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Global 2015: THE FUTURE OF BRANDS | SUSTAINABILITY

Environmental, demographic, social forces are transforming the world

Brands must prepare today to remain relevant tomorrow 


The world is still adjusting to the transformative impact of technology and globalization over the last twenty years, yet in the coming decades major demographic, social, and environmental forces look set to reshape our world once again.

By 2030, a predicted 4.9 billion-strong global middle class will drive demand for consumer goods and services, but to meet the needs of this huge market, brands will have to overcome significant social and environmental challenges.

The impact of climate change, ecosystem decline, and water scarcity will limit supplies of natural resources, increase material and manufacturing costs, and disrupt supply chains. There will be an unprecedented strain on food resources, infrastructure, and public services. Access to employment and the need for equality of opportunity will continue to be major concerns.

Society will look to business to play a major role in addressing these challenges, and will expect businesses to be able to demonstrate the value they create not just for shareholders, but also for employees, suppliers, and wider society. Technology will continue to transform the way consumers and citizens engage with brands, and keep the spotlight on business practices and values, from head offices right down the supply chain.

There will be major opportunities from new markets in areas like smart technology, alternative energy, and the sharing economy. As businesses adjust, we will see disruptive innovation in products and services, and the emergence of new business models, and closed loop supply chains. Established brands that fail to adjust will disappear.

 If today’s brands want to remain relevant to the consumers of the future, they need to start preparing for these changes now. They need to be bold and prepared to fundamentally rethink their business models, supply chains, products and services, and the way  they engage with customers and other stakeholders.

They will need to forge new partnerships and to look outside their own operations for new sources of innovation and inspiration. They will need to see their customers as more than just consumers, and to create the products and services that address real needs and make a difference in people’s everyday lives.

Marketing has a key role to play in this transition. As businesses seek to reshape themselves to be sustainable for the long- term, they will need the best strategic insight, research and communications. They will need to be more open and engaged than ever before and to reach out to ever-wider audiences and to forge new partnerships.

Today’s leading businesses have already started the journey of sustainable transformation, and our companies are working with many of these pioneers.