$4 trillion at stake for consumer packaged goods companies in emerging Asia

26 April 2018 Consultancy.asia 4 min. read

Described as an ‘opportunity of a lifetime’, the global strategy firm Accenture has in a new report highlighted the $4 trillion in new spending and 400 million first-time and upgrading consumers up for grabs for multinational consumer packaged goods operators in Asia. 

With growth in the global consumer goods sector stalling almost completely in recent years, from a rate of 10% in 2011 to under 1% just five years later, multinational industry players are, according to the strategy division of Accenture, desperate to tap into new and emerging markets – such as those of China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

The strategy firm argues however that, while attractive, these markets are difficult to penetrate, with prevailing traditional trades, underdeveloped rural distribution networks, and a commonly out of reach target audience with respect to conventional advertising.

Yet, with an estimated 400 million new and upgrading consumers to be won over, representing spending in the range of some $4 trillion, the consumer-goods companies that can engage this elusive audience and adapt to the characteristics of the local landscapes will, says Accenture, be best placed to capture disproportionate growth. 

CGP Companies Still Spend 70%

The three major hurdles, and thus opportunities, for market capitalisation in emerging Asia cited by Accenture Strategy – which positions itself at the intersection of business and technology – could according to the firm be addressed through a greater digital approach, such as through modern marketing channels, supply-chain analytics, and elevated in-house operational support.

Firstly, in reference to the firm’s own research, Asian consumers predominantly lean toward digital channels in evaluating products before purchase, with up to 71% of Indonesians electing digital platforms as their main source of consumer information. This figure is backed by numerous other studies into purchasing patterns, such as a recent BCG report finding that ecommerce in China had risen beyond a 15% market share, along with double-digit growth rates in Thailand.

Despite this, the Accenture report notes that consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies still spend some 70% of their media budget in Asia on television advertising. Further striking, the firm’s research suggests that if companies were to increase their television spend ten-fold, most would only reach an additional 1 percent of additional potential consumers. Digital marketing strategies however, could reach and better engage with up to 70% of the untapped market.Route-to-market map for consumer goods companiesFurther, and although ecommerce continues to grow, the emerging markets of Asia are still commonly marked by their predominance of small trade enterprises – or mom-and-pop stores – which, in Indonesia for example, account for 84% of sales in the country. This poses a particular challenge for multinationals on numerous fronts, not in the least that many of the 25 million of these shops spread across Asia do not carry a determinable address.

And to capture the requisite scale for sustainable growth, Accenture projects that a between two-to-five times greater coverage in these small outlets would be needed (with the number currently standing at about 10% to 20%) – yet, as stated in the report, “Industry players lack the reach and relationships with locals to increase shelf space, and in turn, grow brand awareness and consumer purchasing. Locals are served through multi-tiered distribution networks of third parties. Their interest is selling any product fast, not your product first.”

Here, digital marketing and distribution tools could help companies to incentivise the small proprietors to favour their products over local brands, open better communications channels, and improve route optimisation, inventory visibility, in-field execution, trade spend performance and much more through sales force automation services – which, as the firm notes, can also help overcome the impossibility of having sufficient sales representatives to cover the more than 25 million scattered ma-and-pa retailers across emerging Asia.