Urbanizing populations demand ‘smarter’ technology and localized supply chains

Over half of the global population now live in urban environments, with UN projections expecting this to be almost 70% by 2050. Migration to cities has effects that alter consumer attitudes and habits, requiring societies to adapt to new demographics and behaviors. Young people’s digital nativism, diversity, and multiculturalism will also impact the changing face of society, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s latest report, ‘Thematic Research: City Growth Engines in Consumer’, reveals how FMCG companies are adapting to meet shifting demands in our changing cities.

George Henry, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “COVID-19 has been a significant disruptive force to consumer lifestyles, forcing people to rapidly adopt habits like at-home consumption and online shopping. In fact, GlobalData’s research shows how influential such economic and social changes are on consumers purchasing choices, with 40% of global consumers admitting that they are often or always driven by these global developments. It is therefore clear that the outbreak of the pandemic has accelerated the need to build smarter cities that can mitigate future market disruptions.”

The adverse impact of other external factors such as climate change will have significantly wider reaching disruption on urban environments, prompting planners to react with smart city designs and green infrastructure. In March 2021, the UK Government announced the Help to Grow scheme at the launch of its annual budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Around 130,000 small and medium sized businesses will be supported through the new scheme, providing them with the digital and management tools and training needed to stay competitive.

Henry continues: “The pandemic has forced new conversations around issues that have previously not been significant talking points. Geolocation mobile marketing is one example of an innovation that gives customers simple options to place and receive their order as soon as they arrive. Urban transit and business digitalization will be hugely influential to the future of city growth, and it is incumbent on businesses to meet these accelerated consumer trends around online behavior.”

The pandemic has exacerbated much of these previously held concerns and resulted in grave mistrust over imported goods from abroad. According to GlobalData’s 2020 Market Pulse Consumer Survey, 79% of global consumers consider locally made products to be somewhat or completely trustworthy. This suggests the pandemic has prompted consumers to be wary of imported goods, and accelerated demand for locally made products.

Henry adds: “Localism means customers have a closer relationship to the product’s provenance by observing the value of a smaller supply chain. In a world now conscious of the risks of contamination, it is likely the demands for green infrastructure will translate into greener living.”

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