Point of view: Asia – the next frontier?

Stan Sthanunanthan
The Coca-Cola Company

Goldman Sachs coined the term BRIC in 2001. Since then, the economic centre of gravity started moving toward these countries…especially China and India. But each of these countries adopted its own path toward economic growth. Their political systems are very different from each other and quite different from the Western world. Social norms and, therefore, behaviours and attitudes of people in these countries were dictated largely by their recent history. But in the past decade, there are early signs of convergence driven largely by economic prosperity and the need for self-expression. Economic, political, educational system and social factors, influenced the way the market research industry evolved in these countries.

China went down the path of leveraging lower cost of manufacturing and created a very strong export-oriented manufacturing base. This drove prosperity aggressively but when the global slowdown started, the need to create a strong domestic demand became an imperative. This gained momentum as the global slowdown became deeper and wider. The government was, therefore, forced to stimulate local demand. This starts with an understanding of consumer needs and wants, how brands are perceived, how brands are created etc. Primary users of research services in China were large international companies but in the past decade or so, local Chinese companies started using research services driven by the need to create local demand.