China has already earned a gold medal this week. According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), there are now 253 million internet users in China, knocking the US off its pedestal. The US now has a meager 223 million users.
This is one competition the US will not likely win again. Most Americans (about 75%) are already internet users while only 19% of China’s population is. With so much potential in this market, who wouldn’t want a little bite?
But I don’t advise taking a nibble without more understanding. After all, emerging markets are very different from the more familiar mature market. Here are my “three” cents for thought re approaching tech in Emerging Markets:
#1. There is no “one size fits all.” Local needs in China will differ greatly from those in Brazil or Indonesia. Tech in emerging markets often bridges the digital divide by increasing connectivity. How this is achieved varies greatly.
#2. Realize a lack of infrastructure exists. Many countries with emerging markets may not have the infrastructure (say, reliable electricity) to support technology. These countries also lack a dependable distribution system. Therefore, developing relationships with local players is necessary to your success.
#3. Now comes the most difficult part: how do we justify selling technology to someone who could instead spend their money on medicine? We know technology creates opportunities by improving access to health care and education while also increasing communication and competitiveness in commerce. How do we convince them of this in our communication approach?
Emerging markets are often seen as a sort of new “frontier.” Just remember that this is a whole new animal you’re approaching. Treat it differently from your cat at home!