Emerging markets - the biggest economic event in history

on Wednesday December 5, 2012 @ 11:38

We were very pleased to hear the UK Marketing Society decided to dedicate part of their annual conference to the potential of emerging markets for Western brands, a topic we have championed many times. 

Although we didn’t attend the conference, as it was a member only event, we followed it avidly on Twitter, below is a summary (provided by Warc) of the key points Peter Haden, a partner at McKinsey consulting presented to delegates, along with a selection of tweets from the audience.  


Haden opened by describing emerging markets as "the biggest economic event in history", bigger than the Internet or World War Two.  But, he said, the challenge for Western brands was to change their capability to take advantage of it.

Haden then went on to talk about the shift of incomes and economic power towards the global south and east.  The consultancy estimates a vast realignment of resources: world consumption will rise from $38tr to $64tr from 2010 to 2025; over that period, fast-growth markets' contribution to this annual total will rise from $12tr to $30tr.


But western brands remain poorly placed to capitalise on this opportunity, with the world's biggest brands – almost all from the US and Europe – only taking a 17% share of emerging market sales today.

In short, Haden, said, "our companies are being left behind in the biggest opportunity in history". And even if these western brands catch up, they might find the "new normal" a harsh environment to live in. Firstly, Haden said, they will need to deliver much more at much lower prices, and second they will need to "give local marketers much more freedom" to tailor brands.

That said, there are some bright spots in these gloomy prospects. For one thing, consumers in emerging markets are much more amenable to recommendations from friends and family – with 93% Egyptians and over 70% of Chinese consumers saying that this influences their purchase decisions compared to 29% of their British counterparts. 

This suggests that firms who have the knack of attracting positive word-of-mouth are well-positioned to tap emerging markets.


More broadly, Haden pointed out that British "soft power" is not quite spent. The land of the Beatles and Harry Potter can still succeed on the global stage. "Our brands travel extremely well," he added. "We have cultural influence. And we've been at this a very long time."

Researching an Emerging Market

If you’re thinking about launching a product in an emerging market, we’d strongly advise you research the local market thoroughly first, as there is lots of variables you need to consider. Get in touch with use for more information and advice on carrying out research in developing markets.    

Twitter updates

@IPA_Updates: Driven by urbanisation, emerging markets will be worth $30 trillion by 2025, says Peter Haden of @McKinsey

@Franbrosan: Rise of emerging markets is 1000 times bigger than Industrial Revolution.

@Franbrosan: $30 trillion opportunity in emerging markets. Marketers at centre of ability to grasp it

@robonn: nice insight from McKinsey - consumers in developing mkts far more likely to get recommendations from friends pre-purchase

@tmwagency: Peter Haden of McKinsey claiming emerging market growth the biggest event in history (and the west will lose)

@jonlenson: 92% of Egyptian consumers take recommendations from friends/family before buying a product vs 29% in UK

@WarcEditors: Brands can win in emerging mkts by a) delivering much more at lower prices b) giving local mketers much more freedom

@SAYMediaUK: Peter Haden of McKinsey says marketers need the freedom to think globally & act locally

@WarcEditors: Global brands aren't winning in emerging mkts - largest brands only take 17% of emerging market sales

@Mind_Poet: Emerging markets will mean 4 things: 1) Need to deliver more promise for smaller prices 2) give local marketers more freedom

3) importance of trust 4) really understand local distribution and what drives their behaviour

@DomGrounsell: Peter Haden of McKinsey speaking about the need for local flexibility on global brands. Hallelujah.

@SyrenStrategy: Wholly agree with definition of fast growing markets (vs emerging), by far the most dynamic markets we research

Photos: @bilko37, @simonsays7

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