Consumer sector trends to consider in the next 15 years

18 January 2016

The past 15 years have seen a considerable shakeup of the consumer industry as old players gave way to new ways of engaging consumers and doing business. The coming 15 years are expected to see a continuation of the trend as new technologies and ways of connecting challenge incumbent businesses. In a bid to explore the trends and their impact on the consumer industry, McKinsey & Company drew up a list of the most important trends and analysed their impact vs. the predictability of their effect.

15 years is a long time as technological innovation speeds turnover. In 2000 Kmart was the third-largest US retailer, with $36 billion in sales; Facebook didn’t yet exist; Anheuser-Busch was the world’s largest brewer; and Alibaba had only just formed. Today, Kmart has been halved in size while the new giant within the sector, Amazon grew its turnover from $2.8 billion to $89 billion; Facebook is a multi-billion dollar company with 1.5 billion users; Anheuser-Busch has been bought out by its competition; and Alibaba filed the largest IPO ever, valued at $25 billion.

The next 15 years are also expected to see changes of the guard as new technologies and innovation, as well as demographic shifts, rebalance the playing field as well as shake up the players. In a recent article from McKinsey & Company, titled ‘The consumer sector in 2030: Trends and questions to consider’, the consulting firm explores the demographic, political, behavioural, structural and technological changes on the horizon as well as the expected resultant trends for those factors.

5 key trends for the world

Global trends
Demographic wise, the middle class will increase significantly, almost tripling by 2030 (as emerging-market growth more than offsets stagnation in developed markets). The level of women participation is projected to increase, while 65 million more people per year will be living in cities. The rich, leveraging their wealth, will become still ever richer.

Geopolitical dynamics too are expected to change, with economic power shifts as the Asian economies catch up to that of the developed world, while globalisation will remain in power. Rising cost of labour and commodities are projected, as well as climate change effects. For consumers, a range of behavioural changes are expected, including shifts in discretionary spending, demand in personalisation, as well as a further expanded sharing economy. Technology is also expected to play a significant role in the coming decade, with mobile penetration hitting 75% by 2030, while trends in 3D printing, robotics, automated cars, and big data are set to continue.

Trends affecting consumer companies

Trends impacting consumer industry
Identifying the importance of these trends will be essential to making the decisions that will shape whether a business flourishes or perishes in the mid-term. McKinsey’s research, based on a number of factors, explores how the trends will likely come to affect consumer companies. The firm notes that individual companies within different markets will likely be affected differently and contextualisation remains key.

High impact hard to predict technological developments include 3D printing, advanced robotics and virtual reality, as well as the internet of things. Technologies such as analytics for marketing, mobile proliferation and social media consumption are more likely high impact events. Consumer demographic changes that are high impact and relatively easy to predict include the middle-class boom, an aging population, urbanisation, the rich getting richer and women in the work place. Low impact easy to predict changes include millennials taking over and the shrinking household size.

A behavioural change likely to have high impact and is easily predicted is the continued focus on convenience. Lower predictability, but high impact changes, include rising commodity and labour costs, the sharing economy, demand for personalisation and shifts in discretionary spending. Climate change, economic interconnectedness and economic power shifts are unlikely to majorly affect the consumer industry and also remain hard to predict.

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Project management industry adds £156 billion of value to UK economy

15 April 2019

Project management has grown into one of UK’s largest areas of business over the past decade, amid the increasing ‘projectification’ of work. With the gross value added to the UK economy by project management estimated to be £156 billion, this trend is likely to continue in the coming era.

Despite the huge success of project management in recent years, until now there has been relatively little data available on the size of project activity. As a result, there has been a great deal of debate on things like the number of people involved in the sector, the number of projects, and how it contributes to economic output. Due to this need for clarity, APM, the UK’s professional body for project management (the largest organisation of its kind in Europe, with 28,000 individual members) commissioned economists from PwC to shed light on the industry's economic impact.

The research concluded that the profession makes a more significant contribution to the UK economy than the financial services sector. 2.13 million full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) were employed in the UK project management sector, generating £156.5 billion of annual gross value added (GVA). In comparison, the financial services sector contributes £115 billion, and the construction industry adds £113 billion.

Gross value added to UK economy

Commenting on the discovery, Debbie Dore, Chief Executive of APM said, “Project management runs as a ‘golden thread’ through businesses, helping to develop new services, driving strategic change and sector-wide reform.”

Who is a ‘project manager’?

To reach these estimates, PwC’s researchers used detailed models to map out the value of project management activity. They ultimately defined relevant ‘projects’ as “temporary, non-routine endeavours or rolling programmes of change designed to produce a distinct product, service or end result… [with] a defined beginning and end, a specific scope, a ring-fenced budget, [and] an identified and potentially dedicated team with a project manager in charge.”

Building on this, they then went on to define what the act of project management actually is. The job consists of applying “processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience” so that clients can meet their objectives and bring about planned outputs or outcomes. The analysts added that this includes “initiating the project, planning, executing, controlling, quality assuring and closing the work of an identified and dedicated team according to a specified budget and timeframe.”

Importantly, it should be noted that the profession is not exclusive to only roles explicitly labelled as ‘project manager’, but to any role where specialist project management skills are used. This means that across sectors these roles can have very different titles, from the self-explanatory contract managers of procurement, or the campaign managers of advertising, to the likes of festival co-ordinators in the events sector, and many more. The roles in question also span all strategic levels of the profession, from strategic to tactical and operational positions.

Gross value added of project management profession

From a sector perspective, the financial and professional services, construction and healthcare industries make up almost two-thirds of the total project management GVA. At the same time, understandably, the UK Government has a huge project portfolio, which further drives the size of the GVA the sector contributes, thanks to megaprojects like HS2 and Crossrail.

Commenting on this to the report’s authors, Oliver Dowden, Minister for Implementation remarked, “Project delivery is at the heart of all Government activity, whether it’s building roads and rail, strengthening our armed forces, modernising IT or transforming the way government provides public services to citizens. Getting these projects right is essential if we are to ensure that we build a country that works for everyone.”

Throughout 2019, 26 major government projects were delivered, representing a fifth of the overall Government Major Projects Portfolio (GMPP) of 133 projects. According to the IPA annual report 2017-18, these represented a whole life cost of £423 billion. In addition to this were a plethora of smaller scale projects, and those in early development.

Elsewhere, with the increasing digitalisation of the economy impacting entities of all shapes and sizes, IT and digital transformations tended to dominate the projects of the UK scene alongside new product development projects, with a respective 55% and 46% of organisations in the research sample having undertaken these types of project in the past year. At the same time, this varied across sectors, and unsurprisingly, in the construction and local government sectors, fixed capital projects were the main project type undertaken.


Looking to the future, 40% of business leaders expect project management will grow in the coming years due to the increased use of projects – or the ‘projectification’ of the UK. In a trend that has been witnessed elsewhere, organisations have to rapidly and continuously change in the digital age of business, driving the need for project management.

Outlook for project management services

An increased focus on value over cost – especially in the construction sector – and a forecast increase in the number of international projects are predicted to be key drivers of growth, according to the expert contributors. However, this will not happen in the absence of challenges; more than half of organisations expressed concern over the perceived impact of political uncertainty in the UK. Skills and capability shortages were also cited as a potential barrier by a third of organisations.

With regard to budgets, meanwhile, a third of those surveyed by PwC said they expect the size of project budgets will increase in the coming three years, while 40% anticipate a growth in project size. As the profession continues to mature, and as the recognition of the importance of good project management grows, it is expected that a greater proportion of project work will gain more distinct attribution to the profession itself, giving more recognition and appreciation to the role of the project manager.

Speaking on the findings of the study, Sandie Grimshaw, a Partner at PwC, concluded, “The project management profession is relatively new compared to some other professions, such as lawyers, teachers and doctors. However, as project management is a core competence vital to organisations in the UK, the profession is critical and will continue to grow in stature.”