Aninteresting note that relies on the literature to analyze the changes that the paint industry has undergone due to the current technological revolution.
by José Tomás Rojas*
The book "The Third Wave" by Alvin Toflfler (Plaza & James Editors, Nov. 1989, First Edition) is extremely interesting, for many reasons. It is a work that has been cataloged as futuristic, very much in the sense of what was the work of Jules Verne, that is, it has been able to predict events that would occur in the technological field, such as the decline of traditional industry, the appearance of social networks, the advancement of information and communication technology, among many other things.
Now, the idea of this column is not to give a review of Toffler's work. It is rather to reflect on one of the key approaches of the book, and that is, how in the history of humanity events have occurred that have forced very important changes in the way society works and interacts, generating new values, new behaviors, new preferences, new forms of organization of work and family, even new forms of government.
The case of the industrial revolution is the classic example. All the scientific, technological and industrial development that occurred at the end of the nineteenth century, and during a good part of the twentieth century, caused dramatic changes in society, which had to adapt to coexist and develop within this new state of affairs. The factory, with its mass production capacity, became the linchpin of everyday life. The need to bring mass production closer to the consumer created distribution networks and large sales chains. Marketing changed the concept of consumption by necessity, to consumption by desire, and all these activities created around the factory, including the leisure and entertainment industry, were able to absorb the labor mass of the countryside, which had been displaced by industrialization, which meant a spectacular development of society and its levels and quality of life. In return, society had to adapt to the routine of the factories; working hours, working hours, pyramid structures, the organization of human resources and collectivization. This model, with few variations, was replicated in schools, public bodies, banking and services, public transport, housing architecture, leisure planning and many other service activities.
However, Toffler gives us evidence that the impact of the factory on social organization has been declining, in particular, in these early years of the twenty-first century, especially due to its inability to generate new jobs that can massively absorb the new labor generations that are arriving at the labor market.
Aspects such as communication technologies, personalized products, flat structures, teleworking, the appearance of mini factories, being individual versus being collective, labor flexibility, represent an important challenge to the traditional structure of the factory, which must be reinvented, so as not to lose its relevant position within the social structure.
In the paint industry
The case of the paint industry is typical, and absolutely adjusted to the traditional factory concept. Mass products are manufactured (60% of the production is white paint). Automated manufacturing systems are introduced that reduce the need for factory labor, and therefore, the social impact of the factory. Formulation technology has lost its ability to differentiate, since, with few exceptions in the industrial area, product formulation technology is practically in the public domain. This has led to the emergence of small companies that manufacture product tailored to the consumer, with much lighter cost structures, which compete strongly for traditional markets.
Admittedly, the paint industry has placed a lot of emphasis on marketing, and indeed, it is an area that has walked hand in hand with the development of Third Wave technologies. Social networks are used to promote products, color combinations can be selected and made, online, from the comfort of home, in-store dyeing systems are already well established, advertising pieces work on the psychological impact of color in modern life, it is about selling the functionality of the paint (antibacterial, low odor, anti mosquitoes), as additional attributes to color, trying to prop up sales whose volume has been declining.
The bad news is that marketing work does not always mean final purchase decision, and in this case marketing ceases to be an investment, to become a huge expense. In today's economy, more than ever the price is still the one who finally decides the purchase.
My particular opinion is that you have to turn your eyes to product technology. The painting companies of global relevance have shown that the emphasis on spending must be balanced between production and marketing, but without leaving aside the Research and Development Units, made up of professionals of very high academic level. These units have nothing to envy to their counterparts in the big universities.
In Latin America there have been attempts to develop product technology, without much investment internally, through the creation of independent development networks, which are entrusted with solving a particular technology problem, but, apparently, the answers obtained have not been of the expected quality. Alliances have also been made with universities, but, it seems that in our latitudes, universities still fail to establish productive links with the company. They too have to renew themselves.
The problem remains, but the solutions are not in sight. It is said that a well-posed problem is a half-solved problem. The task remains for the strategic planning groups to sit down and think what must be done so that the paint factory can function successfully, in the face of the challenges that The Third Wave is posing to them.
* José Tomás Rojas. JTROJAS Pinturas, F.P. You can send your comments to the email firstname.lastname@example.org