The next chapter in “trickle up innovation”–or new product development that takes ideas from emerging markets and applies them in the developed world–may just be about branding. So claims the Schumpeter column, “Brand New,” in the latest issue of The Economist. The piece discusses how companies in China and India (and other non-North American/Western European nations) are now hoping to build great brands of their own–and within the column are some noteworthy product design and development tips, too.
The Schumpeter column offers theses three nuggets, summarized from the book The New Emerging-Market Multinationals, co-written by INSEAD’s Amitava Chattopadhyay, the University of Michigan’s Rajeev Batra:
- Apply an ability to understand local markets to developing products for particular areas internationally. India’s Marico, for instance, has engineered a shampoo formulated for tap water that’s highly chlorinated, a characteristic of Middle Eastern homes.
- Define and then design for market segments in which it might be realistically possible to achieve “world class” brand recognition. This means sometimes designing the stuff that competitors may not want to design, often because these products might not seem sexy. China’s Lenovo zoned in on creating practical corporate PCs versus consumer machines, for example, and Haier, also based in China, pursued designing appliances for students. (Lenovo now has some high-profile clients in the U.S. that are anything but stodgy corporate types: the National Football League, as The Economist notes, announced in late July that the PC maker is a sponsor and will supply computers to the NFL.)
- Keep the product pipeline moving fast. Taiwan’s HTC releases an astonishing 15-23 new styles of mobile phones annually; Brazilian cosmetics maker Natura reportedly releases new items weekly.
It’s important to consider that these ideas are presented within an essay that points out that emerging market companies are still seeking more brand recognition and sales in the U.S. and around the world. AsThe Economist states, on Interbrand’s ranking of the 100 most valuable brands, only four emerging-market brands appear: Korea’s Samsung and Hyundai, Mexico’s Corona beer, and Taiwan’s HTC. So while the ideas mentioned above might not yet be proven examples of the path to worldwide design domination, the tips could still prove to be helpful points of inspiration for new product directions, no matter where a product designer or developer may be located.
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