The shape of the global market is changing right before our very eyes. What was once driven by the established economies of the western world, particularly those in North America and Europe, is now being fueled by the emerging economies of the East. Along with a handful of other rapidly growing countries, China, India and Russia are at the front of the line when it comes to driving global growth.

The evolution of the global market is having an effect beyond economic positioning as its impact can be felt from the technological front to cultural innovation. Research shows that the shift is also driving change in social innovation and, on that note, there is much for organizations to learn from today’s emerging economies.

Global Middle Class on the Rise

India has experienced significant growth both economically and socially over the course of the last 15 to 20 years. In fact, the McKinsey Global Research Institute, the research arm of McKinsey & Company, predicts that the its middle class will soon surpass the number in the U.S. at more than 250 million consumers. As a result of India’s tremendous growth, the wealth and spending abilities of the middle class consumer has increased tenfold, creating numerous markets for which businesses in the country can target.

The substantial growth of the middle class is not limited to India. This market is also on the rise in countries like Indonesia, Mexico and Malaysia. What can organizations take from this? The importance of driving their social innovation in the direction that the consumer population is heading. Whether we are talking Europe in the 19th century, the United States in the 20th century or China in the 21st century, the growth of the middle class has traditionally played a huge part in the development of the world’s major economies. And even though the economies in North America and Europe have been sluggish, there are still opportunities to be had for innovators targeting what is easily the biggest population of consumers.

Empowering Your User Community

In 2011, we saw the Arab Spring protests that led to notable rallies against anti-corruption across Egypt and India. 2011 was also the year Russian citizens took to the streets of Moscow to partake in what has been called the biggest anti-government movement in the nation since the fall of communism. Though two different instances, these situations have a lot in common for the simple fact that they were powered by the technology and tools those nations supplied to their citizens, which says a lot about their development in spite of the controversy surrounding those protests.

Empowering users has become the cultural norm throughout the world, so organizations would be wise to take note and act accordingly. It only makes sense when you think about it, because it is people who truly have the most power and the biggest impact on the world. No matter the shape of the economy, companies can empower their audience by not only providing them with the tools that allow them to have a voice, but also sharing their expertise and helping them along that path of evolution.

Traditionally, the primary focus of social innovation for many organizations has been all about pushing products and generating profits. The state of the global landscape has undergone a dramatic transformation, so adapting with the times is more important than ever. Innovators who wish to maintain their relevance must now put the bulk of their focus on catering to the needs of the user, and less on making a buck. Take care of the former and the latter will follow.


by Aidan Hiljeh

Aidan Hijleh is a freelance copywriter and serves as the Non-Profit Partnership Liaison for Benchmark Email.