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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How to Successfully Merchandise Flooring…

Do you need some help, information, even inspiration about how to visually inspire your customers?

This low-cost-high-value guide to ‘Window Merchandising’ (specifically written for retailers of Flooring in the USA, Canada, UK & Australia) contains all the support & guidance you’ll need to start creating stunning retail window displays TODAY.

You’ll quickly understand the ‘psychology of visual merchandising’ and be able to ‘connect’ your store in the minds of consumers to what they see in local fashion stores when you create your own ‘trend-led’ window stories. You’ll have people talking about your windows at all the right dinner parties around town, whilst showing off the purchase they made from you.

You can make a start with a window display for Christmas 2016 and then follow the guide to create window stories through the Spring & Summer of 2017.  There are ideas on how to present show-stopping display’s to attract the attention of shoppers walking by and draw them in. Surprise yourself, buy this easy-to-understand guide NOW and make yours the best window displays in town.

Your windows will soon – Stop. Interest. Engage. Inspire……. and sell. 

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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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How to Grow Sales … Using Design, Color & Texture

It’s a little known fact that Texture is crucial to the well-being of a human being. You may be one of the few who know this to be true; you may be a person who is suffering, without realising it, from anxiety due to not coming into contact with texture often enough for your subconscious to allow you to feel satisfied, comfortable and natural.

One of today’s major contributory factors to this lack of texture in our lives is that there are so many technology companies achieving great things to make our lives more interesting, easy and convenient; but in doing so are making our interface with their products smooth. Literally smooth. Smartphones, tablets, touchscreens, contactless payment etc, etc are all developments that have removed Texture from so many everyday activities that it is now possible to ‘feel’ texture getting dressed in the morning and then not again until …..

So if you’re a product designer think hard about how and why you might put texture back into the lives of your clients – they will be so grateful. And perhaps without knowing why, they’ll love the work you do for them!

If you’re in hospitality, a restaurant, hotel or bar, have tables (in natural woods), bar tops chair arms (with fabric) that are textured in some way. Use cutlery that isn’t completely smooth handled, provide glasses that are cut-glass for example. Then stand back and watch your customers, running their hands and fingers over these things and look at the delight they take from it. All of these things, however, few you can provide, will enhance the Customer Experience your business provides to your consumers and add to your efforts to build customer loyalty.

If you keep an eye on current color palettes (watch the fashion shops, our blog!, TV sets) then you’ll have a good idea of what colors are at the front of people’s minds. Which colors are contemporary, on-trend and will add to the appeal of your product, service, hotel, shop. We see that many retailers dress their windows in scarlet for Valentines, or yellow for Easter, but with the exception of Fashion retailers, don’t seem to put as much thought into the colours in which they merchandise windows when there isn’t a ‘special occasion’ to inspire them. Perhaps, even dress windows, displays and products in colors that reflect the times not simply ‘Easter’ – is there a law saying it has to be done in Yellow?

The Opus team has lots of ideas so feel free to get in touch; but in the meantime we thought we’d share a key consumer color and a very important texture in 2015/16 for you to consider alongside your Brand, product, service development.

The Week

Have fun and don’t be shy get in touch we’d love to hear from you  phil@scarletopus.com / laura@scarletopus.com / victoria@scarletopus.com or call us on +44 1482 870 360

 

 

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How to Use S/S2015 Design Trends in Product … Get Inspired!

Today I Love… Bohemian Brights

The summer may be nearly over for us here in Europe but we are still inspired by this vibrant colour palette moving us towards Spring/Summer 2015. This fusion of digital and handcrafted elements creates a tribal, cultural aesthetic, with basket weaved, woven, tufted, fringed and beaded features. Continue reading

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