NEW YORK: The number of high net worth individuals living in emerging markets will increase dramatically in the next two years, offering major opportunities to brands owners in these areas.

According to new study produced by Booz & Company, the consultancy, a "tectonic shift" is taking place as regions like Asia Pacific and the Middle East catch up with North America and Europe.

Overall, the company predicted there would be 11 million high net worth individuals, or people with investable assets of least $1m (€754k; £655k) worldwide by 2011.

Nearly 3.6 million of this group, or 32.8% of the total, will live in Asia Pacific by this date, up from the figure of 2.6 million recorded in 2008.

In contrast, North America's share will decline from 31.4% to 30.1% over the same period, with Europe also down from 30.2% to 26.6%.

Looking more specifically at Asia, Booz & Co argued that Japan would retain its position as housing the most shoppers falling into the HNWI bracket.

More specifically, the ageing of the Japanese population means that "wealth preservation" and "intergenerational wealth transfer" will be among the main trends at work going forward.

Elsewhere, China will boast 560,000 high-net worth individuals by 2011, an increase from 380,000 two years ago, with this group holding combined assets worth over $3.1trn.

"China's wealth is currently concentrated in six cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. More than half of the country's HNWI population can be found in these cities," the study said

"As the economy continues to develop, however, HNWIs will increasingly be found in smaller cities."

The absolute totals will remain slightly smaller in India, with the number of HNWIs growing from 110,000 to 165,000, with a collective value of $630bn. 

As in China, most of this demographic is concentrated in India's ten biggest cities at present, but they are otherwise widely divergent in terms of their language, culture and habits.

"Fifty-five percent of the country's millionaires were created between 2002 and 2007, and the number of millionaires, which declined in 2008, is expected to begin rising sharply again," Booz & Co said.

The number of high net-worth individuals in the Middle East will reach 530,000 by 2011, with assets of $1.9bn.

“Today, large wealthy families account for most of the region's wealth. In some cases these families have 100 or 150 members spread across different geographies, many of them running diverse, independent businesses," Booz & Co said.

Brands seeking to make an impact in the Middle East thus needed to consider factors such as family relationships and varying cultural differences observable among their customer base.

Data sourced from Booz & Co; additional content by Warc staff