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Emerging heroes: observations from rapid-growth economies - Driving growth in times of turmoil - EY - Global

“emerging hero”
noun. plural: emerging heroes
– one becoming
   admired for great
   or noble deeds
– one who is
   regarded as a
   model for others

The markets have changed, again

After two years of focus on cost-cutting and retrenchment, many companies in developed economies are today, once again, looking for growth.

But in many emerging markets, the past two years have been a period of very different trends, with countless companies achieving dramatic top- and bottom-line growth. Some of these companies have grown so rapidly that they are now world leaders. So what were the strategies and tactics used to drive such outstanding growth?

How emerging heroes created growth

Heroes have succeeded in driving growth despite recent economic turmoil. Here is a summary of actions they have taken to build profitable growth:

Focusing strategy on growth

  • Prioritizing growth
  • Balancing aggressive/incremental growth tactics
  • Communicating strategy clearly
  • Setting clear strategic direction at the center

Aligning the Capital Agenda to growth

  • Focusing on the Capital Agenda
  • Using existing reserves to fund growth
  • Obtaining asset specific financing
  • Freeing cash from non-core assets

Building from the core and matching tactics to markets

  • Playing to existing strengths
  • Maximizing home market first
  • Using existing products to enter new markets
  • Innovating with existing products
  • Keeping internal costs under control
  • Marketing new products heavily

Prioritizing go-to-market push

  • Innovating in approach to current market
  • Increasing focus on marketing
  • Evolving distribution channels
  • Driving international sales
  • Consolidating via local acquisitions

Optimizing operations and focusing on customers

  • Using internal efficiency to drive growth
  • Understanding customers’ behavior
  • Building partnerships not just relationships
  • Gaining advantage through brand and quality

During August 2010, we commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit to survey 547 large companies based in 47 emerging markets.

Our hypothesis was that the fastest-growing companies from this group — the “emerging heroes” — had developed innovative strategies and successfully executed these by employing unique tactics to drive growth. But we were surprised to learn that this was not always the case.

Far from the direct international expansion we expected to see, heroes often prioritized efficiency and market share at home first, before developing new products or markets elsewhere.

While hero companies are operating in highly beneficial macroeconomic conditions, we believe many of their strategies and tactics can be adopted by any growth-focused corporation, regardless of where it is based.


Executive summary



  • Lou Pagnutti
    Managing Partner, Asia Pacific
    +852 262 93333
  • Albert Ng
    Managing Partner, Greater China
    +86 21 2228 3288
  • Alexis Karklins
    Leader, EMEIA Capital Transformation
    +33 1 55 61 07 41
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