Editor’s Note: This article was featured in Ventures Africa magazine February/March edition

The biggest change we can expect as 2012 becomes a distant memory is that emerging markets will woo each other rather than looking to the developed world. This is according to Trendwatching.com, an international trend monitoring organisation that uses an army of what it calls “happy spotters” to keep abreast of what’s hot and what’s not in the world of branding and marketing, and what looks like it will reshape the world month-onmonth, year-on-year.

Every month, Trendwatching.com releases a briefing document that lists global or regional trends. Its December 2012 briefing offered some insight into just how important emerging markets will be in the coming year.

·         According to Trendwatching, here are some of the things you should look out for as you navigate the choppy waters of consumerism in 2013:

·         The continued rise of mobile technology designed to “maximise absolutely every moment”. We’re not just multi-tasking on our mobile phones and tablet devices, we’re hypertasking, recording each experience, purchase and communication;

·         Transparency – the emergence of brands that don’t just say they have nothing to hide but which actively and constantly prove to their customers how honest and reliable they are;

·         Brands that demand more engagement and interaction from their customers; and

·         A conscious decision by brands created in emerging markets to focus on other emerging markets rather than trying to flog their wares in developed countries.

Trendwatching’s lead strategist, David Mattin, said that 2013 was “really an historic tipping point year when it comes to the global economy”.  According to Mattin, this year for the first time, the combined gross domestic products (GDPs) of emerging markets will exceed the combined GDPs of developed markets. This means the middle class in emerging markets such as South Africa, China, India, Brazil, Russia, Nigeria and Kenya is increasingly becoming an attractive group for brands or companies which started life in similar markets.

Trendwatching uses its happy spotters, together with a framework the company has developed in the 10 years since its inception, to assess where and how trends are developing and whether they are here to stay. “We have a framework of over 100 consumer trends organised under themes or mega trends, so a mega trend would be the move towards ever greater transparency in the corporate and brand world. Every so often, one time out of 100, we come across an innovation that doesn’t fit into our framework and that’s very exciting – it’s the first glimmer of a new consumer trend,” explains Mattin.

One of the new trends identified for the coming year is what Trendwatching calls “Emerging Squared”. This falls under the mega trend of emerging markets, says Mattin. “A great South African example is the SA Tourism Board, which is directly targeting and catering to Indian tourists.” He cites another example of Emerging Squared: a Brazilian frozen yoghurt brand, Yogaberry, which has decided to push into the Middle East. It has opened two branches in Tehran and is now expanding into the rest of the Middle East, signing a franchising deal across the United Arab Emirates. “Developed markets have catered to emerging ones in the past two decades and vice versa. Now products and services from emerging markets are being made for other emerging markets,” Mattin explains.

It’s set to be a good year for emerging markets, it seems. Another trend that has caught the eye of happy spotters everywhere is what Trendwatching calls “Celebration Nation”. It is a trend that will see emerging markets proudly export and even flaunt their national and cultural heritage in the next 12 months, by way of symbols, traditions and lifestyles that are usually downplayed or even denied.

It’s in the world of fashion that we’re likely to see this trend unfolding most boldly. In China, luxury fashion brand NE-TIGER has taken the best of the East and catapulted it  onto the world stage. In September 2012, prior to launching the brand’s latest line in Milan, Italy, NE-TIGER founder, Zhang Zhifeng gave a speech entitled, ‘From China, to the World’.

Rather than shying away from traditional Chinese styles or fabrics, brands like NE-TIGER celebrate what is great about their home nation. Trendwatching predicts that this shift in mentality will bear fruit in 2013. “As the balance shifts, as emerging markets and middle-class consumers become more powerful, more influential, you’ll see a cultural shift,” says Mattin. “Emerging market businesses will do more to celebrate their own national heritage and cultural history.”


Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow