Trends and challenges


Every UK business should consider how global forces for change and sustainability pressures will affect their future success and sustainability.

These trends can reshape markets, altering customer demand, creating new supply constraints and shifting the ‘rules of the game’.

By understanding these market dynamics, companies can assess the implications and value at stake and better prepare for improved economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Business in the Community released a major study of global mega-trends, Forces for Change in 2011. The material in this toolkit summarises and supplements some of the Forces for Change findings and data.

There are many different models for how to describe and consider these trends and you should do so in a way that makes sense for your business, but the forces for change we identified are:


Balance shift

Significant population growth in emerging markets may continue to shift our current world order with the developed economies faced with an aging and shrinking population. Emerging and frontier markets have opportunities for growth that often aren’t available in more developed economies.

Focus on...

  • Changing health and demographics

  • Supply of skills and unemployment

Read more about Balance Shift >


Fragile Earth

The concept of scarcity is fundamental. It is rooted in the environmental realities of the planet, ruled and limited by entropy and ecology.
Adaptive businesses can do more with less and enable their customers to do more with less as well. This does not just add a real and immediate commercial advantage, it can also position the company as a leader which helps to builds its brand among environmentally and socially-conscious consumers.

Focus on...

  • Rising consumption of natural resources

  • Resource scarcity, increased costs and volatility

  • Environmental constraints

Read more about Fragile Earth >



As civil society, government and business leaders wake up to the immediacy of the threat of declining natural capital a widespread reassessment of the values underpinning society, the purpose of the corporation and the current predominant economy is inevitable. This reassessment will be enshrined legally by global treaties and national legislation.

Focus on...

  • Changing regulations and policies

Read more about Protection >


The ability of consumers to understand how a company operates and where their products come from is increasing all the time. This is made easier by the rights of public access to information and the internet. There is no longer anywhere to hide.

'Open’ companies, those which have embraced the new ways to communicate with stakeholders, may be able to respond to rapidly evolving market places in the way that a more traditional ‘closed’ company may struggle.

Focus on...

  • Consumer awareness

Read more about Transparency >


Communications technology is creating a world where people’s awareness of global developments in ideas, politics and popular aspirations is growing in both speed and reach.

The very same tools and technologies allow communities to assemble almost instantaneously (across markets, generations and political divides) to influence or to create alternatives to traditional business, government and community structures.

Focus on...

  • Changing technology

Read more about Connectedness >

Values shift

We are experiencing a widespread reassessment of the values that underpin society. There is a growing realisation that we need to apportion more value to natural systems and become aware of the limitations and threats posed by conventional economic growth.

Focus on...

  • Decreasing trust in business

  • Investor pressure

Read more about Values Shift >