YANGON: Global brands have an opportunity to gain first-mover advantage and generate long-lasting loyalty in the newly emerging market of Myanmar, a new study has said.

BrandZ, the brand valuation arm of Millward Brown, interviewed 1,660 consumers, seeking their views on 42 international and regional brands ranging from those in the food and drink category to the mobile service and handset sectors.

The Spotlight on Myanmar report found that global brands like tech giant Apple and telecom business Telenor were recognised for their differentiation and innovation, but local telecom player MPT was the most loved.

Chinese tech brand 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.

But as consumers are new to choice in Myanmar, they navigate the landscape differently: brands need to focus on how the product will meet their needs and make it easier to compare functions and prices.

The most effective messages come from brands that put their products and benefits front and centre, according to the study, while key differentiators behind the strongest brands are those that project idealism, desirability and a sense of adventure.

"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," said David Roth, CEO at The Store, EMEA and Asia.

"Our teams have identified comparisons with the India of 30 years ago and indeed some aspects of rural India today," he added. "Also valid are comparisons with Indonesia, which has a large population that lives off the land as well as a huge range of different climatic regions."

One of the most dramatic changes in the country – aside from the political developments that have seen the ending of military rule – has been the rapid penetration of mobile which has gone from near zero to almost 50% in a couple of years, with a national mobile network created in just three years.

TV remains important but BrandZ advised thinking of the country as effectively a mobile-only market.

Other infrastructure development is also proceeding apace and technology is expected to direct a new generation of digital growth, from retail to banking to social communications.

Data sourced from BrandZ; additional content by Warc staff