The world is as big (or as small) as a touch of your smartphone. Goods and services are available at the touch of a button from every corner of the globe. Today any brand can become a brand or retail powerhouse, connecting with customers on a personal, experiential level, regardless of where they live.

Take Vancouver, Canada, home to the 63rd annual Global Summit. It’s a city of 675,000, in a country of 37 million – the population of which could fit comfortably in the state of California – and yet this city was the launchpad for some of today’s most notable fashion and lifestyle brands: Lululemon, which will open 40-50 stories internationally in 2019, Aritzia, the celebrity-friendly women’s clothing brand, and Saje Wellness, a company selling health products derived from nature that expanded to the US in 2016.

As the global head of the Consumer & Retail practice at KPMG – and a very proud Canadian – I work alongside our 200 country member firms with clients around the globe to assist their organizations with growth. The examples I note above have all faced and embraced the disruption of the retail market and harnessed the power of innovation to grow. Whether it was embedding a Vancouver-specific ethos about sport performance into its fabrics (Lululemon), embracing social media as a marketing tool (Aritzia) or capitalizing on the growing trend of natural health and beauty products (Saje Wellness), I often point to examples like this when speaking with CEOs about how they should view the challenge and opportunity in front of them. In our last Top of Mind consumer executive survey, which we completed jointly with The Consumer Goods Forum, we found that while more than 65% of CEOs agree their organization fosters a culture of innovation and disruption, 40% are not adapting successfully. Companies are taking the important first step of recognizing the power of innovation, but many are not yet putting it into practice like the companies I just named. 

When we gather at the Global Summit in a few short weeks, leaders of the world’s largest consumer brands and retailers will discuss and lend their insight on the future of our industry. From intelligent automation, to big data becoming more customer centric, these are just some of the opportunities that build brands in today’s consumer market. You need look no further than the streets of Gastown, the centre of Vancouver’s trendy downtown, to see homegrown brands connecting with consumers directly, learning from them about fit, preference, style and quality, and then using that information to create – paradoxically – a larger, more global brand. Let us all learn from the big and small brands as well as the best of retail around us.

I look forward to continuing the conversation starting June 11.

Willy Kruh
Global Head, Consumer & Retail

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