17th Annual Global CEO Survey: Transformation - serving the new consumers: PwC

Serving the new consumers

CEOs share their insights on serving new consumers

Huge economic shifts between, and within, countries are resulting in equally momentous changes in consumption patterns.
CEOs face three key challenges in this new environment. They have to chase a moving target, as consumers evolve in different ways in different markets. They have to address the needs of more diverse – and demanding – customer segments. And they have to fight off increasingly intense competition. It’s no wonder that more than half of CEOs are concerned about changes in consumer spending and behaviours, and that nearly half of all CEOs are worried about new market entrants.

To respond to these challenges, CEOs are keeping their eye on emerging markets, which make up six of the ten overseas markets in which they expect to generate most growth over the coming year.
More than 90% also want to change customer growth and retention strategies, while over 90% say the same for channels to market. But fewer have actually made changes in these areas, and many don’t think the customer-facing parts of their business are well-prepared to carry out such changes. But some CEOs are only too aware of the need for action. They’re looking to better serve distinct demographic segments, like older consumers. Some are also targeting the world’s poorest populations. And, in a shared economy, more companies are offering customers different ways to consume other than permanent ownership.


CEO interview quotes

"On the demand side, the next big thing to impact our industry would be to see India becoming part of our economic world... This will be a new factor that would change the economic balance, the same way China did when it was admitted in WTO in 2001 and became irreversibly a part of world economic growth."

Angeliki Frangou
CEO & Chairman of Navios Group of Companies

"We’ve also got to be absolutely in touch with the needs of [our supply chain] customers. So, we’ve got to be producing exactly the kind of varieties, the qualities and serving those customers the way they want because their requirements [are] all different."

Alison Watkins
CEO of GrainCorp

"The middle class [is] clearly emerging in [the growth] markets as a very important force. [When] you look at it in Sub-Saharan Africa and you even segment it between the upper middle class and the lower middle class, the sectorial opportunities are enormous."

Arif Naqvi
Founder and Group Chief Executive of The Abraaj Group

"Consumers living in big cities anywhere in the world tend to have the same preferences… So, urban centres are becoming more and more important from a marketing perspective, from an innovation perspective and in terms of product placement."

Jan Johansson
CEO of Svenska Cellulosa AB (SCA)

"The biggest driver of change for our business is geographical. As emerging markets develop, we have to have competitive offerings, as we have done in India, Latin America, China, and Russia because that’s where our clients are and that’s where the future growth will lie."

Michael I. Roth
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Interpublic Group

"The megatrend that really affects us is the ageing of the populations in most developed countries. The implication of that on to healthcare costs and the ability to deliver healthcare is quite profound."

Dr. Paul E. Jacobs
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Qualcomm Incorporated

"Consumers…now question more, they ask more, they expect more, they demand more; so dealing with the consumer of today is so different from what it was even five, ten years ago and it’s going to be vastly different five or ten years down the road."

Preetha Reddy
Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals