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”

Purer than Pure

A while ago I wrote about the need for purity of products, Here. If a textile is only 80% wool / natural then it is only 80% biodegradable or worse as if you cannot separate the wool from the synthetic the product is effectively 0% biodegradable. It has to be 100% natural or 100% fake, there is no in between.

That got me thinking. When you look at an object, any object, most of what you see is the colour. If it’s a car, a cushion or a carpet, mostly the colour you see is synthetic pigment. Ignoring trees, flowers and organic items that is. Mainly the world around us is coloured with dye and paint which all comes from oil.

Amazingly this is a fairly recent situation as synthetics have only been around since the middle of last century. But prior to the 1950’s rich vibrant colour did exist, this colour came from plants. For centuries tapestries and carpets were produced from a variety of 100% natural and renewable resources.

Finally things have come full circle with forward thinking companies beginning to explore natural colour again. Already there are products available that use the natural fleece colour of various animals to create depth in browns and blacks, but coming very soon will be textiles, papers, paints, all manner of materials that use colour from nature.

The leader in this field is a Dutch company called Rubia, named after the Rubia plant which was the traditional source for red and orange. Rubia have mastered a process for extracting pigments from plants on a commercial and repeatable scale. The colours are fast, and vibrant.

For the first time (since the last time) 100% pure products are possible with Rubia and New Zealand wool.

Natural colours that are, well, natural!

Market leading brands will start adopting natural fibres and pigments into their products to create unique selling points that will help them maintain their pole position. Then within a relatively short period we will see natural products become mainstream. After all they are not making anymore dinosaurs so when the oil runs out we won’t have a choice. More info Here