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By: Sarah Boumphrey

Population dynamics continue to redraw the world map and with it market opportunities. Understanding and being able to harness population trends enables new market entrants to maximize their profitability by targeting the right people in the right place at the right time.

In 2030, 16 countries will have a population of over 100 million, up from 11 countries in 2013. These 16 countries will account for almost two-thirds of the global population. Half will be in Asia, and one quarter in Africa and the Middle East; none will be in Western Europe.

The World’s Largest Countries: 2030

The World's Largest Countries 2030

Source: Euromonitor International from national statistics/UN

China and India obviously dominate the list, with a combined population of 2.9 billion in 2030, but some lesser-known consumer markets also feature, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

Democratic Republic of Congo speeds ahead

The Democratic Republic of Congo will be the fastest-growing of these large countries, with its population expanding by 53.7% by 2030. To put this into context, as recently as 2010 the Democratic Republic of Congo had a population similar in size to the UK, but by 2030 it will be 46.6% larger than the UK. It also has a very young population – the youngest of these countries – with a median age of just 17.2 years in 2013.

The Democratic Republic of Congo remains an unexplored market for many, if not most, consumer goods companies. Agriculture and mining are driving economic growth which has averaged 7.4% since 2010. Poverty is widespread with 83.6% of the population living on less than US$2 per day in 2013 and growth remains fragile. Consumer expenditure is set to increase by 126% between 2013 and 2030, but the business environment is hostile; and with only 35.4% living in urban areas, and a land area larger than Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK combined, consumers are hard to reach.

Total Population in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the UK: 2010-2030

Total Population in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the UK: 2010-2030

Source: Euromonitor International from national statistics/UN

Ethiopia enters the top ten

Ethiopia will have the world’s 10th largest population in 2030. It is Sub-Saharan Africa’s 4th largest economy, has a strong growth outlook – with real GDP growth of 6.9% per annum forecast between 2013 and 2030 – well above the region’s average.  Yet this growth is from a low base – and one of Ethiopia’s key challenges is its largely rural population which is reliant on agriculture. As a result per capita consumer spending is low (although above that in the Democratic Republic of Congo) at US$373 in 2013 compared to the average in Sub-Saharan Africa of $1,018.

Unsurprisingly, as a result of its size and strong growth, Ethiopia is attracting more attention from multinationals. In particular the government is leading a drive to turn Ethiopia into a manufacturing hub trading on its large labour force (1.5 million entered the labour force in 2013) and its low wages – the average wage was US$0.40 per hour in 2013, compared to US$4.20 in China. It has attracted big names such as Unilever, H&M and Tesco.

Average Wage per Hour in Selected Emerging Markets: 2013

Average Wage per Hour in Selected Emerging Markets: 2013

Source: Euromonitor International from International Labour Organisation (ILO)/Eurostat/national statistics

Bangladesh: More than a garment exporter?

Bangladesh is set to become the world’s eighth largest country, in terms of population, by 2030. But it has one of the lowest levels of consumer expenditure per capita in Asia Pacific, at U$708 in 2013 – above only Nepal and Myanmar. Nevertheless the modern retailing sector is fast-growing and taken as a whole the market is large – sales of packaged food for instance totalled US$9.8 billion in 2013 and the beauty and personal care market was worth US$683 million in that same year.

The ready-made garment and textile industry has been a key driver of growth – and an important earner of foreign currency. Although long-term competitiveness in the sector is a concern, due to higher costs as a result of an increased minimum wage and tougher labour and safety standards, these higher wages, along with buoyant remittances from Bangladesh’s large diaspora, will boost consumer expenditure. Foreign investment is currently low – with inflows reaching just 1.0% of GDP in 2013, compared to 5.2% in Vietnam and 2.1% in Indonesia – due to high levels of corruption, deficient infrastructure and a difficult business environment. To diversify beyond the garment industry, and benefit from its demographic advantages, Bangladesh will need to work to make it easier to do business.

FDI Inflows as a % of GDP: 2000-2013

FDI Inflows as a % of GDP: 2000-2013

Source: UNCTAD

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