With foreign direct investment in Myanmar nearing $5 billion USD in 2015, and growing steadily, it can be a challenge for marketers to not only make a good first impression in the market, but also to get a sense for how things really work in Myanmar.
Myanmar was closed for nearly 50 years, has ongoing conflicts in multiple parts of the country, has an important election coming later this year and is leapfrogging to the latest technology in a way that may result in up to 80% of the population being connected to the Internet via mobile devices within the next couple of years. Given all of these disparate circumstances, it can be hard for anyone to wrap their head around Myanmar. But following are a few signs that your business and its marketing team is on the right path.
1. If your company is leading with CSR, this is a good sign. Myanmar people are naturally and traditionally fond of philanthropic acts, which link back to their spiritual Buddhist beliefs. The belief is that good deeds lead to good Karma – and project a sense of leadership.
2. 80 percent of the population is outside Yangon and Mandalay. Even some Myanmar companies forget this. Companies need to reach beyond Yangon and Mandalay to have a sustainable business.
3. The “seniors” factor and influence. Anyone who has spent time in Myanmar will hear people talk about “seniors.” In Myanmar, there’s a saying “honor elders, respect peers and empathize with younger ones.” They say you have to pay respect even if he or she is one second older than you. For marketers, “seniors” can help to influence buying decisions.
4. Journalists and content, not cash. How far can cash bring your content for media coverage? In Myanmar, yes, there may be a few news organizations that request cash. But the credible, most valued media organizations do not accept cash gifts. Readers know the difference between news that has been paid for and news that was earned on its merits.
5. Myanmar people are embracing technology, your organization should too. Digital media is advancing fast. In cities like Yangon and Mandalay, it seems that almost all middle-class households own at least one gadget which allows easily-accessible digital media at their home, workplaces and even on the streets. For young professionals, owning more than one gadget is becoming the norm. Engagement levels are also very high compared to neighboring countries. Myanmar people are embracing technology and social media – their voices are being heard across the country’s new bandwidth.