"It is important to remember the fundamental need for a planner to understand the human spirit, with all its cultural nuances." So says Guy Murphy, JWT's worldwide planning director, in his introduction to the Focus theme of the April 2011 edition of Admap: Learnings From Emerging Markets.
Rapid economic growth in the BRICs and beyond has attracted the attention of Western advertisers over recent years. Globalisation and the digital revolution has also led to a more interconnected world - ironing out some regional differences between consumers. But, as the quote above suggests, Murphy believes that planners still need to respect the distinct local cultures of emerging world nations if they are to guide brands to lasting success - a point he reiterated when I had the chance to talk to him last week.
So simply transposing tried-and-trusted ways of marketing goods and services is unlikely to get marketers very far in emerging markets.
Another major point to be taken on board - according to Murphy at least - is the huge income variations that exist in emerging economies. While an increased taste for luxury among some consumers has captured the media narrative, tales of huge queues at Chinese Apple stores and the jaw-dropping spending habits of the Novi Ruskis are unrepresentative. In all, 2.5 billion people - almost half of the world's population - are still at the "bottom of the pyramid", living on less than $2.50 per day. And almost all this group lives in the emerging world.
Warc subscribers can read Murphy's full article here - and browse the full April 2011 issue here. Other contributors to the emerging markets focus include Sam Flemming (CIC Shanghai) on the way Chinese brands are using social media and Kamini Banga on how brands from the developing world can become global brands.
Non-subscribers can also read this free article on "trickle-up" innovation, showing how emerging markets are adapting and exporting Western ideas.