The Case for Sustainability.

The business case for sustainability has been won, but somebody forgot to tell the generals and the troops.

Sustainability is not just about being green,  it is the difference between success and failure.

There are people with their eyes and ears open and their mouths shut. People who stopped trying to be alpha male and who started listening.  These people have figured out where the market is going.   The market, all markets are driven by consumer sentiment and by legislation.

The trend for ethics, responsibility, trust and perceived value is one way. It is only getting stronger and we are never going back to rubbish products made who knows where using who knows what by who knows who.

If you cannot see the future, if predicting trend and shaping the future is a mystery to you, then well, you stumbled into the wrong blog.

In the future we only buy from brands we trust, manufacturers compete on quality, ethics, transparency and price. Price is driven through efficiency not through cutting corners.

The race to the bottom that killed western textile mills is in the past. In the future we are not just clever, we are wise.   The mills are coming back, but they will never be the same, they will be awesome, efficient, quality organisations with highly motivated and educated teams.

 The future is now. Tell your boss, your CEO and your Chairman, your customer is already there.

New Zealand wool factory

Wool growing in New Zealand

 

Wool Reputable

“Integrity trust and transparency are the core values that create long lasting partnerships.” That’s part of a tweet paying tribute to our very valuable relationship we have with the Society of British International Design or SBID.

It was a reply to a quote by Prince William “One thing that I think we all value about New Zealand is the integrity of its institutions”

You cannot under-value integrity, and it is getting more valuable. The interior designers that we are working with are curious about where things come from and who made them. The story of the product is almost as important as form and function.

Trust comes from acting with integrity, consistently over time.   Once word gets out you have a reputation and that leads to new business opportunities.

Earn your reputation by being reputable; build a product with a real story.

Radiant Orchid, Mauve and Permission to Innovate.

The market knows best except when it doesn’t.

It’s a nice safe strategy to be market-led.  Deliver your customers what will solve their problems and make their experience better.  But what if the market doesn’t know what is good for it.  What if the market makes beige and never experiments with Radiant Orchid (Pantone colour of the year 2014)?

What if the market thinks natural = sustainable and never tries to get better, smarter and more efficient?

perkins mauve

Perkins Original Synthetic Mauve

Yesterday I was lucky enough to see the very 1st synthetic dye ever produced, kept behind glass at Leeds University.  When William Perkins invented this he wasn’t following market signals, he wasn’t even trying to invent synthetic dyes. He was trying to create a cure for malaria!  But it turned out the market was tired of beige natural dyed potato coloured clothing.  A textile and chemistry revolution took off and the rest is history.

Funny enough the 1st synthetic dye was actually mauve or as Pantone call it Radiant Orchid.

We must listen to the market and be guided by its trends and the opportunities it demands.   We have to look far ahead of what the current market can tell us and build new innovations that will create new product categories and new industries.

Good market research and understanding your customer’s future needs gives you the intuition to innovate.    Permission is not required just get on with it.

radiant orchid

Pantone Colour of the year. “radiant orchid”

Language

We are all experts at something, and we all have something to say.  Recently I was listening, for a change, and actually learnt something.  Well, I was reminded of something.

When you talk, speak in the language of your audience.  Wool people talk in textile terminology, which is fine if you talk to a weaver, but really dumb when you talk to a retailer.

When an IT consultant talks in jargon, do we trust her or wonder if we are going to be ripped off?   When a mechanic sucks air through his teeth and talks about machine parts we prepare ourselves for a shock.

I was listening to Jim Hanna of Starbucks recently and he could not emphasize enough how talking Business language to business people had made the difference in the internal battle to sell sustainability within Starbucks.

Talking about saving trees does not make an accountant happy, but talking about making more profit by improving staff retention, reducing energy costs and streamlining value chains – that’s gets the bean counters on board and the HR department and the store designers…

Language is too important to trust to the linguists.  Lets keep it simple and build some trust.

Jargon

image stolen form random internet site – sorry

CSR, Facial Hair and Wool

A very strong trend right now is CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and for a very small organisation of only 16 people, Wools of New Zealand does a lot in this area.   We put it all under the Wool for a Better World banner.

We do this stuff because it’s the right thing to do and because it gives our team of passionate people an element of pride to work for a socially minded company.

What I’m noticing is that everyone now has a CSR statement.  On the surface this is good, but I worry, jut slightly, that we are entering the next phase of green washing, or CSR-washing, as we may need to call it.

Are companies making a care statement because it is part of what they do, part of the culture of the organisation?  Or is the marketing department making a claim that has no real substance?

Green-washing became a marketing sin, and it looks like fake CSR claims might be next.

I’m really glad that quite a few of our partner companies are heavily into supporting their local communities and wider social and environmental issues.  A good cause often takes the focus away from business as usual and gets people working together, trusting each other and building partnerships that are good for business.

One of my friendly contacts reminded me about Movember so I decided to sacrifice my upper lip to help the campaign.  Now that I’m trotting about the UK sporting a fuzzy caterpillar on my face I’m getting a few sideways glances, but mostly I’m getting a pat on the back and smile from people who realise that its not an attempt to look like a Hawaiian private detective from the 80’s, its all for a good cause and a bit of fun.

Steven Parsons Movember

My hard to see Fuzzy Caterpillar

It is worth checking out Movember,  not only is it a fun way to raise awareness of men’s health issues, it a very well run digital marketing campaign and a brilliant example of the power of the internet to make things happen.

You can see my fuzzy caterpillar at my MoSpace here or click on my silly grin.

Give Me Reasons!

Give me a reason or just **** off.

I’ve noticed a surge in spam and general electronic clutter.  It is annoying me!   Rather than making a song and dance I thought I’d just blog.  It’s not just spam, too many people are generating meaningless content.

When we are the creator of anything we take on responsibility to create something that matters.  If it has no reason that will benefit the reader it should simply not exist.

Are you creating content to entertain, to inform, to rally for a cause, or are you just creating noise to get seen and to increase your fans and followers?

Don’t tweet unless you have a profound statement.  Only recommend followers that create brilliant content, and tell your followers why.   This will get you followers that follow you for your insights and high-quality connections.

Don’t ever send me an email to try and sell me something, especially not digital marketing services.  If you knew about marketing you would phone me (yourself, not your Asian call centre).

You probably get the message..  Junk gets ignored and puts you in the trash can.

Lets all strive to pull not push.   Create something wonderful and put it out there, followers and customers will come.   Don’t create beige content and spam people who don’t care.  It does you more damage than you realise.

This goes for real world stuff too.  Lets create lovely woolly things that people will cherish.  Lets create stuff that is worth re-tweeting.

Please leave your spam in the field provided below.

sheep spam protest

Please don’t create clutter.

The Finishing Touch

The Finishing touch is how one of our customers recently described the rugs they manufacture.  They describe what they do as part of the experience a customer has not just of their beautiful New Zealand Wool rugs, but also of the total experience of the interior.

This focus on the customer experience is exactly in-tune with how we need to position our lovely New Zealand wool.

We don’t breed sheep, or shear wool, or spin yarn, tuft carpet or weave fabric.

If we want to be successful we have to think not as part of a process but as part of what it means to the end user to own our wool.

Our job is to deliver the ultimate experience with wool.  The feeling of walking bare foot on your soft new wool and knowing you have made a wise and ethical investment.

We in the wool business know how amazing it feels to walk on wool.  The challenge is to make people aspire to have that experience for themselves.   We could put wool carpet down at airport security so people have to feel the luxury but it is not the time that people are focused on home decorating.

We have to communicate the experience of wool in an era when advertising is already dead, and to consumers dotted all over the world.  Thank goodness for Blogs and social media.

Increasingly we rely on wool ambassadors, people who love wool and can spread the good word.  Interior Designers and smart retailers have the customer’s attention at the right time, and they really know how to apply the finishing touch.

If you are wondering about the customer, its Nourison, You can experience them here.

nourison wool rug

A lovely New Zealand Wool Experience by Nourison