When they were unbanked, uncredited and unregulated, brands were uninterested. But as billions from Guangzhou to Kolkata and Lagos to Santos, earn more, gain access to credit and the ability to spend on what they want rather than what they need, brands are very much interested in this growing group of consumers.
Having tracked the NEAs since 2012, it was 2014 that saw a tipping point in their significance. This was the year mankind officially became an urban species, with 54% of humanity residing in cities. Most of this urban migration has taken place in the emerging economies – the BRICs and now MINTs that have become so central to global brand strategy.
Urban living is echoed in urbane behaviour. NEAs are living in shopping malls and through mobile devices, buying smaller and cheaper products and services to better suit their needs. They are learning how to be consumers on their own terms, feeling proud of themselves and their countries, aspiring to better lives and feeling anxious about keeping up with their new and newly middle-class neighbours.