Briefs: World Regions

The Future of Low-Carbon Vehicles

Image: pictruck340, flickr creative commons for commercial use

In Europe and most advanced economies, government regulation and growing consumer interest are driving the development and deployment of vehicles that reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and resultant carbon emissions.

While the expanding market for more sustainable vehicles does not yet signal the imminent demise of the internal combustion engine, the combination of consumer demand and regulatory pressure will accelerate the shift toward hybrid, electric, and alternative-fuel vehicles over the next two to three decades.

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The Three Tribes: Culture Breeds Commerce


In today’s globalized and digitally enabled economy, cultural ties powerfully bind people and communities across geographic distances.

In fact, culture is a strong determinant of who does business with whom, lubricating the wheels of international trade, investment, and consumerism much more than is commonly recognized, asserts Joel Kotkin, a geographer and author, in The New World Order, a paper for the Legatum Institute.

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Latin America’s Rising Middle Class


New studies reveal that in the 2000s, the middle classes of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) grew by a striking 50 percent. As of 2009, the LAC middle class had expanded to at least 152 million consumers, comprising almost a third (29%) of the region’s population. Moreover, this trend has proven resilient to the global economic downturn. The result is that for the first time in history, LAC has nearly as many middle-class people as poor ones.

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China in Africa: Seeking Resources and Markets


China is rapidly increasing its presence in Africa through private and public investment, economic aid, and trade. It is outdoing the developed world in several respects: size of investments and aid packages, scale of infrastructure-building and resource acquisitions, and the sheer numbers of people involved on the ground.

As a result, China will help to reshape Africa as a competitive environment and as a market. This brief examines drivers of China’s interest and activity in Africa, explores some of the likely outcomes, and analyzes the implications of these changes for businesses and other organizations.

Ethiopia’s Consumer Market: Is It Worth Getting In Now?

Image: David Stanley
Flickr, creative commons for commercial use

The 14th largest country in the world by population, Ethiopia is an emerging economy that has demonstrated impressive growth throughout the past decade, growth sustained through the global recession. Ethiopia is currently the fifth largest economy in Africa and is projected to become the third largest within a decade, making it an inviting target for multinationals seeking to establish a presence in Africa.1

Despite its attractions, however, Ethiopia does not offer a certain—or even a relatively clear—road to prosperity for multinationals looking to do business there. The great promise the Ethiopian market presents is counterbalanced by the many drawbacks and challenges that will have to be overcome.

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Conflict-Free Products: Ethics in the Marketplace

Image: MauroCateb
Flickr, creative commons for commercial use

The idea of “conflict-free” products is spreading. Originating in the role of mineral industries in Africa, it centers on the concept that some products are ethically questionable because their ingredients or inputs are sourced from areas facing armed conflict, thereby contributing to instability and war.

To date, the idea of conflict products has mostly been applied to select, high-profile conflicts, but this could change. Activists and governments are moving to increase consumer awareness of the issue, reduce the trade in such goods, and change business behaviors.

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The Rise of the African Consumer

Image: Yenkasssa
Flickr, creative commons for commercial use

Africa’s economic and consumer activity are rapidly expanding. Over the last decade, the rate of Africa’s economic growth—equal to that of the Middle East—has been second only to emerging Asia. In fact, Africa’s GDP has grown at a faster rate than the world’s GDP in every year since 2001.

Contrary to popular belief, however, this growth has been driven not so much by harnessing the continent’s resource wealth (although that has certainly played a significant part), but more so by the increasing purchasing power of Africa’s rising consumer class and the consequent expansion of consumer-facing sectors of the economy.

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China’s Middle Class: The Rise that Transformed the Country


The rise of the Chinese middle class has transformed the country in the last several decades — reducing poverty and sparking new consumer behaviors. It has also led organizations from food companies to automakers to invest in the growing — and future — consumption by Chinese consumers.

For example, Volkswagen plans to open 10 new automotive plants in the near future, seven of which will be located in China. Research by McKinsey suggests several important trajectories as the middle class continues to grow and evolve over the next decade.

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Land of the Setting Sun: Japan’s Time Bomb

Japan_LandofSettingSun_Max max Flickr

Japan, the third largest economy in the world, is experiencing dramatic and potentially disastrous demographic shifts. Japan’s population, already old, is aging rapidly.

But in recent years, Japan has begun facing another demographic challenge: In addition to aging, the country’s total population has now begun shrinking. As a result of this overall decline, the senior share of the population is growing even more quickly. While the senior population continues to grow, the population of children and working-age adults is dropping.

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China + Aging: Economic, Social, Policy Implications

China Aging Update

China faces an aging problem characterized by a number of interrelated components: A rising median age, a failing social safety net, the one-child policy introduced in 1979 to curb population growth, and a gender imbalance brought on directly by the one-child policy and a cultural preference for boys.

According to Yuan Xin, a professor and director of the Aging Development Strategy Research Center at Nankai University, “There is no country in the world that is facing such a big aging population problem.”

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China’s Post-2000 Generation: Understanding the Kids Today

Image: Flickr, creative commons for creative use

Most of today’s Chinese children were born during the 2000s. The 154 million members of the post-2000 generation live in unprecedented prosperity, with resources never before lavished on a generation in China — enhanced for many by their status as only children.

As they enter their teen and young-adult years, members of this generation will face a range of challenges, including meeting their own and their parents’ high expectations, and navigating life in a middle-income country that still constrains many personal freedoms. This clash could set the stage for change in China.

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Australian Reinvention: A Lifestyle Remodeling


Australia’s 20 million people face the usual pressures of life in World 1, from fast-paced urban living to aging and obesity.

In response, they are turning to four lifestyle trends which increasingly are driving consumer behaviors: personal makeovers, attention to wellness, home makeovers, and “sea change” towards the simple life. Together, these trends offer clues to future directions for Australian lifestyles.

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The Future of Chile: Demography, Consumer Life, Business Conditions



A World 2 country in South America, Chile has achieved real development and is on the shortlist to transition to World 1 status. It has a high percentage of middle-income consumers, with sophisticated buying habits. Business conditions are good, and the country is ranked highly in global lists of competitiveness.

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Argentine Consumer Life: Five Trends


Argentina is an upper-middle-income nation with aspirations to join the ranks of high-income economies over the course of the next two decades. It has already recovered significantly from the 2001 government default and the subsequent economic collapse that plunged more than half of its people into poverty in 2002.

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The Arab Digital Generation


Internet use is low but rising in the Arab world. One group is ahead of the curve, however: the so-called Arab digital generation. These young, enthusiastic users of information technology show distinct characteristics, both in their approach to IT and in other aspects of their lives. This brief examines the group, based on Understanding the Arab Digital Generation, a 2012 report produced through a collaboration between Booz and Co. and Google, and several supplemental sources.Read more…

Turkish Consumers: New Prosperity and Optimism


Turkey is a middle-income emerging market. A strengthening economy is bringing new prosperity to Turkish consumers, and the middle class is expanding. Its demographic profile, typical of upper World 2, features large youth cohorts that reinforce the country’s economic growth.

Turkey’s outlook and the values of its consumers are changing, too. Even as it continues discussions about entry into the EU, it is expressing a more organic identity that incorporates its Islamic roots and growing ties to the Middle East. Its consumers see their future with the EU, but are increasingly confident in Turkey’s independent regional role.

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Women Rising in Worlds 2 and 3: The Third Billion

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Working women in emerging markets are making unprecedented strides in education and income, giving them vast new opportunities as citizens, consumers, employees, and entrepreneurs. Some business and political leaders refer to these women as “the third billion” — an “emerging market” equal in numbers and potential to China or India, with up to a billion women who are willing and able to contribute to the global economy.

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