Today, for the first time, China has 100 million people on the Internet, 30 percent of whom are on broadband. Within a few years, a billion people in Asia will be playing with e-commerce. All that power and all that technology replicating at a phenomenal rate will create global shockwaves both in trade and communications.
The entire continent of Asia, including India and several other highly populated countries, is not far behind. The process of this advance is still hard to imagine by Western nations, most of which are comfortably nestled in vast, rich lands with very low populations.
When combined, this adoption of technology and new e-commerce attitudes in Asia creates the true ingredients in the making of a powerful cyber cyclone that will cut a clear path.
Ready to Go
Come 2008, at the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, when the athletes march in unison to their beautifully orchestrated national anthems, the whole world will witness a sleeping giant take a dramatic turn. The nationalistic pendulums will swing and, with all the other bells and whistles in place, a new trade war involved in posturing and making this the dawn of an Asian Century will come into focus.
Today in Asia, cell phones, computers and just about all other new paraphernalia is being purchased in several million units each and every single day. The price is becoming very affordable, and the population is being submerged in these new technologies. In addition, productivity is increasing and the easy life is becoming more widely embraced. The impact is awesome.
While the West took decades to develop and painstakingly bring to the market new technologies like fax machines, which were initially the size of a suitcase, and cell phones, which at first were the size of a briefcase, Asians got sleek, small, turnkey solutions from the get go, while missing the early cycles of the IT revolution. Those early cycles included huge costs to refine innovations and expensive obsolescence. Now there is cheap, off the shelf, all set, ready to go technology with full integration and full compatibility. Wow.
Undercurrent of Sensitivity
This emerging Internet-driven, technology-dependent and telecommunication-based society is also showing a cute sense of national and traditional values, directly reflecting in lifestyle change and consumer behavior throughout Asia.
The marketing and branding of products and ideas are in the forefront. There is also a dramatic increase in the production of local products backed by extremely fast distribution of marketing messages via cyber branding, almost becoming a killer to a lot of old-style Western media blitzes promoting Western products.
There is an undercurrent of pride seriously influencing the markets in Asia, a rise in a subculture based on embracing local ethnicity and nationalistic values. Western branding practices when marketing pushed gaudily packaged, overpriced Western-style products and services were mostly oblivious to local sensitivities. The concept that consumers are just sheep, so commonly and sometimes successfully used by Western ad agencies, has been adversely noted in the East. Most now fully understand that they are Asians first.
Overall, the benefits of technology will be felt far more greatly in Asia at the grass-root level then anywhere else in the world. The speedy low-cost Asian workers, their mass interaction and innovative spirits suppressed over centuries, are all about to be released.
While the West is losing its grip by the hour on the global branding of new and powerful products and services, the number of trademark applications filed in China each year for three years in a row were equal to all the new trademark applications filed in the world combined. Filing new trademarks positively indicates the introduction of new things in the markets.
The Western branding edge is turning soft, as the East is aggressively adopting global cyber branding and packaging. The real question is: What’s the future of marketing and branding, Western style? Where will be the next big expanding markets for branding?
What will the West and the rest of the world do for their corporate brand positioning to combat this awesome force? Furthermore, what will happen when all this e-commerce activity is funneled into the living rooms of every consumer of the globe?
Marketers and just about everyone else beware. A very big cyber-cyclone cometh our way.
Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power and alsoDomain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global nameidentities and domain issues. Javed founded ABC Namebank, aconsultancy he established a quarter century ago, and conducts executiveworkshops on image and name identity issues. Contact him at [email protected]
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