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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Global Marketing Monitors


Over the last few years as Media Realism has grown we have reached a point where, in many weeks, more than half the readers are from outside North America. Geographical readership tends to very topic sensitive but the European and Asian growth in particular has been steady.

Recently, some readers from emerging nations have written to me asking which countries that I look at to monitor marketing opportunities and a growing media presence.

The knee jerk reaction for most people would be the BRIC nations—Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Russia, to me, is mostly driven by natural resource wealth so I do not follow it terribly closely. China has a long-term demographic problem and India a demographic upside but they are both so huge that I do not spend nearly as much time on them as I once did.

My choices may be sharply different from yours.  They are Brazil, Turkey, and Vietnam.  While they are wildly different in geographic location, to me they have some common threads that merit my close observation.

Brazil, after decades of being an economic basket case, is now the eighth largest economy in the world. They are easily the largest consumer market in Latin America and their middle class now numbers over 100 million people. They are energy self sufficient with sugar based ethanol and five years ago, some huge offshore oil discoveries have sent major energy companies south vying for a piece of the action.

More importantly, Brazil has a wide array of trading partners. For most of the 20th century, the US was the dominant foreign player in Brazilian trade. Now, they are very well diversified and China is currently Brazil’s largest trade partner. They seem to have a portfolio of trade partners and unlike past history, are not overly reliant on any one nation. So, no matter how things may develop in world economic power over the next decade or so, they are in a nice spot with friendly relations with many entrenched and emerging players around the globe.  Also, they will not waste money on war. There are no plans for a Brazilian nuclear weapons program. There is still corruption and some organized crime but it is not the tinderbox of tension that you see elsewhere around the globe.

My second choice, Turkey, also has many trading partners. They badly want to join the European Union but only a small percentage of the country is geographically in Europe. The real impediment is that other E.U. member states appear not to want a new member state that borders such sensitive areas such as Syria, Iraq, and Iran.  Turkey has a fairly solid economy that, surprisingly, is four times the size of Egypt. They also have a good historical trading partnership with Israel which is unique in the Muslim world. Also, they have NATO membership that makes them something of a player with the US and most of Europe.

Over the last few years, I have observed a few Turkish package goods companies being bought out by global behemoths. The indigenous Turkish brands were competing quite effectively so a buyout was a workable solution for large international players to get a foothold.

Geographically, Turkey is in a unique spot at the crossroads of the old Soviet Union, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Per capita income is almost twice that of China and four times India so an emerging middle class will have significant buying power going forward.

Vietnam may seem like the outlier on my list. For someone of my generation who spent a few anxious months wondering whether I would be sent there in 1971-1972, it is strange to be discussing it as an emerging economic powerhouse. Many people see Vietnam as simply a captive of China. As wage rates have increased in many parts of China, Vietnam has benefited as manufacturing has moved towards their eager and efficient work force. If China has difficulties long term, does this mean that Vietnam is toast? No, not at all if they can work with and trade with far flung neighbors as Brazil and Turkey have. Media wise, the Vietnam press and broadcast entities are still government controlled and laced with Marxist-Leninist rhetoric but that seems to have little effect on production or the emerging middle class.

Each of you probably has your own list that you personally monitor. I would assume Indonesia, with the world’s 4th largest population, would be near the top for many of you. My point today is merely to give you my spin on an issue that any international marketer or investor needs to work on regularly.

Which nations are on your list? I would love to hear from you.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com



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