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Tom Doctoroff

Marketing in developing economies: A new value equation

Generally speaking, the psychology of consumers in emerging markets is distinct from their counterparts in developed nations. This does not discount the importance of cultural factors in shaping buying behavior—Confucian values will always be less individualistic than Western values, no matter the per capita value of a country’s gross domestic product. But a country’s level of economic development is an important factor, and marketers should adjust their strategy accordingly.

Institutions designed to protect the political and economic and interests of consumers – for example, independent judiciaries and reliable social welfare schemes — are relatively immature in emerging markets. People are less vested in having a civil society, and they seldom take safety—physical, emotional, and societal—for granted. Consumers in these markets focus more on the scale and reassurance of big brands; projection of status and adherence to tradition that characterize hierarchical societies; and benefits that “do good” rather than “feel good.” In the developing world, the watchwords are protection and pragmatism. That is why Safeguard, Procter & Gamble’s germ-killing soap, is especially popular in places like China and the Philippines; in economically developed countries consumers are drawn to hedonistic benefits. These consumer commonalities lead to a number of crucial strategic imperatives. Marketers should:

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