You can tell the maturity of a market by the consumer patterns. If you know the life cycle stages of a market you can better anticipate what level of "needs" your product needs to match to be successful. (I always think of needs in stages like Maslow's hierarchy.)
The Four Stages of Market Maturity
- Stage 1. Survival
- Stage 2. Quality
- Stage 3. Convenience
- Stage 4. Customization.
From Survival to Customization
In the Autumn Special Edition of "strategy+business" magazine, Alonso Martinez and Ronald Haddock describe how a country evolves from developing nation to industrialized nation:
"As a country evolves from developing nation to indusrialized nation, the population's basic needs pass through four distinct stages. In developing countries, most of hte population is preocupied with basic survival - obtaining adequate food, shelter, and clothing. (Much of sub-Saharan Africa is in the stage right now.) As a middle class emerges, people seek greater quality in their food, housing, and clothing (This is currently happening, for example, in much of China and India.) Once a transitioning market's population can afford relatively high quality, they begin to seek convenience; they buy time-saving appliances and processed foods, and they may move closer to work. (This stage is emerging today in Eastern Europ and Latin America.) Finally, as the market graduates into the realm of developed nations, the population wants customization; with needs for survival, quality, and convenience now met, people will spend a premium (as many do in North America, Japan, and western Europe) to satisfy individual tastes and desires."
Key Take Aways
I think to successfully anticipate global market needs, you need to understand where in the stack, various consumers are. I've noticed a lot more attention on customization, particularly in social software and personal devices.