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How companies in emerging markets are targeting the youngest populations as mobile-first consumers.

E-commerce's shot at winning the longer lifetime client base in emerging markets is in full swing – and rightly so!

E-commerce is transforming the retail landscape in Latin America and Asia, while still showing tremendous growth potential. The ratio of online shoppers to internet users in these regions is far less than the 70% to 90% accounted for in developed countries.1

  • Totaling over 600 Million inhabitants, Brazil and Mexico account for 360 Mio internet users, of which only 40% to 60% are online buyers.
  • India's and China's online shoppers constitute 70% of their total internet users.

The emerging digital culture is fresh and intense

Internet accessibility in Asia and Latin America has been accomplished through a quick and intense development in recent years and has taken place almost simultaneously with smartphone penetration.

The online user patterns in these regions are consequently almost entirely based on a mobile-first approach, with the digital world being always near and always on, and offering a source for products and services of all kinds.

Emerging millennials: The eminent consumption force

A high percentage of the emerging population is younger than thirty years old, representing in India and Indonesia, for example, over 50% of their total inhabitants. This young consumer is more likely to shop online than any other age group, is a major online and offline consumption driver, and has the longest lifetime potential as clients. 

E-companies and investors with long-term key positioning strategies have therefore identified them as the desired loyal client base, focusing strategies to actively target their trendsetting needs.

E-commerce maturity shows regional differences

The pace increase of e-commerce shows different market maturity levels and influencing implications in the various emerging regions. Farseeing companies are converting the surfacing challenges into long-lasting opportunities.

E-commerce in:

Brazil faces logistic bottlenecks. Reliability and delivery duration need to significantly improve. Additionally, existing delivery companies have increased their prices, negatively affecting the online demand for small-ticket items.

  • Online retail stores are investing in micro-shipping companies to increase their own logistic delivery infrastructure and not depend on traditional but unreliable third parties, giving a rise to new industry start-ups.

Mexicans still remain concerned about buying online, not trusting that the products will actually be delivered. Clients prefer to buy online from local stores which offer this service instead of new pure e-commerce portals. Additionally, a high ratio of the population still does not have active access to formal banking services, facing limited safe online payment options.

  • The need for broader online financial services opens the door to new businesses offering banking and payment processing gateway services, such as mobile payments and credit cards.

China shows a more mature market and stronger digital culture than the other emerging markets. Now undergoing a "consumption polarization", its consumers in bigger cities are switching major spending from product consumption to lifestyle experiences, and those in lower-tier cities are upgrading consumption from unbranded to branded products.

  • The higher demand for "feel good" experiences bring forth innovative opportunities for the travel, leisure, education, and entertainment industries.
  • "Premiumization" in lower-tier cities allows for further growth in the branded product sector with a local market expansion for new and existing entrepreneurs.

[1] Antonio Gonzalez Anaya and Victor Saragiotto, "Emerging Country Themes", Emerging Consumer Survey 2019


Download the Emerging Consumer Survey 2019 report to learn more about the intensification of e-commerce and its opportunities in emerging markets.

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