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The age of the customer by Petteri Kolinen, CEO, Design Forum Finland
The time we are living today is called 'The age of the customer' by the american research company Forrester. It means that: 'In this era, digitally-savvy customers would change the rules of business, creating extraordinary opportunity for companies that could adapt, and creating existential threat to those that could not.' This means that the traditional businesses should renew their approach and brand in order to survive in this revolution. And those who make the right moves have great potential to grow.
Finnish furniture business and Finnish design have an impressive history with some of the great names of design in the heart of this history. The business of the companies like Artek, Avarte, Vivero and Asko has been based on a well known head designer, who has been driving the holistic brand identity. After the death of the head designer, it has been very difficult for these companies to maintain the holistic brand, and interesting, modern collection.
..the main challenge is that there are not many companies who would take full advantage of this talent, or actually executives that would see design as the main competitive element in their business. — Petteri Kolinen
If we look at the international design competitions, the new Finnish design generations are full of designers with talent and unique ideas. In my mind the main challenge is that there are not many companies who would take full advantage of this talent, or actually executives that would see design as the main competitive element in their business. If we really want to boost the Finnish furniture export, this has to change.
As a benchmark, we have e.g. Framery Acoustics, a Pirkkala based company, with very focused product collection. They have managed to grow very fast especially in the highly competitive North American market. They have an iconic design language and a world class brand identity. Their iconic design has given Framery enormous competitive advantage, and made the exponential growth possible. And as Forrester underlines it; by utilizing the digital channels.
We at Design Forum Finland help the Finnish SME's to be more competitive, through the strategic use of design. We are a non-profit organization, funded partly by the Ministry of Economics and Employment.
We have the creative talent, now we just have take full advantage of it, and create other success stories like Framery.
-Petteri Kolinen, CEO, Design Forum Finland