Amidst economic turbulence affecting the global cotton industry, strategic thinking is a critical tool in navigating our future. Cotton Council International (CCI), working with U.S. cotton industry and global contacts, has undertaken a long-range strategic thinking initiative to confront the changing landscape of the global cotton supply chain, as well as to implement business strategies in response to the developments.
Through four regional focus groups held around the world in 2008, cotton industry leaders associated with the complete cotton supply chain explored longer-range drivers of change and their implications for the cotton industry as a whole through the year 2025. Discussions centered around the “Seven Revolutions” model generated at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a non-profit, bipartisan think tank on policy and defense issues.
The “Seven Revolutions” explored global trends in the areas of population, strategic resource management, development of technology, movement of information and knowledge, global economic integration, conflict and the challenge of governance. CCI’s regional focus groups identified three topics – resources, technology and governance – as “Cotton’s Revolutions,” the three revolutions most relevant for immediate further exploration.
The next phase of the strategic thinking initiative commenced in Austin, TX, where participants in the regional focus groups gathered to dig deeper into one of the main issues facing the cotton supply chain from producer through to the retail shelf – resource use and sustainability. The output of this session then immediately fed into the industry’s fifth Sourcing USA Summit, a biennial event organized by CCI and Cotton Incorporated to provide textile mill executives with management/trend information and networking opportunities, providing a backdrop for extensive discussion of Cotton’s Revolutions. Information already gathered, as well as the future efforts under this initiative, will be important in providing input to companies and organizations as they steer the cotton industry’s future.
In 2009, which the United Nations has declared to be the International Year of Natural Fiber (IYNF), the global cotton industry has a prime opportunity to apply and expand CCI’s strategic thinking initiative and focus on natural, renewable cotton as the world’s most prevalent and preferred natural fiber. CCI, Cotton Incorporated, the National Cotton Council and the Cotton Foundation have ongoing projects dedicated to providing information on issues related to cotton’s viability and sustainability during the IYNF and beyond.
CCI and its global partners will take advantage of the IYNF to promote cotton, which represents more than 80% of all natural fibers globally. Results from the Global Lifestyle Monitor™ show that 64% of consumers would pay more for clothes made of natural fibers such as cotton, and more than half of the consumers surveyed worldwide believe that better quality clothes are made from 100% natural fiber such as cotton. Results also show that consumers consider cotton to be the safest fiber for the environment. Continuing to communicate these messages and reinforce consumer demand for cotton and cotton products is an important step toward paving a successful future.
Looking forward, the main objective of CCI’s strategic thinking initiative will be to continue to gather and disseminate the best available information globally and from within the industry in order to help individual companies throughout the supply chain survive and prosper during these difficult economic times. CCI’s global strategic thinking focus groups have clearly illustrated the benefits of gathering all players in the cotton supply chain to share challenges and solutions.