EGS Biweekly Global Business Newsletter Issue 103, Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Edited and curated by: William (Bill) Edwards, CFE, CEO of Edwards Global Services, Inc. (EGS)

Introduction: This is one of the largest issues of our newsletter ever. Trends from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the USA and Vietnam. Chocolate, coffee, marketing, EVs, GDP growth, pickleball, unemployment, freedom and consumers. Applebee’s®, Athlete’s Foot®, Buffalo Wild Wings®, Dairy Queen®, IHOP®, KFC® and Sprinkles®. Eclectic!!!!

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The mission of this newsletter is to use trusted global and regional information sources to update our global readers on key global and local trends that can impact the success of their businesses at home and abroad.

First, A Few Words of Wisdom From Others For These Times

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble but what you know that just ain’t so!” – Mark Twain

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu, 544 BC-496 BC


Highlights in issue #103:

  • (U.S.) Small Business Owners’ Optimism Reaches A 22-Year High
  • Brand Global News Section: Applebee’s®, Athlete’s Foot®, Buffalo Wild Wings®, Dairy Queen®, IHOP®, KFC® and Sprinkles®


Interesting Data, Articles and Studies

But, first……

Global Savings Glut’s Demise Threatens Higher Borrowing Costs – Aging populations, economic fragmentation to push yields up Draghi sees reversal of era of falling global interest rates. Ben Bernanke’s global savings glut is drying up. Long-term interest rates worldwide may be heading higher as a result. Aging populations, an embattled Chinese economy and an increasingly fragmented global one are among the factors threatening to turn the surplus of savings the former Federal Reserve chair identified almost 20 years ago into a shortfall. The result, according to some economists: A reversal of the decades-long trend toward lower interest rates as borrowers from Washington on down are forced to pay up for a dwindling supply of excess cash.”, Bloomberg, February 28, 2024

The US Economy is Outperforming Much of the Rest of the World – For much of the world, the past few years, including last year, have been particularly difficult from an economic standpoint. However, for the United States economy, 2023 proved to be a surprisingly strong year, despite lingering inflationary pressures, high interest rates and persistent labor shortages. Moreover, while economic sentiment among the US public has risen, it still low enough to suggest that the US economy has been performing poorly. However, it has not, especially when it is compared to its contemporaries around the world.”, LinkedIn, February 26, 2024

Employment Returns to Pre-Pandemic Levels – But the data hide major weaknesses in the labor market. Global employment rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels despite 2023’s macroeconomic downturns. Yet, multiple indicators reveal underlying fragility in the labor market. The Ukraine war, Gaza conflict, U.S.-China trade tensions and other geopolitical conflicts continue to inject uncertainty, driving central banks to aggressive actions. Consequently, global economic growth has decelerated. Labor market imbalances persist in advanced and some emerging economies.”, Geopolitical Futures, March 3, 2024

2024 Atlas Freedom and Prosperity Around the World – Democracy and freedom are in crisis. Freedom House reports that democracy around the world has been in constant retreat for seventeen con- secutive years.1 In 2021, sixty countries experienced declines in their democracy score, while only twenty-five showed improvement. Today, the world is less democratic than it has been at any time since 1997. Concurrently, there has been a steep decline in support for democracy. In international surveys, 60 percent of respondents reported a positive view of democracy in the mid-1990s; the number now stands at 50 percent.”, Atlantic Council Freedom and Prosperity Center, Early 2024

Four Marketing Trends to Elevate Brand Loyalty in 2024 – Getting ahead of the curve in marketing will be essential for organizations in 2024 — and beyond. AI and technology are impacting nearly every aspect of how marketers create, collaborate and operate. It’s never been more important (or difficult) to cut through the noise and innovate your brand while remaining relevant. (Here) are four trends that we anticipate will shape the marketing landscape in 2024: Understanding these will help keep your customers loyal and you competitive in the year ahead.”, Compliments of Steve Dobbins, theDobbins Group, February 2024

Pickleball nets fansThe sporting goods sector has shown resilience despite subdued consumer confidence in recent years. Although participation in organized sports has declined, senior partner Gemma D’Auria and coauthors note, consumers instead are favoring more accessible activities. Pickleball participation has shot up 159 percent from 2019 to 2022, and off-course golf grew 57 percent during that span.”, McKinsey & Co., March 1, 2024


Global Supply Chain, Energy, Commodities, Inflation & Trade Issues

Tracking global data on electric vehiclesExplore data on electric car sales and stocks worldwide. Globally, around 1-in-7 new cars sold was electric in 2022. (the preliminary estimate for 2023 is around 1-in-5). In Norway, the share was well over 4-in-5, and in China, it was around 1-in-3.”, Our World In Data, February 26, 2024

 “Chocolate Makers Try a New Recipe: Less ChocolateThe soaring cost of cocoa has made candy manufacturers crank out new treats with less of the expensive ingredient—or none at all. Cocoa prices have climbed to record highs, and market participants don’t expect any near-term relief. Prices have skyrocketed as the world’s biggest producers in West Africa grapple with drought and disease as well as structural problems that could linger for years to come.”, Bloomberg, February 29, 2024

Coffee powerhouses Indonesia and Vietnam are sourcing beans from Brazil to meet surging demand at homeSome of Asia’s biggest coffee-producing nations are finding it more challenging to satisfy the caffeine cravings in their home markets.From the streets of Ho Chi Minh City to the cafes of Jakarta, consumers are rapidly developing a taste for coffee, and that’s transforming Asian producers into large buyers. While Vietnam and Indonesia still rank as major shippers, they are increasingly sourcing coffee from agriculture powerhouse Brazil to meet the consumption boom. Both Indonesia and Vietnam, big growers of the bitter robusta variety favored to make espresso and instant drinks, prefer to export their coffee production while importing for domestic consumption — their own beans are more expensive than Brazil’s. Coffee’s cool factor at home is a good indication that the imports will continue, especially after extreme weather and insufficient yields over the past years have weighed on global production.”,  Fortune, March 2, 2024

Marigold Releases Its 2024 Global Consumer Trends Index – The 2024 Global Consumer Trends Index is an annual research study designed to provide brands with consumer data and insights critical to developing effective relationship marketing strategies. For the 2024 iteration, Marigold, in conjunction with Econsultancy, surveyed a total of 10,394 consumers from the following regions: Australia and New Zealand, the Benelux Region, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The survey was conducted from September to November 2023.”,, February 29, 2024

Strengthening fraying ties: The Global Cooperation Barometer 2024 – Global cooperation is key to better human lives. Our new barometer, developed with the World Economic Forum, can help leaders track trends, monitor critical outcomes, and act to increase cooperation. The barometer takes the pulse of five pillars of global cooperation—trade and capital flows, innovation and technology, climate and natural capital, health and wellness, and peace and security. The world is at an inflection point. The barometer indicates that global cooperation has stalled, after trending positively for much of the past decade.”, McKinsey & Co., February 27, 2024


Country & Regional Updates


Argentina’s Javier Milei says he doesn’t need congress to save the economyLibertarian president argues that ‘capitalism, savings and hard work’ are the way to exit poverty. Argentina’s libertarian president Javier Milei is ready to bypass hostile legislators who blocked his landmark economic reforms and rely on decrees and other executive powers to implement his radical austerity plan. His strategy for reviving the stricken economy is widely perceived as high-risk, but Milei waved aside doubts during a confident interview at the pink-coloured presidential palace, the Casa Rosada.”, The Financial Times, February 28, 2024


Lula’s gaffes are dulling Brazil’s G20 shine – Its relationships with the West are healing. But Brazil has not decided what kind of country it will be. After being in power between 2003 and 2010, the first year of Lula’s third term in office has, for the most part, been a repudiation of conspiracy and insularity. Economic revival after a decade-long slump has lent Lula more heft. Analysts initially reckoned gdp might grow by just 0.8% in 2023, the year he took office. Official figures, due to be published as The Economist went to press, are expected to show it grew by 3%.”, The Economist, February 27, 2024


Canadian economy returns to growth, with heavy assist from U.S. – The Canadian economy is nearing a soft landing as it resumed growth in the final months of 2023, allowing the country to skirt a recession in what was otherwise a sluggish year. Real gross domestic product rose at an annualized pace of 1 per cent in the fourth quarter, Statistics Canada said on Thursday, outpacing analyst estimates of 0.8 per cent.”, The Globe and Mail, February 29, 2024


What’s Wrong With China’s Economy, in Eight Charts – Challenges multiply after the country’s years of rapid growth. China’s economy is at a turning point. An old economic model underpinned by heavy investment in infrastructure and real estate is crumbling. Growth is slowing and prices are falling, raising the specter of a Japan-style slide into stagnation. How did the world’s second-largest economy get into such a mess?”, The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2024

Yum China CEO says consumers are growing more ‘rational’ as rising costs cut dining budgets – While economists and investors fret over China’s low consumer confidence and sluggish growth, Yum China CEO Joey Wat says the Chinese consumer is growing more rational — and has been for years.   Weighed down by investors’ concern about the broader Chinese economy, shares of Yum China have fallen 27% over the past year, dragging its market value down to $17.51 billion. For comparison, Licensor Yum Brands, which spun off the Chinese unit in 2016 and has a global footprint, has seen its own stock rise 8%, giving it a market value of $38.87 billion. Despite Wall Street’s worries, Yum China’s sales are growing.”, CNBC, March 1, 2024

Foreign firms say China s economic woes geopolitical feuds won’t scare them off but they’re investing lessLatest poll from American Chamber of Commerce in South China found that Chinese firms were much more keen on ramping up investments, but most US firms still plan to. However, there was a massive drop-off in reinvestment interest among firms from elsewhere, showing how market uncertainties and concerns in China persist. In a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in South China, involving 183 respondents polled from October 9 to December 31, 49 per cent were from the US, 35 per cent were from China and the rest were from other regions, including Europe. It said most were ‘optimistic about the growth of the Chinese market’, with 76 per cent planning to reinvest in China – a year-on-year rise of 1 percentage point. And there was a massive drop-off among firms from elsewhere, with only 11 per cent planning in to reinvest in China – way down from 71 per cent a year prior.”, South China Morning Post, February 27, 2024. Compliments of Paul Jones, Jones & Co., Toronto


India Q3 GDP growth surges to 8.4%, exceeding expectations – PM Modi cruises to election as government upgrades this year’s forecast. The government also revised up its GDP growth forecast for the year ending in March 2024 to 7.6%, from its January projection of 7.3%. India is set for a general election due in April and May this year, when Modi will be seeking a third term.”, Nikkei Asia, February 29, 2024

Indian Households Boost Discretionary Spending, Survey Shows – Indian household spending has more than doubled in over a decade with discretionary items getting a larger share of expenditure, a government report showed, providing clues for companies tapping on the world’s most populous nation. Households are spending less as a percentage on food items, the survey showed, giving insight on consumption patterns of Indian households. Expenditure on discretionary items such as clothes, television sets and entertainment increased, according to the report.”, Bloomberg, February 24, 2024


Irish domestic economic growth slowed more than expected in 2023Ireland’s domestic economy expanded by just 0.5% last year, far below the 2.2% expected by the country’s finance department following a continued fall in investment in the final quarter, official data showed on Friday. With Ireland’s large multinational sector often distorting gross domestic product (GDP), officials prefer to use modified domestic demand (MDD) to gauge the strength of the economy and it contracted 0.4% quarter-on-quarter from October to December.”, The Daily Mail, March 1, 2024


Japan Is Back. Is Inflation the Reason?  Deflation might be vanquished, but the payoff could be elusive. It also comes amid mounting evidence that Japan has finally broken the hold of deflation. Inflation in January was 2.2%, the 22nd month above 2%. Wage growth has picked up too. This appears to vindicate the economic consensus that deflation was a primary driver of Japan’s decades long malaise. But that conclusion might be premature. Proof of deflation’s harm has been elusive, and the benefits of low, positive inflation might be similarly subtle.”, The Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2024

South Korea

South Korea’s Exports Keep Rising, Supporting Growth OutlookSouth Korea serves as a key link in global trade as its companies are positioned widely across a variety of supply chains. South Korean exports continued to grow last month, adding to the optimistic outlook for economic growth and global commerce this year. The Bank of Korea last week maintained its forecast that gross domestic product will grow 2.1% in 2024, pointing to the recovery in exports.”, Bloomberg, February 29, 2024


Turkish stocks soar in world-leading rally as ‘tech mania’ grips marketEquities gain 20% in dollar terms as hot inflation again pushes savers into shares.   Turkish stocks have notched up a world-leading rally this year as “tech mania” grips the country’s equities market and runaway inflation again sends local savers piling into shares. The broad Borsa Istanbul all-share index has risen around 20 per cent in US dollar terms since the start of 2024, led by a 61 per cent jump in the technology sector, Bloomberg data shows. Turkey’s gains this year are the sharpest among the countries tracked by MSCI’s All-World indices.”, The Financial Times, February 29, 2024

United Kingdom

London and southeast’s economy ‘to pull further away from rest of UK’ – Economic growth and employment in London and the southeast will outpace the rest of the UK over the next three years, according to new forecasts that deliver a blow to the government’s levelling-up ambitions. Britain’s economic inequalities are on course to widen, EY, a professional services firm, said in its latest projections for regional growth, which show that London’s economy is on course to expand by 2.1 per cent between 2024 and 2027, and 2 per cent in the broader southeast.”, The Times of London, March 4, 2024

United States

“(U.S.) Small Business Owners’ Optimism Reaches A 22-Year High Markets are doing well, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posting their best February since 2015, and the Dow with its best performance since 2021.According to the personal consumption expenditures index, a key inflation indicator watched closely by the Federal Reserve, Americans spent 2.4% more this January than in January 2023, which is the lowest reading on this scale since March 2021. PNC’s semi-annual survey of small and mid-sized businesses found that 55% of these business owners are highly optimistic about the national economy, up from 26% who felt that way a year ago. Nearly eight in 10 (79%) said they are highly optimistic about the prospects for their own businesses.”, Forbes, March 4, 2024

Return-to-Work Policies Devolve Into a Toxic Cultural Flashpoint – The debate over working remotely has turned ugly as companies call employees back to the office and workers resist the loss of a popular perk. Nearly four years after pandemic-induced office shutdowns, the fight over working remotely or showing up in person has become a cultural flashpoint as bosses increasingly summon employees back to the office and workers resist the loss of a popular perk.  Two thirds of the country thinks the subject has become unnecessarily politicized, according to a nationally representative survey conducted for Bloomberg News by the Harris Poll. Seventy-four percent think employees need to stop complaining about having to go back in office.”, Bloomberg, March 2, 2024


Vietnam: Hanoi May Allow Union Formation To Avert Trade Disputes – Vietnam will ratify the U.N. International Labor Organization’s Convention 87, which allows the free establishment of trade unions, this year, according to U.N. officials cited by Reuters on Feb. 27.  The U.N. standard on the free organization of labor is a basic component of the broader U.N. framework, so ratifying it would help Vietnam avoid trade disputes that could damage its economy. While allowing union formation in Vietnam would increase labor costs, which would slightly dent the country’s attractiveness as a foreign investment destination, Vietnam will remain an attractive pivot country away from China, likely enabling Vietnam to maintain the current level of high interest.”, Worldview – Stratfor, February 27, 2024


Brand & Franchising News

China, Thailand Among Key Markets as Dairy Queen Targets International Growth – Ice cream is big business in Thailand. With more than 500 Dairy Queen locations, it’s one of the largest international markets for the brand, and for master franchisee Minor Food it’s viewed as a key growth vehicle with plenty of runway ahead. ‘The only two seasons are hot and hotter, or rainy and rainier,’ said Anhul Chauhan of Thailand’s tropical climate that makes it ideal for year-round ice cream sales. ‘And the Thai customer has a sweet tooth.’”, Franchise Times, January 26, 2024

Small Businesses, Big Brands: Franchising’s $893.9B Impact in ’24 – If national business headlines have you convinced the sky is falling, I invite you to read the 2024 Franchising Economic Outlook that was recently released by FRANdata and the International Franchise Association. Because, once again, the franchise community is propping up the economy in cities and states with record growth:

“New Data Shows Franchising Continues To Exceed Growth Expectations”

By Monica Feid, Co-Founder/COO, BizCom Associates

Applebee’s and IHOP eye co-branded locations in the U.S.Dual locations have generated strong returns overseas and could provide a spark to the chains’ domestic development. Parent company Dine Brands has already opened eight such locations in Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico. The restaurants are the same size as a regular Applebee’s or IHOP, but generate twice as much revenue because they cover all four dayparts, CEO John Peyton said Wednesday. ‘The two brands are extraordinarily complimentary,’ he said.”, Restaurant Business, February 28, 2024

KFC Fried Chicken Flavors You Won’t Find In The USClassics are classic for a reason, but given that there are approximately 27,000 KFCs spread over 145 nations and territories, some locations offer fried chicken flavors that are truly unique. Depending on where you’re placing your KFC order, those flavors can vary dramatically. These unique fried chicken tastes are opportunities for different countries to celebrate national flavors and dream up some unexpected combinations. In some cases, the menu choices are also indicative of unique cultural food practices.  So, want to know which KFCs have fried chicken that’s one of a kind? These are the KFC chicken flavors you won’t find in the U.S.”, Mashed, March 2, 2024

Destination MENA: 9 restaurant franchises with regional potentialAs one exciting year for international franchising comes to an end and another begins, Farrah Rose, head of international development at The Franchising Centre, takes a globe-trotting look at some of the restaurant concepts causing a stir worldwide, from poke to Parisian pastries.”, Hospitality News Middle East, February 27, 2024

PE Backing Can Fuel Franchise GrowthPrivate equity is reshaping the franchise industry and enabling brands to accelerate growth and fast-track innovation. The influence of PE backing is creating opportunities and challenges for franchise businesses. Private equity’s willingness to purchase a franchise business for more than the market value is hard for many successful brands to pass up. Roark Capital’s acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings in 2017 was valued at more than 30% of its market capitalization. A private equity firm can help a franchise with a strong regional market expand its reach.”, Forbes, February 27, 2024

Accent Group calls time on The Athlete’s Foot franchise model – The multi-brand business reports its ongoing franchise acquisition strategy “has driven significant operational efficiency and growth for the business over the last six years”.  So far the business has acquired 73 TAF stores. It announced it will not renew the agreements of the remaining 62 franchise territories. The agreements are set to expire over the next five years.  The group projects integration of the stores could add an incremental $170 million to owned sales annually. This forecast is based on FY23 franchise sales.”, Inside Retail (Australia), February 28, 2024

Sprinkles Sets Sail: Enters South Korean Market as First International VentureThe renowned bakery brand, famous for its cupcakes, cakes, cookies, and brownies, has unveiled plans to expand its footprint in Asia, with subsequent openings scheduled in Singapore and Malaysia. With ambitions to establish over 18 new bakeries in global markets starting from 2024, Sprinkles aims to introduce its delectable offerings to a wider audience. The inaugural Sprinkles store in South Korea is slated to launch in Seoul, according to a report by The Korea Herald.”, VF Franchise Consulting, March 2, 2024


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Our Mission, Information Sources & Who We Are

Our biweekly global business update newsletter focuses on what is happening around the worldthat impacts new trends, health, consumer spending, business investment, the franchise sector, economic development, and travel. We daily monitor 30+ countries, 40+ international information sources and six business sectors to keep up with what is going on in this ever-changing environment. Our GlobalTeam™ on the ground covering 25+ countries provides us with updates about what is actually happening in their specific countries. 

William “Bill” Edwards: Global Advisor Is Uniquely Qualified to Steer Sr. Executives Successfully Through the Complex Waters of Going Global.  With four decades of successful international business experience spanning virtually every corner of the world and many business sectors, Bill Edwards understands the global business landscape like no other.  He has been a County Master Franchisee in five countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East; the Senior VP for a franchisor operating in 15 countries and a full-service consultant since 2001 taking 40+ franchisors global.

For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to take your business global successfully, contact Bill Edwards at or +1 949 224 3896.

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