Interesting things about the packaging industry, retailing dynamics, consumer trends and NOA’s insight.

A treacle pudding year? How to avoid getting stuck

Apr 16, 2018 | Coaching and Mentoring, Marketing Best Practice, Packaging, Packaging Research and Analysis

We all like a good dessert, but when the attributes of a treacle pudding – sticky, gooey and weighing you down – start being applied to commerce, then a positive turns into a negative.

At NOA, while we’re going about our business of conducting packaging industry research to pinpoint packaging market trends, we’re hearing the phrase ‘treacle pudding’ a lot. Why? Because 2018 is being described by many we deal with across Europe as a ‘treacle pudding year’.

The analogy is obvious – things are sticky underfoot, dragging along, getting bogged down. What with Brexit, uncertainty in Syria, and frosty (to say the least) relations between the West and Russia, good news is hard to find.

There’s no doubt that trading has slowed down and the ‘treacle pudding year’ is having an impact. In this type of uncertain climate, businesses, prospects and clients get twitchy. Is this your experience? What action are you taking? Faced with bureaucracy, increasing regulations and politics, can you rise above it and take matters into your own hands? We have some ideas, but first, let’s look a bit more
closely at what’s happening …

The Brexit effect on European trading

Following Brexit, immigration has fallen. According to Office for National Statistics figures, net migration to the UK fell by more than 100,000 in the year following the Referendum. The number of people moving to live in Britain long-term fell to 230,000 – the largest drop since records began.

Fewer people means less spending, leading to business uncertainty. On a more practical level, the fall could also cause recruitment difficulties.

At NOA, during the course of our packaging market analysis, we’ve heard that some exporters to Europe, who in the past shipped out through the UK – for example from Ireland, are now bypassing the UK altogether and shipping direct to Europe, so denying the UK a revenue opportunity.

Banking is on the move, with Goldman Sachs, UBS and Standard Chartered Bank all relocating staff out of London and onto the Continent. Similarly, Unilever is consolidating its headquarters in the Netherlands, abandoning a UK base it has maintained for nearly a century.

Figures show that last year, UK economic growth slowed as inflation rose sharply, squeezing household spending power.

The GDPR effect on business marketing

GDPR, as everyone by now surely knows, refers to the tightened data protection regulations which come into force on May 25.

It has implications for all businesses, and impacts in particular on marketing. The pub chain J D Wetherspoon has deleted its entire email mailing list and will instead promote deals on its website, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Other companies are doing nothing at all, and so risk penalties for infringement.

Both reactions are extreme and misinformed, because with careful handling, GDPR need not devastate a business’s marketing methods, it just needs thought and planning. Indeed, it presents an opportunity in itself, as companies have a valid reason to reconnect with customers to ask if they want to carry on receiving information from them.

How to get ahead in a treacle pudding year

Taking the evidence – some hard facts, some anecdotal that we have gleaned during our packaging market research – you could be forgiven for feeling a little gloomy.

But we don’t and we hope you won’t either. Now more than ever is the time to have a positive mental attitude; for business leaders to truly lead their teams and ensure they have the necessary skills onboard, right across their management structure.

Now really is the time to have a look at your own management style and strengths and those of your managers and work out how you and they can lead your business through that treacle pudding.

It’s also vital to look at how your business markets itself to the outside world, and also internally, to your team and your stakeholders.

Against this backdrop of Brexit and GDPR, what actions do you need to take? Invest in some management coaching? Look carefully at your marketing?

The team here at NOA are specialists in both these areas and we’d love to share some best practice with you (oh, and we are also great at developing a bespoke corrugated packaging industry report). Please do get in touch for a chat.

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