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8 Tactics For Navigating The Retail Terrain Of Emerging Markets

Posted By: SGK May 13, 2014
8 Tactics For Navigating The Retail Terrain Of Emerging Markets

For most multinationals, the centre of gravity is shifting. There’s no question of the growing importance of emerging economies. And, in most markets, there’s no question of the significance of the traditional retail trade. Yet, this integral space between brand owners and shoppers is often misunderstood and neglected. 

Drawing from 30 years of experience building brands in emerging markets, Spencer ball, Creative Director at Anthem, Singapore and Kathryn Sloane, Director of Growth at SGK, Singapore share eight key building blocks for creating an impactful, profitable brand experience in the retail terrain of emerging markets.

1.    GET LOCAL BUY-IN FROM THE START
It pays to do your homework and speak to people in local markets to understand the factors that have led them to where they are. From the onset, take time to learn how and why local brand managers have reacted to market forces. Even if those reasons seem bizarre, quirky or off-brand, there are often a practical lessons you can learn from them. 

2.    ENGAGE RETAILERS AS ADVOCATES
For general trade markets, the in-store phase of the shoppers’ journey tends to be longer and more critical. General trade retailers are often the sole proprietors. They understand the strategy behind purchasing decisions and can negotiate product placement and promotional opportunities directly with the store owners. 

3.    INTEGRATE ON- AND OFF-LINE
Mobile phones are the device of choice for connectivity in most emerging markets. However, digitally integrated marketing is often focused in the modern trade. Consider mobile as the new currency to engage with shoppers and promote customer loyalty programs. 

4.    MERCHANDISE FOR REALITY VS ADDING TO THE CLUTTER
General trade is all about simplicity and being able to stand out. Confident, single-minded messaging and the creation of a unique space around the brand works best in these markets. For instance, a shop window where retailers need to climb a ladder to fetch your brand requires different messaging and design than a sari store where you’re invited to browse the sachet-laden fixtures.

5.    CONSISTENCY ACROSS CHANNELS
People who shop in general trade stores still visit the modern trade, in fact general trade shoppers are prepared to visit multiple stores multiple times to glean as much information as they can about their purchase, especially when considering high involvement items. Families also commonly window shop in modern trade stores as a day out.

6.    DEAL WITH INDIRECT DELIVERY
Protect the integrity of your brand all the way to the shelf by rethinking shelf-ready packaging and merchandising as a kit of parts, or “pass the parcel.” Recognise that the final stop between your brand and the shopper isn’t necessarily a retail environment. For example, tray-laden entrepreneurs now cater to people who are stuck in traffic. 

7.    MIND YOUR MESSAGING 
Success in this market hinges on understanding the penetration of your brand and adjusting the messaging accordingly. Don’t be guilty of ‘dumbing down’ your messaging. 

8.    FIND COMMON THREADS ACROSS MARKETS
Build for cities, not entire countries. Brands are likely to find better results and more effective design solutions when looking at commonalities between different channels or cities within the market, instead of addressing one market at a time. 

For retail success in emerging markets you must understand the context in which your brands will be seen. Start from the toughest environment and work out from there. Build a modular toolkit that works across a variety of retail contexts. And above all, don’t patronise your emerging market consumers. They’re worth a fortune.