How Myanmar could capitalise on the millennial market

Yangon based youngster, Nicky Min Ye Myat, does his shopping online. He’s 28 years old and following the global trend for Millennials to do most of their business over the internet.

He is a personal trainer and finds the selection and prices online better than the clothes available in the local shopping mall. Using popular ecommerce platform Alibaba Express, Nicky can find what he wants, quickly and easily.

Overseas shopping not viable

Many locals don’t own credit cards, making buying online from overseas impossible. So they turn to using social media to trade locally. On Facebook, there are loads of shopping groups, including Myanmar Online Shopping Group.

Here there’s a thriving marketplace where people can buy pretty much anything, from shoes to clothes and accessories. Those that can buy from overseas online resell them locally via Facebook. Buyers and sellers can agree a price and delivery terms before the purchase is made.

Time of the Millennials

Shopping is one aspect of the things that Myanmar young people do online. A white paper released this year shows that 96% of Myanmar’s Millennials (those between 17 and 35) use social networking sites online.

Millennials comprise a third of the population of Myanmar, which is 51 million in total. Most live in Yangon and around two thirds have a university qualification. More than three quarters of Myanmar’s millennials earn between US$186-US$458 per month.

Almost 100% of Millennials access Facebook on their smartphones. The second most popular social media app is Viber, but that only manages 20% of Millennials, putting Facebook way up front. Facebook is used as a search engine, source of information and social networking site in Myanmar.

Opportunity for businesses

This heavy use of the internet via mobile phones presents huge opportunities for retail, but also for other sectors. The Millennial generation is generally more educated and better connected than earlier generations in Myanmar, which gives them more influence in buying.
Around 70% are using the internet for information on schools, financial matters and transport compared with around 50% of older generations. This gives Millennials more influence in making buying decisions for their families, which is something that can also be capitalised on by businesses.

Accessing the Millennial market

How can Myanmar businesses access this market? Taking time to research and understand how Millennials make decisions in what to buy online is a good start. Research shows that two thirds of millennials directly influence the buying decisions of their peers. Older generations, by contrast, will rely on personal recommendations from friends or family.

Htet Tayza

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