New Normal aims to help you identify the key changes in the wider landscape that will impact you and your business.
Some of these changes are already becoming obvious, such as rising levels of debt and inflation due to supply chain chaos and high energy prices. Others are still to appear. These relate to the way behaviour is changing in response to the Covid pandemic in 6 key areas where major paradigm shifts are underway:
Major change is now underway in demand patterns due to the impact of rising inflation and ageing populations. Consumer markets are polarising again as the ‘mid-market’ disappears.
The EU’s Green Recovery deal is just one example of the new opportunities that are likely to develop. Europe, for example, is likely to see very rapid growth of Electric Vehicles at the expense of gasoline or diesel, and other regions will see similar challenges and opportunities emerge.
Companies and investors need to focus on demand rather than supply, by evolving from today’s product focus to a solution orientation.
RESHORING SUPPLY CHAINS
Global supply chains are under increasing pressure due to rising volatility in demand patterns, and the need to move to more sustainable ‘local to local’ models.
These issues are unlikely to be resolved quickly. It is therefore essential to closely monitor developments in all the major end-uses on a segment-by-segment basis, rather than assuming ‘one size fits all’.
Governments are providing increasing support for these moves, with the US Inflation Reduction Act a leading example. And other countries and regions, such as the European Union, are already following the US example
The war in Ukraine is accelerating plans to increase energy security. Cheaper renewables-based electricity is replacing fossil fuel-based infrastructure.
The International Energy Agency has already called for support for Electric Vehicles to be prioritized, along with the unblocking of supply chains to maximize resilience. It has also urged governments and businesses to increase plastic waste collection, re-use and recycling.
These developments also highlight the problems faced by the US shale gas expansions down the chemical chain, and the wake-up call awaiting OPEC and others who believe that pivoting from transport to chemicals will somehow keep oil demand growing in the future.
The need to reshore supply chains in a world seeing major energy market disruption means that moves towards a circular economy will accelerate.
Even without the pollution issue, it would make little sense for the world to continue spending $80bn-$120bn each year on producing single-use plastic products, which are then thrown away immediately after use.
The pandemic has confirmed that plastics are very valuable materials – but we need new locally-based business models to be created, covering the value chain from collection through processing, manufacturing (based potentially on 3D printing) and distribution.
Thinking ‘out of the box’ will likely create a goldmine for those innovative companies who focus on capturing the sweet spot in the new value chain, and rapidly scale the new business models across the main cities and towns in their chosen region.
Many manufacturing operations still operate as they would have done 50 or even 500 years ago. Modern technologies will reduce costs, waste and CO2 emissions, whilst improving quality.
It makes no sense to reshore on the basis of centuries-old technology when digital, continuous & biotech-enabled technology is safer, greener, faster and cheaper.
Technologies such as 3D printing and Artificial Intelligence are having an increased impact as they move out of the laboratory into real-life applications.
Governments are refocusing on fiscal policy. They are finally realising that 2 decades of central bank stimulus policies have created major asset bubbles.
Unfortunately, these bubbles are now beginning to burst, with potentially serious consequences for the wider economy. Interest rate changes normally take 12-18 months to impact the wider economy, and so pressures are already beginning to build in housing and stock markets.
At the same time, interest rates are beginning to revert to their historical basis of inflation plus 2.5%. This will add further pressure as hopes of a quick return to stimulus are disappointed.