When Myanmar Consumers Shift Their Habits: Transition to New Media and Channels
Economic growth has led to the emergence of an increasing middle class and a significant increase in per-capita consumption. This is increasing opportunities open up for the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) industry and service industries (e.g. private education institutions, entertainment). In the process of opening up and growing economy, Myanmar consumers in major cities evolved from a generation of necessity to a generation of need for social appearance and lifestyles.
Buying behaviors and brand preferences
While Myanmar consumers purchasing Beverages, Confectionery, Packaged Foods, Personal Hygiene Products and Tobacco, they mainly prioritized in 3 main aspects: taste, quality and price. However, when they purchasing Household appliances, Durability and Technology become the priorities because they want to avoid re-purchasing and access the technological advance product feature. In this case, price is still important to considerate but it is not the main priority. Generally, consumers become less price-sensitive when they purchase household products. With the limited alternative availability but yet variety of products options and well-informed about the products, price is not the single most important motive for consumers to make purchasing decision. People start to buy more products for their personal lifestyle and not merely products for necessity anymore.
Myanmar customers are fairly loyal one for now due to the limited availability of alternative choices and local products were in favor for low price and familiarity. However, consumers in Yangon have greater exposure to the imported products and significantly shift their preferences to the imported brands.
Thai FMCG products such as beverages, confectionery, packaged foods and personal hygiene products are extensively popular for its fair/cheaper prices with high quality and more visibility or availability in the market. After Thailand, Japan is the second largest export country to Myanmar and most of it exported consumer products are household and famous for high quality. Korean brand becomes very popular in the middle age group consumers because of the influences by Korean TV dramas and pop culture. Especially the Korean brand cosmetic and household products are well-known among the youth consumers. Western brands dominate the Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco market because in Myanmar consumers’ perception, those brands have premium quality. Chinese brands target mostly for the consumer who are extremely price-sensitive who have limited options. On the other hands, it is infamous for low quality, safety and quality even Chinese brand are available in all the products categories.
In general, grocery stores and stalls are still dominate the buying market due to prioritize considerations such as location and lower price. The perception of general Myanmar consumers who are in rural areas is to assure that the traditional trade outlets to be fresher, as they believe that smaller outlets have higher inventory turnover rates and thus are restocked more frequently than larger outlets such as Supermarkets and believe the traditional trade offer them cheaper price. On the other hand, the significantly increasing number of urban areas consumers who prefer modern trade channels are more focused on stock availability, variety and the level of service.
The result of the survey from Deloitte’s Myanmar Consumer Survey (2016) indicated that 93% of respondents in Yangon and Mandalay chose to use grocery stores (Traditional market) and 51% of the respondents chose to use Supermarket. However, the reputation of the trustworthy and reliable of Modern Market has widespread across the country as the time goes by.
The reputation for offering high quality products and the valve of be able reliable, modern trade channels, such as Branded Showrooms and Supermarkets, the consumers who use modern trade channels have increase. The lack of guarantee for the products’ quality, illegal imported good, modern trade is becoming increasingly preferred in general, and strongly preferred across all income segments for the purchase of big-ticket Household Appliances in particular. For example, consumer tend to buy cooking powders and Mono sodium in the super market because of the traditional trade replace with the fake products.
In Myanmar word of mouth is the most trusted channel of information for the consumer because of the culture context where personal relationships are essential for doing business. Consumer, most of the time, know about the products from friends, colleagues and relatives through word of mouth which has a significant role in influencing the purchasing decision.
In Myanmar, traditional mass media like TV and billboard still play a big role in reaching the variety of consumers they spend an extensive amount of time in front of TVs and in traffic, especially in urban cities. For the print media and radio have decrease their popularity in urban areas but they are still effective in reaching the rural population. On the other hand, along with the increasing Internet and mobile penetration rates, Social Media has become a new channel to reach the consumers. The mobile users’ rate of Myanmar has 33 million of mobile users with 88% of smart phone users in 2017 and Viber estimated that 18 million people are using its application actively.Direct marketing channels including events and in-store promotions such as discounts, lucky draws and gifts, are also becoming popular amongst Myanmar consumers. It also become an effective way to gain good review and boost the world of mouth effect among the consumers. Companies can influence the consumers’ though direct marketing especially for the alcohol and tobacco-related mass media marketing which is prohibited in Myanmar. In this case, direct marketing becomes the only way for consumers to know about the products before they make the purchasing decision. In order to build the brand awareness, alcohol and tobacco companies focus mainly in-store promotion, sale promoting and event sponsoring and also now online marketing. In-Store Promotions are also effective for higher-end products such as big-ticket Household Appliances, as consumers actively seek out discounts and lucky draw promotions.
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- Myanmar Consumer Survey (2017)