How to increase Sales, Profits & Shareholder Value

Mention Trend Forecasting to most people and the majority are unsure what it’s about; and those that have heard of it, well they mostly associate it with color forecasting.

In reality, there are very few business tools/support services available that, if used well, will improve your company’s results quite so much and in a sustainable way. The more broadly that Trend Intelligence is integrated into a company’s business strategy, the greater the improvements will be. Uplift can be achieved in production efficiency, sales revenues & profits increase, creativity, PR success, product ranges can be smaller, the number of ‘slow-moving lines’ reduces and overall relative costs go down. All this because insights & Intelligence about future consumer and design trends for the interiors sector can ensure your product & service developments match the wants, needs & desires of your customers. Ultimately leading to better profits and more shareholder value.

Trend Forecasting for the interiors market will do all of this. Here’s essentially what we do:

Predict

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most valuable resource that Scarlet Opus Trend forecasting gives to product development of a manufacturer, retailer, interior designer or marketing team is…. ‘TIME’. The pressure on all business teams in any company, is significantly reduced because our trend reports extend the time in which the total business cycle has to be completed.

The Scarlet Opus team works with companies internationally in the interiors sector and our purpose is to inform them about what will be in-fashion for the world of interiors 2-3 years in advance of it actually happening. And we get very specific about textures, materials, shapes, color and pattern. We tell them what will cause a trend to emerge, what consumer/end user desires it will drive and how long it will last.

Our Trend Reports will give you a detailed view of those consumer desires and how they translate for your specific products and/or services. Imagine knowing the detail of what your customers will want 2 years from now and knowing with certainty.

Research shows that company employees work more efficiently when they are relaxed & confident. Designers are more creative, salespeople convert more sales & PR events run more smoothly. If the risk associated with New Product Development is significantly reduced and more time given for each project; your people will be free to concentrate on creating the best products they can; the best PR, creating excellent content marketing, targeted marketing support materials and preparing, rehearsing and enacting sales presentations.

benefits

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why then aren’t more companies engaging with Trend Forecasting? The answer might lie in these 2 thoughts:

  1. It requires taking, quite a’ leap of faith’ to engage with someone who tells you that they can ‘see your future in detail & with certainty’!
  2. It’s possible that Creatives see Trend Forecasting agencies as an external design source; instead of an external design resource.

There is so much value that Trend Forecasting adds to a company’s activities in all areas that it needn’t actually, even include the obvious product development. A business with a ‘fixed’ product design can still be more successful marketing it’s products within the framework of consumer wants, needs and desires.

It’s realistic for you to engage Scarlet Opusr with the expectation that sales revenues will increase by double digit percentages, with a similar reduction in relative costs.

Contact me, Phil, now whilst it’s fresh in your mind. Let’s arrange to chat,  without obligation, about our trend intelligence reports can translate into improved business results at your company:  phil@scarletopus.com Tel +44 7896 088996

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Customer Surveys – are they a Risk to Your Business?

It’s a Tempting Time of Year to Review things…. 

Your business, maybe even your life; and if you are going to review your business you might also be tempted to conduct a ‘survey’ of your customers.  After all they are the key to your success; so, why did they choose you? Did they enjoy the experience? Would they make the same choice again?.

 

It’s what your customers think that really matters, because today, they will influence more people to become (or not) future customers than you could hope to. 

There are so many free-to-use tools on the internet enabling each of us to quickly and easily set-up a survey and I am sure that, like me, you’ve received more than your fair share of surveys to complete.  Herein lies a problem:

Although all of us can now devise a survey, very few of us actually know how to avoid subconsciously phrasing questions in such a way as to get the answer we know is correct. 

Now, I can hear lots of you saying, “Rubbish!  You’re wrong, I would never do that.  It’s crucial to get an honest view from my customers and I wouldn’t influence that”.  Well I urge you to think again.  Questioning and the phrasing of questions is a specific skill and not one easily acquired; even TV/Radio presenters often ask multiple questions, leading questions, and questions in which they suggest the answer.  And they’re supposed to be the professionals!

In trying to craft some good advice about how to put together a customer survey I came across the advice below, I liked it and thought that I couldn’t do better – so I haven’t tried to.  I’ve added a couple of views, but essentially left Mr Abbott’s work as I found it.

Do Your Customers Live in Zoos or the Wild?

Every business recognises the importance of understanding their customers.  Many make a concerted effort to gather data through customer research, asking questions about what their customers’ preferences are so that they can improve their products or services.  But, how can you be sure that it is safe to act on the results of that research?

A famous example of research going wrong was Coke’s change to its formula.  In blind tasting, customers preferred the new formulation, so new Coke was launched with a huge fanfare and tremendous confidence… it crashed and burned!  Six weeks later traditional Coke was back on the shelves.

More recently Walmart surveyed its customers and asked them if they would like less cluttered aisles, customers said yes.  Millions of dollars were spent on altering existing store layouts, clearer aisles and shortened shelves were introduced.  The result was completely unexpected: sales went down.  Walmart estimated that they lost more than a billion dollars.

How could such ‘blue-chip’ companies, with as much money to spend on customer research as Coke and Walmart, get it so wrong?  The answer lay in another example:

Researchers (Nolan, Schultz, Cialdini, Goldstein and Griskevicius) surveyed householders in California asking them what would make them change their environmental behaviour.  Would it be because they believed that they were:

  • Helping the environment?
  • Benefitting society?
  • Saving money?
  • Because their neighbours were doing it?

Without exception all of the surveyed householders said that the last thing that would make them change their behaviour was what their neighbors do.  But guess what, when their actual behaviour was measured ‘what their neighbors did’ was the very thing that influenced them the most.

It seems that when you ask a customer a survey question, they do two things:

They use their rational mind and intellect to assess what they would do, but don’t engage their emotions.

They rationalise their assumed actions to conform to their views of themselves.

What do we mean?

Let’s go back to our Coke example.  You’ll remember that when ‘tested’, customers preferred the new flavour.  But, when they actually stood in front of the shelves at retail outlets, all of their emotions around the brand came into play – memories of childhood, Coke being a piece of American culture, whether they identify themselves as ‘Coke drinkers’ etc. – and this prevented them from buying the ‘new formula’ that tests actually proved they preferred.

Intellectually (what they thought), Walmart customers want less cluttered aisles.  But in practice, they shop for a bargain and associate a certain ambiance with low-cost shopping.  The new de-cluttered stores destroyed that ‘feeling’ and so emotionally, the shoppers wanted the clutter back.

We all think as the Californian householders thought: it would be shallow to be swayed by what our neighbours do or don’t do.  But conforming to social norms is an overpowering instinct that we simply can’t resist.

Asking customers survey questions is treating them like animals in a zoo: your survey is an artificial environment.  Sure you can learn a lot, but unless you are careful with the data and analyse carefully what it says, you can wildly misjudge what you are being told.  This type of research is best for gathering Hard Data (Did you go on holiday last year?) rather than Opinion Data (Why did you go on holiday last year?).

The key, whenever possible, is to measure customers’ actual behaviour – watch them in the wild.

If you are testing something new and it’s impossible to watch real behaviour, at least set up scenarios where something approaching real behaviour can be assessed.  Think of this as a safari park!

I hope this helps you to get the best research possible from your surveys this year. But feel free to get in touch with any questions or comments you have, or if you’d like us to assist you set up a survey for your business. Future Design Trend Intelligence focus’s on our ‘behaviour’ and ’emotional response’ to the world around us. Our clients always have ‘the right’ products/interiors/campaigns/events, at ‘the right’ time. For a no obligation discussion about how knowledge Today of the trends of Tomorrow can do the same for your business get in touch me; but do it Today, not Tomorrow…….

phil@scarletopus.com  / Text or call me +44 7896 088996 / SKYPE philrpond …… or Write me a letter! 

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2018 Design Trends for Interiors – Full Color & Style Detail

This Color report includes the 4 key Design Trends presented at Decor + Design 2017; Melbourne Australia.

The book includes a brief explanation of each of the trends, the Scarlet Opus Trend Boards illustrating each trend’s interior style and also the Pantone referenced color palettes for each trend story.

Winter Desert, Tribe, Urban Planet and Roots.

A great way to help guide the design and marketing of your product in line with future trends. It is an inspirational document that outlines key themes and important color palettes for interiors moving forward in 2018. Inspiring guidance for everything interiors including retail merchandising, product sourcing, stationery, furniture, decor, tabletop, kitchen design, and much more.

Visual Merchandising Workshop at Index Dubai 2016

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Last week the Scarlet Opus Team ran a Visual Merchandising Workshop at the International Design Exhibition Index in Dubai. The hands-on workshop was designed to suggest and encourage multiple ways of inspiring customers with trend-led visual merchandising; creating consumer experiences with brand themes and stories. The participants began the morning in the classroom where key psychological tips for effective merchandising were discussed; as well as 3 Interior Design Trends translating to inspirational visual merchandising.

The intended learning outcomes included …

  • Understanding how and why Consumers are motivated to enter a store by a window display
  • How to make a connection between store design & the Customer Experience
  • How to identify trends and put them to practical use in product displays
  • How to create aspirational window displays using Interior & fashion trends
  • How to connect your business to your community in your Window

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The second segment of the workshop involved putting new vision, skills and imagination to work. Participants had a life-sized window structure to build an extraordinary display – a display designed to capture the eyes of fellow peers, drawing them in and encouraging interaction as ideas came to life; right on the show floor! The workshop ran once a day over 4 consecutive days, each group had the same purposefully limited props so they had to be very creative in order to build a display inspired by Scarlet Opus interior trend – Play.

Day 1

In keeping with the geometric and modern Memphis Movement influenced trend, the first window display included bold uses of wallpaper – covering shapes and furniture. Subtle fashion influences such as the dress and sun glasses purposefully enabled the consumer to connect the ‘interior wallpaper store’ to relevant trend-led fashion brands. It is a confident, daring and wonderfully dynamic way to display wallpaper.

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The final window display…

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Day 2

The second group worked hard to bring a luxury lifestyle interior display to life. After carefully considering all inspirational images, they designed a subtle but intriguing display with a surreal twist. With pops of strong colour and geometric shapes positioned carefully alongside softer, delicate and beautifully placed props; they created a perfectly balanced and inspiring interior visual – quirky yet classy

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We loved the innovative use of the mannequin in this window display, an injection of surrealism is bound to intrigue passes-by!

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The final window display…

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Day 3

Team 3 decided on creating an installation window piece with patriot multi-coloured ribbon and string. They creatively attached the ribbon at the front of the window to make an abstract foreground effect with the product displayed behind.

MKIV1124-minIMG_3689-minDay 4

The final window display included suspending cushions to make a central focus point. The team used strips of wallpaper to drape from the central beam at the back wall to the front of the window. Bold shapes were stacked and positioned in each corner of the window to create the perfect balance.

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The final window display…

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The workshop was a huge success and we had some very positive feedback, we would like to thank all participants who signed up and took part; we hope you were all able to take away some useful tips as well as having a very fun day!

A big thank you to our supporters and sponsors who supplied various props in order to create the display – Boss DesignHome Outfitters, Styro, Baines de mer, Worlds Away, Casador and Newmor Wallcoverings.

Leave a comment to let us know if you prefer the window from Day 1, 2, 3 or 4.

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Back to School: 2016 Stationery Trends for Retailers and Manufacturers

It’s that time of year again where we revamp our stationery collection. New notepads, pens and accessories ready to start back at school, college or University. Or, if like me, you just love nothing more than purchasing new inspiring patterns and colours to brighten up your desk space! So, for all the stationery retailers and manufacturers out there, we have put together 3 key trend directions for 2016. Each trend combines pattern, material, colour and product guidance to keep you ahead of the curve and prepared for next year. Of course it’s not just about what you design or buy in, but also how you share this with your customers. Product placement and the visual advertising of stationery collections should be creative, inspiring an enticing. So, we have also included ideas for retailers on how to merchandise and style product.

stationery

Wild Urbanism

This trend is about our basic human desire to reconnect with nature. We seek out reassuring, comforting and grounded elements within a modern life of constant change. Our ecological and environmental awareness increases as we adapt our hybrid environment, fusing nature and architecture together creating a cultural and natural balance.

There is a wide acceptance of greens in all shades emerging but particularly earthy greens. These ripened greens and crisp mint shades look great with linen tones and sun warmed neutrals. Patterns include gardening motifs, botanical, illustrative style: flowers, plants, vegetables and herbs often with a nostalgic retro look. They connect strongly with garden to table trends and promotes the ‘grow your own‘ phenomenon which continues to become more widespread.

The emphasis on materials is a slightly rustic style and often includes raw textures or re-cycled elements. We begin to see raw linens and eco cottons, plywood and chipboard which shows its layering. Cork, bark, natural woods and concrete along with quirky gritty textures. Stationery holders or desktop products that include plants or living greenery giving a ‘wild’ aesthetic.

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1. Pattern Design by Levgeniia Lytvynovych 2. Desk Caddy by Oniroteo 3. Tomato Salad Memo Set by Boyeon Oh 4. Grass Pen Holder by Max Battaglia & Matteo Mocchi 5. Recycled Newspaper Pencils by TreeSmart 6. Pattern Design by Anna Emilia Laitinen 7. Colouring Book by Johanna Basford 8. Postcard Design Bottle Terrarium by Quill & Fox on Etsy 

Visual Merchandising and Styling

  • To achieve this trends aesthetic an outdoor, summer garden theme is key
  • Materials to incorporate in window displays could include; raw and reclaimed wood, concrete, chipboard and plywood for decoration
  • Why not add repurposed products and furniture or incorporate real soil /grass/living wall/plants as a feature points of sale
  • Use garden products such as wheel barrows, plant pots and watering cans to display products
  • Create an inspiring ‘allotment look’

Play

This trend relates to the yearning for freedom, a desire for community, a longing to build a more sharing society and for life to be more fun! It is interactive and inclusive, energetic and chaotic as well as demonstrating elements of optimism and collaboration.

Patterns in this trend have a real Memphis style but worked in a more modern context. We see patterns that have rhythm, wiggle, dimension and a retro dynamism. Bold patterns will sit well together and can be mixed up, providing an interesting collaboration of clashing arrangements within one collection, (ideal for notebooks). Colour block is important here, including strong graphic and typography designs within shape. The palette is playful and interactive, it includes pops of pastel brights that have a modern simplicity and crisp sophistication to them.

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1. Livework Block Colour Pens available at Fox and Star 2. Box Design by Hay Studio at Really Well made 3. Babylon Stationery for Lexon by Samuel Wilkinson 4. Pattern Design by Hanna Konola 5. Resin Table Top by Chen Chen & Kai Williams 6. Stationery by Oelwein / Atelier parisien 7. Burgerdoodles Colour-In Wallpaper

Visual Merchandising and Styling

  • Merchandising in store should have a space to promote the role of play
  • Walls with patterns for colouring-in or white board walls to encourage people to interact and experiment through drawing (as well as testing product)
  • Its not just about fun and creative stimulation of scribbling  but is also promotes the communication with a stranger or employer in store; it allows two unacquainted people to connect
  • 3D colour blocks with bold striking shapes can be used to display stationery product

Edited Luxury

This trend takes a focused look at the future of smart, flexible and compact lifestyles of urban citizens. It explores an exotic glamour that is strict and serious with tribal undertones. It’s deeply luxurious with an ultra-modern aesthetic yet edited down to essentials presenting a mix of beautifully engineered natural materials and high tech innovations.

This is a serious and dependable colour palette. The technical Black anchors the solid metallics while the intense, darkened Klein Blue is inky, exotic, and seductive. Brass, bronze and copper tones warm the palette and work nicely alongside striking animal skin patterns and glamorously stylish geometrics.

Materials are about unconventional pairings, solid dark woods are polished to a high shine glossy finish whereas blonder woods are sanded to a matte finish demonstrating the contrast of luxury with raw essentials. Walnut being a key material. Reptile and animal skin patterns are laced with metallic finishes, dressed with studs, spiked textures and black marble creating a sexy but masculine industrial edge.

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1. Notepad by Tom Pigeon 2. Hörst Identity by lg2boutique 3. Desk Styling  4. Minimal Pen by Minimalux 5. Wooden Mesh Fabric by Diego Vencato

Keep up to date with the latest stationery products and styling on our Pinterest Board!

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Interested in Forecasting Design Trends for Interiors? Hurry they’re coming to an End …..

At this year’s Decor + Design Show the Scarlet Opus lead team provided several show features for visitors that centered around Trends. Future Design Trends for Interiors, a translation of Consumer desires into Retail outlet design, tours of 15 exhibiting companies with products that reflected elements of design trends for 2016 into 2017 and more.

As a part of our involvement with the show this year (which also incorporated the Australian International Furniture Fair) Victoria was invited by a ‘Business Journalist’ and DJ (Michael Williams) onto his show airing on national radio station ABC. In our experience, when a radio or TV show host asks for an interview to be pre-recorded, it’s usually so that they can edit it in such a way as to provide an entertainment factor, rather than a factual, fair or even interesting business report of a chosen subject.

During the interview Victoria was asked some great questions by Michael and yet he also made some ‘just for comic effect’ comments that could have been used to deride the subject of Trend Forecasting. To some, even me at times, it can be the butt of a few comical (some might say sarcastic) comments “where did you buy your crystal ball” hahahaha …… We have been expecting an edited version of this interview to follow the format of our previous experiences. Experiences I hasten to add that have been associated with ‘some’ instances where we have worked with the ‘consumer/public facing’ media. It is not something we have experienced when working with media in the ‘trade’.

Imagine our surprise and delight when discovering that in fact, Michael Williams & ABC Radio had aired a really good edition of the interview. One that allowed him to provide some of the humour that has made him so popular, and yet provide an interview for his listeners to tune into, on the subject of ‘Design Trends for Interiors’ that was informative and interesting. Anyone working in the field of Interior Design, Architecture or in the manufacture and retail of interior products that listened will have been not only entertained by a local DJ but encouraged to tune into his show again. We were!

Of course, you are justified in thinking that I am biased in my view; no-one looks forward to the prospect of colleagues, or their company being the subject of someone else’s humour or feeling their work is being ridiculed. But, this short posting is made with the sole intent of acknowledging the unbiased view and professionalism of one DJ/Journalist down in Melbourne, Australia called Michael Williams; he has somewhat restored our faith in the broadcasting media – Thank you Michael and ABC Radio of Australia.

It’s a 12 minute  covering stuff such as how do you get to be a Trend Forecaster; what’s the connection between fashion and interior trends; how does it help business and what does it give the consumer. It also touches on current trends perhaps leading to the ‘demise of Trend Forecasting’!

But as always the team at Scarlet Opus is most interested in what YOU think of the interview? I’d be delighted to hear your opinion and to answer any questions you may have after listening to it………………

Not clicked on a ‘Link’ to listen to Victoria’s interview yet? Do it here, do it now 🙂 …..

 

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