Thursday, July 31, 2008

There are some great insights from the recent Trend Watching update that I will share with you over the next few weeks. Here is the intro and some comments on design. Remember our discussion on the iPod and James Conley great article on how to protect it (May 19, 2008 blog posting)........

While most of the global business world is desperately trying to embed innovation processes into their organizations, we still prefer to focus on the brands and entrepreneurs who 'just do it’. And by the beard of Zeus, aren't they plentiful these days! In fact, we’re witnessing an absolute

INNOVATION AVALANCHE: There’s more innovation happening than ever before. New brands, new niches, new concepts, new products, new services and new experiences are flooding an equally fast expanding number of markets. Just as important, there are more freely available sources to track these innovations than ever before. And all of this is coming to (if not at) you from every corner of the world. The GLOBAL BRAIN has been unleashed, and there’s nowhere to hide for those who aren't part of it.

What is the link between INNOVATION AVALANCHE and trends? As focused as we are on emerging consumer trends, we never tire of pointing out that trends are only good for one thing: helping you get inspired to innovate, to come up with new goods, services and experiences for (or even better, with) your customers.

Now, one easy way to get started is by taking a look at innovative companies around the world that are already capitalizing on trends, and learn from them. But before you dive into the many trends and examples we've selected for you, a few quick pointers:

Innovation is not necessarily about serious people in white coats puttering about in R&D labs. In an experience economy (which we’re still in, like it or not), marketing innovation is equally important, and often trumps technical innovation.


To run with the above: sometimes consumer wants can be frilly, so sometimes innovation can also be less weighty. Really, innovation doesn’t have to be so damn serious all the time! Have some fun with it, too.


Wherever you live, you have absolutely no excuse to be unaware of innovation avalanches originating in Sweden, in the Netherlands, in Brazil, in the US, in Canada, in Australia, in Japan, in South Africa ... It’s all out there, reported on 24/7 by sources dedicated to trends and new business ideas. Free of charge.


As far as we’re concerned, there’s no category or product that cannot benefit from bold, brilliant redesign efforts. When done right, those redesigned objects and services will easily be lauded as, wait for it, innovations! In fact, with consumers' desire for the new, combined with their ever-shifting preferences, 'to-die-for design' has the ability to make earlier, status quo design feel more like diesign.

Now that designers are on an equal footing with starchitects and business gurus, you can count on someone working on a new design approach to your products while you’re wasting your time reading this briefing ;-) A few quick examples show how this trend works for something as mundane as fire extinguishers:

Swedish FireInvent’s The Safety Box is designed to provide complete fire protection in a single package. But the fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire blankets and torch lights included aren't just ordinary versions of those items. Rather, they've been revamped for a modern, attractive look. The Safety Box design, for example, includes a fire extinguisher and Snap Alarm in white or black; a black-and-white fire blanket in a modern, botanical design; plus an extra wall-mountable optical smoke detector. There will always be a need for functional products like fire protection devices, but there's nothing to say they can't be upgraded with a splash of color and design and sold at a similarly upgraded price.
(We define a value proposition for target customers into three categories: functional benefits, economic rewards, and emotive feelings. I believe design innovation is about attacking the emotive level of thought. If the functional and economic benefits are on target –which they are in this example of the fire extinguishers -- reaching the emotive state creates the greatest level of sustainable, competitive separation. This rarely if ever comes out of the lab!!!)

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