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Don't mention Genghis Khan

News, 07 September 2016

ULAN BATOR: Mongolian consumers, who tend to be well-travelled and to appreciate the quality of the best global brands, take pride in their local heritage, but marketers should be wary of invoking the name of the country's most famous son.

'Genghis Khan' – or Chinggis Khaan – has been attached to everything from bars to bottles of vodka, according to BrandZ's Spotlight on Mongolia, compiled by Y&R Mongolia.

"His name has become a shorthand expression of quality – but is ubiquitous to the point of saturation," the report said.

Another standard advertising trope – that of the family around the table – has become similarly devalued by overuse.

"Consumers are looking for an emotional connection with brands, and creating aspiration is vital if brands are to stand out," the report advised.

As the country's technical infrastructure has developed, the consumer experience in some sectors has changed rapidly, and, in common with other emerging markets, has leapfrogged several stages with subsequent implications for marketing activity.

"They [consumers] are bypassing bank branches in favour of smartphone apps, and many emerging local brands are putting their advertising spend straight into social media," noted David Roth, CEO at The Store, EMEA and Asia.

With the launch this year of 4G mobile technology, these trends are set to accelerate. Rival telecoms brands Mobicom and Unitel, for example, have used Facebook heavily in their promotions, including giving away TV sets and offering a chance to win flights to Japan.

BrandZ also cautioned that Mongolia is different from other Asian markets, having a largely Buddhist population with a strong Russian influence.

In fact, the country has more in common with Indonesia, it suggested. Or, specifically, the capital Ulan Bator has more in common with Jakarta: both cities have seen rapid development and a surge of affluence, and both contain a large number of young, open-minded and digitally enabled consumers.

And as almost half the country's population lives in Ulan Bator, many international brands entering this market will likely limit their business activities to this location.

The optimistic outlook for the country's economy has taken a knock recently, however, as impressive economic growth levels, fuelled by a mining boom that fed China's demand for natural resources, have disappeared.

The government, faced with high debt levels, is now looking at introducing an austerity program.

Data sourced from BrandZ, Reuters; additional content by Warc staff