In 2004, as part of a trip to Southeast Asia, my wife and I spent a half-day sightseeing in Myanmar, crossing the border from Thailand at Mae Sai. Back then Myanmar was still largely closed off to the rest of the world and though our border crossing was legal, it still had an air of danger about it.
These days, of course, things are completely different. With the dissolution of the military government in 2011 following general elections in 2010, Myanmar is open for business. And boy, is there business to be done. The country is rich in natural resources and the economy is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6 percent, attracting the interest of Western firms like General Electric and Coca-Cola, to name but a few of the companies that are establishing presences in the country formerly known as Burma.
Where there is business, there is a need for marketing research and when I learned earlier this year that Millward Brown was opening an office in Myanmar, I reached out to Lyndal Pearce, the country manager of Millward Brown in Myanmar, to arrange an e-mail interview about her experiences. This being our annual international research issue, it seemed the perfect time to bring it to you.
How much did you know about Myanmar and the area before being named to this post?
I began conducting research projects for international FMCG clients in Myanmar in 1996 and had lived and worked as a researcher in Myanmar for 10 years before joining Millward Brown. The work I led on developing contraceptive brands and the communications to support and grow those brands took me, and the Myanmar researchers I trained and worked with, deep into the fabric of relationships in Myanmar. I value this experience highly because it took us well below the veneers and gave us a good understanding of how family life, relationships and decision-making work in Myanmar.
I also worked as a market researcher in Vietnam between...