Who are the World's Consumers?
Comment of the Day

July 25 2012

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Who are the World's Consumers?

Thanks to a subscriber for this fascinating and balanced report by Sanjeev Sanjal for Deutsche Bank. Here is a section from the conclusion:
Second, our study of households in different income brackets found that the US still dominates the category of rich consumers. The category may have seen rapid growth in China but the big story is still about the shift of poor and aspiring consumers into the middle class in China, India and other Asian countries. This could be such a big phenomenon according to some projections that two-thirds of the world's middle class could be based in Asia by 2030. In other words, Asian consumers are not just replacing the West but also eating into the shares of other emerging regions.


Fourth, the structure of families and households has undergone a transformation across the world. The decline in the institution of marriage in developed countries has meant that the largest consumer category is the single individual household. One person households now account for 38% of consuming units in Germany and 28% in the US. At the same time, emerging markets like India have seen both declines in household size combined with the nuclearisation of the family structure. Thus, our mental image of the average nuclear family needs to shift from American suburbia to the rapidly expanding cities of India. Nonetheless, the advanced countries are not only seeing a trend towards ever more atomized consumers. There has also been a steady revival in the multi-generational extended family. So, we also need to change our mental image of the average multi-generational household.

Eoin Treacy's view The exponential growth of the global middle class, particularly in Asia, represents perhaps the most potent investment theme of the next decade. As the number of people with disposable incomes increases by hundreds of millions, the per capita consumption of just about everything will increase further.

Over the last decade this has perhaps been most apparent in commodity demand growth. However, due to a number of factors such as China's transition to a less infrastructure focused economy, the global economic slowdown and increased supply, the bull market for industrial commodities has experienced at least a pause.

Demand growth for basic consumer items such as food, snacks, soft drinks, alcohol, diapers, sanitary napkins, soap, moisturiser, deodorant, detergent, shampoo etc. has been less remarked upon but is equally important. The outperformance of consumer oriented Autonomies versus industrially oriented shares reflects the rise of the global middle class.

Back to top