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Tenarguments

You can’t see the forest for all the trees”.

In Sweden, with some 80 percent of the land covered by forests, that is a pretty obvious remark. But it is also a Swedish proverb, meaning that it’s hard to see what’s under your nose.

Maybe that is also the case when it comes to the nature of the forestry industry, especially the pulp industry. Things are changing, fast. And few see it. From being the archetypical cyclic industry, ridden by regular financial tidal waves, the forest industry is showing signs of increased stability over time.

 

Let’s list the indicators, one by one, but without any internal order:

  1. Forest land gets a higher evaluation than ever by analysts and is seen as a safe investment.
  2. Printing paper represent a much smaller share of the business now, and hence a much lower implication on the bottom line.
  3. The population in the industrialized world is getting significantly older, which implicates an increased use of tissue products, not least for incontinence care.
  4. Globally, a larger proportion of the population is rising from poverty, and therefore is likely to consume more paper based products.
  5. The growth in the global economy shows surprising stamina, which in turn drives the demand on packaging.
  6. Consumers are becoming more environmentally concerned, and show a growing resentment against plastics and pro paper based packaging.
  7. The shift from a fossil-based to a bio-based society is growing and becoming common practise.
  8. There is a growing lack of recycled fibre in the recycling system, which drives a need to invest in the production of fresh fibre.
  9. The forestry industry, which may have been seen as conservative, is becoming more and more innovative, focusing increasingly on R&D.
  10. After years of development, large scale wooden based buildings (residential as well as commercial) are getting a broader acceptance.

 

We see these trends, with all the new opportunities they offer for the forestry industry. And we’ll take an active role in this process of change. Because we help create value for companies around the world by transforming data and knowledge into strategic advice and efficient communication.

 

 

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In 2013, Stora Enso approached us at Opticom International Research with one particularly interesting project: their VOICE customer loyalty research programme; and when the Renewable Packaging Division decided to entrust us with interacting on a daily-basis with their customers it became the start of a long-term partnership. This project has been growing over the years and is now running over 80 countries worldwide.

John McKechie – Vice President, Customer & Sales Support at Stora Enso – gives us his views on these first years of cooperation.

jmck photo 20100924
John McKechie
VP, Customer & Sales Support
Stora Enso
Stora Enso decided to implement a customer experience project to obtain measurable and actionable feedback from their customers in order to better understand the areas of improvement; but also where they are doing well. As Opticom International Research worked with Stora Enso over many years conducting varied surveys and research projects on our behalf: it was a logical partnership for the VOICE program.

When asked about what the project means to Stora Enso and which part is the most valuable, John answers, “VOICE is increasingly important to the company. We need to have a consistent way to measure our customers’ experience, which also gives us impartial and detailed feedback. VOICE does not give us all the answers, but it does clearly indicate to us where we need to take improvement actions. The trend analysis also shows how we are viewed by our customers in comparison to our competition.”

More than just providing feedback and data, the programme can lead to making specific business decisions. John explains, “Many of the decisions we make might be relatively minor, specifically taken to address an issue raised by a customer e.g. changing the production order on a machine to reduce lead times. However, larger systemic issues are highlighted and this has led, for example, to significant reviews being made of our supply chain to address low scoring when it comes to delivery reliability, delivery consistency and delivery times.” And these decisions are leading to the improvement of Stora Enso’s processes and services.

John brings forward the advantages of working with a third party: “Opticom are experts in the research field and, although you are clearly communicated to our customers as being our partner in this process, you are still perceived as being independent. This allows us to get impartial, honest and detailed feedback from our customers which we would not be able to do if we conducted the interviews internally.”

Today communication is the cornerstone of any businesses and we – at Opticom – are eager to understand how our clients communicate about researches and their results. John shares that he himself communicates about the VOICE programme internally. He adds, “Within our Divisions there is regular communication of VOICE results and VOICE is on the agenda of Management Team meetings down through the organisation structure. VOICE is also a regular feature of the CEO’s monthly All Employee Call. Occasional articles will also appear in internal publications.”

John concludes his testimonial by highlighting that “the project ensures that we get regular, impartial feedback and meaningful detailed verbatim. As the interviews are conducted externally, there is a stronger belief in the accuracy of the scores and the honesty of the comments from our customers.”

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There are many people who have been part of Opticom’s history and have been valuable in contributing to our success. Our roots stem from research and analysis, which has provided our clients with true customer knowledge. This knowledge has served as the foundation for decisions that aim at creating bottom line value for our customers across the industry. Numerous client testimonials has shown that research pays off. Over the years, we have added consulting to our offering, helping our clients to reach insights that allow even better decision making. These are the two disciplines that we have built our success upon, and it has allowed us to work with an incredible list of globally leading companies. It has been our privilege to serve all these companies on a long-term basis.

We added communication as the third leg in our business in 2014, and thus today the Opticom Group offers global research, consulting and communication to all of our clients.

Our mission is to help our customers create value by transforming data and knowledge into strategic advice and efficient communication. We are a truly global company, covering over 30 nationalities active on 6 continents in more than 100 countries. Since our foundation in 1987 we have undertaken hundreds of international assignments across the world.

We thank all our clients for trusting Opticom with your important projects, and we also thank all of our co-workers and business partners for their hard work and commitment to Opticom.

Finally, we are very much looking forward to the next 30 years and beyond. We can also assure you that we will continue to be passionate about understanding your key challenges and in finding solutions that deliver true value and ROI.

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Seven lives

Take a closer look at the cardboard box that you just opened, or the newspaper you finished reading, or the bag of toilet tissue you recently bought. In an earlier life, they all used to be trees. Or rather, the cellulose fibres these products are made of used to be trees. But since then, the fibres have made a long journey.

Let’s start from the beginning, out in the deep forests. Chances are that these trees grew in the Nordics, and were planted in the beginning of the 20th century. Then they were cared for, decade after decade. While they grew, they absorbed enormous amounts of CO2 and produced oxygen, year after year.

Then they got harvested. And while new seedlings were planted, the best timber became floor boards, kitchen cabinets, or even complete houses. The rest was meticulously processed into fresh fibre pulp. Which eventually allowed publicists to issue their glossiest magazines. Confectionaries to pack their most delicate chocolates. And IT-companies to market their smartest mobile phones.

End of act one. Time to recycle. These recycled fibres return as tabloid newsprint, heavy-duty packaging board, trendy wall-paper, best-selling books or almost anything else. And so it evolves. Time after time, in an eternal cycle of life. Or?

The truth is that not even cellulose fibre have eternal life. After six or seven iterations they’re done. Their tenacity is gone, and they turn into dust. And here’s the catch of the very important and ambitious recycling systems deployed all over the world today. Unless they’re fed with a certain amount of new, fresh fibre, they collapse.

Where will this insight take the recycling industry in the long run? How will it affect the policies of the environmentalists? And what opportunities will it present to adaptive and inventive pulp & paper companies that want to focus even more on sustainability?

We don’t know yet. But we can find out.

Because we create value for companies around the world by transforming data and knowledge into strategic advice and effective communication.

opt

Knowledge explains.
Communication changes.

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Locally Grown

You probably don’t have the faintest idea. But, it is an important question to ask. Not only for you, but the entire globe.

Think about how much you care about the food you eat. You ask questions, such as; were the hens happy laying the eggs? Did the cows eat well? Are the carrots grown organically? Or did the peas get sprinkled with pesticides? It’s also become more important to know about the entire value chain, if the products come from a farm nearby, or have they been flown across the globe?

These are facts consumers use to drive their buying behaviour. So manufacturers now supply accurate information and are increasingly doing so. The proof can be found on a pack of eggs, or a bag of peas; there it all is, clearly declared.

Could this also be a way forward for the forest industry? Or rather in all industries making products from trees?

Consumer power is a forceful way to create the necessary peer pressure for change. Most people know from early age that trees are the lungs of mother Earth, transforming CO2 to the oxygen we breathe. But much fewer consumers know that trees are a steadily growing resource thanks to a century of responsible forestry.

Now look at this from a corporate perspective. Supplying sustainably produced goods has become one of the strongest brand promises today. So imagine the following. Next time you buy a new kitchen table, there’s a label with the GPS coordinates indicating where the trees grew. Your floorboards will be marked with how much water was used in production. And cookbooks will explain their environmental credentials by presenting both the ingredients and the recipes of the pulp they are made from.

Would that work? We don’t know yet. But let’s find out.

Because we create value for companies around the world by transforming data and knowledge into strategic advice and effective communication.

opt

Knowledge explains.
Communication changes.

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