The 1980′s gave us the Yuppies – Young Upwardly Mobile Professionals – who would wear bright v-neck sweaters with stiff shirt collars (on rare days off). They dreamed of climbing the corporate ladder and had a habit of calling the things they bought – cars, electronic gadgets and luxuries – “toys”.

Now, according to HSBC, we are in the grip of a new social phenomenon – the rise of the Yummy. Yummy stands for “Young Urban Male” and denotes a new “metro-sexual shift” in men’s shopping habits that is set to drive spending on luxury goods for years to come. Read more

When a Legoland theme park opened in southern peninsular Malaysia last year, it provided parents in neighbouring Singapore with a new distraction for their kids, and a nice add-on trip for tourists in the city-state. The facility is less than an hour’s drive away across the causeway that links the two countries.

But it was also a sign of the Danish toymaker Lego’s ambitions in Asia – home to what it says are almost 60 per cent of its “target consumers”, the rising middle class in the region. (Legoland is actually operated by Merlin Entertainments, a UK company, but the benefit to the Lego brand is obvious.) Read more

Shares in Hindustan Unilever, Unilever’s Indian arm, soared around 20 per cent on Tuesday after its Anglo-Dutch parent announced a $5.4bn offer to raise its stake from 52.5 per cent to 75 per cent.

That’s certainly a big vote of confidence in the Indian consumer, as Unilever said in its statement. But it also looks like a response to recent moves to tighten rules on the control majority shareholders can exercise over their Indian subsidiaries. Read more

Emerging markets indices have underperformed the developed world since the credit crisis. Marten Hoekstra, chief executive of Emerging Global Advisors, explains to Long View columnist John Authers how the indices miss the strength of the consumer sector, and of the smaller emerging markets.