It seems to the naked eye that the European economy is recovering from its long struggle. Unemployment figures are still very high, and Eurostat trends (click here to see more) show these are unlikely to experience any radical reduction in the near future.

Most companies that restructured early and focused strongly on exports have kept their margins throughout the crisis. But the uncertainty that characterised the European market is now present in most high growth regions. Brazil’s growth is choppy, and is highly driven by large infrastructure projects, China’s real estate bubble is more obvious by the day, India’s growth forecast has just be cut, and Russia’s economic growth forecasts have recently been slashed, again.

With emerging economies accounting for a third of all sales of European goods, this uncertainty has a significant impact on company’s medium to long term plans.

At Almeida, we are looking at trends that will influence European markets, but also, establish what is likely to be the best market positioning for our customers. And there are two major trends, which combined, will lead to very significant market landscape transformation: changes in European demographics, and expansion of industry transformation led by internet and e-commerce.

Demographics: Getting Older

Western populations are getting older. And in Europe, for the first time in history, the age pyramid is projected to become inverted by 2025 and stay like that for at least 20 years. This will lead to a massive transformation in society, but also to a major shift in consumption habits. End consumers are more aware of the need to lead a healthy life, and are working longer in life, with healthcare systems, lifestyle industries, human resource and knowledge management, insurers, FMCG, and pension funds, all being exposed to seismic changes in consumer behaviour. And in this transition, the ability to correctly address ageing is a massive opportunity for new entrants and for established companies to develop new product lines.

Creating and positioning new product lines requires a good understanding of these trends. There are detailed published studies from Europe, US and Canada, from both academia and national statistics offices. And there are significant differences across different European countries, which emphasise the need for research and careful preparation of localised marketing. We have researched, curated and analysed hundreds of information sources regarding ageing related trends, in support of customers’s strategic planning.

The end of the Sales Department, due to the internet, always the internet

Now that all information is global, consumers will hear about a bad service experience in Australia quicker than they hear of a good service from the dry cleaners down the road. And this is putting additional pressure on SMB owners to sing their praises online, engage and manage relationships online. From the bakery to the car repair shop, all are having to move online. On a review of the performance of high street retail, retail self-professed specialist Mary Portas, released a report, which shocked for completely ignoring the use of internet and social media channels in retail. Long gone are the days when a bricks and mortar business could survive without an active e-commerce strategy. In the words of Matt Desmier, a respected consultant in the trends of creative economies, and lead organiser of the Silicon Beach conference: “Once upon a time, customer had a scarcity of choice. The Internet changed all of that. But now there exists a scarcity of attention.

And this is where the most interesting change is likely to happen next. The role of sales is becoming a lot less relevant. Buyers, both corporate and individuals, have reached a level of such sophistication, that sales people are facing unprecedented difficulties in influencing sales cycles. Such transformation is putting customer support and marketing at the heart of customer acquisition. Selling is becoming a lot less about selling, and a lot more about managing relationships (Ben Chestnut, CEO of MailChimp puts it very clearly on his recent article on funnels).

Agility and quick adaptation in an ever changing competitive landscape; yet, creativity, the ability to stand out, engage with customers and manage relationships, is, contrary to what many believe, the most effective route to manage your growth. In today’s markets, customers like to be treated as individuals, with unique needs and contexts, not patronised consumers. And in part this has always been true. The Internet is just accelerating it.

Feel free to get in touch for discussing how we may be able to help you taking advantage of these and other trends relevant to your business.

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According to Alberto Forchielli, managing director at Mandarin Capital Partners, the best way to enter the Chinese market is to take on Chinese capital. Going to China with Chinese money ensures total alignment of interests when expanding into that market. Hence finding the right investment partner is key for success. And you got to love being in China. Alberto makes a point of highlighting this by highlighting that if you start craving pizza and spaghetti shortly after arriving there, then you shouldn’t be there. We argue this is the case for all markets, but maybe more so in the Chinese case.

You got to be an early entrant, and execution needs to be extremely quick, and close to perfect. Where sometimes a market segment can grow at 20% a year, supply can outgrow demand at 40% given how much investment capital is available. The market is currently craving for health and pharmaceutical products, oil and gas equipment, and specialty chemicals. But look again in six months and the demand will have changed beyond recognition.

Watch the video on Bloomberg TV: http://bloom.bg/114KOlr

For many years, analysts have been predicting a dramatic rise in oil prices dictated by a combination of rise in demand, driven partly by the Chinese and Indian burgeoning middle classes, and limits to production. But price is all but clearly defined by supply and demand. The speculation on the price of oil is very strong. As with most traded commodities, but more so, the current price of oil incorporates curbs in production by most global players. With Middle Eastern nations going through the first political transformation in centuries without significant external influence, the future of oil production in the region in very uncertain. Which means most trend predictions are pointing at pessimist scenarios.

However, the current high price of oil is leading to significant geostrategic changes in countries around the world. The use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is changing the face of the global energy landscape. Some analysts believe the US will become a net exporter within the decade.

And there are signs that Greenland is now within reach for surveying. The UK has also accepted fracking for further extraction with analysts accepting that it is still early for wild optimisms.

These signs, together with the hesitant growth of emerging economies, put additional uncertainty on upward trend predictions.

Middle Eastern countries will take a while to reposition themselves within oil producing nations. Within these countries, it is increasingly unlikely that price or production coordination is achieved. Most countries are now producing what they can, not what they want.  If political alignment is ever recovered in the future, the global context will be unrecognisable. There will be a lot more hybrid cars, a lot more renewable and nuclear capacity, and oil will be priced to compete. Times are changing, and although commodity investors will still try to track oil prices and make a return, it is far more likely that significant returns will come out of disruption. We will follow the impact of fracking with some interest. However, we will follow electric vehicles, renewables and nuclear with a lot more.

http://www.icenews.is/2012/12/13/controversial-greenland-mining-labour-bill-approved/

http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/04/16/the-myth-that-the-us-will-soon-become-an-oil-exporter/

http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?product=oil&graph=production

The group of entrepreneurs behind Almeida believe there is a growing requirement for a service platform for supporting fast growing small and medium businesses in achieving their full potential. We improve and extend our customers’ business development capabilities whilst simultaneously supporting them in scaling up, enabling sustainable revenue growth.

Our offer consists of two streams of support:

grow-up) Strategy, Marketing and Business Development to drive companies away from competitive pressure and allow them to thrive;

and

behave) Management Consulting specifically geared towards targeting the bottlenecks and risks of growth in SMEs.

The background of Almeida’s shareholders include creation and structuring of fast growing companies and change management projects within large organisations in both high-tech and traditional sectors, and include companies such as Siemens, Oracle, Westland Helicopters and Critical Software.

The name of the company is inspired in the location that sits on the Portuguese side of the border with Spain, close to Ciudad Rodrigo; this location was highly relevant during the peninsular wars 200 years ago. The origin of the word is the Arab “Al ma’ida” which stands for “the family which lives on the plateau” or in a more liberal interpretation “those who prefer vantage points”.