When it comes to growth, it’s hard to ignore what we’re seeing in emerging markets. In fact, they’re currently generating two-to four-times the fast-moving consumer goods growth of developed markets, as detailed in Nielsen’s recent What’s Next in Emerging Markets report. But just because the big picture boasts big opportunity doesn’t mean capitalizing on the right opportunities is easy.
To get started, global manufacturers can realize emerging market growth opportunities by understanding how discretionary categories evolve in similar, but more established markets. Pairing the macro factors within a region or a country with identified category specific-drivers, consumer needs, and emerging trends within a given country is key to enabling sustained growth.
At a high level, we’ve seen several key dynamics at play over and over again as emerging markets develop in the consumer goods and services landscape:
Increased competition, as there is more money to be won.
Increased premiumization as willingness and ability to pay increases.
And as Nielsen’s Emerging Markets report mentions, within food and beverage, portability and health are global needs as consumers become more educated on health and simultaneously live busier, more mobile lifestyles.
As competition increases and premiumization starts to occur, learning about country specific trends and nuances are where the rubber meets the road. It’s incredibly helpful to contrast benefits and characteristics demanded within a market to ensure that your products are properly defined and positioned. The question is, how do you make sure that your brands don’t get left behind? How do you uncover the emerging consumer needs in a developing country before it’s too late?
Here are three ways to uncover actionable insights:
Put your product into context. Did you know that higher obesity and higher-than-average temperatures can be key drivers of bottled water sales? Intuitively it makes sense, but a common pitfall is to underestimate the extent to which environmental, religious, political and other factors play a role in shaping consumer priorities. A geographic-driven model helps you compare category development around the globe to explain differences, forecast growth and align on what matters most to consider in a given country. For example, while the rise of the middle class and urbanization is affecting many categories, our geographic driver models have uncovered things like tough climates in countries like Russia, cultural factors such as how much the average person walks, and the dominant religion in Africa or Middle Eastern countries can significantly affect the types of shoes purchased. In these examples, our clients were aware of these factors, but they didn’t know how much of a role they played in each country and how they should impact country prioritization efforts and forecasts. The bottom line is that country context matters, a lot, and there are proven ways to quantify it.
Get personal. Never underestimate the value of in-depth qualitative interviews with your consumers. Understanding what they are struggling with in their daily lives can help you create the right product, portfolio and value proposition. The nuances of a person’s individual life journey amid a broader cultural context for a given category can be critical insight for defining winning innovations. Take for example the professional development market in China. During qualitative conversations using The Cambridge Group’s “Jobs to be Done” framework, we uncovered that young managers are eager to progress in their careers, and as a result, pursue additional certifications and training. Despite this, our interviews uncovered that these individuals frequently find it difficult to communicate with cross-functional stakeholders in a way that gains them natural leadership and influence on the team. This provided a client with a major opportunity to step in and provide soft skill training as an add-on to other professional training.
Dig deep into your data. If you have a strong database, you can quickly analyze the data—down to the SKU level to understand what characteristics are driving growth. As an example, our team analyzed $90 billion worth of snacking data. And in just three weeks, we found that portability, clean and simple ingredients, satiation, and palate complexity were the key benefits snackers pay 2x+ for, and at the time, were driving 65% of year-over-year sub-brand growth when hitting on all of these needs.
These simple, globally applicable models and insights have helped many uncover hundreds of millions of dollars of emerging profitable demand. Clear opportunity identification allows general managers and product owners to gain executive buy-in to quickly adjust their global country prioritization schemes and product portfolios to capitalize on the right markets, with the right strategies, at the right time.