Learn about how to successfully take your idea to market.
- We've talked about the steps to getting a good solution. But once you have a solution, you now have to take it to market. You're not done yet. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. Godrej, an appliance company, developed a small-sized refrigerator that needed no electricity, which was perfect for the Indian market because they don't have continuous electricity. It was small enough to be repurposed in small homes, and since most families in India can't afford to store food for very long, it didn't need to be very big.
So this was really a great solution for the 80% of households in India that don't have a refrigerator. The problem is, most of those homes were in rural areas where there were no appliance stores. So how do you sell a product that you typically would sell through appliance stores, when there are no stores? How do you price this product? They wanted to price it at $50, cause they could make money at $50, but most of their customers didn't have $50 to pay up front.
So now they have to figure out, how do we actually create an opportunity or a way for people to pay for this over time? What's our messaging to the customers? And how do we make sure that we can make money, that we're not spending so much on production that we don't make a profit? Those are all elements of the business model, which involves, on the cost side, building the product, and on the customer side, the channels and the messaging and the pricing. So what Godrej did was they tried to then innovate on, how do we take this product to the market? Since there were no appliance stores, rather than building them for this product, they used an existing channel that was already out there, that already had a connection to every household.
Believe it or not, it was the India post office. India postmen go to every household. They're often viewed as a trusted friend. Now they could sell a small refrigerator, and if the refrigerator needed service, they would take the lid that had all the components and take it back and get it serviced, and they could return it. When folks needed to pay for it, they could pay at the post office, and they could set up a little account where they could pay over time, with microfinancing.
The delivery of this solution of a small refrigerator required a new channel, a different way of pricing, and they also used women's groups that sold products within the community to also sell the product to message that this is a great way for women to save money for their families over time. So remember, the solution is not the final step of actually creating value. It is figuring out, now how do we get this solution into the hands of our customers, at a price they can afford, and at a price where we can make money? One of the questions that I'll often get is the question, if you're taking a new solution to market and it's probably your advanced prototype, how do you make sure you don't damage your brand as you try and take something new to the market? We've seen companies typically use two different techniques for this.
Number one is, make sure that folks know this is a beta product. So Google has their Google Labs, Intuit, same thing. A Labs product is a signal to potential customers that this is a beta, we're trying this out, we want your feedback, we're going to give you a great deal on it to get your feedback, but this is not our final product. And that's one way to help protect your brand. The second way is to make sure, if its not really a beta, if it's a new product, that you provide white glove treatment if there's a problem.
So in one instance, I had an individual tell me that he bought what was, at the time, a very innovative new four-door refrigerator from Samsung. So this was different than anything he had purchased before. In the United States, we tend to be a two-door fridge country, now maybe three doors, more, but this was actually four doors. And he wasn't quite sure about it, but he was willing to try something that was new, a little bit different. Well, as it turned out, about two months in, he had a problem with the refrigerator.
That might have led him to never want to buy anything else from Samsung. But what they did is they set up a white glove treatment for all of the early buyers of this new product, this new model, to make sure that if they had a problem, they could call, and they would make sure that a new refrigerator would be delivered to their house and the old one taken out within 24 hours. That way, it took the risk out of trying the new product, and he said later, he said, "You know, the product had a problem, but they treated me so well, that I would buy another product from Samsung in a heartbeat." So make sure it's clearly labeled as a beta if you're going to market with something that is sort of a prototype or something new, or make sure you provide the white glove treatment.
If you do that, you can protect your brand with innovative new products that you're trying to take to market.