The Conference

The rising importance of emerging markets in the global economy is a defining megatrend of our times. In just one generation, some 2 billion people are transiting from rural, agrarian lifestyles to modern consumer living. The unparalleled transition is compared to the industrial revolution in its dramatic transformation of the social, economic, and political landscape. Its product is a race to serve markets estimated to be worth $30 trillion annually and to comprise half of global consumption by 2025, according to several estimates.

Nowhere is the exciting transformation more evident than in Africa and the Indian Ocean Rim, where one-third of humankind resides. Once neglected in global marketing plans as undeveloped markets lacking spending power, Africa and India have now caught and even surpassed China’s growth rate. African GDP and consumer spending are expected to double in this decade, reaching $2.6 trillion and $1.4 trillion respectively. Markets also remain unsaturated, which is especially appealing to companies seeking to expand beyond slow-growing and saturated traditional markets.

Exciting opportunities rarely come without risk. Marketers applying business models from elsewhere may face daunting challenges. Different “rules of the game” can shape buyer and seller expectations for marketplace and exchange behaviors, altering the calculus that determines marketing success. Even emerging markets firms that compete in only one country can find the marketing environment and competitive playing field changing dramatically in this new partially globalized world.

To this dynamic and complex global marketing environment, we can add the impact of rapid advances in digital technologies that have moved marketing interactions and analytics to the desktop and rapidly change our discipline. There is also the new expansion of emerging market brands onto the global stage. Firms headquartered in African and Indian Ocean Rim countries are expanding across the globe, spreading their wings and building brands globally, with China seeking to lead the way. Emerging markets are quickly moving beyond the commodity exports era. There are new requirements to develop a local understanding of sources of demand, sources of supply, and methods of effective management as foundations for successful brand building across countries at diverse levels of development.

The rise of emerging markets in the world economy has accelerated research on marketing in emerging markets. Emerging markets have become exciting learning laboratories where our theories can be tested. The new research is moving our exploration of marketing phenomena in new directions that embrace a more diverse set of institutional assumptions and worldviews.

While it was natural that marketing scholars focused on more developed markets in the early stages, a more global approach is needed today. The majority of humanity resides in emerging markets and, in this next generation, it is reasonable to conclude that more half of the world’s economic development will take place there. It follows that the growth and standing of our maturing discipline depends on taking a more global perspective that extends our research to emerging markets.

In this call for papers, we are seeking papers that will help us advance our understanding of marketing in this complex and dynamic time in human history. We are especially interested in papers that expand the theoretical envelope, helping establish the generalizability and boundary conditions of our cherished theories or introducing new constructs that are grounded in the emerging markets context. The race for emerging markets is fueling a marketing renaissance, as marketing scholars and practitioners assess the generalizability of accepted theories and business practices to emerging markets context, and seek new insights in emerging markets for application in traditional Western markets.

We seek papers that focus on important questions of our times. Notwithstanding several influential calls from thought leaders in our discipline and impressive progress in our research, we have not yet begun to answer even the basic questions. Do our theories generalize to the diverse, rapidly changing, and very different contexts of emerging markets? Can novel theoretical perspectives derived in emergent contexts provide new insights into marketing-relevant behaviors elsewhere? What lessons can we learn in emerging market “learning laboratories” that will generalize to high-income, Western countries? How is the role of marketing changing in practice? Can a closer partnership between marketing science and practice produce new insights that will increase the value of marketing contributions and regain a marketing presence in the boardroom?

Against this exciting background, we call for papers for the 2018 Annual Conference of the Emerging Markets Conference Board and the two-day Doctoral Consortium that will precede it. This year, we return to Africa! We will be hosted by the Wits Business School in Johannesburg, which is located in the small South African province of Gauteng. Representing less than 0.001% of South Africa’s landmass, Gauteng is the economic powerhouse of Africa and produces some 10% of total African GDP. The conference will bring together distinguished panels of speakers, marketing scholars and thought leaders from around the world to debate and discuss marketing theory and practice in emerging markets and plot the way forward for new and impactful research.