Globally, the middle class is growing rapidly. Over the next 20 years, 3 billion people are on track to join the middle class in growth markets, placing 5 billion of the world’s 8 billion people into this group. And with their new found wealth, these new middle class consumers will be using the latest technologies to browse and buy digitally. So can you apply the same strategies to engage the global middle class? The short answer: no.
Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist for The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen, recently discussed the effect these new technologies could have on the expanding global middle class at The Next Billion: A Forum about the Connected World presented by Quartz. When Dr. Bala compared U.S. middle class shoppers to those in the world’s biggest growth markets, he found consumer habits varied widely.
Many consumers in in these areas grew up without technologies—such as land lines and laptops—that have existed for years in the U.S. and formed the base for Americans’ online shopping habits. Instead, the new middle classes in growth markets are “leapfrogging” these older tools and moving straight to mobiles and smartphones. As a result, their consumer habits are developing in tandem with their technology adoption.
In order to develop e-commerce for a global audience, companies must first figure out how different markets are evolving, and then provide necessary services.