A prolonged China slowdown and sluggish growth in many Asian markets has seen a number of companies in the region enter a holding pattern, slashing marketing budgets and wary of large-scale investment in a difficult economic climate. This hesitancy has occurred at the time when South East Asian markets in particular have seen enormous middle-class expansion and purchase power is on the rise and more consumers have internet connectivity than ever.

But does the macro-outlook look positive enough in 2018 for brands to invest heavily in emerging markets? Or will they continue to wait-and-see?

According to Alexander van Kemenade, the Beijing-based Head of Consulting for Asia at The Economist Intelligence Unit, ominous patterns are starting to emerge which echo trends before the global financial crisis in 2008, but there are also opportunities in emerging markets such as India and Indonesia, as well as trends such as premiumization and offline retail which offer a ray of sunshine to brands in the region.

1. A critical period in Asian growth as China slows