Capitalising on Myanmar’s millennial market

Nicky Min Ye Myat, a 28-year-old personal trainer at the Training Ground gym on the corner of 48th Street and Mahabandoola Road in Yangon, does most of his shopping online. The available selection of jerseys and jackets in local malls are expensive and limited, plus, they don’t usually come in his size, he said.

But things are different on e-commerce platforms like Alibaba Express. With the app on his mobile phone, these days, Nicky simply goes on the Internet to look for the products he wants.

“There is so much variety and the quality is better. Each item has ratings and reviews from other users. Because I can’t physically see or try anything on, I rely on the reviews before I make a decision to buy. If most of the reviews are good, I’ll go for it,” he said.

However, as many locals don’t yet own credit cards, purchasing items overseas isn’t always an option. Instead, they also trade locally using social media. On the Myanmar Online Shopping Group on Facebook, for example, you will find a thriving online marketplace for shoes, clothes, accessories and many other items put up for sale by enterprising locals. Some, like Phyo Thet, buy branded goods such as Fitflop sandals from overseas and harness Facebook to resell them locally. Buyers and sellers agree on the price online before arrangements are made for the items to be delivered or picked up.

Millennial era

But shopping makes up just one portion of what young Myanmar individuals like Nicky do online. According to a 2017 white paper focusing on the Yangon Millennial generation by Yangon-based public relations firm Vero, some 96 percent of Myanmar’s millennials, defined as those aged between 17 and 35, use the Internet for social networking.

Currently, millennials make up about a third of Myanmar’s population of 51 million, but most live in Yangon. About two thirds have a university qualification and more than three quarters earn an average monthly income of US$186-US$458.

Almost every millennial accesses the Internet through Facebook using their mobile phones, while only 20pc use Viber, the second most popular social media app in Myanmar. “Myanmar people see Facebook as the Internet. They explore the web through Facebook instead of search engines like Google,” said Pawares Wongpethkao, head of digital and innovation, ASEAN, at Vero.

All this presents valuable opportunities not just for the retail sector but for other businesses across the economy. As they are on average more educated and well-connected than the generations before them, more than 70pc of today’s Millennials are also scouring the web for information on banks, schools, and transport compared to just 50pc-60pc from older generations.

“Myanmar’s Millennials… have better access to information than their elders. We believe this gives [them] an outsize amount of influence in making purchase decisions for their families,” said Nicolas Trinquier, strategic communications and client engagement director, ASEAN, at Vero.

Tapping the millennial market

So, how can businesses capitalise on these trends? A good starting point is understanding how millennials make purchasing decisions online. For example, millennials use the Internet more often than any other age group, preferring it to TV, radio channels or print publications.

When making purchasing decisions, millennials in Myanmar are also less influenced by brands than their peers in Cambodia and Laos. However, at least two thirds influence the buying decisions of their peers on social media, according to Vero. In comparison, older generations tend to rely more on personal recommendations from family members or friends

As such, “brands should look into digital mediums, such as engaging with social media influencers, integrating instant messaging apps in their customer relationship management tools, building a well targeted Facebook advertising strategy or keeping up with a coherent community management,” Vero suggests.

Millennials here are also after more functional and practical information on products and services. Their purchasing decisions are mostly driven by functional attributes rather than by the image conveyed by the product. For example, the majority of the millennial respondents surveyed said statements on the quality of products including soft drinks, phones and cars as well as the services offered by banks, hospitals and schools is important when considering which brands to choose. However, few were concerned about brand prestige and loyalty.

“When reaching out to millennials, it is crucial for brands to communicate product-focused key messages. Using quality certificates and warrenties could help show value to millennials,” Vero suggests.

Source : Myanmar Times