Toilet touch points, contact lenses with built-in blood-sugar analysis for diabetics and the subjectivity of colourful 6-sided beach balls were just three of the topics discussed at the recent Bathroom and Kitchen Business Conference.
The annual conference has always been designed to expand the minds of its delegates by getting them to look outside of their usual four walls, by challenging norms, and by creating some disruptive thoughts.
And as you can see, it certainly did that!
The programme, specially curated for this year’s tenth anniversary event, lived up to its promises with speakers carefully briefed to push boundaries, to change attitudes, to inspire, but to avoid bathrooms and kitchens.
First up was Paul McGee who surprised and, some say, shocked delegates into a rude awakening with his highly engaging and participative talk on Communicating for Success. Setting delegates with a number of tasks and challenging the audience to “be MAD” and make a difference certainly did its job.
McGee’s high energy and inspiring warm up was only relieved when broadcaster and business correspondent Jonty Bloom brought us back to earth with his detailed, and at times, chilling review of Business in Europe. He spoke about the challenges of the European Community and the economic condition of its member states. He compared them with the state of business in America, a nod perhaps to some members of the audience who had flown in especially for the event. They had come from the BMA’s equivalent association in the US, Plumbing Manufacturers International.
Jonty then considered ‘that elephant in the room’ - the UK. He gave his thoughts on how our country might fare in the forthcoming referendum but being a media man, warned us not to believe everything we see in the headlines!
Sustainability was the next thorny subject for discussion with Nick Pollard who had many years’ experience working for the ‘big boys’ in the construction industry. His talk challenged delegates to consider running a sustainable business not only through its products but from its very core. He reminded us that running a sustainable business was good for the bottom line. Sustainability could also win contracts and keep the business out of trouble. Inspiring thoughts.
Designer Dick Powell changed the scene with his excellent multi-media presentation wowing the audience with his thoughts on ‘cool hunting’ and suggesting that if we wanted to see into the future we should contact him first! He boasted that he lives in the future – that’s his role in life!
Powell suggested (no, demanded) that business leaders should protect its innovation process. He argued that industry cannot live without it. He wanted us to challenge the norm, to consider our product’s touch points (an interesting thought when you contemplate a toilet!) and to create new paradigms. He told us to think wide but get close to our customers. More inspiring stuff.
Onto sales and marketing next with a review of the changes in retailing from Professor Joshua Bamfield, and the rapid advance of all-things-digital from Allister Frost.
Bamfield pursued a careful study into the rapidly changing world of retailing – a change brought on by the recession of 2008 when the industry “fell off the cliff edge.” He suggested that today’s shopper is a new shopper. The recession made people rethink how they shopped and he forecast that by around 2025 at least 25% of all purchases will be made on line. Omni-channel retailing, show-rooming, web-rooming and queue busting are the current trends and retailers can’t hide from them.
Allister Frost took marketing to a new level. He once headed Microsoft’s marketing and had been responsible for many of its product launches. He reviewed the pace of change in the digital world and there is no doubt that it is now so fast it’s difficult for mere humans to keep up.
The speed of delivery of products purchased on line is exercising the minds of those in the know. He asked us to recall the days of 28-day delivery. Now it’s getting down to 28 minutes. Stand by for changes in bathrooms and kitchens.
The full day of presentations was brought to a close with a key note from multi award winning broadcaster and journalist, Michael Buerk. What a speaker! And what better way than to conclude a conference with a sideways look at the world from a master of his craft.
Buerk recalled his recent purchase of new bathrooms for his home. His wife “made most of the decisions.” Nothing new there then! He also spoke about his time in the jungle of reality TV before giving us his view of where humanity seems to be going. “What are people turning in to?” he asked and promptly told us what he thought. There is a massive growth in global numbers but we are becoming more individualistic. Is that good for society?
Buerk left us on a high but with profound points of view to contemplate.
The day’s conference concluded with the customary Gala Dinner and Media Awards. David Osborne, the BMA’s President announced the winners of this year’s awards which had been democratically selected by the BMA membership.
The winners were:
Best Trade Magazine – Essential Kitchen and Bathroom Business
Best Consumer Magazine – Kitchens Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Best Trade Journalist/Editor – Rebecca Nottingham
Best Consumer Journalist/Editor – Ruth Bell
Best Digital Contribution – KBBDaily
Best Exhibition - Sleep
And now you are asking what about those colourful six-sided beach balls.
They came during the opening talk by Paul McGee when he reminded us that you should always look at your company as if you were the customer. To illustrate this, place a six-sided beach ball between you and your customer. Each side of the ball has a different colour. You will see three colours, looking out. But the customer will see three completely different colours, looking in. Think about it. It’s serious.
The Bathroom and Kitchen Conference 2015 did exactly as it was billed. It had something for everyone. Bet you’re sorry you missed it.
Hi-Resolutions images available on request.