Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three Innovation Lessons from the Gillette Guard

On Tuesday, I did a Webinar with Procter & Gamble’s Chief Technology Officer Bruce Brown, Cisco Systems SVP and author of Doing Both, Inder Sidhu, and Emory Professor Jagdish Sheth. The Webinar, sponsored by the Singapore Economic Development Board, was intended to address the topic: “Innovate or Adapt: The Challenge of New Markets.”

Bruce, Inder and Professor Sheth (“call me Jag,” he said) all provided great insight and shared fascinating stories. While January’s issue of the Harvard Business Review will provide a more detailed summary of the discussion, I wanted to share three lessons I jotted down from the Gillette Guard.

P&G launched Guard in India this past October. The strategic intent is simple — reach the hundreds of millions of Indians who use double-edged razors with an affordable, effective alternative. The product retails for an almost unimaginable 15 rupees, which is about $0.33 in the United States, with refill cartridges running five rupees, about a dime.

As Bruce detailed the story, three lessons emerged:

1.Go to the source. P&G researchers spent thousands of hours in the market to really understand the wants, needs, and desires of the target consumer. Bruce described how team members described this time as “transformational.” Contrast that to previous efforts to target this market. Bruce described how a few years ago, Gillette tested a low-end razor among Indian students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The students reported loving the razor. Of course, with plentiful hot water and comfortable bathrooms their shaving experience was markedly different from people in rural areas who shaved using little or no water while balancing a hand-held mirror in one hand.

Read the rest at Scott’s Havard Business Review blog.

Scott D. Anthony is managing director of Innosight Asia-Pacific.

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