The deal between Fitch and trend forecaster Peclers is, on the face of it, an odd union. What has a design consultancy working on programmes for multinational clients to do with predicting fashion trends for largely retail clients at the economy end of the scale?
But the two businesses have more in common than you might think. First, there is the personality and mutual respect of the two principals. Dominique Peclers and Fitch chairman Jean-FranÃ§ois Benz have known each other since the late 1980s, when both were allied to French ad agency RSCG. While both play a hands-on role in their respective businesses, retaining the vision they share of closer collaboration, the link will be there.
The challenge for both Benz and Peclers is to instill that spirit of collaboration into the minds of their clients and the culture of their teams before either of them retires out of the business. Fitch owner Lighthouse Communications Network and its new parent Cordiant Communications see the potential of the alliance and have no plans to change the relationship between the two consultancies.
Second, there is that potential to develop a joint service to clients that sets Fitch apart from its global rivals. Most branding specialists offer research into product performance; a few project how the market might change. But this expertise is often built on knowledge of public perceptions now, whereas Peclers uses intuition to forecast in emotional areas such as colour and texture.
Apple Computer’s influence on product design by introducing transparent plastics into the repertoire shows that the appeal of colour and texture can help to turn a company around. Experimentation with materials such as rubber and ceramics by Dutch group Droog Design, among others, has, meanwhile, fuelled new ideas about materials and finishes in a host of traditional industries – even UK bathroom manufacturer Ideal Standard has broken the mould with its latest models.
Fitch and Peclers could also break boundaries if they can persuade clients to go with instinct and emotion in design rather than a formula which absolutely guarantees financial success. We wish them well in their endeavours.
The personal touch, please
So coffee shop chain Costa is taking on Pret A Manger with plans to sell sandwiches through its outlets. How long will it be before one of the US-style chains discovers a format that adds personal service into the mix? It is the traditional London sandwich bar, which might be low on design, but is high on choice and quality.