Envirosell offers Asean consumer insights
Music will be a key tool helping Thai companies sell products in Myanmar, while corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects are a must to promote products in the Cambodian market, according to consumer-behaviour research group Envirosell.Through a local arm in partnership with Index Creative Village, the US-based behavioural research and consulting firm aims to extend its services to cover the entire Asean region with the main focus on the emerging CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam). These services will be carried out by Envirosell Thailand, the first local unit of the US company in Southeast Asia, said Sarinporn Jivanun, managing director of the Thai unit.
Before the establishment of the Thai office, Envirosell started off with a regional research project in Yangon by studying the behaviour, lifestyles, attitudes, media consumption, product preferences, and shopping locations of 620 people.
The research aims to help entrepreneurs understand how to communicate with Myanmar people, where to communicate with them and in which context, including high-potential products.
"Myanmar consumers can be divided into three groups: the conservative, the contemporary, and the cosmopolitan. The number of the second group tends to be growing fast," Sarinporn said.
According to the research, in Yangon, the conservative group makes up about 30 per cent of the total. The cosmopolitan group is the largest at around 40-46 per cent, and the rest is the contemporary group.
Sarinporn said the conservative group still shopped at local markets while the latter two groups had started to shop in malls. However, they do not go to the malls as often as Thais. This means there are opportunities for both basic and sophisticated products.
As Myanmar is going through a transitional period, consumption trends may change in the foreseeable future.
"The cosmopolitan group is more exposed. They are similar to the new generations in other countries, but less fashionable. The conservative ones are religious and stick to their culture. This pattern will continue for at least the next 10 years. The fast change will likely be in the contemporary and cosmopolitan groups," Sarinporn said.
She added that Myanmar people loved music. Music goes with every advertisement. "It is better to connect with Myanmar people through music."
She suggested there were huge opportunities for entertainment, convenience and beauty products in Myanmar, including televisions, air-conditioners, washing machines, and skin whiteners.
"Businesspeople should also know how to do marketing for their products in Myanmar."
The managing director acknowledged that the challenges for doing research in Myanmar were the language barrier and translation to local understanding.
Laos, on the other hand, was not a complicated market because its people were familiar with Thai products, but the market was quite small.
Cambodia was more accustomed to Western culture. Products from Europe and North America could be easily seen there.
"In Cambodia, we feel there is some resistance to Thai products. I think Thai brands will have less opportunity in Cambodia, compared with Myanmar and Laos," Sarinporn said.
Thai companies that want to distribute their products in Cambodia were advised to do CSR and tone down the Thai identity of the products.
The next step for Envirosell Thailand in Myanmar is to launch a research programme to cover consumers in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, two other cities with high purchasing power, in June. Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw, according to the company, are likely to represent the whole country.
Research for Laos and Cambodia will be according to products and customer orders.
Envirosell Thailand focuses on customers of fast-moving consumer goods, retailers, designers, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), banking, and the public and private sectors.
It offers customised research with a wide range of services for customers such as online interviews, face-to-face interviews, qualitative focus groups, door-to-door interviews, and in-depth interviews.
"Our cornerstone is that we are a regional [company] and the only one in Thailand that does observational research," Sarinporn said.
The company plans to analyse consumer behaviour and psychology that translate to the physical act of shopping.
"To invest in other countries, businesspeople need to understand the behaviour of customers in order to invest judiciously and save costs," Sarinporn said. Many companies had failed in their attempts to export abroad not because their products were not good but because they did not understand consumer behaviour.