The Emerging Consumer Market in Myanmar


Myanmar (Burma) is currently passing through a critical period of political reform, against the backdrop of rapid economic growth and opening up to the global economy.

In a relatively short period it has gone from being an isolated economy to becoming an international investment focal point. While more strides still need to be taken to promote more inclusive growth, critical developments under way across the country’s diverse landscape continue to heighten investor appetite.

Myanmar’s booming economy, young population and rising disposable incomes represent a significant opportunity for any company looking for new growth markets. In addition to appealing to local and Asian companies, Myanmar’s allure is ripe for global multinationals as well, particularly consumer product and telecommunication companies.

55% of the 51 million people are under the age of 30 years, well positoned to capitalise on the expansion of the economy. The typical Myanmar consumer allocate 47% of their monthly household spending to cover food and groceries, household and personal care products .

For new brands looking to establish a foothold in the market, they must build  brand awareness and ultimately trust to reach success.
Myanmar’s people are still familiarizing themselves with the aboundance of international brands now flooding the market. The consumers rank familiarity and recommendation from friends and family among the key factors influenceing their purcasing decisions.
The speed with which consumers are adopting new brands and technology is astounding. Value for money and desire to own the latest and most in fashion are the main reasons for buying.

Myanmar people are also the most engaged mobile users in Southeast Asia and an overwhelming majority are open to recieving ads on their phones as long as they can access content for free. The trick is to tap into Myanmar consumer’s need for information to help with their brand puchasing decisions.

Many of the big multinational brands are already here , to start with through local distributors and very soon by own established offices in the big cities. Brands are also being imported to the country, mostly from Thailand, Singapore and other ASEAN countries. The rest will recognise Myanmar’s long term potential and huge market, and will see it as it is a long term investment rather than a quick gain.

The lack of skilled, trained and experienced people is a very critical issue that many companies face at the early stages. The understanding of business, service responsibility and global thinking take time to train and get into the business culture. Managers in Myanmar have to be teachers and coachers for a longer period than in many other countries in Asia. To recruit talented people with the right attitude who can be trained by going in parallel is one possible way. The trick is to keep them when they feel they are ready for the next leap.

Contributing through the local operating companies, training and supporting local SME’s is very important and at the same time work close with suppliers to upgrade their standards on all levels.

Since Signium opened its office in Myanmar two years ago, we have seen the demand for experienced managers in the consumer sector shooting up, both from international brands and from local companies on the distributor side. The great change in brand awareness, availability of most global brands in the market, the opening up of big shopping malls, as well as the  changing consumer behaviour is resulting in a rush to not miss the business opportunities here.

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