What can happen when you launch a product abroad without cultural awareness? Ask IKEA who released a cute toy wolf whose name in Cantonese regrettably turned out to be a crude insult. With the rise of emerging markets, cultural intelligence is becoming increasingly strategic as companies expand their operations to new horizons.
Since the 2nd half of the 20th century, global economy standards have mainly been dictated by the USD. The dollar’s dominion can be traced back to the 1970s when the United States assumed its position as leader of the Free World. With the greenback serving as the world’s reserve currency, the US climbed to the top of the economic food chain. The rest of the world could only conform.
Emerging markets respond
Though naturally, no nation wishes to be nothing more than a supply of resources for another’s profit. The underdogs tirelessly dedicated their efforts to further their progress and develop their economies. As a result, many countries rose up to hold indisputable economic importance. While poverty remains an unfortunate reality, emerging markets have become an indispensable force.
The world responded to US hegemony with projects like the New Development Bank by the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). China’s Belt and Road Initiative demonstrates the undeniable drive of developing countries to invigorate the economy on their turf and their terms.
What does it mean for the West?
The Western world must account for the importance of emerging markets. Businesses must focus on improving communications as they engage with foreign markets. This goes hand-in-hand with understanding their culture, language and interests. In the age of globalization, we can no longer view developing nations as providers of cheap labour. And thankfully, the separation lines of “us vs. them” are inevitably blurring.
The growth of developing nations’ economies opens new opportunities for expanding business and investment. However, when venturing into foreign lands, careful planning is needed to ensure products and services correspond to the local culture’s needs and wants.
Check out our STRATEGY page if you’re looking to integrate foreign markets.