On trade, tea and TVs


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On trade, tea and TVs: the key to Myanmar’s consumer market.

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On trade, tea and TVs

  1. 1. Share this Intelligence Applied On trade, tea and TVs: the key to Myanmar’s consumer market Our response was to create TNS Myanmar MyLife, a study of 10,000 lives and their beliefs, habits and tastes. It was a consumer journey that took us through the complex tapestry of beliefs that underpins their culture, eventually leading us to the centre of its society – the teashop. The journey may have ended here, but it began in the bustling environment of a typical humble homestead, where several generations of the same family live under the same roof. The food is simple, bought from local markets and is the result of admirable entrepreneurialism: families live on approximately $1,000 per annum, two- fifths of which is spent on food, but two-thirds of the population is self-employed. Money and status is not a major concern among families in Myanmar, but the family themselves and the community they live in is: when walking through the average neighbourhood, you will see jugs of cool water left by residents outside most houses for pedestrians to refresh themselves with as they walk by. Inside homes, the television takes pride of place: just over one in ten households have a gas stove, but nearly three-quarters have a TV and approximately two-thirds of urbanities describe it as their favourite pastime. Gone are What do you do with a country that is a veritable jewellery shop of precious minerals, which will enjoy a glittering future after recently opening up its markets to international trade, but where most of the population lives in relative poverty? Dozens of consumer brands have approached us since Myanmar threw open its market gates last year, eager to promote their products to this exciting new demographic, but unsure about a culture that has remained isolated from the world for so long.
  2. 2. Share this Intelligence Applied On trade, tea and TVs: the key to Myanmar’s consumer market clear: they associate quality and price with an imported product’s country of origin, so a Japanese product will fetch a higher price than an identical Chinese product, which plays a crucial role in the retail dynamics of the country. However, change is afoot with a rise in aspirations. Financial stability now ranks above personal health among the Burmese, and finding a prestigious job at a company is a key motivation for young consumers. Education is a growing priority for families as over a tenth of income is spent on education. Companies may look to the schoolhouse for budding future employees and to TV and mobile for consumers in this exciting frontier market. But they should not ignore the sensitivities of the place of worship, the homestead and the teashop, if their path to market is to be a smooth one. About the author Jason Copland is managing director of TNS in Myanmar; he has over 18 years consumer insight experience - including 10 years in Myanmar. Jason joined TNS in October 2012 and has established a full service team - client service, fieldwork, operations and qualitative - based in Yangon and helping diverse clients to understand people across the country. About TNS TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder management, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world. TNS is part of Kantar, one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups. Please visit www.tnsglobal.com for more information. the days when advertisements were prone to government censorship and here lies an interesting opportunity to reach out to the populace, as internet is in its infancy with home internet penetration at 2%. In contrast, mobile/smartphone ownership has seen an enormous boom in the past six months, up by over half in the urban centres of Yangon and Mandalay. But before Western brands consider trying to attract the nation’s young population using Western methods – and it is a young population, with 56% of the majority ethnic group, Burmese, under the age of 29 – there are cultural and religious considerations to keep in mind. Buddhism is a way of life, with three-quarters worshipping daily and a similar proportion believing it is essential to follow tradition and established values in their everyday life. They have a strong moral compass, with the vast majority of young people admitting their views differ very little from those of their parents. All ages gather in their local convenience stores, markets and tea shops, not only centres of commerce, but of community. Listening to the chatter of conversation, as tea, rice and refreshments are passed from one hand to another, a trend unique to the Burmese majority becomes If you would like to talk to us about this report, please get in touch via enquiries@tnsglobal.com or on Twitter