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Which Emerging Markets Look Most Promising for CPG Brands?

Mobile is the key that unites emerging markets

As growth in Brazil, Russia, India and China—known as the BRIC countries—slows, multinational consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands are examining other developing markets where young populations with a growing middle class are hungry for new products and experiences, according to a new eMarketer report, “CPG in Developing Markets: Consumers' Digital Habits in Emerging Economies.”

Demographics, geography, infrastructure and unstable political situations will create challenges for brands as they enter new territories. But these markets also present great opportunity.

In many of these markets, a young, mobile-connected middle class has emerged that is beginning to recognize and prefer name brands. But these mobile-toting consumers don’t necessarily parallel American or European consumers, or even each other. Indeed, mobile is probably the only universal marker—a starting point when considering the opportunity.

Infrastructure may be suboptimal in many of these markets, but this has sometimes been a catalyst for innovation and new consumer behaviors. The development in Kenya of a simple, successful mobile banking system is indicative of how these countries’ consumers are leapfrogging over traditional technologies to embrace new ones.

The lack of a strong banking system in the country prompted Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest mobile service provider, to create a service that would allow the unbanked population to make transactions without needing to carry large amounts of cash.

M-Pesa allows Kenyans to pay bills and make purchases directly to businesses and individuals via feature phones. As of June 2013, more than 15 million customers in Kenya are using the system, conducting 80 transactions per second for a range of purchases from small CPG items to much larger purchases.

Nigeria is another African country with huge potential. Colin Coleman, head of investment banking for sub-Saharan Africa at Goldman Sachs, said Nigeria’s massive growth could make it “one of the mainstream economic actors on the continent.”

Turkey is an emerging market CPG brands should also pay attention to. Ruchir Sharma, head of emerging market operations at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, referred to Turkey during a speech at a private equity conference in May 2013 as one of the next “breakout economic stars,” according to an article from The Wall Street Journal. He also called Kenya, Nigeria and Vietnam “frontier markets.”

Paul Berney, CMO and managing director at Mobile Marketing Association’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) branch noted that feature phones are still the norm in Turkey, yet mobile campaigns have become more sophisticated, relying on multichannel efforts that use mobile as the call to action.

Asia is, of course, a huge region with enormous potential. Procter & Gamble’s annual 10-K report, released in August 2013, noted that Asia is now as large a market as Europe, prompting one analyst to tell The Cincinnati Enquirer that “Asia and other emerging markets is the future of Procter & Gamble. These customers are up for grabs. There are so many of them that are trying these products for the first time.”


The full report, “CPG in Developing Markets: Consumers' Digital Habits in Emerging Economies,” also answers these key questions:

  • How are consumers in developing markets using mobile?
  • How are consumers in developing markets accessing the internet, and what types of digital tools are they using?
  • How can consumers’ use of these tools in developing markets be leveraged by CPG brands?
  • What common mistakes do brands make when going into developing markets?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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