Advertising in Malaysia is a very fast and rapidly growing industry. As the country is made up of a multi-cultural society comprising of Malays, Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups, it is only natural that there are many different cultures, traditions and languages used on a daily basis.

Language and literacy very significant for print media

Hence, it is very important that the medium of communication be made in several major languages where the major ones are Bahasa Malaysia, English Language, Chinese and Tamil which are the most commonly spoken languages among Malaysians. This means that Malaysians are able to read a few major newspapers in these languages.

As mentioned, newspapers in Malaysia are printed in 4 major languages which are Bahasa Malaysia, English Language, Chinese and Tamil. Where this is concerned, newspapers usually have 2 major editions which are the weekdays and weekend editions respectively which differ in terms of circulation and content.

Types of newspapers in Malaysia Newspapers in Malaysia include the following:

  • English Language: The Star and Sunday Star, New Straits Times and New Sunday Times, The Malay Mail, theSun, The Edge, Financial Daily
  • Bahasa Malaysia: Berita Harian and Berita Minggu, Utusan Malaysia and Mingguan Malaysia, Harian Metro, Metro Ahad, Kosmo, Kosmo Ahad, Metro Ahad, Sinar Harian and Harakah.
  • Chinese language: Sin Chew Daily, China Press, Oriental Daily News, Guang Ming, Kwong Wah, Nanyang Siang Pao, Mun Sang Poh
  • Tamil publications: Makkal Osai, Tamil Nesan, Malaysian Nanban

Large market in East Malaysia

The newspapers mentioned above are circulated in Peninsular Malaysia while in East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) there newspapers in English, Bahasa and Chinese as well.

The Daily Express, Borneo Post, New Sabah Times and Sunday Post are English papers available in Sabah while the Chinese papers include Overseas Chinese Daily, Morning Post, Asia Times, See Hua Daily Times and Merdeka Daily News.

In Sarawak, English papers are Borneo Post, Eastern Times and The Star while Bahasa papers include Utusan Borneo and Utusan Sarawak. The Chinese papers available in this state include See Hua Daily News, United Daily News and International Times.

Literacy levels of Malaysians

Newspapers are divided in 2 main types which are determined by the sizes and are either tabloid or broadsheet. It is important for the marketer to know that Malaysia has one of the highest literacy levels in the region which will influence the readership of newspapers.

The Bahasa Malaysia literacy level among Malaysians is the highest with almost 14million Malaysians who can read the Rumi language while English literacy level is at 8 million. Meanwhile, newspapers in other languages are more targeted to the specific language and age groups.

Where this is concerned, it is therefore imperative that marketers are aware of where the readers are in terms of language and literacy level because that will help them to better plan their media campaign in newspapers as well as in placing the appropriate ads to reach the desired target market.