Myanmar, the final frontier

Myanmar, the final frontier

Myanmar’s recent political reforms coupled with its large, young population and healthy economic outlook make it a highly attractive market for large regional and global organizations. The country’s population has surpassed 56 million and it boasts the second largest land mass in ASEAN. The market is shifting rapidly, however, with burgeoning media usage and evolving purchasing behaviour, and staying abreast of changing consumer habits is a critical success factor for local and multinational companies alike in the years ahead.

Nielsen MMRD reveals some of the key category, consumer and media trends that make Myanmar one of the world’s last remaining untapped frontiers.


  • According to Nielsen MMRD more than 56 million people currently live in Myanmar, with close to half of the population (47%) aged less than 24 years old.

Media usage

  • Television is the most heavily used media with around half of the population (50.7%) tuning in on a weekly basis, followed by radio (43.4% weekly penetration), journals (29.8%), newspapers (12.0%), magazines (7.6%) and cinema (2.7%).
  • Internet usage remains low throughout the country with just four percent of consumers in Myanmar having access to the internet, and usage averaging 3.5 hours per week. Usage in metropolitan areas outweighs urban and rural areas, with average metropolitan internet usage at 16.4 percent compared to 7.8 percent and 0.7 percent in urban and rural areas respectively.

Advertising trends

  • The number of foreign brands advertising in Myanmar increased significantly in recent years off the back of an influx of foreign brands into the country, the launch of 24-hour television stations and the introduction of private newspapers. Local brands have followed suit, increasing their advertising spend in order to compete with new market entrants. In 2013 advertising investment by foreign brands in Myanmar was US$87.5 million, up from US$28.6 million in 2010. Over the same period local brands’ investment in advertising grew from US$28.4 million in 2010 to US$64.4 million in 2013.
  • Between 2001 and 2013 overall advertising spend increased 13 times, from US$11.7 million to US$152 million, with the majority of growth experienced between 2010 and 2013, from US$57 million to US$152 million.
  • The top five categories for advertising investment in 2013 across all media were toothbrushes and toothpaste, followed by coffee mix, shampoos and conditioners, facial-skin care products and mobile phone units and accessories. The top five brands included Colgate, Ovaltine, Signal, HTC and Sunsilk.

Key category trends

  • Coffee mixes and carbonated soft drinks feature among the largest and fastest growing categories in Myanmar. Between 2009 and 2013 the coffee mixes category grew by 104 percent to US$249 million while carbonated soft drinks grew by 126 percent to US$161 million during the same period.
For more information contact Suresh Ramalingam, Nielsen’s Managing Director, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar Cluster at