Customer Survey Innovation, Sustainability and New Markets: Customers Define the Trends for the Chemical Industry

Editor: Dominik Stephan

New Technologies, organic growth and sustainability: a new study by A T Kearney highlights big trends for the chemical industry.

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Regions where chemical manufactures and their customers will build new capacity (Picture: AT Kearney Chemial Customers Connectivity study, 2011)
Regions where chemical manufactures and their customers will build new capacity (Picture: AT Kearney Chemial Customers Connectivity study, 2011)

Most manufacturers of chemicals do not believe that new business models or M&As will have a major impact on the growth of companies. They rather think in an organic growth together with their customers. According to this philosophy, future growth is expected to come from new and developing markets like South – and Latin America or Asia.

Analysts believe that manufacturers will follow their customers into growth markets such as East Asia and the Middle East. Joint co–operations with local partners and new or additional production capacity could play a vital role in the future growth. Also the local access to sought-after raw materials should not be underestimated.

Although the industry in Western Europe has largely rebounded from their through in mid 2008, the potential for future growth on this fully developed market is significantly smaller, analysts say. Innovative high end products could nevertheless play an important role.

Innovation And Technology: What Customers Want

Although the innovation steps since the economic breakdown in 2008 have been rather small, companies now place innovation among the most important methods to gain leadership positions on the global market. New product features and the advantage of an innovative leadership among market competitors are cited as the main aims behind this strategy. 50 percent of the manufactures spend between two and five percent of their revenues on innovation, while another 30 percent even invests between five to ten percent.

Also customers have big expectations when it comes to innovation: 67 percent expect new applications, while about 58 percent want to see new product features, about the same as for new chemical products. Alternative energy and raw materials as well as efficient and sustainable technology are also highly sought after.

Sustainability and Reliability: Future Trends

With material scarcities and skyrocketing prices for feedstock and energy, sustainability is already a major issue of future development. Customers expect the chemical industry to help them with their own strive for sustainable growth by providing innovative products and technical services. About 67 percent of the questioned customers expect the industry to help them increasing the sustainability of their own supply chain as well as providing chemicals from alternative raw materials (47 percent), analyst say.