The Journal

The Rise of the Middle Class in Developing Economies

4 min
July 25, 2023


The rise of the middle class in developing economies is a global phenomenon that is reshaping the world's economic landscape. This demographic shift is creating a new wave of consumers with significant buying power, which is set to have profound implications for businesses worldwide. This blog post will delve into the rise of the middle class in developing economies, with a special focus on Malaysia, and explore their burgeoning buying potential.

The Rise of the Middle Class

The middle class in developing economies is expanding at an unprecedented rate. According to the Brookings Institution, the global middle class is set to reach 5.5 billion by 2030, with the majority of this growth coming from Asia. This burgeoning middle class is characterized by increased disposable income, changing consumption patterns, and a growing preference for online shopping.

The Buying Power of the Middle Class

The rise of the middle class in developing economies is not just a demographic shift; it represents a significant increase in global buying power. The middle class is already spending $35 trillion annually (in 2011 PPP), and this figure could increase by $29 trillion by 2030. This represents a massive opportunity for businesses that can effectively cater to the needs and wants of this growing consumer base.

The middle class in developing economies is characterized by a shift in consumption patterns. As incomes rise, so does the demand for a wider variety of goods and services, including high-quality products, international brands, and online shopping experiences. This shift presents opportunities for businesses across a range of sectors, from retail and e-commerce to travel and hospitality.

The Digital Dimension

The rise of the middle class in developing economies is also driving digital adoption. As these consumers become more digitally savvy, they are increasingly turning to online platforms for their shopping needs. This trend is reflected in the rapid growth of e-commerce markets in developing economies. According to the International Monetary Fund, e-commerce markets are rapidly growing in the developing world, particularly in urban areas.

A Closer Look at Malaysia

The Malaysian market is experiencing a significant rise in its middle class, which is driving growth in various sectors, including e-commerce. This demographic shift is creating a new wave of consumers with increased disposable income and changing consumption patterns.

The middle class in Malaysia comprises 88% of the 22 million digital natives in the country, and their growth is fueling the expansion of the e-commerce sector. In 2022 alone, the Malaysian e-commerce market was projected to rise by 20%. Furthermore, Malaysia's mobile commerce growth is outpacing overall e-commerce and is projected to become a US$8.9 billion market by 2023.

The rise of the middle class in Malaysia is also driving the premiumization of various sectors. For instance, the growth of e-commerce is a major driver for premium make-up products, presenting new opportunities for marketing and sales.

Moreover, the increasing digital adoption among the middle class is contributing to the growth of the e-commerce market. The Malaysian e-commerce market grew by 68% year on year in 2021 and is expected to reach $9.2 billion for 2022. According to GlobalData's E-Commerce Analytics, e-commerce payments in Malaysia are estimated to increase at a CAGR of 18.3%.

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