In order to fully comprehend the emergence of the digital fashion industry in the BRICS markets, its important to understand the depth of social media and digital presence per country.
In the past few years, there has been a significant increase in terms of Internet usage in the Emerging Markets. Statistics show that in terms of the amount of internet users worldwide, as of June 2012, China has taken over the race, and is leading with 22.4%; followed by USA with 10.2%; India with 5.7%; and Brazil and Russia at 5th and 6th place, with 3.6% and 2.8% respectively. While South Africa, a new addition to the BRICS, also has a notable growing economy, in terms of digital presence, they have not yet developed as successfully as the other markets.
With these facts, it is safe to assume that the BRIC markets have the highest potentials in terms of digital emergence.
It shouldn’t be surprising that along with an increasing hunger for internet usage, comes an increasing number of social media presence. With Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube leading in social networks globally, results show that 60.6 million of Brazil’s population log on to Facebook on a daily basis, putting them on the 2nd spot, just after the USA (with 167 million), and with India on third with 60.5 million.
While Russia’s presence on Facebook does not seem as significant, this should not be misconstrued as a lack of social media interest. This is only because they have been leaning towards Vkontakte, another social network said to be more compatible with russian characters.
Likewise, China’s internet censorship has proven almost impossible for them to join networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, however by producing their own social networking platforms within the country, such as Weibo, Qzone, and Youku, China is able to garner millions of social media users daily.
Digital Applications as well, has said to become a growing phenomenon within Brazil, Russia, India, and China. While the US is still the largest market for Android and iOS applications, China is starting to catch up and could possibly gain on the US as early as December 2012.
All this is possible with their increasing percentage of Internet usage, matched with economic gains. And while Brazil, Russia, and India are still a long way away from the size of the US market, with their increasing growth rate and interest in devices, they could possibly build their own Silicon Valley, and prosper in digital production in the future.
E-Commerce and Online Shopping
BRICS countries have also strengthened their online shopping industries.
Just last year, BBC had reported China’s online shopping to grow four times by 2015, and is set to be the largest online industry in the world. With internet users of about 420 million, an average of 193 million shoppers, spending an average of a billion hours daily, it is evident that their online shopping industry is thriving and growing at an alarming rate. Apart from this, with China’s ballooning middle class, their subsidized government, and their affordable internet technology, the population of online users in the next few years would continue to grow at 8-16%, therefore pushing them up to twice as much as the United States by 2015.
Equally, the online retail industry for India has also been improving, with an average growth of 30% annually. However, a bulk of this market comprises of the travel and leisure industry, and not so much veered towards retail, as compared to the Chinese market.
Brazil’s E-commerce industry as well, has experienced a large boom in the past year. In 2011 they were able to gain a revenue of more than $11 billion, a 26% increase from the previous year. Today, Brazil has the biggest market in terms of E-Commerce for the whole of Latin America, moreover, the Brazilian government has made plans for providing affordable internet to its constituents, which could lead to a higher percentage in online population and online shopping for the next years.
On a totally different scale, while Russia’s internet and mobile usage has been growing at a large rate, its E-commerce industry has not been thriving as much as the other BRIC markets have been. While there has been a transformation, and an improvement on online retailing, it is still behind, as compared to Brazil, China, and India, simply because of the lack of professional experience and human resources to cultivate online retailing.
Digital Emergence in the Fashion Industry
Companies in various industries, most especially in the Fashion industry, have, in fact, started to seriously take advantage of this means of communications. Starting off by penetrating the social media scene with their own portrayal catering to their region’s tastes and style: for instance, Louis Vuitton’s separate Facebook fan pages for Official Louis Vuitton, Louis Vuitton India, and Louis Vuitton China.
From Social Media, moving into regionalized websites, companies have also started tailoring them to fit each market in terms of: language, variety of clothing, store location and currency - as practiced by brands like Zara, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, etc. Even digital applications are mostly employed in English, so as to cater to a wider and more international variety of consumers.
Further BRIC Expansion
With so much improvement going on economically and socially, it would not be a surprise for the BRIC markets to take the lead in digital emergence soon.
This move towards the social and digital, along with the growth of internet and mobile usage, and a booming economy, promises E-Commerce in BRIC countries to grow significantly within the next few years.
Adding all of these together, it is hard to see what could slow down BRIC economies growths in digital platforms. The question is, which companies have the capacity to keep up with them? And when will South Africa be able to join the race in digital expansion?