Telcos dominate Millward Brown’s first study of the most admired brands in Myanmar

Image: Millward Brown

Image: Millward Brown’s BrandZ report on Myanmar

Millward Brown’s first study of consumer attitudes towards brands in Myanmar has found that telco firms rate as the most admired brands by Burmese.

Telenor, the Norwegian telco that has been locked in a battle for subscribers with Ooredoo of Qatar for the last few years as Myanmar opens up its mobile telephony market to overseas players, ranks as the country’s most innovative brand.

Ooredoo ranks third, behind MPT, the national telco operator in a county in which just over one in two people have a mobile phone subscription, and internet penetration is still only 6%. Coca-Cola and Samsung are also in the top five most innovative brands.

“Mobile phone operators are transforming people’s lives in Myanmar, and they account for three of the top five most innovative brands,” the report reads.

Most innovation and strongest proposition brandsThe BrandZ study, which involved interviews with 1,660 Burmese about 42 brands, found that Telenor also featured highly in a different ranking of the nation’s most-loved brands, topped by MPT. The only FMCG brand in the list, which included Huawei and Samsung, was soft drink Max+.

There was no placing in top five most-loved brands for Ooredoo. It was speculated in 2014, just as the mobile licences were awarded to Telenor and Ooredoo that the latter could be at a disadvantage because of its country of origin at a time of ethnic strife in the country.

In a ranking of the top five brands with the strong proposition in Myanmar, Samsung came first ahead of rival Apple, then Telenor and MPT and Coke. “What unites them is that they tend to be seen as adventurous, idealistic and desirable,” the report reads about this ranking.

Most differentiated and most loved brandsThe only ranking in which telco brands are absent from the top five is the list of the most differentiated brands, which is topped by Apple, followed by Coke, Samsung, Nescafé and Premier Coffee.

The report notes that as Myanmar is such as new consumer market, many brands are so little known or understood that they are a “clean slate” in consumers’ minds presenting marketers with a big opportunity for first-move advantage.

According to Priti Mehra, Millward Brown’s MD in Singapore, to run effective communications in Myanmar, brands need to position themselves in ways that show how they are helping to improve consumers’ lives, not those that promise a different life.

“Emphasise conflict resolution and be reassuring. People here respect their heritage and their elders. Coming in with something very Western will alienate people. Talk about the benefits of your ingredients but don’t try to disrupt their beliefs,” she said in the report.

“Consumers are brand loyal in this country and will have to be offered innovation and value-for-money products,” says Wiroj Tanatchasai, ‎country manager Indochina at Beiersdorf.


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