CIM SL’s inaugural Talking Point programme for 2018 discusses emerging business trends


The Chartered Institute of Marketing Sri Lanka hosted its inaugural Talking Point Programme for 2018 recently on a topical theme ‘Ten Emerging Trends that will shape business in 2018’.

The thought-provoking session drew viewpoints from an eminent panel including experts in economics, research and from the corporate sector. The programme highlighted key consumer, macro-economic and market trends expected during the year which will have an impact on the local business arena.

CIM SL organizes regular Talking Point programmes with an objective to highlight emerging themes in marketing and business and also to discuss best practices to support marketers’ future strategic decisions. These events provide participants a platform to share and exchange key insights and are attended by Business leaders, CIM Members and Corporate Executives.

The speakers during this year’s inaugural programme were Shiran Fernando, Chief Economist, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Abhishek Hariharan, Associate Vice President and Head of Strategic Planning, MullenLowe Sri Lanka and Chitrangani Herat Gunaratne, Senior Consultant, Quantum Consumer Solutions Pvt Ltd. The panel discussion was moderated by Brandon Morris-Director/CEO, AMW Capital Leasing & Finance PLC.

Addressing the gathering, Fernando said, "Moving into 2018, while the global economic picture is looking brighter and forecasters looking at the positivity to continue in 2018, locally, the common theme is the relative stability that is coming through."

Discussing a wide range of topics including stability, risks, sector insights, future outlook and possible opportunities within the reform process he noted, "On the local front, a key development that we are seeing is consistency in terms of policy.

"Opportunities within the reform process is unique. A stable macro picture will provide more confidence for investors. We also need to build on the gains received from the GSP plus, building on this momentum will not only help big companies but SMEs too," he added.

Commenting on possible risks during the ensuing year Fernando said, "Global oil prices rising, local elections ramifications, tightening financial conditions globally and the country also faces an average external debt repayment of $3.6 billion per annum during the 2019-2022 period." On an optimistic note he added, "We are looking at 4.5% growth in 2018. However, what really matters is to encourage investment thereby improving FDI numbers and then consumption as the value chain gets impacted by it." Fernando concluded stating, "Stability is important and we need to build on it in 2018, navigating the external risks.

Providing an in depth focus on modern consumer trends and how marketers can apply these insights in building successful brands, Chitrangani Herat Gunaratne and Abhishek Hariharan discussed ten interesting emerging trends based on recent research.

Commenting on the current context, Hariharan stated "It is critical to deeply understand consumers and what makes them tick. Brands that smartly use tensions and contexts can enjoy a competitive advantage. The emerging imperative for businesses today is not just stability but agility and the ability to respond to and exploit emerging trends." 

According to Hariharan the first five trends are: The rise of micro celebrities and influencers impacting marketing strategy, the rise of the emerging freelance economy and associated changes, commitment phobia with consumption choices affected due to aversion to commit to big ticket purchases, bespoke and customized experiences being favoured and brands needing to be quick & open to topical humour to engage with consumers.

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