One of the advantages of running a global market share study for a protracted period of time is that you get see how macro-level trends affect a product segment you have great familiarity with.
RS has had the privilege of running global market share for a leading IT manufacturer since the mid 1990s. Over that time we’ve seen the steady decline in the relative importance of Western Europe and North America; to the extent where over half our client’s top ten territories are “emerging” markets. On a per capita basis we’ve seen some of these countries, such as Brazil, become leaders in technology adoption (for example where the lack of a fixed line infrastructure has lead to the rapid take-up of mobile technology).
This process is continuing with another group of countries such as Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia becoming major technology markets; while many of the really interesting developments around mobile telephony are coming out of Africa right now.
We’ve also watched first hand successive approaches to grouping countries by geography and levels of development being overtaken by events. To make matters worse, while analysts and managers find grouping countries a useful tool, the reality is that factors such as import tariffs, when and how mobile telephony was liberalised, the level of protection of intellectual property can have profound effects on a country’s level of technology adoption.
On a prosaic level this has forced research companies to build knowledge of and capacity in a much wider range of markets than ever before. At the analytical level it has become increasingly apparent that the best way of defining many countries is often by reference to countries in other regions rather than their neighbours. Global data sets such as the UN Human Development Index often provide a much better predictor of a market’s characteristics than where in the world it is located.
Occasionally this debate breaks cover and the current reorganisation of Reckitt Benckiser is one such moment. Under a new CEO, out goes the three-way division into Europe, North America and Australia, and developing markets. In come ENA (Europe and North America), LAPAC (Latin America and Asia-Pacific) and RUMEA (Russia, the Middle East and Africa).
What’s really interesting about Reckitt Benckiser is that they claim they will go the whole hog and be willing to run each of their regions out of a single HQ. We don’t know if a team in Mexico can run a business stretching from Brazil to China, but will be certainly interesting to watch.