Monday, February 11, 2008

BRIC and Beyond - New Retail Playgrounds

The center of gravity of global retailing is shifting.

In the 19th century, the great emporiums of European metropolises held the world in thrall. The grand stores of London and Paris set the theme for retail innovation and sophistication.

In the 20th century, America reinvented retailing -- from Miracle on 34th Street to McDonald's golden arches. Americanization continued breakneck into the early years of the 21st century, with a Starbucks at nearly every street corner, at least in the advanced nations.

In the 21st century, the economic center of gravity is shifting to the BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China. And following the four BRIC countries are the BRIC+11 identified by Goldman Sachs ( And, like aircraft lining up at a busy airport for takeoff, there are even more nations pulling up behind the BRIC+11 to the lift-off airstrip.

These newbie nations on the global economic scene, however, are generally not known for their retailing innovations. For the next few years, the Old World Retailers of Europe and the New World Retailers of the United States are likely to have intense competitive face-offs, trying to establish beachheads in BRIC+11, and to expand their networks in these brand new markets.

Culturally, however, the BRIC+11 are different from Old Europe and New World America.

They will -- they already are beginning to -- usher in some retail formats and methods that are new and not seen in US or EU.

We need to keep examining retail trends globally, with a special focus on BRIC+11, and on the "aircrafts" [nations] lined up behind these 15 countries.

Look for new "birds" in the retail skies.

Enjoy the flight!

Nik Dholakia
University of Rhode Island