April 3, 2012

Taking the long view - an emerging markets perspective

I read somewhere recently about the difference between those driven by quarterly earnings and Wall Street valuations and those taking the long view on business returns. The latter tended to have a more cohesive strategy and patience to create a market and demand - so very applicable to the challenges of addressing the lower income customer segment in developing countries, while the former were under pressure to show returns before they had even figured out which way to turn.

Emerging markets are back on the radar again I note as increasing numbers of articles and media bits bubble up to the top. After years, concepts like 'reverse innovation', 'jugaad', even the 'tyranny of dominant logic' are being bandied about by the likes of The Economist.

But is this something to get excited about? I don't know, I've been looking at emerging markets since the beginning of 2006, when the BRICS were news and BusinessWeek was a real magazine putting India and China on the over in turns. Jugaad innovation started that year as well, soon to die an ignoble death by early 2007.

Reading all these words again suddenly makes me feel like I missed the bus, by being some few years too early. But as a client of mine recently confessed, he's ready to go back to the drawing board for ideas he may have had too early for the landscape to receive them. Since it might end up being his 4th or 5th business venture, its worth pondering his words.

Perhaps one can see what will be right around the corner but like those odd tricks of light, that corner may just be a little further away than they seemed. I suspect I'll be back to muse upon these concepts once again... or as I used to say, this conversation will continue.