Emerging Markets

Africa, one continent many worlds


It’s been a while since my last post, apologies, testing times in Egypt plus I was focusing on my fast during Ramadan, more recently, I was in South Africa! I usually reside in Egypt and went to discover South Africa’s magic.

Africa is not one big poverty-ridden continent, contrary to some perceptions and images portrayed by some media outlets, the image of the starving child and disease is not representative of all countries, yes, there are poor countries, however, many are abundant in natural resources like gold, gas, petroleum and minerals.  As well natural resources, these countries benefit from tourism and have a host of developing diverse industries e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, banking and telecommunications. The World Cup was hosted in South Africa in 2010, boosting its profile as a tourist destination, the government also invested in local infrastructure to accommodate, impacting the local economy and jobs, for example construction.

Countries also benefit from access to global capital markets and receive foreign direct investment which aids growth. The BRIC is forming strong economic ties with Africa, particularly China.

Many countries in Africa have large populations, e.g. Egypt has a population of approximately 85 to 90 million, which forms a large domestic market, this includes a large pool of well-educated youth and rising middle classes as a result of economic success.

Africa consists of 54 independent countries and understanding the continent or individual countries is not a simple task, it requires research, exposure and business experience. North Africa and South Africa, albeit on the same continent, are worlds apart. They’re different in terms of ethnicities, culture, traditions, languages, religion, history, politics and business opportunities. I cannot stress how important it is that businesses and marketers recognise each country in Africa as unique and as individual markets.

Various countries in Africa are up and coming, as a result of political stability, reform, privatization, openness to trade and investment. Some countris in North Africa have recently become unstable post the “Arab Spring” however, these countries are eager to regain stability, attract tourism and continue to grow economically, political stability, however, is a prerequisite, hopefully this is a short-lived transitional stage. Countries in North Africa must also be regarded as unique markets and what’s currently occurring in Egypt does not represent what’s happening in neighbouring markets. Also, the global mass media can exaggerate the situation on the ground, after all bad news sells.

Businesses, in developed markets, are looking for growth from countries in Africa, in the face of tough competition in home markets; African markets can offer good return or investment, new customers and clients.


It’s key that any international marketing strategy treats each stand-alone market with a unique approach, this begins  with marketing segmentation. The countries in Africa cannot be clumped into one region or market. There are less developed countries in the region as well as more advanced countries in terms of: living standards, consumer demands, business maturity, expertise and levels of sophistication in Internet marketing, for example.

In my book, I discuss the market attractiveness model, which helps business strategists and decisions markers to segment regions, to classify countries, markets and industries according to business attractiveness vs. a businesses’ own capabilities in doing business in these market.

When I worked for Cisco 2012, we classed South Africa as an “A” market, it was a key market for  business growth  in the region, Nigeria and Egypt were classed as “B” markets, at the time. These were considered attractive for various reasons, e.g. wealth, natural resources, ease of doing business, growth rates  in GDP, stability and various other positive business and economic factors.

This segmentation determined marketing investment, budget allocation and resources in terms of teams and dedication. Other markets in the region were classed as C markets, or tertiary and treated accordingly.

Each business experience will be different as well as the ROI, sales and growth.

Targeting and business models:

Once the individual markets/ countries have been segmented, the next decision is to decide which countries to operate in i.e. the target markets, and how to do business with these markets i.e. export, partnering or e-commerce.  This is where the investment commences and implementation takes part.


This is perhaps my favourite topic, perhaps because I’m a bit of a traveller and different cultures inspire me. Marketing strategy and communications need to be tailored to local markets, products and solutions need to meet local pain points and marketing needs.

Ethnicities, cultures and needs are starkly different from north to south and this should be reflected in marketing campaigns, creative and communications. The look and feel of communications and languages will differ completely. In the continent, major business languages include French, Arabic, English and Portuguese, of course using the wrong business language in marketing communications has huge implications for business results.

Egypt is predominantly a Muslim country which also has an impact on marketing and sensitivity,  the main religion in South Africa is Christianity, in Islam alcohol is prohibited, although it’s available in Egypt and accessible, this for example may be a consideration when doing business with the market, i.e. it may not be acceptable to serve alcohol at an event.

The wonderful Internet:

Social media is booming in the region, again each individual market has its own popular network/s, in Egypt and South Africa alike, Facebook and Twitter are popular. In general, growth in Internet penetration in the region and certain markets has accelerated in recent years due to investment in infrastructure and wireless. This is a new means to reach new markets and to test tailored, localised campaigns easily in comparison to offline. Social media has been instrumental in the communication during social uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, having a well-defined and planned social media strategy can help to establish brand awareness; build a contact database and to establish sales or generate leads.

Using the internet to reach markets in Africa is beneficial for a multitude of reasons, including the well-known benefits of digital, which I need not write about here, one major benefit is that it’s more reliable than traditional direct marketing, for example, the postal infrastructure in Egypt is less developed in relation to western markets and therefore you can count on an email arriving over a piece of direct mail.

The benefits are also that you can test messages and localised campaigns and track responses and receptiveness from local individual markets at low-cost.

The Internet is a strong marketing tool, however, it’s important to combine it with other media channels which to an extent depends on the demographic or fimographic.

Doing business in international and emerging markets is not easy, there’s a lot to be learnt, each market is unique and requires dedicated investment in terms of resources, there is a high level of risk, however, rewards can be high. As I mention in all my articles, learning is key and partnering with knowledgeable local businesses is invaluable.

Thoughts and prayers for Egypt as it currently goes through its political growing pains and here’s to a prosperous future.

Categories: Emerging Markets, Global Marketing, Localisation | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Retail and consumer brands global yet local in fast growth markets

Are you looking to grow your business in international markets? The large brands / companies are doing it to grow the top line. They’re chosing to target emerging and frontier markets as they’re facing tough trading conditions in “developed” mature markets.

See below images for some of the consumer brands I’m referring to, the middle image is Virgin!

Emerging Markets

The images were snapped up by me In Qatar, Doha and UAE, Dubai. Both markets were recently upgraded from frontier, riskier markets than emerging, to emerging markets.

“Both are seeing capital flows coming into their countries in the form of tourism, trade and financial services. These are safe havens of the Middle East. In addition, there continues to be a substantial development spending,” according to CNN.

These markets  amongst others, such as the BRIC , offer profitable growth for companies in terms of consumers.

Emerging markets continue to lead growth though political and economic changes. Sadly and inevitably, Greece became the first  “developed market” to be downgraded to an emerging market. The world is all change most notably since the Financial Crisis.

Brand strategy and logos

As you can see these major brands have localized by translating their brand names, albeit keeping their successful global identities, so they are local, yet global, glocal brands!

Monsoon uses  its brands name in English and in local language, Arabic.

These brands are playing on the strength of their brand identities and loyalty and other factors that give them brand strength, yet being locally sensitive by using, at the simplest level of localization, local language.

We live in a global village, that’s nothing new, the internet and travel means that people are used to seeing familiar brands and logos  wherever they travel and through online advertising and social media sharing sites, they want the global experience but the local feel.

Some brands benefit from the “country of origin” effect, i.e. people in local markets are more willing to purchase them, sometimes for a premium price, as the brands are perceived      to be exclusive, and luxurious relative to local brands.

With the below example brands, there’s a fine balancing act between maintaining a global identity and being local, glocal! Whilst keeping a consistent look with the international brand, they respect the local language and therefore can build a connection with the local audience.

Whilst benefiting from the brand equity they are also being flexible.

Strap lines

I’ve also seen straplines localised, i.e. the message is created for the local market. This does not mean that straplines are simply translated; translation does not always work and straplines can lose meaning in local markets. Straplines are created with the local culture in mind although they do share the same positioning and messaging as their original straplines.


Further localization occurs within the marketing mix, or the 7 Ps.  FMCG brands do this really well.

I’ve noticed that a lot of global fashion retailers will localise their products and that I can purchase clothes in some countries localised to the local taste, products that aren’t available in their stores in American or European markets for example.

In the Middle East in some Gulf countries, the clothes are a little more “flamboyant,” inline with local taste, in comparison to some European markets like the UK, London, my home town.

Relatively recently, friends in Cairo, expressed their lack of enthusiasm for Marks and Spencer’s extremely formal range. I can’t advise how they are performing with regards to sales, however, when any brand enters a new markets it’s important that they spend time researching the local taste, tailoring and localizing some of the merchandise for  local markets and their target audience. See their Facebook page for Egypt, also not very localised, I wonder if it’s managed by a local community manager. They may be exploiting the country of origin effect, and many middle class citizens in Egypt will speak fluent English.

See McDonald’s Facebook page Egypt, in comparison, it is localized to an extent, however, the target audience here “fans” is a mass audience and McDonald’s also targets the lower-income demographic who may not speak fluent English.

It’s a small world after all

It’s becoming easier to grow sales in new markets as the world becomes a smaller place or a “global village”, some people argue that this is a bad things, others may perceive it to be a good thing depending on which country or market is benefiting most economically.

Also, with the internet and advancement in communications and travel, companies don’t necessarily need to be have a large brand  or company to be able to enter new markets today, however, research is a must and partnering with local marketing agencies and local businesses can reduce risk when physically entering new markets. Alternatively you may choose to export to partners or sell via e-commerce  websites or generate leads for B2b marketing via online marketing campaigns. China makes the world takes, it’s not just “developed” markets exporting.

Website localization:

Businesses may communicate to new markets with their websites by using multilingual sites, or by offering local sites which users can locate on a main website typically ending .com. Typically  the main website will have a “global gateway,” a  drop down menu which shows local websites for each country, see Ikea.com

Ikea has local stores in local markets, but a local store is not  prerequisite for trade for all retailer, businesses may be able to sell via online commerce, a consideration here and critical success factor is delivery, a leading example is Amazon.

Here’s a recent checklist I created for consideration when localizing aspects of marketing communications and the marketing mix.

Monsoon localisedVirgin localisedRed bull localised

Your thoughts? Have you come across any examples of localization during your business travels or holidays?

Categories: Emerging Markets, Global Marketing, Localisation | Tags: , | Leave a comment

5 ways to learn more about customer needs in local markets

Marketing to emerging markets

5 tips for today’s global marketing leader

There’s really no better way of learning about marketing to a new international market, or emerging market than by living in one, or two! Or by visiting, however, the internet makes doing business in an international context far easier than ever before.

Having recently moved from Egypt, Cairo, to Qatar, Doha, previously having lived in the UK and working virtually with counties in Latin America, Russia, Central Eastern Europe and Asia, as part of a multinational marketing team, I have a few year’s experience doing marketing in “developed” and “emerging” markets.

Today, with digital marketing, marketers are international by nature. Web, social, email, video and mobile have no borders. Timezones and distance are no longer barriers to growing businesses globally in fast growth markets.

Businesses in developing markets, which are mature, and post recessionary are increasingly looking to emerging markets as an option for revenue growth or are doing business with them to increase revenue.

Below are a few universal tips:

1) Listening

The best way to have a conversation in social media is to listen to existing conversations. The same is true for doing business in new markets.

Many multinational or large companies have withdrawn from new international markets because they haven’t taken the time to understand them.

Making assumptions about markets, generalising, or just not doing your research can be detrimental to your brand and company profits.

Qatar and Egypt are both in the Middle East, Islam is the predominant religion in both markets, they share some cultural similarities, however, both markets are inherently different. The different markets have differing cultural dress, foods, traditions and ways of doing business.

Egypt is more sophisticated and mature in terms of marketing than Qatar, however, Qatar is more resource and cash rich. In Cairo you’re bombarded with outdoor advertising, whereas in Doha there is very little.

Listen by working with local agencies, sales teams, partners or research firms, learn from marketing efforts. Fail fast in digital. Test localised integrated campaigns for results on a small sample of your target audience and learn from real-time or speedy results.

Listen and monitor conversations about your industry, product and market via social media, have your own social media channels and make listening a priority, as well as acting upon it.

2) Understand the unspoken rules, be sensitive and aware

If you’re serious about doing business in an international market, take time to understand the culture. Understand the norms, what’s expected, ways of doing business and what may potentially offend. This is very important. Once I attended a conference in Dubai where a (non-local) speaker decided to show a video of a man getting naked and jumping into a pool! The audience were mainly from North Africa and Gulf states, this was and still is considered offensive, the nudity was not considered humorous.

The only person who may have found the video amusing was the speaker, he then went on to present for 45 minutes after showing the video and offending his audience, not a very admirable position to be in, the room was silent! Hopefully, not a common mistake, but it happens.

3) Getting Involved

Don’t be afraid to get involved with local initiatives. Enjoy new ways of working, new cultures and grow!

Let go of preconceived perceptions and enjoy new experiences whether working virtually or in the local market.

4) Localise

“In China, the color red symbolizes luck. In India, the same color symbolizes purity. In many Western countries, however, red symbolizes danger. In some countries, green is either a symbol of prosperity or of nature. Nothing with regard to brand acceptance is simply black and white.” Emerging Business Online, Global Markets and the Power of B2b Internet Marketing.

Localise your campaigns. I’ve seen strap lines for brands literally translated into other languages which have lost their meaning, literally messages have been lost in translation.

Understand the local culture, customer pain points, cultural sensitivities  the sense of humour and produce content that resonates with your local audience. The imagery, colours and copy in local language are the tip of the iceberg, before that comes the proposition, the messaging and the meaning.

Red symbolises luck in China, that’s true but that’s also very traditional, the Chinese site AliBaba.com, a leading online global market place for small businesses, uses orange as part of its branding.

Digital creative from agencies based in Brazil tends to be vibrant, colourful and bold. 

Leading social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn allow marketers to use local languages, for international marketing, hire a social media manager who’s fluent int the local language, if it’s the business language, to manage your social media communities. In Egypt and Qatar  the business languages are English and Arabic.

5) Superiority

Qatar as a country and emerging market is transforming,  diversifying from a natural resource – based economy into various industries such as real estate, banking, information technology, services and tourism.

Businesses are seeking to hire marketers from developed economies and to import skills, so import your skills but do not import an attitude of superiority, this should go without saying, but you’d be surprised.

To find out more about doing business in emerging markets and digital marketing in a global context, you can read Emerging Business Online, Global Markets and the Power of B2b Internet Marketing an New York FT Press Publication. Get introduced to ebocube model, don’t struggle with trial and error approaches to global digital marketing.

Hard copy: http://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Business-Online-Internet-Marketing/dp/0137064411

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Business-Online-Marketing-ebook/dp/B0045U9W96/ref=tmm_kin_title_0/279-9376293-6540405


Categories: Emerging Markets, Global Marketing, Localisation | 3 Comments

Emerging Markets + the Internet = ebocube model


Emerging Markets + the Internet = ebocube model

Emerging markets refer to countries experiencing relatively recent industrial, political and technological change resulting in rapid economic growth. Emerging markets cover more than the BRICs, however; these countries are amongst the buoyant emerging giants.

Large populations generally characterize these markets, as is obvious with China and India. They tend to be dominated by young populations and rising middle classes.

As revenues plateau in saturated, developed markets, expansion into emerging markets is a popular means for reaching new growth targets. They were hit by the global recession, however; many remain in a robust growth position, but the endeavor involves uncertainty and risk.

Bringing the Next Billion People Online

Developed countries have long defined the Internet, however, at least 500 million new users of the Internet are expected to come from emerging markets from 2012 to 2015, according to Google. And the cyber-landscape is set to drastically change.

The Internet and social media were instrumental in facilitating the Arab Spring and have brought a new wave of Internet businesses and active users to the region.

China’s current online retail market size is second only to the United States and is predicted to explode over the next five years. (A.T. Kearney Retail e-Commerce Index of Emerging Markets)

Global Digital Era Transforming the marketing agenda

Senior executives in developed economies, working in organizations, small and large, are asking the following questions:

  • How can we get ahead of competitors in emerging markets?
  • How can our business mitigate risks when we enter risky, high-growth emerging markets?
  • How can we measure marketing activities and sales-related results in these markets?

 ebocube B2b digital marketing model

Foreseeing this need, international B2b Digital Marketing Manager Lara Fawzy developed the first tested end-to-end b2b Internet marketing model laid out in her book, Emerging Business Online: Global Markets and the Power of B2B Internet Marketing (FT Press, ISBN 13: 9780137064410, 291).

This robust framework is based on tested processes and results from Cisco, and other multinational experience.

It’s designed to provide B2b electronic customer relationship management (CRM) for global professionals.

It shows marketers how to plan, execute, track, measure and learn from global digital marketing. It demonstrates key marketing metrics in relation to the sales cycle; for the purpose of B2b lead generation, and how to measure them.

The model is called ‘ebocube’, which stands for emerging business online, with cube referring to the visual framework of the three-phase model.

The structure is low-cost, and has helped organisations to make significant cost savings and high return on marketing investment (ROMI); it’s a sustainable business-to-business global model, underpinned by the Internet.

ebocube model can be implemented with the following three phases:

Phase One: The Dashboard and the Datacube.

This phase focuses on reporting on marketing, sales, and company or contact data for the businesses being targeted in emerging markets. It measures what’s working (or not working) and which market is generating the highest return on marketing investment (ROMI). The datacube also represents the quality of contact data to leverage an eCRM strategy. These reports mean business decisions are not based on instinct or assumption, but on numbers and business intelligence.

Phase Two: Campaign and Data planning.

Using the ebocube commercial cycle (contact buying cycle/decision-making process and data life cycle), phase two discusses the proposition, messaging, the incentive, localization, budgeting, and integrating the media mix (online and offline) to achieve ebocube commercial cycle goals.

Phase Three: Marketing Operations or mops.

Phase three covers budgeting, planning, executing, tracking, and measuring campaigns to feed the dashboard with meaningful metrics. It also demonstrates how  to feed your company database, with contact and company data, which can be represented in the datacube. Phase three closes the loop on marketing, data, and sales in global markets.

ebocube model demystifies sales and marketing practices as relationships crisscross digital, business, and national borders.

Emerging Business Online, Global Markets and the Power of B2b Internet Marketing is concluded with this powerful quote:

“The previous generation of marketers used to say: “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half ” (according to John Wanamaker). Today, in this innovative, global-information century and with ebocube business model, that excuse is obsolete. Because of marketing operations and the ebocube dashboard, it’s clear which part of our budget is being wasted. “

The time is now.

Categories: B2b, Emerging Markets, Global Marketing, Lead Generation | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Business growth from “Emerging Markets” and Internet Marketing

Emerging markets describe countries of the world with relatively recent industrial and technological change and now experiencing rapid economic growth.

Goldman Sachs popularized the acronym BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) to identify countries that many economists believe to be economically powerful in terms of current and future growth. These are the well-known, high potential emerging markets, but the term extends to countries in Africa, the Gulf, other countries in South America like Mexico and Europe too.

Each emerging market is unique, of course, and businesses need to approach them individually addressing their unique economic, market, business and consumer characteristics.

Large populations generally characterize emerging markets, as is obvious with China and India. They also tend to be dominated by young populations.

Whereas some of these markets remain politically and economically unstable, many other nations have through reform successfully stabilized their economies and normalized their trade practices.

Emerging markets  (130 countries and counting) comprise more than two-thirds of the global land mass. Most are rich in natural resources (in large part because their slow industrial and economic development has left their resources untapped) and host diverse industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas, agriculture and tourism.

Outsourcing from developed markets

As corporations re-engineered their operations through global outsourcing and new market development, they also imported into “client” emerging market countries advanced expertise in finance and business processes, for example banks have outsourced operations, companies have outsourced call centers and manufacturing.

Global intermediaries such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) became more sophisticated in advising these nations on economic management.


Some emerging market nations have the potential to leapfrog developed markets because they are not slowed by legacy technologies. Japan (a “developed market”) became an advanced economy post World War II by leapfrogging technology developed by countries like the UK after the Industrial Revolution, amongst other factors. India has leapfrogged land- line telephony to become a mobile, wireless economy.

Emerging on emerging:

Many emerging markets are trading or partnering with other emerging markets, for example, China is penetrating markets and collaborating with specific industries in Africa.

Why they’re significant

These markets are even more significant now because of the economic slowdown in developed markets and general market saturation.

Even though developing markets are experiencing recessionary effects from the global financial crisis, many emerging market countries remain in a robust growth position. Growth will continue to come from emerging markets for the next 10 to 15 years at least, not only during this current recessionary period (in developed markets).

Economists have forecasted that China is soon to be the next superpower, by becoming the world’s largest economy, measured by gross domestic product (GDP).

With fast economic growth and transition, there’s a rise of middle classes in emerging markets, significant parts of the economy are rising up from poverty and are keen to purchase imported consumer products.

These consumers make good markets for companies struggling with declining sales in in developed markets.

The role of the Internet

The Internet has removed travel and time boundaries by allowing trade among markets in real time. The global reach of the Internet may be the most significant transformative development since the industrial age. As infrastructure and telephony bring Internet penetration to billions more of the world’s people over the next few years, the emerging markets phenomenon will be exponential. The Internet will become the major platform that allows the free flow of business activity, leveraged by applications and tools such as websites, video applications, social media, collaborative tools and mobile.

Companies in sluggish developed markets now have the potential to penetrate these markets with Internet marketing with lower risk and higher accuracy.

To find out more about B2b marketing in global markets, you can read Emerging Business Online, Global Markets and the Power of B2b Internet Marketing a New York FT Press Publication.

Hard copy: http://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Business-Online-Internet-Marketing/dp/0137064411

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Business-Online-Marketing-ebook/dp/B0045U9W96/ref=tmm_kin_title_0/279-9376293-6540405

Categories: Emerging Markets, Global Marketing | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: