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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Plastic Pollution; The heart-breaking reality

The Time Is Now…

For those of you who watched the BBC’s Blue Planet II you will understand why we feel strongly about raising this issue on our blog once again. Sir David Attenborough’s documentary movingly highlighted the growing problem of ocean waste. The episode investigated the detrimental effects that plastics have on the health of our oceans. They pulled on the heart strings of viewers by showing a whale carrying its dead newborn around – killed by human activity in relation to the chemicals found in plastic waste.

Image curtesy of BBC Blue Planet II

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Here’s why you should attend the next Stationery Show…

We recently visited an exciting new Stationery Show launched in Manchester UK; a sister show to the successful London Stationery Show held at the Business Design Centre in April (check out our LSS blog post review from earlier in the year). This month we saw the second specialist paper and writing product show held in the beautiful Victoria Warehouse building in Old Trafford.

This brand new event was designed to attract more visitors closer to the North of England and compliment with the timing of its elder sister. The venue was intimate, it felt friendly and inviting; the Victoria Warehouse is a historic, solid Mancunian landmark which has been developed into a modern, industrial chic space. Its exposed brick walls and huge repurposed spool tables gave an interesting and unique backdrop to some amazing stationery product.

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COLOUR INSPIRATION by guest blogger Katie Turton

We’re delighted to be able to share Katie Turton’s most recent colour and material experiments with you.  Katie’s work will be particularly fascinating and inspiring if you work in any capacity with colour for Interiors or Fashion; you are in the paint industry; you are a pastry chef or chocolatier; you have a passion for make-up. So get ready for a visual treat that is sure to motivate you to be more experimental with materials, textures, product styling, photography and colour.

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