Demand forecasting in the beauty industry using fuzzy inference systems



Linha de Pesquisa
Administração e Economia de Negócios

Ricardo Felicio Souza, Peter Wanke, Henrique Correa



Journal of Modelling in Management, v. 15, n. 4, pp. 1389-1417. Abstract Purpose: This study aims to analyze the performance of four different fuzzy inference system-based forecasting tools using a real case company. Design/methodology/approach: The forecasting tools were tested using 27 products of the nail polish line of a multinational beauty company and the performance of said tools was compared to those of the company’s previous forecasting methods that were basically qualitative (informal and intuition-based). Findings: The performance of the methods analyzed was compared by using mean absolute percentage error. It was possible to determine the characteristics and conditions that make each model the best for each situation. The main takeaways were that low kurtosis, negatively skewed demand time-series and longer horizon forecasts that favor the fuzzy inference system-based models. Besides, the results suggest that the fuzzy forecasting tools should be preferred for longer horizon forecasts over informal qualitative methods. Originality/value: Notwithstanding the proposed hybrid modeling approach based on fuzzy inference systems, our research offers a relevant contribution to theory and practice by shedding light on the segmentation and selection of forecasting models, both in terms of time-series characteristics and forecasting horizon. The proposed fuzzy inference systems showed to be particularly useful not only when time-series distributions present no clear central tendency (that is, they are platykurtic or dispersed around a large plateau around the median, which is the characteristic of negative kurtosis), but also when mode values are greater than median values, which in turn are greater than mean values. This large tail to the left (negative skewness) is typical of successful products whose sales are ramping up in early stages of their life cycle. For these, fuzzy inference systems may help managers screen out forecast bias and, therefore, lower forecast errors. This behavior also occurs when managers deal with forecasts of longer horizons. The results suggest that further research on fuzzy inference systems hybrid approaches for forecasting should emphasize short-term forecasting by trying to better capture the “tribal” managerial knowledge instead of focusing on less dispersed and slower moving products, where the purely qualitative forecasting methods used by managers tend to perform better in terms of their accuracy.

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