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The geography of business prosperity

Traditionally powerful countries might not be the right choice for international business warns Claire Mason, managing director of Man Bites dog

Another year, another G8 summit. Russia will once again be in the media spotlight, resuming its presidency of this forum for governments of the world’s leading economies. But behind the headlines lies the more important question of whether the old order remains relevant, and predictive indicators of future prosperity might be more insightful than historic GDP.

Marketing begins with markets, and the evidence suggests the usual suspects might detract from the real targets marketers should have in their sights. Because B2B organisations tend to be less marketing-centric than their brand-led consumer counterparts, there is a very real danger that B2B will stand still while the world around them is turning upside down.

First impressions might suggest that Russia is a vital target market, but according to the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index, Russia comes 61st in terms of prosperity, belying its high GDP and hosting of the eminent G8. Based on predictive indicators like health, education and personal freedom as well as traditional GDP, the UK is trailing at sixteenth globally, with the US marginally ahead at eleventh. Which might raise the question of whether these nations should remain in the G8 at all?

We are seeing the old order fall and emerging nations beyond the BRICs come to the fore. Is it wise to limit our business opportunities to such traditionally powerful countries, when new opportunities are rapidly appearing in less saturated markets? The UK’s mid-tier positioning and the coalition government’s plan to ‘get Britain exporting’ also demonstrates the need for marketers to think more strategically about their global strategy.

Businesses need to be one step ahead of the established presumptions of the power countries, and pre-empt the trends that will drive growth.

Marketers have traditionally been very good at considering product, service and channel innovation, but now more than ever geographies are critical to growing revenues. B2B marketers need to consider not just how to ‘translate’ B2B brands for different markets, but how to conceive them differently.

We need to think about the shifting geographies of demand if we are to help B2B firms identify their biggest trade channels, and put them firmly on the map in a world that’s shifting around us.