia, despite mobile phone penetration still being down at below half (44 per cent). But year-on-year, penetration was up 19 per cent between 2013 and 2014.
“The key drivers of choice of handset for Myanmar consumers include word-of-mouth￼ ￼recommendations from family, friends and colleagues, as well as value for money and the desire to own the latest model handset,” the report said.
SMS still makes up the bulk of mobile communication in the country (81 per cent), followed by chat apps and social networks (24 per cent). Popular websites among those browsing on mobile in Myanmar (20 per cent) include Facebook, Thithtoolwin, Google, Myanmarnews and G-talk.
Nyien added that considering Myanmar is a market that has been “closed off to the world for decades… the speed with which consumers are adopting new technology is astounding”. This, he concluded, presents a “tremendous opportunity” for brands willing to leverage this trend.
Back in February, we interviewed Mynamar entrepreneur and EventNook Founder Kyaw Lin Oo, who discussed some of the cultural differences among startup founders from the country, including his belief that “in Myanmar, when you build a business, it is forever. It is for generations. There is a tradition of these businesses”. Earlier this year, Kyaw also launched Myanmar-based online ticketing platform ScapeTour.
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In line with the report’s claim that international corporates are increasingly taking note of the country of 53 million and consumer purchasing power is growing, Channel NewsAsia reported yesterday that the “United Overseas Bank (UOB) has become the first foreign bank to announce an onshore loan in Myanmar, after nine foreign banks were granted provisional operating licences in October last year”.
Check out some charts from Nielsen below, and keep an eye out for ever-more headlines from the country throughout the rest of 2015.
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