FEATURE29 February 2016

Navigating the new frontiers

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Asia Pacific Features Impact

Pre-emerging markets such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka represent opportunities for brands to secure first-mover advantages – but they must think like explorers if they are to succeed in their big adventure, says Emma Gage of Flamingo.

There’s a lot of buzz around the south-east Asian new kids on the block: the ‘new frontier’ markets of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka – and sometimes the rural geographies of developing countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. 

These markets are growing fast: birth rates are high and the demographic profiles skew young. To put that into perspective, there were more babies born in Laos last year than in the Netherlands – a country more than twice as populous. 

Although many in these countries still have limited disposable income, economic growth is strong. Rapid urbanisation, poverty reduction and the establishment of modern retailing formats are supporting sales of a wide range of consumer goods where previously there were none.

For brands, the lure of these virgin territories is strong. There’s a chance for brand owners to secure first-mover advantages and to pick the low-hanging fruit that they hope will be waiting. The potential is very ...