Western aggression

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It's by no means clear that "emerging" economies are truly emerging, believes Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Jim Gingrich. While it's easy to draw exciting growth curves using local currencies, most developing countries have either lagged or closely tracked economic growth in the U.S. in recent decades when measured in dollar terms, he said. Of all emerging markets, only China has outgrown the U.S.in annual growth rate over the past 30 years, according to Sanford C. Bernstein data; only China and Eastern/Central Europe have outpaced the U.S. in growth rate over the past 10 years.

That helps explain why European-based players such as Unilever and Reckitt-Benckiser as well as U.S.-based rivals are getting more aggressive in the U.S., Mr. Gingrich said. The renewed focus on North America is in turn driving up ad spending and promotions here for many companies and categories, he said. Unilever, for example, having moved antiperspirant/deodorant brands to many key emerging markets, began in 2000 to increase focus on the U.S. Rivals responded, stepping up marketing and launches in a fight for survival. Even Revlon's Mitchum brand, which hasn't had media support in more than 15 years, plans advertising in 2002, albeit under $10 million.

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