DHAKA: Bangladesh may not be top of mind for brands seeking expansion, but a new study from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) predicts that the country is one of the world's next great growth markets for discretionary consumption.

BCG polled 2,000 households in Bangladesh as it sought to identify the aspirations, concerns and attitudes towards brands among its growing middle and affluent class (MAC).

Although numbering only about 7% of the country's current population of 160 million, MAC Bangladeshis are expected to account for 17% of the population by 2025 and to be concentrated in Dhaka, Chittagong and other cities.

BCG advised brands to focus their efforts on ramping up their operations to meet growing demand in these cities, but also to lay the groundwork for broader expansion in the rest of the country.

What may incentivise brands is the report's projection that the annual income of about 2 million additional Bangladeshis will reach $5,000 or more each year over the next decade.

By then, 63 cities are expected to have MAC populations of at least 100,000 people, compared with the current total of 36.

According to the survey, 60% of consumers say they expect their incomes to rise over the next 12 months while 69% say there are more products they want to buy.

Bangladeshi consumers are also very loyal to brands, the report confirmed, as it established that up to 80% cite brand as a top factor that influences their purchase decisions.

Furthermore, the report revealed that mobile commerce is on the rise as 41% of consumers own a smartphone, rising to 68% of MAC consumers, while 81% say they trust what they read online and two-thirds (66%) search for product information online.

However, the survey also showed that Bangladeshi consumers are inclined to hold back their spending for fear of racking up debt and BCG advised brands to alleviate these concerns and introduce products that meet household budgets.

As it highlighted the strong brand consciousness of Bangladeshi consumers, BCG said those companies that establish themselves as trustworthy, build market share and deliver good quality will be the ones that reap rewards in "what promises to be one of the world's next big growth markets".

Data sourced from BCG; additional content by Warc staff