Megatrends Will Help Shape Coating Innovation

Posted by Performance Coatings Team on 02/12/2020

Global change forces have been driving innovation since the beginning of time, going back to the discovery of fire. Not too long ago, the Industrial Revolution(s) swept across the continents, bringing changes in human behavior that drove the need for better transportation, new housing techniques, and more sophisticated communication tools to cope with the lifestyle changes of the 1900’s. These global change forces, commonly called “Megatrends”, consist of structural shifts and transformative forces that alter the way we live. Megatrends have permanent ramifications for the world around us and are often a predictor for where the world is heading. Companies and organizations tuned into Megatrends are often more prepared to chart a course and take control of their future.

At Lubrizol, we see several megatrends with the potential to drive transformative changes throughout the coatings industry. On a very high level, the world’s population continues to grow, expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. With this growth comes continued economic shifts between regions, and a continued move towards greater urbanization throughout the world. Major demographic changes are occurring as populations of some countries age rapidly while other countries see large increases in new births. Another trend, technology advancements, i.e., the pace of innovation and the need to continue moving faster, will require companies to continuously reinvent themselves to stay competitive.

While the population grows and shifts in age and way of life, and as technology advancements occur at a dizzying pace, it does so with a backdrop of concern brought on by climate change and resource scarcity, along with an increasing focus on health, wellness and well-being. Such major changes in lives and lifestyles will have a profound impact on the coatings industry over the coming decades.

Determining Materials Challenges

Megatrends and technology advances will drive changes in materials and coatings in multiple ways. Urbanization and shifts in demographics will influence the need for longer lasting coatings and coatings that are easier to apply and less disruptive to tightly clustered neighbors. From climate change and resource scarcity, we already see increased regulation on chemicals, a continued push to lower volatile organic compounds, greater emphasis on eliminating hazardous chemicals, incorporation of raw materials from bio-based feedstocks, and focus on developing better waterborne and solvent free technologies to reduce VOC emissions.

As the war on plastic waste continues, how might this affect material selection and desired coating performance? As more household items become connected in the “Innovation of Things” (IoT) movement and consumers customize their lifestyles, what new functionalities will coatings be expected to deliver in tomorrow’s smart home? From a consumer perspective, we continue to see rising demand for custom products in both design and lifestyle. Wellness and sustainability topics dominate the media and are demanding high attention and from all stages of the value chain.

While not easy questions to ask and answer, these are the conversations, driven by megatrends, that Lubrizol continues to have with customers and other industry players. By understanding megatrends and how they can potentially impact the coatings industry, we are able to develop innovative coating technology opportunities with the goal of helping formulators chart their course and stay on top of these disruptive forces and welcome the opportunity to discuss these innovations in more detail.

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