fredag den 7. juni 2013

Developing winning products for emerging markets

Excerpts from a McKinsey Quarterly article May 2013  by Sauri Gudlavalleti, Shivanshu Gupta, and Ananth Narayanan

Traditional approaches to product development are coming under strain as emerging markets start to dominate the global economy. Companies that learn to shake up their thinking and effectively challenge the assumptions about how they design, develop, and manufacture products are more likely to master the extremes of this new competitive landscape.

Emerging markets are fast-changing and customers are both extremely price conscious and demanding. Against this backdrop, a growing number of companies find that they must reexamine their traditional approaches to product development and tailor them to these realities. We call this process “design to value.” In some cases, designing to value means applying traditional tools in new ways, in others adopting a new mind-set about what customers want and how to deliver it.

The authers offer three lessons for companies wrestling with the extremes of competition in emerging markets. The urgency to adapt will only increase as consumption in these markets contributes a growing share of global economic growth in the decade ahead.

1.       Shake up your thinking
Through collision workshops—which might include customers but primarily convene suppliers, marketers, product engineers, and other company representatives. They offer a low-tech way of quickly generating and discussing customer insights and a forum to identify hypotheses that companies can later test more traditionally. To some extent, these meetings represent a cheaper and more flexible way of generating the kinds of insights that R&D pioneers such as Bell Labs and IBM’s Watson Research Group achieved through formal, multidisciplinary R&D labs. As with these venerable examples, an important goal of collision workshops is to challenge ingrained habits of thought by pulling together representatives from functional groups that normally don’t interact.

2.       Start from scratch
Companies that fail to reexamine the assumptions inherent in their product designs risk making ill-informed decisions. A handful of leading companies extend this thinking further still, approaching their product portfolios with a “zero-based design” mentality. The benefits can be profound.

3.       Design for manufacturability
A final way top product makers separate themselves from the competition is to go on challenging their assumptions well into the manufacturing process. Surprisingly, perhaps, though most global companies have manufactured products in emerging markets for years, they typically don’t go as far as they could to design them with emerging-market customers and workers in mind.