consumer goods

Russia’s economy is heading for a deep recession this year. Brazil is stagnating and China’s dynamism is dissipating, helping to depress the prices of commodities that many developing countries produce. But in spite of such afflictions, analysts caution against thinking that a multi-year consumer bonanza in emerging markets (EM) is running out of steam.

The “biggest growth opportunity in the history of capitalism”, as McKinsey called EM consumer spending in a 2012 report, may suffer setbacks in some key markets this year, but overall the narrative is set to flourish as disinflation triggers interest rate cuts and low oil prices put more money into EM consumers’ pockets, analysts said. Read more

By Tassos Stassopoulos, Alliance Bernstein

Rapidly ageing societies in developing countries represent important markets for consumer companies. However, it should be understood that vast cohorts of elderly people heading into the sunny uplands of their lives does not necessarily imply a bright future for investors.

It’s easy to overlook the ageing trend in emerging markets. Countries like India and China are home to the world’s youngest populations in terms of size. Yet as birth rates decline and healthcare improves, older people will constitute a growing percentage of the population. In the top 12 emerging markets, the over-65 demographic is growing at an annual rate of approximately 3.7 per cent (see chart) — nearly double the rate in developed countries. Read more

By Tassos Stassopoulos, AllianceBernstein

Consumer dynamics in emerging markets are often misunderstood. Although the rise of the middle classes is a defining characteristic of a vibrant, developing economy, the working classes will be the real engines of consumer growth in developing countries.

In other words, the middle classes tell you what has happened. But looking ahead, the fastest growth will be driven by the masses of lower income workers as they improve their lot to join the ranks of the middle class. Read more

Slovenia finished February on a surprise high, with news that the economy in the fourth quarter of 2013 expanded by 2.1 per cent year-on-year – the first three months of growth after eight consecutive quarterly declines.

The late upturn, however, proved insufficient to pull the year’s performance into positive territory. Grim data earlier in the year – the first three months was 4.6 per cent down on 2012 – meant the economy in 2013 contracted by 1.1 per cent. Still, that’s a whole lot better than the 2.5 per cent slump in output for 2012. Read more

Is Russia the world’s toughest beer market? It’s beginning to look that way, after Heineken said on Tuesday it would see a 10 per cent decline in volumes sales in the country this year. That’s even worse than a recent gloomy assessment by Carlsberg, which said volume had slumped by 7 per cent in the first half.

“Russia is a very, very difficult market,” René Hooft Graafland, Heineken’s chief financial officer, said on a conference call, warning that profits were likely to fall this year “in the low single digits”, sending the brewer’s shares down 5 per cent by mid morning in Amsterdam. Read more

Over the past two years fast-growing sales in emerging markets have provided a much-needed cushion for large European multinationals, offsetting stagnation or decline in their core home markets, write Chris Bryant in Frankfurt and Rachel Sanderson in Milan.

But big currency fluctuations in emerging markets such as India, Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia this summer demonstrated that this cushion is still subject to a strong element of risk. Read more

India’s outsourcers and industrial conglomerates have found success in western markets but consumer goods group Godrej sees its future in the developing markets of Africa and South America, where its experience of marketing to poorer consumers gives it an advantage. Adi Godrej, chairman, talks to the FT’s James Crabtree about marketing and innovation at the bottom of the pyramid.

Lock&Lock is a curious entity in modern manufacturing. Despite fierce competition in a crowded sector with few entry barriers, the South Korean kitchenware company consistently boasts double-digit operating profit margins.

Cho Moon-sun, head of investor relations, puts it down to branding. “Once you are recognised as a premium brand, consumers will buy your products even if they are three or four times more expensive,” she says. Read more

As China, India and Indonesia become more wealthy, more of their consumers hard-earned cash could find its way overseas.

This is not about the most wealthy fleeing their homelands or investing their money abroad – but about what the massed ranks of an emerging middle class will buy for fun. Read more

Unilever shares were boosted by better-than-expected Q4 results on Wednesday, with sales growth in emerging markets leading the way.

Unilever is investing heavily in EMs, at some cost to margins, but investors are more than happy to back the strategy, in which the group is planning to raise the proportion of revenues coming from EMs from 55 per cent last year to 70-75 per cent in 2020. The stock was up 3 per cent – the best performer on the FTSE 100 as of mid-afternoon. Read more

With major EM economies slowing in 2012, regional heads of multinational companies are increasingly having to focus on their margins. As new research from the Frontier Strategy Group shows, many are considering boosting them by running some of their own distribution operations. Read more

When US-Hungarian businessman Attila Balogh planned to introduce his latest pet food range, he was wary of expecting too much.

But European pet lovers have taken enthusiastically to the convenient new format – which involves putting food into single-serve pouches and avoids half-eaten tins clogging the fridge. Read more

Nestlé is one of the few multinationals that never really left Myanmar. It quietly allowed Thai traders to import its instant coffee and other products in the country and retained a small office to keep an eye on things.

But, with economic sanctions ending, the Swiss-based group is making low-key preparations for a big comeback. Read more

As Reckitt Benckiser‘s results on Monday suggest, what emerging markets give, developed markets take away.

The consumer goods group, maker of products such as Finish dishwasher tablets and Nurofen painkillers, reported a slight increase in first half profits of 2 per cent, to £1.07bn. But the flatish number hides a see-saw in the company’s geographical performance. Read more

When the going gets tough, the tough … trim their capex, of course.

The world’s largest bread maker, Mexico-based Grupo Bimbo, having posted a 43 per cent increase in revenue on Wednesday, announced the following day that it plans to cut this year’s capital spending from $700m to $550m. Read more

How to handle the slowdown in emerging markets? Procter & Gamble gave its answer on Wednesday: focus on the top 10, keep an eye on the rest and don’t go making any investments in new countries.

In a speech-cum-profits-warning Bob McDonald, chairman and chief executive, did not identify the priority EMs. But here is an educated guess from beyondbrics: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Nigeria, Poland, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia. Read more