The income of the U.S. middle class is still among the world leaders — but the lead is narrowing.
According to, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy, reporting for the New York Times:
“The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades. After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.”
“Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it. Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands, and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago.”
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Source: New York Times/Luxembourg Income Study analysis
There are many different reasons why consumers buy specific car types and models — even in the United States. But, how different are purchase motivations around the world?
To answer this question, Nielsen recently conducted a large-scale online survey in 60 countries:
“’Linking global automotive demand with consumer sentiments and media habits is vital to developing marketing strategies that connect the right consumers with the right automotive brands,’ said Pat Gardiner, president of Nielsen Automotive. ‘The Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions, as expected, represent large areas of growth opportunity for the industry, but capturing this opportunity hinges on marketers successfully identifying, understanding’ and effectively connecting with the needs and desires of these buyers.’”
“One key to unlocking the demand drivers is discerning what role a car plays in the consumer’s life. Is it for utility — simply a mode of transportation to get you from one place to another? Is it to express status — a symbol of the success you’ve achieved in life? Or is it more purely emotional — you just love to drive? While each of these sentiments may play a role in the car-buying decision process, connecting with the emotions that pull at the heartstrings draws consumers more powerfully along the path to purchase.”
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Just like their larger counterparts, small business owners expect their channel partners (especially the manufacturers and suppliers with which they interact) to provide superior customer service. They do not want to be neglected or overlooked.
According to a February 2014 study by Cargo and Toluna (as reported by eMarketer): “Nearly half (47.3%) of small business owners (SBOs) said that poor customer service was the most common mistake brands made. Marketers must make an effort to relate to SBOs: Talking at SBOs (instead of with them), as well as failing to understand their businesses, were also big no-nos, cited by 44.7% and 40.7%, respectively.”
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For a number of industries (such as banking, media, food and beverage, and oil), a few large companies dominate globally. Here is an interesting infographic from www.internationalbusinessguide.org.
Click the infographic to access data on the firms cited in the chart.
Ray Kurzweil is widely acknowledged as a true technology guru. As Wikipedia notes: “Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer Kurzweil K250 capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.”
Recently, the Wall Street Journal‘s Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker sat down with Kurzweil for an in-depth interview: “Machines will soon be as smart as we are, says Ray Kurzweil. But not to worry. The engineering director of Google Inc. and founder and CEO of Kurzweil Technologies Inc. argues that as computers get smaller and more powerful, we won’t face a sci-fi nightmare. Instead, these machines will help us expand our capabilities.”
For print excerpts from the interview, click here.
Click the image for a video clip of the interview.
Businessweek annually forecasts the year ahead. For this year, it says that: “Inflation and interest rates are low, oil prices are expected to fall, companies are sitting on cash, and there’s plenty of consumer demand.” In the 2014 report, Peter Coy sets the economic and geopolitical stage for 55 global industries.”
Click the image for a fun (and hard) quiz to test how ready you are for the future.