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The key to reaching consumers in emerging markets, and why so many firms get it wrong

Palladium's Rob Held on some of the most common challenges companies face when pursuing long term profitability in emerging markets, and the simple solution successful companies are embracing.

For many companies, entry into and expansion within emerging markets presents a huge opportunity, and a unique set of challenges. Although successfully competing in emerging markets is increasingly important for multi-national companies, few have successfully built strategies with long-term success.

Palladium: What is one of the largest challenges private companies have when reaching consumers in emerging markets?

Rob Held: One of the absolute keys to entering emerging economies is to take a systemic approach to it. If you try to go it alone, which is what many firms do, you face a lot of challenges, and quite frankly it actually ends up being easier to try to solve problems at a systems level, rather than trying to pick off the issues one by one.

There are a number of challenges of course with trying to solve a problem with a system approach – with a public-private partnership – in that you have a number of misaligned incentives. What one group is looking for isn’t the exact same as another group, and so on and so forth. And the key therefore to doing successful public-private partnerships is actually to have what we think of as a backbone organisation that can drive forward the purpose of the partnership.

Our Profits through Progress publication is available for download now. Don't miss our take on creating social and economic value through emerging market expansion.

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