This may seem rather banal to some, but in my mind it is of substantial importance. You have to listen to customers in order to understand in which direction the market is heading, paying due attention to what they say (and don’t say) and interpreting the feedback accordingly.
It is not really possible for a product to be dropped by the market overnight and without warning; there is always some leeway that allows you to move in a different direction and find new segments. If however market demands start to decrease, an alarm should go off in your head as a warning that things are changing.
In other words, we can say that
customer demands (explicit and implicit) are the new market trends. Whether it refers to a product or a service.
Let’s take a practical example.
We have said many times on this blog, that customers request rapid delivery times but suppliers no longer store large amounts of stock.
Well, some time ago we ordered an electric motor from an Italian firm, an importer of products from a German manufacturer. Our supplier quoted us 14 weeks for delivery. FOURTEEN WEEKS for a fairly simple product.
Why is that? Because for some time now, our suppliers no longer store stock in their warehouses, so if in the past they stocked most products they sold (including our electric motor), they can no longer afford to do so, and therefore send orders to the manufacturer only when the goods have been sold.
But it doesn’t stop there. Because, in our case, even the German parent company didn’t have the product we ordered in stock. In fact, even the latter has now adopted the same policy and waits to receive orders before purchasing the raw materials and components required to produce the product.
Moral of the story: the idea of decreasing stock is at war with the market demanding ever shorter delivery times (the market drugged by Amazon Prime which I spoke about some time ago).
So – going back to the topic of this post –
one question that a manufacturer should ask himself should be: is there a way of supplying goods with shorter delivery times?
Maybe there is. But that’s not the point of my topic today…
What I want to emphasize is that it is useful to use your customers as guidelines when searching for new segments and, in some cases, also your suppliers. Sometimes they contact us because they need a specific product, paving the way towards new segments that we may never have thought of pursuing.
And if customers are an excellent guide towards assessing new feasible markets, it is also essential – as I was saying last week – to dedicate time to reading, studying, visiting exhibitions and so on. Golden opportunities to gather ideas that may turn out to be useful when facing certain situations, troubleshooting and engaging with new markets.