From Coca-Cola to Coach: Consumers in Developing Economies Want More Brand Ads

From Coca-Cola to Coach Consumers in Developing Economies Want More Brand AdsWestern economy consumers may have grown blase about ads from Nike, Coca-Cola, Coach —  but people in developing markets want to see more brand ads, not less.

That was the takeaway from recent research missions undertaken by Facebook lead ad planner Kelly MacLean.

“Brands in developing countries play a more pivotal role in general,” MacLean recently said. “People aspire to own brands, and want to move up socially and economically.”

“In these markets people want to connect with brands in ways we never really thought of,” MacLean is quoted by AdWeek. “They want information from brands, details on products, the ability to share ads.”

Of course, marketing to developing economies at times entails some adjustments.

For one, there’s the technology issue. For instance, potential consumers who check Facebook on their cell phones generally have mobile plans that make data access expensive. Savvy marketers and publishers like Facebook are designing ways to make it easier — and cheaper — for emerging economy consumers to receive ads and other information.

Then, there are sometimes retrofits required. Take the case of Johnson & Johnson’s foray into markets in India and Southeast Asia. Several years ago, engineer Ram Vaidya tried to persuade top executives at the company’s headquarters to develop low-cost medical devices for those markets. At first, no one listened.

From a financial perspective, the potential profits seemed too small to justify the investment, and Johnson & Johnson did not want to compromise quality by making and selling lower-cost devices. Then the design team made an important discovery: Nurses in rural settings had little need for added features such as the digital memory or PC-connectivity that come standard on blood glucose meters. Conversely, they were more than happy to record all readings with a pencil and paper.

Stripping away all features except the accurate reading of blood glucose, the company redesigned the product and is now selling blood glucose meters in developing markets for one-third of the original cost. Perception of quality is dependent only on the end consumer’s utility.

The developing world represents an immense growth area for marketers and brands. For instance, emerging markets account for about 30 percent of Facebook users, but only 10 percent of its current ad revenues.

In general, marketing to developing economies is part art, part science — but, ultimately, advisable and potentially profitable. And companies looking to increase market share should take heed of customers in parts of the world where an advertisement is welcomed with open arms.