Dragon for Dinner?
Opportunity awaits U.S. marketers willing to explore the world’s underserved markets
In times past, intrepid explorers feared falling off the edge of a flat Earth into a nether space full of man-eating dragons and other dangerous unknowns. Today, adventurous marketers rarely fear a fall off the world’s edge or find themselves the main course of a feast, but they do fight their own battles—with the modern dragons of business strategy, campaign development and program execution in unfamiliar locales.
Executing programs in the world’s high-potential developing markets represents a direct marketer’s most complex undertaking. Not only must you select the appropriate channel and communication strategy for your product in each new market, but there also are challenges presented by cultural context and language subtlety, and enormous variability in the sophistication of infrastructure and local supplier economies. Still, for those rare and courageous souls, opportunities presented by accelerating economies, expanding globalization and rapidly growing consumer purchasing power offer some of the most compelling opportunities for direct marketers.
A World of Opportunity
Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population resides in a small selection of countries that, even today, remain underserved and generally unmarketed to in relation to the standards we ascribe to mature economies. India, China, Indonesia and the Philippines, for example, on a combined basis are home to more than 3 billion consumers and yet receive less than an estimated 1 percent of total marketing spend budgeted by the Fortune 500.
Rapidly expanding economic opportunity, capital access and job growth—prompted by the recent and ongoing outsourcing pandemic—and accompanying increases in consumer discretionary income are creating extraordinary opportunities for marketers. So why aren’t more businesses rushing to capitalize on selling opportunities—especially the direct sales opportunities now being created in newly empowered populations? The answer lies in perceived barriers to market, concern regarding market entry costs and assumed complexities of establishing beachheads in markets that, for many, still conjure visions of elephants delivering mail.