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With a population of more than 33 million and a third of them living in urban areas, Malaysia has seen an accelerated shift towards e-commerce and online-to-offline consumer experiences, presenting new areas of opportunities for retail, F&B, and other consumer-facing businesses.
Due to its proximity and history with Singapore, Malaysia has always been one of the first international markets for many Singapore brands. Malaysians are also generally familiar with Singapore brands and concepts as many have worked, visited or lived in Singapore.
With the growing consumers' appetite for global brands, foreign companies can expect a hike in external demand for exports and manufacturing products, especially home appliances, fashion, and home and lifestyle retail products.Enter Malaysia through offline and online channels:
- Set up brick-and-mortar shops in the Klang Valley area, comprising Selangor and Malaysia’s capital city – Kuala Lumpur. States such as Penang (Georgetown) and Sarawak (Kuching) are key tourism locations in Malaysia and home to a growing domestic middle class.
- Reach a larger pool of consumers online through e-commerce. Malaysia recorded a market value of US$9.2 million in 2022, putting it in the 4th place amongst SEA markets for e-commerce value and 7th worldwide. Lazada, Shopee and Zalora are prominent platforms you can consider as first landing points.
Learn about Malaysia's business hubs
Johor is the second largest state in Malaysia, with an area of 19.016 km2 and a population of 3.6 million. In 2021, Johor recorded a GDP of USD 34 billion, after Selangor and Sarawak. Johor’s economy is centred around services, manufacturing, agriculture and construction.
Selangor contributes over 22% GDP as Malaysia’s largest economy, with core industries covering ICT, manufacturing, media and services. It also houses key air and sea ports, including the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Subang Sky Park, and Port Klang.
Penang is a small but economically significant state, known for its manufacturing and tech-friendly infrastructure and incentives. The state’s Bayan Lepas Industrial Park is Malaysia’s first free trade zone, which paved the way for the development of more of such zones, cementing Penang’s reputation as the manufacturing hub of Malaysia.
Sarawak is rich in natural resources, with a GDP largely contributed by export of primary commodities such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude petroleum. In recent years, the state is focusing on manufacturing and other processed food exports.