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Brand New Cities: Consumer Markets of the Future

July 2019

New city building runs parallel with the current urbanisation trend - but also with the increasing role developing markets are playing in the global economy. It is estimated that 400-500 newly built cities are in the pipeline over the next 30 years - all predominantly in developing markets. They are providing a platform to raise economic growth by opening new consumer markets and attracting investment; however, challenges persists - among them, their susceptibility to becoming ghost towns.

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Key findings

Urbanisation spurring demand for new cities

With 60% of the global population set to be urban by 2030, and existing cities splitting at their seams, new urban areas are being built to fill the demand for current and future population growth. Developing markets are leading the race, with China, India and Indonesia some of the key countries building new cities.

Different types of planned cities

Planned cities come in different shapes and sizes and serve different purposes. Smart cities address the need for greater use of technologies in making cities more efficient; green cities focus on incorporating more flora and fauna to better integrate into the natural environment; industrial cities are often built for economic diversification and rudimental cities cater to the poorer economies lacking basic infrastructure (sewage systems, piped water etc).

Planned cities offer opportunities

New cities offer businesses untapped and unsaturated consumer markets to operate in. Some purpose-built cities come with special economic zones which can provide foreign businesses with numerous financial and non-financial incentives to better business environments.

China heading the race for planned cities

China is the global giant of planned city building. While no concrete figures are available, it is estimated that around 400 towns and cities are currently being built or planned in China.

Planned cities can fail

Several planned city projects have failed or have been unsuccessful in their bid to attract people and business. Cost remains a key issue, with numerous planned city projects the targets of the wealthy, while the poor must make do with slum-like living conditions.


Key findings
Planned cities are nothing new and have existed for thousands of years
Planned cities come in different types
Developing markets’ economic growth driving new city building
Urbanisation is rising and developing cities are at the heart of growth
New cities are generally small or medium but have high growth potential
China the key driver of new city building

Why are New Cities Being Built?

Rapid urbanisation is bringing demand for new cities
Improved living conditions for new developing market middle classes
Planned cities can help diversify economies
Planned cities to act as testbeds for new urban planning
Ecological threats can spur new city planning

Opportunities of Planned Cities

Special economic zones offer incentives for companies

Opportunities of planned cities

Fresh consumer markets for multinational businesses
New opportunities and investment for real estate developers

Challenges of Planned Cities

Planned cities expensive and generally appeal to wealthier classes
Planned cities take time to achieve full growth
Planned city projects can fall through if insufficient demand is garnered

Case Studies

Case study: the world’s planned cities in the making
Manila Bay: City of Pearl
Forest City Malaysia
Liuzhou Forest City
King Abdullah Economic city
Lusail City


Future planned cities require sustainable ecological solutions
Key takeaways


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