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The Myanmar Consumer Survey
Finding bright spots amidst the uncertainty
Despite the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, the Myanmar consumer is resilient, forward-looking, and pragmatic. Even as they make the necessary adjustments to the new normal, they remain fairly optimistic about their medium to long-term prospects.
In this report, we present our findings from the recent survey conducted in the third quarter of 2020 across over 600 households through face-to-face interviews in three major cities: Mandalay, Mawlamyine, and Yangon. While this survey considers some of the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on consumer behaviour, it should be noted that it was conducted before the military came into power on 1 February 2021, and the on-the-ground situation continues to rapidly evolve even as we speak.
To facilitate discussions on the consumer journey and highlight segment-specific insights where possible, we have developed four personas to represent the various key consumer segments in Myanmar: Nadi, Aung Ko, Thiha, and Sabae. Through their lenses, we will explore the consumer journey while analysing the impact of the pandemic and other macro trends on the Myanmar consumer’s heart, wallet, and mind.
We will begin by examining the overall consumer sentiment, including their economic and employment outlook. Overall, we observed moderate short term consumer sentiments, but relatively more optimistic sentiments about the economy for the medium term. This is a sign of resilience that is evident across the board, despite the fact that a significant proportion of survey respondents are employed in industries with medium to high risk of disruption from COVID-19.
Next, we explore some of the shifts in consumer spending, which reflect not only greater prudence amidst the ongoing pandemic, but also a shift in priorities as consumers adapt to social distancing measures and the accompanying lifestyle changes.
Finally, we take a look at the purchasing drivers and other behaviours exhibited throughout the purchasing journey from pre-purchase, to purchase, and post-purchase. While COVID-19 has accelerated the use of digital channels to some extent, what appeared to be more significant was the shift in preference towards Traditional Trade channels, which offer consumers greater convenience due to their closer proximity to residential areas. Looking ahead, consumer companies should also consider ways to enhance their geographical coverage and distribution capabilities to stay ahead of the game.