A lack of clarity and credibility in emerging market strategy is leading to investor skepticism and, ultimately, discounts to corporate valuation. According to CEB analysis, companies with questionable emerging markets messaging generated an average total shareholder return of only 2 percent between 2008 and 2010, compared with a 32 percent return for companies with credible emerging markets messaging.
In a study of 71 global firms, CEB found that 46 percent of companies that report having an emerging markets strategy lack a credible story in the eyes of investors. Enhancing credibility moving forward will be especially important for companies given the growing importance of emerging markets to their growth plans.
Nearly two-thirds of companies say they have accelerated growth targets in emerging markets. Additionally, lack of credibility and clarity in emerging markets messaging has been identified by CEB as one of the top five barriers to global readiness for companies in its publication of Executive Guidance for 2012.
“As firms intensify investments in emerging markets, many will fail to earn economic returns in an increasingly competitive environment,” said Michael Griffin, executive director at CEB. “Our research suggests that companies focused on emerging markets growth should clarify their strategy for investors and employees. Doing so has a substantial impact on performance.”
Companies should start by clarifying their strategy internally. In a survey of nearly 400 senior emerging market staff, CEB found that many companies’ globalization strategies are not clear to their own employees.
More than a third of leaders either could not identify their company’s strategic focus in emerging markets or did not understand their role in the company’s globalization strategy.
These firms lagged their peers on key emerging markets performance indicators like growth, profitability and competitive positioning.
In addition to clarifying emerging markets strategy internally, to increase the effectiveness and credibility of their emerging markets messaging and win investor confidence, CEB recommends companies:
- Clarify Strategic Intent –Distill emerging markets strategy into a limited set of messages (just three to five) that are clearly worded, company-specific and clearly tie with company’s higher level strategic messaging.
- Focus on Differentiation – Develop key messages that explicitly highlight ways in which their strategies are different from their competitors.
- Employ Proof Points – Show investors a track record of execution where possible. Forward-looking messaging should be verifiable so that it can be used to enhance credibility in the future.
- Provide a balanced assessment– Incorporate risks and headwinds as a component of investor messaging, as well as how the company is positioned to mitigate them.
For more information please visit CEB’s Executive Guidance for 2012, Assessing Global Readiness.