Brands can crisis-proof their offerings with strategies that answer fragile supply chains and an increasingly frugal consumer in one move, according to trend forecaster WGSN.
In a report, Sophie Benson of the WGSN Consumer Tech said the costs of production and living have soared as oil prices are expected to be 40 percent higher than during the pre-pandemic period in the next few years amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
It said that while consumers are seeking to make savings, prices for plastics, such as high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are more than doubling, the price of lithium rising nearly 500 percent, and chip shortages continuing.
“… Meeting demand for affordable tech is a tall order,” the report said, citing the bloom algae pellets made from harmful algal blooms that can be used to replace conventional oil-based materials such as thermoplastic rubbers (TPR), thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA).
“A frugally minded approach to design could meet the needs of the frugally minded consumer. Utilizing waste materials, prioritizing alternative energy sources, investing in reverse logistics and pushing low-resource innovation could help you succeed amid converging crises,” it added.
The report said manufacturers and brands are increasingly turning to so-called urban mining to source materials as around 7 percent of theworld’s gold supplies inside existing electronics and existing products are expected to hold the largest metal reserves by 2080.
“Partner with a recycling research project in order to understand the feasibility and scalability of recovering valuable materials from your existing products,” it said.
The report said that with tech being highly reliant on materials which are increasingly hard to source, some manufacturers and brands are changing tack entirely and prioritizing materials that are naturally abundant, readily available and renewable.
German MAPU Speakers are handcrafted from clay, wood, cork and wool, sourced in proximity to the traditional, rural workshops where they are manufactured. The brand also emphasizes that the materials will return to nature if the product is taken apart.
“How you can action this: identify materials in your product mix that are causing sourcing roadblocks and explore alternative, bio-based materials which are readily available either within your market or near your manufacturing facilities,” it added.