Methods of Demand Forecasting

What is Demand Forecasting?

The art of predicting the demand for a service or product in the future market is known as demand forecasting. This forecast is based on historical data, past customer behavior trends, and patterns of the present market. In short, it is the scientific estimation of future demand for products and not just merely guessing it. It also gives crucial insights into cash flows, risk maintenance, budgeting, margins, inventory turnover, and more. There is no perfect demand forecasting method so every company needs a prediction solution. Here we shall discuss some of those methods. The efficiency of these methods can be increased by making them more accurate with the application of various methodologies.

 

Various Demand Forecasting Methods

Forecasting the demand is not easy. Proper scientific formulas and sound judgment are required to accurately forecast the demand for a service or product in the future. Let us take a look at the various methods of demand forecasting.


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  • Method of Collective Opinion

Here the estimated sales for the future are predicted by the salesperson of a firm, from a particular region. All these individual estimates are combined to calculate the total estimated sales. The consumers are closest to the salesperson. Hence it is believed that they would understand the needs and trends amongst customers much better.

The estimates are based on market competition, product usage, customer behavior, advertisements, the population of the region, and more. This method is not scientific as it depends on the experience of the salesperson and his personal opinions on customer relations.

  • Barometric Method

This method uses the projection of past demand for products and services into the future. The future trends are predicted with the help of economic indicators. The various types of economic indicators include lagging indicators, leading indicators, and coincident indicators.

The ones that move up or down in the lead of some other series are the leading indicators. The ones that follow the change after a time gap are the lagging indicators. While the ones that move up and down depending on economic activities are the coincident indicators.

  • Method of Expert Opinion

Demand forecasting can also be done with the help of the market experts as they know about the demand affecting factors in detail. The Delphi Technique is one such method. It is a pretty reasonable and speedy technique where the experts are provided with a critical questionnaire from which they are supposed to forecast the demand. They are provided with data to conclude. However, they are also required to provide suitable reasons for how they concluded.

  • Method of Market Experimentation

This method is a time-consuming and expensive one in which market studies are conducted based on consumer trends and patterns. Certain factors are considered constant as some determinants may vary while doing calculations.

  • Buyer's Choice Survey

One of the best demand forecasting methods is asking the customers about the needs and expectations regarding the kind of products they are expecting. Whenever the forecast is to be made within a short period, customers should be directly interviewed. On the other hand, businesses should not depend on customer views as they may misjudge the demands or change their preferences with time. Hence, use your judgment while forecasting also.

  • Statistical Methods

These are the most bias-free, reliable, and scientifically proven methods. The two most famous types of statistical methods are trend projection and regression analysis methods. These are entirely dependent on future demand predictions.


Major Types of Demand Forecasting

Demand forecasting can be done in various different ways and you may choose any type of demand forecasting method and can perform it using any method that the company desires. The six major types of demand forecasting are

  1. Passive Demand Forecasting: In this type of forecasting, sales data from the past is used to predict the future of the company. In case of seasonal fluctuations, be sure that you use data from the same season in order to project sales in the future. It is one of the simplest and easier methods for demand forecasting.

  2. Active Demand Forecasting: This type of demand forecasting is a good choice for new start-ups. This model takes marketing campaigns, market research, and expansion plans into account. 

  3. Short-Term Projections: This forecasting method analyzes for a short-term of 3 to 12 months helps in managing a just-in-time supply chain and also allows the company to adjust their projections based on real-time sales data.

  4. Long-Term Projections: This forecasting method analyzes for a long-term of one to four years and helps us in focusing and shaping the growth of business trajectory, planning out the company’s marketing, capital investments, and supply chain operations. The method is based on sales data and market research.

  5. External Macro Forecasting: This company incorporates the trends that persist in a broader economy, that is, it analyzes how the trends affect the goals of a company and give us a direction that can help us meet our career goals.

  6. Internal Business Forecasting: Internal capacity is one of the limiting factors for the growth of your business. This type of forecasting helps you predict the limitations that might slow down the growth of your business. It also helps reveal the untouched areas of opportunity within the organization. The major factors in internal forecasting are business financing, profit margins, cash on hand, and supply chain operations. Therefore, this forecasting helps you make realistic projections and gives you time to build the capacity that can help you meet expansion goals.


How Can We Create Forecasts?

There are many different ways that can be utilized to create forecasts. The five major methods used for making demand forecasts are:

  1. Trend Projection: It is the simplest and most straightforward method to forecast demand that involves the use of previous sales data in order to predict future sales. It is an example of passive demand forecasting.

  2. Market Research: This type of forecasting is based on the data that is collected through customer surveys. The method is time-consuming and tedious as one needs to send surveys to the customer and then tabulate data accordingly. The information gathered from this method cannot be collected from any other method, therefore, the efforts required by this method are worth it. It is an example of active demand forecasting.

  3. Salesforce Composite: This method utilizes the feedback obtained from the sales group in order to forecast the demands of the customer. The method also helps in connecting the sales division with the managers of the company to keep the flow of information open. It is an example of short-term projections.

  4. Delphi Method: This method involves experts and skilled facilitators from outside in order to obtain an expert opinion on the market forecast of your company.

  5. Econometric: This method involves the use of mathematical formulas to predict the future of customer demand. The method is based on the relationship between various economic factors that can affect the demand for a certain company’s products.

 

Solved Examples

1. What are the major types of Statistical Forecasting?

Statistical Forecasting is basically of six types in general. They are linear regression, multiple linear regression, time series analysis, productivity ratios, and stochastic analysis.


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2. Name four common types of forecasting.

The main four forms of forecasting are econometric models, the Delphi method, judgmental forecasting, and the time series model.


Fun Facts

  • Forecasting is broadly classified into qualitative and quantitative forecasting.

  • Cash flow statements, income statements, and balance sheets are the three fundamental components of financial forecasting.

  • Often we tend to apply wrong planning for strategic decision making. These are some of the biggest challenges in demand forecasting.

  • It is not like only the customers need the products; the business also needs the customers. Hence, they continuously interact with their consumers to make them happy and satisfy their needs. This place is where survey forecasting comes into play.

FAQs on Methods of Demand Forecasting

1. Give some Demand Forecasting examples in light of Statistical Forecasting?

Statistical methods are the most trusted demand forecasting method as they are scientific and unbiased. Let us take a look at them.

  • Regression Analysis: The quantity is known as the dependent variable. While the price of goods, income, price of substitute goods, and related stuff are independent variables. Regression develops a linear relationship between these two variables. The equation is Y= a+bX, where Y is the forecast demand. 

  • Method of Trend Projection: Here, the past sales data of a company is arranged chronologically to form a timeline series. This series depicts past trends from which future trends can be predicted. It is assumed that past trends will continue in the future also.

2. How can customer surveys be done?

Customer surveys can be taken in many ways. The most popular methods are-

  • End-User Process: Here, the consumers and end-users are identified. The amount of intake of the product is fixed, output targets are estimated, and these norms help to forecast the demand of the inputs.

  • Complete or Full Enumeration Process: Here, all the end-users or buyers are asked about their personal buying preferences, needs, and trends. 

  • Sample Survey Method: Here, the salesperson scientifically chooses some specific potential buyers from previous buying data. These buyers are called for personal interviews, and they are asked for their choices and buying preferences. 

  • These are just a few methods and there are plenty more that can be used.

3. What are the benefits of demand forecasting?

Demand forecasting is a process of predicting the demand for a specific product in the future. There are various benefits of demand forecasting in a company. These benefits are:

  • The analysis of sales data can help reveal seasonal fluctuations in the sales of the product.

  • The forecasting helps us analyze which months of the year faceless customer demands.

  • Analyzing your previous balance sheet will help you analyze the link between sales revenue and costs of goods sold.

  • Demand forecasting will help you plan your supply chain.

  • Demand forecasting will help you understand how outside factors influence the sales of a company’s product.

  • Demand forecasting also helps an individual to prepare for the future prospects of a company.

4. What are the issues related to demand forecasting for most companies?

Though demand forecasting is very beneficial to analyze the progress of any company, there are various disadvantages of demand forecasting as well:

  • Demand forecasting can be a problem for companies that do not have a record of their historical sales data.

  • Companies that do not have an adequate and predictable supply chain face problems in demand forecasting.

  • Demand forecasting is a problem if you don't have the details of what is stored in your warehouse. This can lead to overestimation or underestimation of your company’s production.

5. How can I use demand forecasting efficiently to keep my business healthy?

Demand forecasting is an efficient way to keep your business growing but only if you use the reports of demand forecasting in a correct way. The ways with which you can efficiently use demand forecasting well are:

  • You must keep communication lines open at every level of your spinal chain and share related data with the supply chain so that the information flows efficiently in both directions.

  • Never rely on only one supplier as it can lead to backlogs, therefore, try diversifying your sources in order to protect your supply chain.

  • Always keep a track of the results of your demand forecasts to learn how accurate you are with your forecasts.

  • Always keep a track of dead stock because these are the products that are kept on your warehouse shelves but do not bring any revenue to the company.

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