“Emerging markets are far more varied and volatile than mature ones. There is little money around: the average income per person in China is around $3,500 and in India $1,000. Cultural complexities are confounding and tastes are extraordinarily fluid. People who are not used to brands flit easily from one to another.
This has turned great metropolises such as Shanghai into vast laboratories of consumer research. Companies are always coming up with new products, or tweaking old ones, to suit local tastes and meet idiosyncratic preferences. Unilever makes its soaps and shampoos foamier than their Western equivalents. P&G produces toothpaste in herbal and green-tea flavours. PepsiCo adds spice to its potato chips. Adidas has created two kinds of shopsâ€”â€œlocalâ€ ones that specialise in sportswear designed for Asian bodies and â€œglobalâ€ ones that sell the same products as in the West. The shopping mall beneath the companyâ€™s regional headquarters in Shanghai has one of each kind.
Innovation extends to changing entire business models.”
The Economist explores the topic of consumer research in emerging markets: