Current competitive environment, characterised by immense technological changes, fast communication, economic opening, global competition, and high default rates are making companies review their models of competition.
Change in speed in the environment is increasing, causing higher complexity and “turbulence” or discontinuity. Technological developments are being combined to reduce the products’ cycles of life and to speed up periods of commercialisation. The concept of labour is not only linked to production. To prepare products means to create an attractive design for the consumer.
The furniture industry holds productive dynamic and technological development set by machines and equipment used in the productive process, introduction of new materials, and design improvement.
Regarding machines and equipment, flexibility in production and quality improvement in products turned production more sequential, yet discontinued, revealing a new cultural feature in the sector. Design has an essential weight for the good acceptance of a product in the market. Thus, it is necessary to get acquainted with the habits, culture, and necessities of any kind of person or group, and to transfer such information to the product. That’s what design is for and that’s what adds value to the product.
According to Philip Kotler, market-target marketing consists in decisions regarding different groups that comprise a market and create products and marketing compounds for the selected target-markets. This is the method used the most for finding market opportunities and developing products.
Market research is not considered a strategic factor by the furniture sector, and it is hard to find companies that operate with marketing consulting companies.
In general, companies consider the opinion of the salesperson, retailer, or commercial representative as sufficient element for making decisions related to formal changes in their lines of products. Thus, there is neither deeper nor more structured knowledge with respect to the reasons behind the success (or failure) of the products, nor is there clear knowledge regarding consumers’ profile and factors that influence them in their purchasing decisions.
Introduction of own design is important for companies to expand their exports with their own product lines, meeting technical, environmental, and design preferences and standards desired by the developed markets, increasing competitiveness, and raising funds for future investments.
This strategy makes it possible to add value to the product, which would be appropriated by the national company rather than by the foreign importer, as currently occurs. Moreover, this strategy is highly valuable for national companies that operate in the international market, turning it feasible for them to conquer new markets.
Design works as a mix comprising quality, style, function, form, and engineering, in which case it is essential for the marketing professionals to be careful to orient the company’s efforts towards creating efficient designs.
Although design involves a series of elements and stages of preparation, it materialises itself in the appearance of the final product, which hides the entire process. This “appearance” is the first impression that the customer has upon making contact with the product. Thus, design is important as an element that can cause an extremely favourable impact, not only for the product but also for the company’s image. It is important to observe such aspects, taking into account that design results should not be assessed based on physical product alone, but taking into account benefits and services added to it as well, for the company and for the market. In this part, eco-design and environment-friendly design are included.
Eco-design and ergonomics
Today, ecological thought is present in most industrial activities, and, in future, shall be present in all. This occurs, because concepts of this area become evermore important. This shall force society to migrate from many current palliative actions to ecological actions with strong impact on the future. Pieces of furniture, due to high consumption of materials and packages, can not be left out of this process. As consumers become more aware, their pressure becomes ever stronger in their search for products, including environment-friendly furniture.
Care with preservation of the environment should be present in all stages of product development. This thought oriented towards preservation of the environment has been growing over the past years, due to foreign market requirements, which drastically restricts trade of furniture built with non-reforested timber.
In packaging, a concern which should always be present in product development is the destination of packaging after the end of its purpose and inspection for damages it could cause to the environment. Choice of packaging material can minimise this environmental impact. In furniture construction, it is also necessary to think about ergonomics.
The furniture industry is extremely fragmented, regarding number of producing countries and different kinds of products. Within this environment, competitive advantages are rapidly copied, forcing companies to always search for new forms of differentiation. The search for the smaller price is a very dangerous strategy due to relative cost advantages of certain countries (such as China). Some countries, with their own styles (such as Sweden), have managed to obtain quite interesting results, proving that this option is quite interesting for companies, showing that this option is quite interesting for companies, reason for which it shall now be discussed.
Correct use of design, intimately linked to engineering and marketing, uses knowledge related to ergonomics, materials, and other multifaceted skills for generating new products. It can be noted that most companies focus on technological evolution, improving their production complex and productive processes, relegating to a second plan the strategy of product development with design.
Source: Elaborated by the Journalistic Team of the Magazine of the Wood