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First ever Myanmar study highlights factors for brand success

30 June, 2016

Spotlight on Myanmar

Local telecom brand MPT most loved amongst 42 key brands while global entrants are valued for their differentiation and innovation

YANGON, MYANMAR — WPP and Millward Brown today released the BrandZ inaugural Spotlight on Myanmar, exploring critical business insights into the world’s fastest-growing economy and the evolving psyche behind Myanmar’s 51 million consumers.

In a nascent marketplace where local brands hold their own against foreign competitors, Apple has emerged as the most differentiated brand whereas local telecom player MPT ranks as the most loved. Brands like mobile provider Telenor have also earned recognition for innovation, despite being a recent
market entrant.

Myanmar’s rapid transformation also means businesses need to ready themselves for game-changing scenarios propelled by technology and infrastructure advancements. Myanmar is set to become the first country in the world to go straight to smartphone as part of its “leapfrog” development. Key changes affecting marketing and brands include the rise from almost zero mobile penetration to nearly 50% in just a couple of years. Technology will likely direct a new generation of digital growth, from retail to banking to social communications.

The Spotlight on Myanmar findings are based on everyday buying decisions such as coffee, soft drinks as well as long-term purchase decisions around mobile service and handset sectors. Research shows that the most effective messages come from brands that put their products and benefits front and centre. Key differentiators behind the strongest brands are those that project idealism, desirability and a sense of adventure.

BrandZ research in Myanmar includes 1,660 consumer interviews and covers 42 key international and regional brands that are already building a sense of meaningful difference in Myanmar, based on either their global profile or their local activity. Findings show that:
  • Apple is the most differentiated brand in Myanmar followed by Coca-Cola and Samsung. Apple indexed 232, where the average brand indexes at 100.
  • Mobile network Telenor is the most innovative brand in the survey, indexing 125, with rivals MPT and Ooredoo coming second and third respectively.
  • MPT is the most loved brand in the survey, indexing 129, nine points ahead of Samsung and 11 points ahead of Telenor and Huawei.
  • Samsung’s brand proposition scored the highest at129, ahead of Apple on 125 and MPT on 118.
  • Huawei scored highest on brand power –a brand’s ability to boost sales or gain market share due to consumers’ predisposition to choose this brand over another – indexing 436, significantly higher than its global average score of 81. Huawei performs better in Myanmar than it does in its home market, China, on this measure.
“There are huge opportunities for international brands to be successful in Myanmar, if they get their cultural message right and understand the diversity of the country, particularly in the border areas. Our teams have identified comparisons with the India of 30 years ago and indeed some aspects of rural India today. Also valid are comparisons with Indonesia, which also has a large population that lives off the land as well as a huge range of different climatic regions,” said David Roth, CEO at The Store, EMEA and Asia.

The report also highlighted a number of key trends that will change how brands and agencies should approach this market, now and in the next few years, including:
  • Rapid improvement in infrastructure. It has taken just three years to build a national mobile network; other changes including the arrival of greater electrification and improved transportation links will happen much faster than would be expected in many markets.
  • e-tailing is coming. Despite the current poor retail infrastructure, the rapid growth in e-commerce in other developing markets acts as an indicator that the speed will be similar in Myanmar.
  • The world’s first mobile-only market. Consumers are increasingly looking to mobile for both information and entertainment. While TV is important, brands need to consider Myanmar as not just a mobile-first environment but also a mobile only market.
  • Sell the effect, not the spec. Consumers are new to choice in Myanmar so they will navigate the new landscape differently. Brands need to focus on how the product will meet their needs and make it easier to compare functions and prices.
  • Appreciate the diversity of Myanmar. This is not a homogenous nation. Although 88% of the urban population is Buddhist, there is a huge range of ethnic, climatic and cultural variety, which will be particularly critical in the personal care sector.
“BrandZ’s first research in Myanmar will help international and regional marketers understand the challenge of building strong brands in this new market. Experience in other fast emerging markets shows that first mover advantage and the loyalty it engenders in consumers can last for decades. Myanmar is a long-term commitment but one that will pay off for the brands that get it right,” said Doreen Wang, Head of BrandZ, from Millward Brown.

BrandZ™ Spotlight on Myanmar is part of the suite of BrandZ rankings which also includes the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands, the BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indonesian brands, the BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Latin American Brands and the BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands.

Background and methodology
The brand valuation behind the Top 100 was conducted by Millward Brown. The methodology mirrors that used to calculate the annual BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking, which reached its tenth year of publication in 2015.

The BrandZ rankings are the only valuations in the world that take into account what people think about the brands they buy, alongside rigorous analysis of financial data, market valuations, analyst reports and risk profiles. Consumer perception of a brand is a key input in determining brand value, because brands are a combination of business performance, product delivery, clarity of positioning and leadership.

About Millward Brown
Millward Brown is a leading global research agency specializing in advertising effectiveness, strategic communication, media and brand equity research. Millward Brown helps clients grow great brands through comprehensive research-based qualitative and quantitative solutions. Specialist global practices include Millward Brown Digital (a leader in digital effectiveness), Firefly Millward Brown (our global qualitative network), a Neuroscience Practice (using neuroscience to optimize the value of traditional research techniques), and Millward Brown Vermeer (a strategy consultancy helping companies maximize financial returns on brand and marketing investments). Millward Brown operates in more than 55 countries and is part of Kantar, WPP’s data investment management division. Learn more at

About WPP
WPP is the world’s largest communications services group with billings of US$73 billion and revenues of US$19 billion. Through its operating companies, the Group provides a comprehensive range of advertising and marketing services including advertising & media investment management; data investment management; public relations & public affairs; branding & identity; healthcare communications; direct, digital, promotion & relationship marketing and specialist communications. The company employs 194,000 people (including associates and investments) in over 3,000 offices across 112 countries. For more information, visit

WPP was named Holding Company of the Year at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the sixth year running. WPP was also named, for the fifth consecutive year, the World's Most Effective Holding Company in the 2016 Effie Effectiveness Index, which recognizes the effectiveness of marketing communications. In 2016 WPP was recognised by Warc 100 as the World’s Top Holding Company (second year running).

For further information please contact:
Lisa Parente
Vice President, Global Content Marketing, Millward Brown
Tel: +1 617 598 5328

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