Face-to-Face Engagement Still Characterizes World’s Second-Largest Consumer Market as Millions of Street Merchants Satisfy Customer Needs Without Omni-Channel Innovation

SAN JOSE, Calif. (December 21, 2017)—Who is going to win the race to digitally transform the world’s informal economy? The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council raises this question in the latest edition of its quarterly PeerSphere digital magazine, published today.

The CMO Council notes that omni-channel experience management, a hot button of big brands in today’s connected economy, has yet to resonate in the $10 trillion informal sector, which ranks second only to the U.S., the world’s largest consumer market in terms of transactional volume.  

Typically, the shadow or underground economy includes street vendors, merchants in open-air bazaars, hawkers, peddlers, food cart/truck operators, sidewalk artists/performers, counterfeit product or trinket sellers, rural traders, drug dealers, and domestic or sex trade workers. In India alone, there are 10 million street vendors.

Few, if any, have bank accounts. Many are illegals, exiles or migrants. Most don’t pay taxes and only transact with cash. Payment options are limited. There is little or no regulation, merchant protection or controls. Perhaps they might trade merchandise for cell phone time or in-kind services. Few have formal business identities and commercial licenses. Customer care and handling can range from personal and intimate to hostile and wary.

New FinTech start-ups are seeking to address the informal economy with innovative forms of mobile payment and money transfer (remittances) in emerging markets. Globally, some 2 billion people lack access to formal financial services, and both banks and category disruptors are scrambling to figure out ways to reach and engage the under-served in emerging markets.

According to third-party research, Procter & Gamble derives more sales from informal retailers than it does from Walmart. Corporates like Unilever and GSK are now using SMS-based, data-enabled systems to manage distribution to street merchants.

Ironically, in a recent study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council—titled “Getting Serious About the Omni-Channel Experience: Making Customer Value Creation the New Competitive Equation”—a survey concluded that more than 80 percent of marketers felt their brands rely heavily on global connectivity, secure digital communications, real-time interaction with customers and multi-channel content delivery.

The cover story in the latest issue of PeerSphere—the CMO Council’s quarterly eJournal—explores perspectives from both telco and non-telco brand marketers around the opportunities that exist when it comes to amplifying omni-channel experiences and creating deeper connections with their customers. It also focuses on the findings of the full report—now available for purchase—and shares the requirements for the full ecosystem in order to establish effective partnerships and maximize omni-channel success.

The latest issue of PeerSphere is available today and covers topics such as:

  • How brands can gain access to the $10 trillion informal economy

  • A CMO roundtable article featuring marketing perspectives on the challenges to executing omni-channel experiences

  • How Igloo is working to innovate products and make a difference in consumers’ lives

  • Q&A articles with marketing leaders at ASICS and Trust Metrics

  • Insights from marketing leaders at Kia Motors, T-Mobile, Verizon, Visa, AT&T, Bank of America and more

PeerSphere is available on a complimentary basis to CMO Council members courtesy of our sponsor, Thomson Reuters. For more information or to view the issue online, visit

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is the only global network of executives specifically dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of global industries. The CMO Council's 13,500-plus members control approximately $500 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include more than 65,000 global executives in more than 110 countries covering multiple industries, segments and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, India and Africa. The council's strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE), Mobile Relationship Marketing (MRM) Strategies,,, Marketing Supply Chain Institute, Customer Experience Board, Digital Marketing Performance Institute, GeoBranding Center and the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME). More information on the CMO Council is available at