Comment: What to expect from business in 2014

WHAT’S in store for business in 2014? Fanciest new business concept: consumers will become presumers.
George Kerevan. Picture: Ian RutherfordGeorge Kerevan. Picture: Ian Rutherford
George Kerevan. Picture: Ian Rutherford

These are potential consumers who participate in the funding and launch of new products or brands through pre-ordering, crowdfunding or taking consumer equity,

Presumer spending on crowdfunding of internet platforms and apps has risen from $530 million (£324m) in 2009 to more than $3 billion last year. Still largely an American trend, expect it to hit Europe in 2014.

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Fashion design and retailing is one industry that could be transformed.

UK business trends: With the economy continuing to grow, expect a significant rise in the number of firms asking shareholders for more cash as the brighter outlook encourages companies to expand operations in 2014. The prediction is that UK companies could need to raise circa £15bn in new equity.

Retail banking trends: They may be the bad boys but economic growth, a revival of the housing market and improved consumer confidence all point to more business for our retail banks.

UK banks with a greater mortgage book should be clear winners. Unless, of course, there’s another scandal waiting to be uncovered.

IT trends: global IT spending will top $2 trillion next year. People and companies will go on buying smartphones and tablets – expect strong growth of 15 per cent or more.

Companies will also invest in data centres and hardware that work with these mobile devices. The one IT product in decline continues to be the traditional PC. Sales will fall circa 6 per cent.

Emerging market trends: Forget David Cameron trying to sell UK products to China. Next year will see an explosion of new products and services made by firms in emerging markets for consumers in emerging markets. Think Chinese and Brazilian brands aimed at middle class customers in India, South Africa or Turkey. They know the market better than we do.

And there will be a lot of takers: the combined GDP of the emerging economies will exceed that of the industrial world for the first time in 2014. Chinese companies to watch: Lenovo, the IT giant, and Ne-Tiger, the luxury fashion brand.

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Retailing trends: the 2014 buzz-word is “holistic” shopping, a fancy name for giving customers more fun while inside the shop. With people able to compare prices instantly online via their mobile or tablet, retailers desperately need to give customers a reason to make repeat visits.

Look out for stores creating a “holistic shopping experience” based on re-vamped stores, fun and games for the kids, sports screens for bored dads and personal shoppers and coffee bars for the fashionistas.

Marketing trends: Content marketing will be king and SMEs must learn how to do it.

Viewers hate ads so businesses need to insert a continuous flow of high-class narrative and information across all media outlets to attract attention. Example: Burberry repositioning itself as a luxury brand through an art-meets-advertising initiative called The Art of the Trench. E-commerce sales jumped 50 per cent.

Best new app: This is called Expensify and it does what it says on the tin – your expenses. Snap a picture of your receipt and it inputs that info, so you don’t have to type it all in by hand. Just what you need in your Christmas stocking so you can get your tax return done before the end of January.