Let’s Put “Rest of World” To Rest

Emerging markets are making the world a lot less easy to label

In the old days of global commerce, before the Internet, an international marketing director could focus on a handful of “strategic markets” and group all of the other countries into a “rest of world” (ROW) category. It wasn’t an elegant solution, but it fit the times.

And then along came the Internet. Suddenly, any market with a growing Internet penetration and disposable income broke through the ROW clutter. Ten years ago, the international marketing director may have focused on six or seven strategic markets. Today, there are typically no less than a dozen markets worth serious marketing attention. And this list will only grow as Internet penetration grows. For example, it is not a question of whether eBay will develop more than 50 localized Web sites, it is just a question of when.

I never much liked the ROW label because it lumped together countries such as Vietnam, Chile and South Africa, countries that are unique, growing, and worth getting to know in their own right. In the years ahead, it will be those companies that put aside the ROW mindset that will be best positioned to capitalize on all emerging markets, no matter how big or small.

In a global economy there is no Rest of World.

(Note: This was first printed in Global By Design.

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