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Succeeding Like Success: The Affluent Consumers of Asia

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Book: 'Succeeding Like Success: The Affluent Consumers of Asia'

Author: Yuwa Hedrick-Wong

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, 2006

ISBN - 13: 978-0-470-82206-7

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Sometimes the experts get things wrong. Economist and business strategist Yuwa Hedrick-Wong reminds us that 50 years ago the experts saw Asia as a lost cause, with some even predicting that sub-Saharan Africa had a better chance of economic development than Asia. More recently we have seen Japan touted as the future of Asia, then the Asian Tigers, then China and now all the observers are pointing towards India.

 

So where are the real business opportunities for Asia in the future? In Succeeding Like Success, Hedrick-Wong tackles this question by analysing data on the rich and affluent consumers of Asia. This is a relatively small group of consumers, but one that is growing in wealth and numbers at a dramatic rate. By 2015 they are expected to have a combined discretionary spending power of over $US600 billion.

 

But of course this huge business opportunity isn’t uniformly spread across the region. Some countries have wealthier and more numerous rich people than others. Data on the discretionary spending power of affluent households shows that for the next 10 years Japan will continue to have the biggest slice of the pie, followed by China, and with Korea in distant third position. India is growing quickly, but it isn’t in the big league yet.

 

Spending patterns of these rich consumers also vary by country. Consumers in countries that have achieved wealth recently are still basically nouveau riche, choosing designer brand products which tell everyone that they are successful and hence wealthy. By contrast, those in countries with longer-established wealth tend to be more sophisticated and discerning in their spending habits.

 

So why did the experts in the mid 20th Century get their predictions about Asia so wrong? According to Hedrick-Wong, the secret ingredient that formed the basis of Asia’s success was the way the governments in Asia adopted “a pragmatic market friendly approach to managing their economies”. That in turn unleashed the creative energies of entrepreneurs, allowing them – and society at large – to prosper.

 

Hedrick-Wong is economic advisor to MasterCard in Asia/Pacific and has recently published two other books with in-depth analyses of groups of consumers that are playing an increasingly important role in Asia. Holding Up Half of the Sky looks at female consumers in Asia, and The Glittering Silver Market looks at ageing consumers.

 

Succeeding Like Success is stimulating reading for all those aiming to build business with the increasingly wealthy consumers of Asia.