The Emerging Markets Conference Board (EMCB) is a global initiative orchestrated by the influential marketing scholar, Prof. Naresh Malhotra, of the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech with the support of leading journal editors and scholars from around the world.

EMCB brings together interested individuals to identify common goals and interesting research questions. They share insights and findings from research on marketing in emerging economies and explore collaboration and cooperation opportunities with the goal of shaping the agenda for research on marketing in emerging markets, which remains in its infancy.

The rising importance of emerging markets in the global economy is recognized as 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 compares to the industrial revolution in its dramatic transformation of the social, economic, and political landscape, prompting a race to serve fast-growing unsaturated markets that could be worth $30 trillion annually and represent half of total global consumption by 2025.

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 and marketing scholarship 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.

Emerging markets present new risks. They are characterized by higher levels of diversity, dynamics and connectedness, which varies remarkably across segments and geographic regions within a country. Marketers applying business models from elsewhere, and even other emerging markets, may find different “rules of the game” that shape buyer and seller expectations for marketplace and exchange behaviors and alter the calculus determining marketing success, growth, and profitability.

Marketing in emerging markets is adapting to advances in digital technologies that move marketing interactions and analytics to the desktop. This has helped fuel the expansion of emerging market brands onto the global stage. Joining their Asian counterparts, African and Indian Ocean Rim brands are spreading their wings and building global brands. The move beyond the commodity exports era is well underway in most emerging markets. These shifts imply new requirements to develop a local understanding of sources of demand, sources of supply, and methods of effective management as a foundation for successful brand building across countries and diverse levels of development.

The rise of emerging markets in the world economy has accelerated research on marketing in emerging markets. Emerging markets are exciting learning laboratories where 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.

The EMCB plays an important role by facilitating interactions between established and novice marketing scholars and practitioners can engage with top marketing authorities from around the globe. The doctoral consortia give registered doctoral students an opportunity to experience doctoral training from leaders in the field, in a format patterned after the AMA-Sheth Foundation doctoral consortia in the USA and featuring several scholars who have taught on that programme. The intention is to provide a welcoming environment where novice researchers feel welcome and gain skills that will enable them to help add new authentic emerging markets voices to our literature. Those attending prior EMCB conferences and doctoral consortia have altered the impact of their research and gone on to take up academic posts in respected universities around the world.