On Tuesday, 6th December, Bradley Heath and David Strong attended the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) Sector Conference to hear from keynote speakers and panellists on the outlook for investors and entrepreneurs in a much-changed environment for retail and consumer, healthcare and emerging tech companies.
Some key takeaways:
- Retailers will need to adapt to achieve growth. In an environment of reduced consumer spending and increasing debt, the best performers will have a focus on brand equity (i.e. strong IP, product differentiation and the ability to attract and monetise a large social following) and those that could suffer include those with commoditised, price-led products and poor scaling unit economics.
- Is Gen Z really politically-engaged and climate-conscious? The reality of their consumer behaviour is very much “buy now, save the planet later”, as demonstrated by the rapid rise of the favoured online fast-fashion label Shein. Niche communities and authentic brands are cutting through to Gen Z.
- Meta’s rebranding brought the Metaverse into focus. However, it is still a concept in its infancy – companies should be thinking about any capital spent on metaverse initiatives as an experiment unlikely to drive the top or bottom line in the short term.
- The FTX collapse has entrenched existing views on crypto – either “it’s a scam, and it’s all going to zero” or “this is what happens when you try and centralise something which should be decentralised”. Regulation is a near certainty, and consumer sentiment will take a while to recover, but the underlying technology remains sound, and there remains a huge opportunity for innovation.
- The sophistication of cybercrime. Cybercrime is increasing, and whilst the increasing sophistication of attacks gets a lot of media attention, the reality is that basic security controls like a lack of 2FA, inadequate understanding of phishing attacks and delayed installation of critical software security patches are the largest contributors.
- Are we too sceptical about sharing our health data? Professor Tim Spector OBE of ZOE, the app which brings groundbreaking microbiome science into the hands of consumers so they can receive personalised nutritional advice, spoke about the unique approach that ZOE took to encouraging users to share their data and argued that the benefits that can be derived from sharing health data outweigh the risks of data compromise or a lack of representational data. Marriott Harrison was pleased to advise Accomplice and Balderton Capital on their investment into ZOE earlier this year.