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Expert insights for navigating the big trends and key issues redefining the global consumer sector. From rampant digitisation and supply chain reinvention to sustainability and geopolitical factors, the consumer sector is fast-evolving to meet the challenges – and opportunities – facing companies today.

Join our consumer sector team as they ‘talk shop’ with special guests unpacking the risks and opportunities for companies as they navigate new markets, technologies and customers, whilst managing operational, workplace and regulatory change in the sector.

LATEST EPISODE: Greenwashing disputes in the consumer sector

Join Susan Black, Rachel Lidgate and Jannis Bille as they delve into the world of greenwashing in the consumer sector on our latest podcast episode. In a time when ESG practices are in the spotlight, companies face mounting pressure to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and other goals. However, amidst this push for transparency, are we witnessing a surge in greenwashing claims? What is driving these claims and what steps should you seek to minimise risks to your business?



Episode 11: Unpacking the Australian Closing Loopholes Bill: What this means for consumer sector employers

Natalie Gaspar joins Aoife Xuereb to discuss the Australian Federal Government’s proposed changes to employment and industrial relations, following the introduction of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes Bill) 2023 (Cth). Natalie delves into how these reforms could impact employers in the consumer sector, including in relation to casual employment, fixed term contracts, wage theft compliance, gig-economy participants and more.

For more, see our Australian Industrial Relations and Workplace Reform Hub.



Episode 10: All change: consumer protection reform under the UK Digital Markets and Competition and Consumers Bill

Susan Black and Kristien Geeurickx put the spotlight on the consumer protection provisions of the UK's Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill which is currently going through Parliament and is expected to take effect late 2023/early 2024. Once adopted it will make a number of key changes to the UK consumer protection regime, including strengthened enforcement powers and the introduction of new, enhanced consumer rights in order to ensure the legislation keeps pace with market developments such as the trend towards online retail and advertising. Some of the headline points we cover in the podcast include the possibility for enforcers to impose penalties of up to 10% of global turnover on infringing businesses, a series of requirements imposed on businesses that operate subscription contracts, and focus on unfair practices such as fake reviews and greenwashing. Once the Bill is adopted we will follow up with further insights, so watch this space.

This episode forms part of the wider CRT podcast series, which brings you the latest developments in competition, regulatory and trade law from across EMEA and beyond. More episodes from the CRT series can be found here.



Episode 9: M&A Landscape in the Consumer Sector – a focus on UK and Europe

Susan Black and Alex Kay explore the dynamic landscape of M&A in the consumer sector in UK and Europe. What enduring trends and forces are shaping this landscape and how can deal-makers navigate through this ever-evolving environment?

For more on what to expect in 2023 and beyond on the M&A front, read our Global M&A Outlook



Episode 8: How green is your trade mark?

Emma Iles and Eliza Foley join Aoife Xuereb to discuss trade marks, certification marks and greenwashing risks in Australia. The use of trade marks and certification marks, like the Heart Foundation ‘tick’, by consumer companies to distinguish their product from competitors is not new. There is however an increasing array of certification marks being used to indicate to consumers that a product, its packaging or manufacturing method meets a certain sustainability performance standard, from the well established ‘FAIR TRADE’ mark to increasingly, carbon neutrality status and recyclability. 

Protecting consumers from misleading environmental claims is currently a priority area for ACCC action, with draft guidance recently released following a greenwashing internet sweep in which 57% of businesses (including cosmetics, personal care, fashion, food and beverage) reviewed by the ACCC were found to be making potentially misleading claims – including misleading use of third-party certifications and symbols. 

For more, read our latest legal briefing.



Episode 7: AI booms – whilst regulation looms

Peggy Chow, Kaman Tsoi, Duc Tran and Claire Wiseman join Aoife Xuereb to discuss the increasing use of AI in consumer sector digital marketing strategies. Analysing customer data to personalise content and target advertising according to purchasing behaviour and demographic information has become commonplace, along with the use of tools such as chatbots to automate customer service conversations.

However, regulators around the world are responding differently to keep pace with the rapid development and use of AI – from Mainland China’s early response and the proposed highwater mark from the EU to the lighter touch principles based approaches in the UK, Singapore and Australia. Our team cover some of the legal and ethical considerations under existing privacy laws and upcoming AI laws as consumer sector companies internationally grapple with old rules applying to new technology.



Episode 6: Sustainability, Competition law and the Consumer sector

Helen Bignall (Of Counsel) and Clemence Barraud (Senior Associate) from the London Competition, Regulation and Trade group share insights around sustainability, particularly in the context of competition law and the consumer sector. They discuss the CMA's draft guidance on the competition law assessment of environmental sustainability agreements, CMA market studies and competition investigations related to sustainability and sustainability-led initiatives by competition authorities in the EU. This episode also covers recent CMA initiatives in the consumer sector, including its investigations into greenwashing.

This episode forms part of the wider CRT podcast series, which brings you the latest developments in competition, regulatory and trade law from across EMEA and beyond. More episodes from the CRT series can be found here.



Episode 5: Why NFTs; why now?

Josh Todd, Giulia Maienza and George McCubbin join Aoife Xuereb to discuss the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) marketplace in the consumer sector – from fine wine and fashion to enhancing the customer experience.

They explain how types of marketplaces work, whether that be trading NFT-linked physical products or digital assets in the real world or the metaverse. Commercial legal considerations include IP, standardized licensing terms, anti-counterfeiting measures, financial services regulation regimes, advertising laws and consumer protections.

Even if NFTs are not part of your strategy, recent legal action underlines the importance of protecting your brand and customers from third party behaviour – our team share some helpful practices for legal teams.

For more, check out the TechQuake series or our comprehensive guide to The IP in NFTs.



Episode 4: Is the Australian Modern Slavery Act moving into a new phase?

Tim Stutt and Aoife Xuereb are joined by Jacqueline Wootton and Olga Klimczak for a Talking Shop X The Third Wheel podcast collaboration episode. Following the statutory review of the Modern Slavery Act and its report being tabled in parliament, the Government is yet to confirm its position in relation to the reform recommendations, many of which seek to align with overseas regulatory trends for enhanced human rights due diligence, supply chain transparency and penalties to support corporate accountability. Our team discuss the importance of monitoring developments, applying a continuous improvement approach to supply chain risk identification and management (which can be particularly complex in the consumer sector) and working to ensure your business has in place robust payroll compliance governance processes. For more, read our recent legal briefing on the Modern Slavery Act review or visit our Business and Human Rights hub.



Episode 3: Confronting cybersecurity complexity

Cam Whittfield and Phillip Magness join Aoife Xuereb to discuss the risks and protections every board and management team needs to know in tackling cybersecurity complexity in the consumer sector.

Cam and Phillip share real-world observations on current cyber threats, the role of lawyers in incident response, engaging with threat actors and understanding cyber insurance. They underline practical and transparent approaches to people, process and technology for resilient supply chains.

For more on cybersecurity, check out our TechQuake series and how to survive the era of cyber insecurity.



Episode 2: Getting started with generative AI?

Susannah Wilkinson and Julian Lincoln join Aoife Xuereb to discuss generative AI and how it works - including some use cases, limitations, risks and mitigation strategies to be across when exploring how generative AI could deliver efficiencies in your organisation.

They suggest some helpful guardrails to support getting started particularly when the possibilities seem endless, emphasising the importance of good governance and matching the right tech and task to realise true value for the consumer sector, from product innovation to the supply chain, operations, marketing and sales.

For more on AI, check out our TechQuake series and its overview of generative AI



Episode 1: M&A outlook for the consumer sector in Asia and Australia

Aoife Xuereb, Nanda Lau and Andrew Rich discuss the outlook for M&A activity in Asia and Australia in the consumer sector, in light of the significant global macro-economic headwinds.  They note that, despite those headwinds, M&A markets remain very much ‘open for business’.

They also discuss how many consumer companies are looking to use M&A to reposition themselves through carving out companies, divisions and brands that are either no longer core or underperforming. They note that private capital firms with cash to deploy and trade buyers with strong balance sheets remain as keen as ever to acquire strong brands with stable cash flows.

For more on what to expect in 2023 and beyond on the M&A front, read our Global M&A Outlook.



Our podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud and can be accessed on all devices. You can subscribe and be notified of all future episodes.

Key contacts

Aoife Xuereb photo

Aoife Xuereb

Partner, Melbourne

Aoife Xuereb
Andrew Rich photo

Andrew Rich

Partner, Global Co-Head of Consumer Sector, Sydney

Andrew Rich
Nanda Lau photo

Nanda Lau

Head of Corporate, China, Shanghai

Nanda Lau
Susan Black photo

Susan Black

Partner, Global Co-Head of Consumer Sector, London

Susan Black

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