In­for­ma­tion is al­ways king

Australasian Timber - - ASSOCIATIONS - By Eric Siegers Prin­ci­paL, The Tim­ber Hub

THE CHAL­LENGE for the tim­ber in­dus­try in Aus­tralia is not who will buy the tim­ber, ev­i­dence is that tim­ber al­ready has a pretty re­li­able mar­ket. No, the chal­lenge is how can the tim­ber sec­tor do what other in­dus­tries do and in­crease value and use in­no­va­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion as key fac­tors to grow­ing the sec­tor.

The Aus­tralian tim­ber mar­ket is slow to in­no­vate. There are a num­ber of rea­sons given for this, any­thing from need to main­tain sales (the fail­ure of sales suc­cess!) to lack of ma­te­rial avail­abil­ity; to ev­ery­thing in be­tween. Yes, they are just ex­cuses. We have all heard them and we all fall into the trap at some stage of our ca­reers of pan­der­ing to them. The re­al­ity is, we need to con­front the sta­tus quo of any of our prod­ucts and ser­vices and look to how we can do it bet­ter. As so many in­dus­tries has taught us, get­ting the value add comes from be­ing at the fore­front of tech­nol­ogy and ad­vance­ment. But to ad­vance you need in­for­ma­tion – and this is the Achilles heel of the in­dus­try.

It is in my view the big­gest is­sue the tim­ber sup­ply chain has - the lack of in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing mar­kets and op­por­tu­ni­ties and how tim­ber is ac­tu­ally used. By way of ex­am­ple find­ing data on floor­ing, deck­ing, cladding is dif­fi­cult at best, and im­pos­si­ble at worst. So it an­swers the ques­tion why the tim­ber in­dus­try has been so bad at un­der­stand­ing its cus­tomers. With­out data and anal­y­sis you have no hope of un­der­stand­ing how the con­sumer drives the pull strat­egy for so much of the in­dus­try. So what we are do­ing at the Tim­berHub is cal­cu­lat­ing in­for­ma­tion about how tim­ber is used so we can do some­thing that other in­dus­tries seem to do a whole lot bet­ter. Un­der­stand the con­sumer.

All too of­ten I hear – “we don’t deal with the con­sumer!” or “they don’t pay our bills” and while th­ese state­ments are cor­rect in and of them­selves the re­al­ity is the con­sumer is the pow­er­house be­hind the de­mand and sup­ply chains. We ig­nore them at our peril.

Yes we watch hous­ing starts, but does that tell us what type of floor­ing peo­ple are go­ing to be us­ing or whether peo­ple are in­creas­ingly us­ing com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als for deck­ing? Does it tell us whether ren­o­va­tion is tick­ing up as an grow­ing mar­ket for en­gi­neered floors? The an­swer is we need to fo­cus a lot more on the de­tail and look at peo­ple’s ques­tions to work out what the in­flu­ences are in the mar­ket.

The Tim­berHub has been watch­ing the con­sumer reg­u­larly and build­ing a lot of data about the way the mar­ket is trend­ing. By way of ex­am­ple we know from con­sumers vis­it­ing the cen­tre that con­sumers are do­ing a lot of look­ing at com­pos­ites, and Ar­chi­tects are spec­i­fy­ing a huge amount of jobs in com­pos­ites has this seen a dra­matic in­crease in mar­ket share? While some would say yes, other ev­i­dence in­di­cates that the up­take of com­pos­ites has sta­bilised while the con­sumers reignite their pref­er­ence for tim­ber.

The moral is stay­ing on top of mar­ket in­for­ma­tion is vi­tal to help un­der­stand where the mar­ket is head­ing, and what ef­fect it is hav­ing on your mar­ket share (and there­fore op­por­tu­ni­ties), and also to mon­i­tor what new prod­ucts you may need to watch out for etc. etc. The Tim­berHub has the his­tory of data that we are now sup­ple­ment­ing with in­for­ma­tion from sources such as IBIS world, ABS and BIS so that we can help our sup­port­ers know and un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing in their par­tic­u­lar slice of the tim­ber mar­ket. So keep in con­tact with us at the Tim­berHub, we see a lot of what is go­ing on in the mar­ket place with a great deal more clar­ity than many would ex­pect.

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