90 CHAPTER 5 KNOW THE WORLD
‘There is no education like adversity.’
The structure of the population is constantly undergoing change – locally, nationally and
globally. This affects consumer markets and the industries that serve them, which in turn
affects a broader range of industrial and commercial suppliers. Consumer demands from
the new middle classes in emerging economies, especially China and India, will be signifi-
cant in the coming decades.
The age structure of the population has obvious implications for your products and
services. In the developed countries including North America, Europe and Japan, the
average age of the population is increasing, due to the trend towards smaller families,
healthier lifestyles and longer life spans. As a result, the physical size of these countries’
‘grey’ markets is increasing.
Less developed economies tend to have high birth rates and very young populations.
Various events cause bulges in particular age groups of populations (youths, young mar-
ried couples, the middle-aged). An obvious example is the post-war baby boom in many
countries in the 1950s. Another example reflects the bulge in the birth rate in the oil-
producing Middle East Gulf states in the 1970s when rocketing oil prices caused massive
increases in regional wealth.
In addition, the stages of economic development of these countries – with varying
focus on agriculture, industrialisation and services – affect occupations and incomes.
Spending patterns are also affected by movement: immigration, emigration, rural to
urban, city to suburbs and so on. Racial and cultural patterns vary, family sizes gener-
ally decrease, average income generally increases – except that the arrival or closure of a
major industry affects employment and wealth in specific areas.
Economic development and growth alter the structure of the economy. As intimated
above, this leads to shifts from agrarian to low-tech industry. In turn, this develops into
high-tech businesses, and as wealth increases, service industries become increasingly
important. Again, as mentioned elsewhere, watch what happens as China and India
become the new economic superpowers.