East versus West: brands and the cycle of sophistication

Dominic Scott-Malden
Jigsaw Research

Although marketing practices are increasingly similar around the world, the way consumers respond to brands differs dramatically. Dominic Scott-Malden describes how consumers in the West view brands with a mixture of sophistication and cynicism, in contrast to the newly emerging middle classes in developing countries, who are wholeheartedly enthusiastic. How long will this last?

Brands are the footsoldiers of capitalism, carrying the philosophy and culture of 'consumerism' across the world.

In this article, I start with the hypothesis originally put forward by Guy Murphy, global strategy director of JWT1, that while we in the West are having doubts about many brands, in much of the world brands are riding a wave of enthusiasm. In the West, we have moved from a state of general enthusiasm about brands to being more 'knowing', more sophisticated and more critical of brands.