Some time ago I wanted to rent a car and walked into an Avis office. On the counter there was a sign that read: “Avis needs you. You don’t need Avis”. It can hardly be expressed more simply than that, says Mikael Selling, Opticom International Research, in his column for Papernet.

We really need our customers, regardless of the products we sell or the services that we offer, but customers are mostly doing just fine without us. I find Avis to be an excellent example of a customer and market oriented company!

So what can you say about the level of market and customer orientation within the forest product industry?

I have been a consultant to the forest industry for over 20 years now and my experience is that there are great differences in how different forest companies deal with customer and market orientation.

Most companies have unfortunately not developed this way of looking at things to any greater extent, but it’s about time to rethink!

Based on the results from a survey that Opticom and Nordic Paper Journal presented on November 30, 2009 my viewpoint was confirmed by industry representatives. A majority, 61%, of respondents working within the Swedish forest industry considered “increased market and customer focus” to be the most important factor to a forest company in order to become more successful.

How can it be that so many forest products companies do not understand the values and importance of listening to the market?

Within the forest industry, we prefer to talk about production economy – tons per year and stock levels – but few people see the benefits in scanning the market for information in the way that practically every consumer goods supplier does.

In his article on Papernet, Mikael Selling illustrates why it’s decisive for the forest industry to develop its skills of listening to the market, to base the decisions on market facts and to embed the customer´s voice in the companies DNA. Read the full article here.

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