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How to run a survey project in Myanmar?

A guideline on best practices how to conduct a successful market research in Myanmar


How to run a survey project in Myanmar?

How to run a survey project in Myanmar?

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is one of the largest countries in the Southeast Asia region. With its political and economic transformation in recent years, a poverty-stricken nation was on its way to becoming a prosperous one. The country possesses abundant natural resources, a young population, a strategic location at the crossroads of Asia, and a sizable market for wide-ranging business opportunities for foreign investors. The last ten years brought significant development for this emerging market, elevating the economy, commercial industries and the quality of life.
However, daily life in Myanmar has been profoundly disrupted and affected by the years of internal armed conflict. The turmoil which started almost seventy years ago has been labeled the world’s longest civil war. Situation is better nowadays, however, Myanmar (Burma) after brief period of political stability again faces challenges of rebuilding its economy from two years of disturbance trigerred by a global pandemic and a military coup.
Yet, the last years have taken Myanmar on a rapid path toward digital transformation. With a population of almost 56 million, 46% internet penetration, and over 22 million active social media users – the increasing potential for online research in Myanmar cannot be ignored. 
Without going into the details of the current economic and political crisis affecting the population, the situation has a ripple effect on field research, especially offline data collection methods. Consequently, online research use has increased in Myanmar. It arises as the most affordable and secure methodology to conduct market research in Myanmar at the moment.

Why to use online surveys for data collection in research projects in Myanmar?

In a country where the prevailing cultural norms mean that people can or need to be reluctant to share their views publicly, the feeling of anonymity during online research for primary research can be powerful. Being anonymous provides an opportunity for survey participants to freely communicate their opinion without the boundaries imposed by social or political restrictions; this enables us to dig deeper and explore sensitive topics in a setting where they feel most comfortable – their own home. Online boosts the comfort of filling out the questionnaire. There is neither time pressure nor the presence of an unknown person collecting data while filling out the questionnaire, which might positively impact the respondent, especially amid sensitive questions.
Consideration of other people’s feelings is essential in Myanmar market. The Burmese are very empathetic people and tend to assume a highly personal approach to everything they reveal. The Burmese are constantly mindful of whether their actions could offend, embarrass or inconvenience other people, which may affect the results of typical fieldwork-based research projects or qualitative methods such as focus group interviews (FGI).
One of the advantages of online research is the possibility of accessing hard-to-reach target audiences, even in remote regions of Myanmar such as Kachin or Chin. Through specialized targeting and digital acquisition methods, using online surveys, you can connect with inhabitants living outside of the main cities such as Yangoon or Mandalay giving you a possibility for achieving nationally representative sample. This means you are not limited to traditional panel audiences, as internet access in Myanmar becomes omnipresent for most of the marketable segments.

Using online market research methods for projects in Myanmar also benefits researchers and project initiators. An unquestionable advantage is the significantly shorter time of field research due to the automatically processed surveys. With less demanding projects, the initial results can be accessible even within a few hours, making it hardly comparable to offline methods, which can span months to finalize the fieldwork.

A typical span of offline projects in developing countries with weak infrastructure can last multiple months, and the quality of the final data can vary as controls of fieldwork are not strict.
Plus, there is more accuracy when collecting data. The respondent controls its own data input and background control mechanisms it's validation to check potential issues and inconsistencies, which results in more accurate, higher quality responses. 

In addition, online research allows the respondents to profit from taking part in the survey. For each completion, one will receive a reward in return for the time spent; therefore, when you run a survey in Myanmar using online, you help the local economy.

How to run a successful online survey in Myanmar market? Key points.

With that being said, let’s take a look at several important key points to remember when running an online market research in Myanmar.
  • Localize it properly. Even though that English is spoken by some of the strata of society, it is necessary to localize your survey to the national language, Burmese, or other local languages. If you would like to access minorities, you might consider also using Shan (spoken by 3.1 million) or Karen (spoken by 2.5 million) languages. Discuss your goals and groups you would like to survey with your research partner.
  • Make it mobile-first. Looking at the structure of internet users in Myanmar – mobile is the first device of choice. Excluding mobile respondents when doing research would simply bias the data collection part and would impact the results significantly. Why? Because we would rely only on laptop / desktop users who are completely different profiles compared to smartphone users. (In terms of demographics but behavior, too)
  • Avoid heavy-multimedia. Even though that internet penetration becomes higher, it is worth remembering that mobile devices are the first choice for internet access, and the quality of network coverage, as well as the limitation related to fees coming with broadband internet access, it may impact the final experience of the survey participant.
  • Set realistic expectations. Myanmar is still a country with a relatively low-income level. Even though internet access using cell phones has become more affordable in recent years, it is still not entirely accessible to many. When considering your research quotas discuss the chances of targetting your studied group of surveyed demography and related timelines with your research partner. This one is even more important when you would like to conduct continuous studies such as brand tracking or educational survey projects.
  • Keep it short. Not all studies are designed properly for mobile data collection. Experience shows that 10-15 minutes is the threshold where the level of engagement and attention from respondents tends to start decreasing after; this may affect the quality of the answers, so researchers need to keep this in mind when designing studies conducted online in Myanmar.
  • Ensure the safety of participants. One crucial element while conducting research in Myanmar in times of political instability is honesty with the respondents. Before they start to complete the survey, make sure to clarify what data will be collected and for what purpose. Ensure the partner you are choosing provides complete anonymity and confidentiality of the responses following ethical codes in the market and public opinion research. 
  • Choose the right partner. The quality of online panels in Myanmar can vary. We, therefore, recommend using reputable partners for online projects who have experience in running surveys in this country, not only limiting to a small pool of respondents. Doing this can guarantee that you’re reaching the right people and securing high-quality gathered insights about the people of Myanmar.

As the leading online data collection agency, TGM Research conducted multiple market research projects in Myanmar, pioneering online research in this market. To learn more about the recent projects we did in Myanmar, our industry expertise and research solutions, please contact us.

We hope you have found this short guide useful

If you have any further questions about how best to set up your online research study in Asia, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
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