Revving up NPD

Innovault helps a consumer electricals company differentiate via New Products in a slow-growing, commoditized category
A leading consumer electricals player was banking on product differentiation to fight off aggressive new entrants in the Fans category. It was decided the NPD effort needed to accelerate by taking an innovative approach.

Once it was clear that the intended outcome was a pipeline of innovative products, we started off by assembling a Team that was rather unusual in their scheme of things: one that comprised folks not just from Product Development and R&D but also people from Sales, Marketing, Service and HR.

In our experience working with organizations of all sizes across the industry spectrum

The bigger the need for a ‘Pole-vaulting’ boost in a business, the more it pays to dig below visible activities to uncover and shine a ruthless spotlight onto the organization’s potentially limiting Perceptual Models: a self-created obstacle course of invisible but all-powerful beliefs about the business. Something that can silently limit the field of thought, short-circuiting new ideas & possibilities. 

In our experience working with organizations of all sizes across the industry spectrum

The bigger the need for a ‘Pole-vaulting’ boost in a business, the more it pays to dig below visible activities to uncover and shine a ruthless spotlight onto the organization’s potentially limiting Perceptual Models: a self-created obstacle course of invisible but all-powerful beliefs about the business. Something that can silently limit the field of thought, short-circuiting new ideas & possibilities.

Instead of sitting everyone down in a ‘Brainstorming’ or Idea Generation session, the first thing they were taken through was an exercise in self-reflection. Here the Innovation Team recognized and faced up to several of their unconscious Perceptual Model boundaries worth seriously questioning w.r.t the Fans category. For instance, they admitted that a low single digit category CAGR had made the whole system used to minor product variations & tweaks year after year. Also there was no real questioning of conventional wisdom in design, technology & materials.

Facing up to their Perceptual Model boundaries slowly but surely started opening up some long term Questions for the NPD effort. One of the key ones being

“What would it take to trigger upgrade/replacement in this category?”

The company’s CEO was also invited to contribute to sharpening the Team’s thinking at this stage. In what proved to be a powerful co-creation exercise, he cautioned against getting seduced by the bells-and-whistles sort of ideas. But rather to focus attention on re-discovering consumer needs at the core. Finding out how their product could be clearly superior in the consumer’s eyes. And ensuring that the effort conceived products with mass appeal.

 

The Innovation Team’s collective reflection followed by strategic co-creation at the CEO’s level now set the stage for an outward journey: A quest for fresh Insight into the real needs of the consumer. In a significant departure from usual market research, in this case the entire Team went out to engage with customers and other ecosystem entities like architects, interior decorators & Vaastu experts. Investing energy in highly productive direct dialogues with them.

Many powerful Insights emerged.

For example: A belief that “Nothing new is happening in fans” which makes many customers carry on with their sub-optimally performing fans. The Volume of air thrown came up as a key requirement, but not the attendant noise. The sorely felt need for an effective kitchen fan.

The Innovation Team’s collective reflection followed by strategic co-creation at the CEO’s level now set the stage for an outward journey: A quest for fresh Insight into the real needs of the consumer. In a significant departure from usual market research, in this case the entire Team went out to engage with customers and other ecosystem entities like architects, interior decorators & Vaastu experts. Investing energy in highly productive direct dialogues with them.

Many powerful Insights emerged.

For example: A belief that “Nothing new is happening in fans” which makes many customers carry on with their sub-optimally performing fans. The Volume of air thrown came up as a key requirement, but not the attendant noise. The sorely felt need for an effective kitchen fan.

Inspired by these insights, the Innovault Team generated several ‘Pole-Vaulting’ Ideas.

Based on these ideas, the company has introduced several path-breaking new products in the 2 years that have elapsed:

  • A fan with enhanced air delivery able to reach inaccessible corners of a room
  • A high precision kitchen fan that ensures comfort without disturbing the work of cooking
  • A fan that is much less noisy than comparable products
  • A fan that consumes much less energy than a conventional fan.
These products have ensured the company captured the high ground in offering innovative solutions for deep-seated consumer needs, leading to enhanced consumer pull. The steady pipeline of new products is a key contributor to the company’s strengthened competitive position in the Fans category.
These products have ensured the company captured the high ground in offering innovative solutions for deep-seated consumer needs, leading to enhanced consumer pull. The steady pipeline of new products is a key contributor to the company’s strengthened competitive position in the Fans category.