Why a New ’Avatar’ of Innovation is Necessary in Emerging Economies

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In the past stripped down versions of products designed for developed economies were positioned as a low cost and cheap alternative in the emerging markets. This will no longer be a successful strategy. This bitter truth has been realized by many global vendors servicing the developing economies. I can vouch for this fact as I live in an emerging market (India) and understand the nuances of these developing countries.

Today’s mantra is to carry out focused R&D efforts targeted at creating products that are specially designed and adapted to the emerging economies. The needs of the these markets are different and so are the price points and value expectations of their consumers. The design of a product that gives full value to the consumer in an emerging market and serves his needs requires a different thought process altogether. I have bounced this idea among my engineer friends as well as end users in various walks of life and they cannot agree more.

The approach mentioned above needs innovations and inventions in core technology areas such as material sciences, electronics, fluid mechanics, power systems and the like. Consider the example of the Nano car developed by TATA motors which required multiple innovations in technology as well as cross-functional teams working on different engineering disciplines to come together to solve complex issues and provide solutions while at the same time meeting the targeted price point.

I believe that the key is to provide a reasonably good solution that meets all the basic needs of the consumer that is affordable and at the same time seen as a quality product – not a low-end stripped-down version. TATA motors calls this discipline “frugal engineering,” which is an art as much as science.

Source: Forbes (link opens in a new window)