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”

Natural’s Not Enough

Natural Isn’t Enough

I come from a land where there are many more sheep than people;   a land untouched by Europeans until only 150 years ago.   As you can imagine when I left New Zealand seven years ago as a carpet designer I had spent my life working and living with natural fibres like wool.  I designed and exported beautiful wool carpets all over the world.   When you do something well it gets noticed so I was then asked to come to the UK to show the rest of the world how to create a business around excellence in wool product development.

The UK like New Zealand has a long history with wool, cotton and other natural fibres.  It was textile manufacturing that sparked the industrial revolution in Manchester which shaped the world as we know it.

For centuries man has been using wool to warm his cave and shelter his family.  The benefits of natural fibres were pretty obvious.

Roll on to 2013 and we live in a world where 97% of Americans are living on synthetic materials made from oil.  Today only 30% of Brits are living with wool and even in New Zealand, I am ashamed to say, people are choosing plastic based carpet with a small amount of recycled content and think they are saving the planet!

So it is blatantly clear.  Being Natural is No Longer Enough.

Wool carpets need to be acknowledged as a lifestyle choice that will have a positive impact on the health and comfort of our families.

Wool carpets remain the very best thing you can put in your home to create a warm and safe environment.  Wool absorbs indoor air contaminants like formaldehyde and locks it away for up to thirty years.  Wool carpets trap dust and keep it out of the breathing zone.  Wool carpets with a good underlay absorb shock and assist with posture, as well as being anti-slip.   Walk across a hard floor and then a wool carpet and hear the difference, or rather don’t hear it.

It seems that in focussing on colour and style, which of course wool offers more options for than any other material, we have lost sight of what really matters.  The comfort and wellbeing of human beings and the future of our planet.

Wool is of course the ultimate eco-warrior fibre.  Sheep in New Zealand grow a new fleece every year.   Wool is 50% carbon which means that it’s a carbon sink locking C0² away from the ozone layer.  New Zealand wool is the purest and most ecological of all and is only grown on free range farms under strict animal welfare, environmental and social standards.

Through the Wool for a Better World program.  At Wools of New Zealand we support the Heiffer foundation through the sale of wool carpets, we support the endangered Hector’s dolphin through the sale of wool fabrics and we support the Woodland trust in the UK through the sale of our recycled underlay.   On top of being brilliant at designing stuff, giving back to the environment through these activities and just being really nice people perhaps it is time to get active and shout louder,  perhaps it time we start a war on oil instead of a war for oil?

Let’s get reminding people of the many technical benefits of wool and try to stop this mad obsession with oil based plastic carpets and noisy hard floors.

New Zealand wool factory

Wool growing in New Zealand

Sexy Authenticity

Enchanting your customers is essential to building your brand and selling products at reasonable margins.

Buying in bulk and selling at volume works if you are big enough, but it’s a lot of work and you will always be vulnerable to market fluctuations, volatile pricing and other beige products that copy you.

To break out of the commodity downward cycle we need to inspire people to engage with our brands.   A fancy logo and a mission statement is not a brand.  A brand is the experience that customers have with you and it is only as valuable as your customers believe it is.

A push mentality won’t build a brand and it won’t get people engaged with your product.

People no longer want to be marketed to and they no longer pay good money for average stuff.  People want to be entertained, engaged and thrilled by what they spend decent money on,  or they want a bargain.  People want to be enchanted.

People want to trust a product and a brand.  Knowing what value is being delivered, where the product was made, by who and from what are all important to affluent environmentally conscious consumers.

Make your product sexy, and make it authentic.

Make it renewable, natural, promote the benefits to the person who buys it and make it aspirational.

Use scarcity to your advantage.  If it is scarce it is harder to get hold of, and more treasured by those that can afford it.

Do you want to be all things to all people or special to a few people that love your product and are willing to pay for what only you have to offer?

The fabric below Blazer by Camira uses 100% Laneve wool from New Zealand which is traceable to the farms in New Zealand where it is grown.  The product offers incredible performance as well as being sensuous and colourful.

Blazer by Camira Fabrics – A Sexy and Authentic product