Eurozone Consumer Confidence Is High....Really High.

Consumer Confidence in the Euro Area averaged -12.08 from 1985 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 2.20 in May of 2000 and a record low of -34.60 in March of 2009.

As reported by Trade Economics, the consumer confidence indicator in the Euro Area increased to 0.1 in November 2017 from a downwardly revised -1.1 in the previous month, beating market expectations of -0.8. According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal,  the steady rise in confidence over the last 12 months has been driven by greater optimism about the outlook for the eurozone economy, which has experienced a tumultuous decade as first the global financial crisis and then the currency area’s debt troubles caused two periods of contraction.

Turn Your Challenges Into Opportunities

What does this mean for US brands looking to tap into the region's buying power, that includes four of the top ten consumer markets in the world? One word - opportunity. As eCommerce surges in developed economies and boarders become more blurred, companies who view the world as a cohesive global marketplace will reap the benefits of strategically planning expansion into areas like the EU.  Those who continue to view international markets as "unreachable" or "non-strategic" are destined to be left behind.

Consumer Confidence in the Euro Area averaged -12.08 from 1985 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 2.20 in May of 2000 and a record low of -34.60 in March of 2009.

How Much Does the "Holiday Shopping Season" Really Matter to Retailers?

Sourced from Stastista: https://www.statista.com/chart/11979/holiday-season-retail-sales/

Sourced from Stastista: https://www.statista.com/chart/11979/holiday-season-retail-sales/

It's no surprise that many retailers rely heavily on the "Holiday Season" to generate a significant percent of annual sales. But does this trend impact all categories and all types or retail the same way?

In-Store Purchases Still Have Their Place

Assuming sales were distributed evenly throughout the year, November and December would account for 17% of total sales for all retailers. So you might be surprised to learn that online retailers only generate 23% of their yearly sales during November and December - a mere 6% increase. It's a pretty interesting point given all of the buzz about online retailers being "brick and mortar killers". The reality is that many shoppers still prefer to experience a purchase in person. Retailers that give shoppers a reason to visit physical stores, by offering a unique "experience", will continue to survive - maybe even thrive.

Another eComm Giant Makes the Omni-Channel Move

The Wall Street Journal reported today that eCommerce giant, Alibaba, will buy a 36% ownership stake of Sun Art Retail Group. Like Amazon's recent acquisition of Whole Foods, this marks a strategic expansion from online only to online + brick and mortar.

One major difference between the two transactions is that Alibaba has said it wishes to "co-exist" with retailers, where as Amazon is seeking to go head-to-head. What are you thoughts? Which strategy is better? Will customers know the difference? Will they care?

Castus Makes Headlines

Castus Consulting Featured in Global Trade Magazine

Click the image to read the full article.

Click the image to read the full article.

We spent time talking with Global Trade about how Castus was formed, what type of partnerships we seek, and how our process works. It's been a humbling and exciting ride so far, and we are thrilled to share some of our experiences. Thanks to the Global Trade team for the incredibly well written story! Click the image to read the full article.

Pittsburgh Business Times Highlights Our Work With Petco

The Pittsburgh Business Times recently highlighted Castus' partnership with Petco. Castus has been leading International Business Development efforts for the Pet Care retail giant since last year and it's been a truly rewarding experience. We're excited to continue this partnership and look forward to more successes!

Click the image to read the full article.

Click the image to read the full article.

Opportunity Among Unrest

In an age where the next terrorist attack could come at any moment, or civil unrest might disrupt major markets there is still a trend of optimism among many executives.

In a recent study by McKinsey, respondents reported that they are as bullish on the global economy as they were three months ago. Nearly half said global economic conditions have improved in the past six months.

This 4th of July, Be Patriotic, But Look Abroad Too

Patriotism is especially pertinent this holiday week, but for business owners large and small, there is more opportunity abroad than ever. A weakening US dollar means oversees customers can afford to purchase more and invest in your brand.

The Wall Street Journal reports that emerging markets are projected to grow by 4.7% this year, which is more than double the U.S. and Europe.

Photo by Bill Oxford/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Bill Oxford/iStock / Getty Images

Castus Was Featured in "Chronicle: Only in Pittsburgh"

We are honored to be featured among some of Pittsburgh’s most innovative companies and leaders as part of WTAE's focus on regional growth.

Chronicle: Only in Pittsburgh showcases the key role this city will play in shaping the world over the next several decades. From the investment of cutting-edge companies to groundbreaking medical advancements, Pittsburgh is poised to lead the charge to future innovation.

Thanks to WTAE, Andrew Stockey, and Ascender for the opportunity to be part of a great story. And congratulations to all of the local businesses who are working hard and seeing success!

You can watch the full feature online by following this link. (Castus is featured at the 26min mark).


That Time in Russia I Was Famous

Anyone that has traveled for work knows it's not actually glamorous. Long flights, small hotel beds, stuffy conference rooms, and sketchy WIFI. Sounds awesome, right? Sure, there are ways to make it more enjoyable and there are some amazing sightseeing opportunities (sometimes) but it's never quite like being "home". So I often look for ways to pass the time and enjoy myself whenever possible. More often than not, this results in me engaging in dialogue with the locals.

On one such occasion, I had just landed in Moscow at the end of a very long travel day. I was tired and a little punchy. After exchanging hand signals and some broken English with a taxi driver, I found myself headed to my hotel in the backseat of a car that smelled like a washroom. We were only a mile into our trip when the driver and I met eyes in the rear view mirror.  I smiled, he said "where from?" To which I responded "United States....Pittsburgh". "Oh...Pittsburgh?" he says. Thinking quickly for some relevance, I followed "Yes.....Pittsburgh Penguins. Hockey. Evgeni Malkin?" There was silence. The driver was digesting my fragmented sentence and train-wreck of thoughts. Then, in an instant, his face lit up. Almost swerving the car from the road, he turned around and shouted "Evgeni Malkin.....you, Evgeni Malkin!"

Before I could respond honestly, I realized the absurdity of the situation. How could I be mistaken for Evgeni Malkin?? I don't look Russian, I don't speak Russian, and I have as much experience playing hockey as I do playing the ukulele. I'll never know if it was the jet-lag or the fact that I knew I would never see this guy again, but I slowly said "No......I...PLAY with Evgeni Malkin".

We arrived at the hotel; my driver jumped out, opened my door, grabbed the bags, and eagerly dove back into the front seat. He re-emerged with a scrap of paper and a pencil. In a moment that can only be described as pure hilarity, my new biggest fan handed me the writing utensil and said "Please sign!"  There was really only one thing left to do...

I scribbled my name, wrote "#28" next to it, and gave him a firm handshake.  After checking into the hotel I strolled to the elevator and texted my (much more sports-minded) brother, "Who is number twenty-eight on the pens?" As the elevator door closed...."Nobody. That number is not on the roster this year" came the response.




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