Western products, which come with all the bells and whistles that Western consumers can afford, flop spectacularly in emerging economies where disposable incomes, while growing, remain very low. These conditions have created an innovation boom in the East. “India’s Mahindra & Mahindra sells lots of small tractors to American hobby farmers, filling John Deere with fear. China’s Haier has undercut Western competitors in a wide range of products, from air conditioners and washing machines to wine coolers.” Are Western companies doomed?
What’s the Big Idea?
Western companies are not doomed if they follow suit. The American electronics company Harman, for example, has enlisted Indian engineers to design an inexpensive infotainment system; GE has created a portable ultrasound device for the Chinese market that is expected to become a hit in rich and poor countries alike. Using emerging markets as an opportunity to develop products for a new global consumer, who either starts with little disposable income or is facing years of austerity, will help create a new era of non-resource heavy consumption.