The "age of commodities" is drawing to a close, according to one of the world's biggest investment banks, which has declared that the "age of consumer durables" is upon us, with demand set to surge for goods like luxury cars and dishwashers.
"The growth rates for commodity spending have peaked," a Goldman Sachs research team led by Kamakshya Trivedi said in a note.
"But it should continue to climb in durables and services spending over the next four decades."
Goldman Sachs forecasts significant demand for high-end durables in emerging markets (EMs). The region's contribution to this sector is currently 55 percent , it said, adding that it will rise sharply to 90 percent over the next decade or so, potentially exceeding the EM contribution to global GDP (gross domestic product) growth. Its share of the global market for dishwashers and luxury cars has been between 10 percent and 30 percent in the past decade, but will climb swiftly to well over 60 percent by 2030, it said.
"The rise of the EM middle class globally and the growing weight of middle-income economies – a dynamic that we have called the 'expanding middle' – is still at an early stage," Goldman Sachs said.
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"The more significant opportunities may now come from understanding how these tectonic shifts in growth and incomes around the world translate into spending pressure for specific goods and services locally and globally, rather than simply from recognizing the growth itself."
The bank sees a forthcoming "twin peak" in demand with firstly China embracing consumerism on a wider scale and then India catching up in the following decade. The projections also suggest that these nations will expand their services sector along with consumer goods. By 2040 the EM services markets will not only be larger in size than those of the U.S. or developed Europe, but also bigger than those of the entire G7 and developed market (DM) world put together, it said.
Looking 20 years into the future, it sees Russia in the same place as today's high income advanced economies. Russians will discover a newfound penchant for tourism, it said, along with Portugal, the Czech Republic and South Korea. China has the potential to catch up with Brazil and the average EM, boosting its service sector, it said. Meanwhile, Indian incomes will largely go towards commodities, mirroring the situation China is in now, it added.
Recent data from China - the world's second largest economy - has led analysts to believe that the economic recovery in the country is becoming more broad-based, with an uptick in retail sales as well as manufacturing. And these glimpses of a future shift come at a time when the country's new leadership is stepping up regulation, curbing an overheated credit market and trying to switch an export-focused and investment-led economy into a consumer-driven one.
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"Investment is still nearly half the economy but the rebalancing process is probably now happening naturally," Freya Beamish, an economist at Lombard Street Research told CNBC.
"We think that investment has to fall to under 35 percent of GDP [in China]. This is a huge rebalancing and represents a significant drag for commodities."
Michael Ganske, the head of emerging markets at Rogge Global agrees with Goldman Sachs, indicating that the increase in wealth and consumer spending in EMs will be a major trend over the coming years. Producers, therefore, are likely to be set for a bumper few decades as a rebound in developed markets adds to the move up the consumer ladder by EMs, he said
"White good producers is a good example, but also automotive or even fashion brands will benefit," he told CNBC.
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Caroline Bain, a senior commodities economist at the research and analysis group EIU said it was easy to agree with the bank, giving the example that it expected total rice consumption to start falling in China from 2014/15 as diets become more diversified as a result of rising incomes.
But, she told CNBC that it might not be all doom and gloom for commodities.
"Most consumer durables are made from commodities - e.g. tin, aluminum, zinc etc - and energy is needed to make consumer durables in factories," she told CNBC. "Commodities-intensive urbanization is not coming to an end, even in China, and it, coupled with still high infrastructure needs, will be a feature of developing countries for some time to come."
—By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81.