Press release

Global brands must change their approach to localization, or risk unprofitable growth in emerging Asia

London, 12 June 2013

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The role of emerging Asian markets has changed and these markets are now the engine of profitable growth for global consumer products (CP) companies and retailers. In order to capture this opportunity, companies must change the way they approach localization - through greater local autonomy, granularity, focus and agility to ensure the consumer at the center. This is according to the new Profit or lose executive summary launched today by EY.

  • Asia now center of gravity of profitable growth for global consumer products and retail
  • By 2016, emerging Asia will account for almost a quarter of global consumer products markets and 37% of total consumer products growth
  • Only 20% of Asia-based senior executives, currently achieving both accretive margins and sustaining significantly high growth
  • Companies must ruthlessly implement eight business imperatives for profitable growth

The report canvasses the opinion of 276 Asia-based senior executives of leading CP companies and retailers in eight markets. It identifies that 69% believe emerging markets will be the main driver of growth and profit over the next three years. However, while Asia provides opportunities for global companies enduring tough trading conditions in mature markets, only 20% of those polled currently report both accretive margins and sustained significant high growth.

Commenting on the report’s findings, newly appointed EY Global Consumer Products Emerging Markets Leader, Kristina Rogers says:
“The pace of change in Asia is dizzying. Consumerism has matured over a short span of years rather than the decades witnessed in developed markets. Global companies stalking growth in Asia are finding the well-established local and multinational players tough competition. Global companies need to be agile and light on their feet, by putting consumer value first and foremost, in order to win over the increasingly sophisticated and demanding Asian consumer.”

The key to long-term profit in emerging Asia is balance, and the report identifies eight business imperatives that CP companies and retailers must manage simultaneously in order to succeed.

Andrew Cosgrove, EY Global Consumer Products Lead Analyst adds:
“Profitable growth does not mean cutting costs. Global CP companies need to adopt a selectively localized portfolio approach across all the elements of the supply chain from conception to consumption. Whilst this approach incurs higher costs in terms of time and resources, versus a universal approach, it is a price that companies must be prepared to pay in order to capture profitable growth.”

When looking at the future for global CP companies within Asia, Rogers summarizes:
“Today’s high performers are adopting a ‘pay as you go’ approach, with profits reinvested locally to generate even more profit and sustainable growth. By 2016, emerging Asia will account for almost a quarter of global consumer products markets and 37% of total consumer products growth. Companies wanting to win in Asia must adopt a highly disruptive approach to managing their business through selective localization and above all, flawless execution.”

To download the Profit or lose executive summary and read more about the eight business imperatives for profitable growth, visit


The eight business imperatives that CP companies and retailers need to address are:

  1. Empower local leadership to be agile
  2. Disrupt traditional approaches for local relevance
  3. Be granular in understanding current and future profit pools
  4. Create scale by placing bets across price tiers and channels
  5. Balance efficiency with consumer immediacy
  6. Cluster for synergies based on common characteristics
  7. Flex the approach as the market develops
  8. Create a culture that mandates disciplined execution

Notes to editors

About the survey
EY commissioned the Economics Intelligence Unit (EIU) to survey 253 Asia-based senior executives from consumer products and retail companies between February and March 2013. The markets surveyed were China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. An additional 23 in-depth interviews were also conducted by EY.

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