Published - 2020/10/21
See how Holmen is utilizing in-depth feedback from potential customers to drive business development
In brief – Holmen Paper wanted quick confirmation that a new product concept had market potential and was commercially relevant. In order to test the new concept Holmen Paper launched an extensive market research project including in-depth interviews with potential customers in 15 European countries. “We have gained market knowledge and it has also been an excellent market temperature sensor, giving us guidance on the way forward and helping us in our strategic decision making” explains Tommy Wiksand, VP Business Development at Holmen Paper.
The encouraging feedback gave Holmen Paper the necessary proof-of-concept to continue testing and fine-tuning the product offering. Read the full story of how Holmen Paper is utilizing this in-depth feedback from potential customers to drive new business development.
Describing his role, Tommy Wiksand explains that his current main focus lies on the development of new virgin fiber-based products. He is also working with the digitalization of Holmen Paper’s value proposition, with the company’s market position two years from now, in mind. His responsibility is the long-term strategy within these areas as well as finding new customer segments.
During the spring/summer of 2019, a comprehensive project, involving desk research and in-depth interviews, was carried out among key stakeholders in 15 European countries. The background of this market research project was the need of a fast analysis of trends, opportunities and market potential for a new product concept being developed by Holmen Paper. “We have previously worked with Opticom and after having looked into different alternatives; we chose them yet again. We know how Opticom works and appreciate their skills in in-depth interviewing”.
Tommy cannot reveal too much about the research aims, which have led to interesting new market discoveries, but he discloses that it concerned kraft packaging paper. "Over the years we have constantly worked with product conversions, going from newsprint to book paper and magazine paper and to direct mailing". He continues, "We wanted to have a closer look at where our products will fit in if we further develop them for new segments such as kraft packaging papers".
Tommy continues, “We know that Opticom has the right drive and can reach a lot of people in a short amount of time to test our designed concept. Through in-depth interviews with relevant respondents, we were able to thoroughly test our concept. We decided to limit our scope to Europe and got an excellent market analysis as well as a great market base for the continuation of our marketing.
We are still testing concepts and the product launch will come eventually. We are developing our concept further, hand in hand with targeted marketing towards those very clients on the market Opticom identified for us in this project. So, we are moving rather cautiously, still being in the start-up phase of it all.”
Explaining what this project has meant to Holmen Paper, Tommy says, "We have gained market knowledge and it has also been an excellent market temperature sensor, giving us guidance on our way forward, so basically this project has helped us in our strategic decision making".
An additional benefit has been the increased knowledge within this product segment, Tommy elaborates, "First and foremost, it is about getting a confirmation that our designed concept is actually working! Opticom did also send out samples of this new paper product to our clients, who were able to see, touch and feel it and give their feedback. We called the project a Proof-of-concept one."
Tommy summarizes the initiative as designing a good product concept, proving its relevance and thanks to this study, they now have good market knowledge and have identified stakeholders and established contact with important persons in key markets.
Tommy acknowledges that one always must be somewhat critical to any survey results, as the market only tells us what it knows and what is currently available. New concepts are not always easily explainable, it takes profound knowledge, and the challenge lies in not just discussing the present, but more importantly, what could be.
There are always people involved in our projects who say, “This is the way it will always be” but market changes can occur fast, Tommy emphasizes, "I have experienced that many times, in almost all of our product development projects consultants have told us: 'This will be difficult, because the market tells us so'. But we listen to the market and then twist their message a bit, it is all in trying to understand what that is actually being said."
Not that many people were involved in this latest project and Tommy explains, "We checked the market temperature and then we jointly tried to interpret the results but, in the end, we do our interpretation of the results. For you as consultants: the market tells you what it wants. So, market research can sometimes be worrisome because the market is usually satisfied with what it has, you know what you have but not what you could have.
"However, I definitely think that we should continue to conduct this type of market studies, it gives us relevant information in short time!"