The growing middle class of developing countries means one thing to corporations: money. But a recent study by Northwestern University finds consumers unlikely to swap local products for premium international products, even if they can afford to. How does big business respond? By playing local.
In India, PepsiCo offers a variant of 7-Up called Nimbooz. The noncarbonated, lemon-flavored drink is essentially a bottled version of nimbu pani, a popular lemonade recipe among local families.
In Indonesia, the youth culture enjoys nongkrong, which translates to "sit around and do nothing." To become less of a convenience store and more of a destination, 7-11 opened large storefronts with outdoor seating, Wi-Fi, and live music. Unexpected result? It’s become a romantic pickup location.
Nissan is developing a line of low-cost vehicles exclusively for India, Russia, and Indonesia, and marketing the cars under the defunct Datsun brand to avoid deterring new buyers who think Nissan means pricey.
[Illustration by Jing Wei]
A version of this article appeared in the November 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.