Increasingly, challengers and multinationals are competing head to head. Multinationals have modified their cost structures and product portfolios to pursue opportunities in emerging markets, facing challengers on their home turf. And some challengers, notably the conglomerate Alfa and the baker Grupo Bimbo, both of Mexico, are expanding into the home markets of multinationals.
Paradoxically, as competition between multinationals and challengers has become more cutthroat, these companies are also more likely to find it desirable to enter partnerships. Bargaining power is more balanced, so partnerships no longer need to be established solely on the basis of the low costs of challengers or the high gloss of Western brands but rather on a wide range of complementary skills.
We have entered the era of allies and adversaries.
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To Contact the Authors
We would like to thank the many executives at the global challengers who agreed to be interviewed. Their insights contributed to the evolving story of the rise of global challengers.
The research and analysis for this report were conducted by a global team of BCG consultants based primarily in RDEs and under the direction of Whitney Haring-Smith in Hong Kong: Jan Contreras in Monterrey, Andy Jiang in Shanghai, Aarti Kochhar in Mumbai, Jason Mooty in San Francisco, and Matheus Schmidt in São Paulo. A global network of knowledge team members, led by Abdeljabbar Chraïti, provided invaluable support: Benny Chui in Hong Kong, Lori Spivey in Miami, and Evelyn Tan in Singapore. Vital research was also provided by Miriam Benedi Díaz, Noemi Biro, Silmara Costa, Marcin Galczynski, Franziska Höger, Salma Laalej, Kanchanat U-Chukanokkun, Oskar Wilczynski, Pavel Zahradil, and Nomava Zanazo.
We would also like to thank our colleagues for their invaluable contributions: Marcos Aguiar in São Paulo, Jorge Becerra in Santiago, Ted Chan in Hong Kong, Agustín Costa in Buenos Aires, Nikolaus Lang in Munich, Christoph Nettesheim in Beijing, Burak Tansan in Istanbul, and Jan Dirk Waiboer in Moscow.
We thank our colleagues Gary Callahan, Mary DeVience, Angela DiBattista, Belinda Gallaugher, Grace Kuo, Mark Voorhees, and Linda Wei for their contributions to the writing, editing, design, production, and marketing of the report.