Client
The China management team of a global top three dairy products company sought to strengthen their market position by developing localized products.
Challenge
The China management team realized that they were losing market share due to a lack of localized products. Their strategy historically had been to import products from Europe and sell them in China at a premium price due to the positive reputation of Europe’s dairy industry. However, local tastes had been evolving and both local and global competitors were introducing products that better catered to the local market. In order to maintain its market leadership position, the company needed to develop a scalable funnel of new product innovations. These products would be fully owned by the China organization, from ideation through production. The company also saw potential in exploring new distribution, marketing, and service models focused on the special needs of children and the elderly.
Objectives
Approach
IoT ONE worked with the company and a local professor of innovation to set up an internal accelerator to enable systematic development of new products. The process was oriented around the Lean Startup methodology, which emphasizes learning from customers over traditional R&D. The goal was to rapidly identify customer needs and test potential solutions before investing heavily in development or production. In the initial program, three teams of four people each were given a three-month period to validate their ideas. Each team had been selected by management on the strength of their proposal from a larger group of proposals. The teams were comprised of marketing, product management, strategy, and production experts to provide a balanced array of expertise. IoT ONE provided structure and mentorship to the teams and handed off know-how throughout the process so the process could later be repeated independently. By the end of the three-month period, the teams presented their concepts and validation results to the China management team. They requested budget for either additional validation or, if confidence was sufficiently high, for producing and bringing the product to market.
  • Set up an internal accelerator to enable systematic development of new products and services.
  • Select concepts based on the strength of their proposal and build balanced teams.
  • Rapidly identify customer needs and test potential solutions through interviews and prototype trials.
  • Provide structure and mentorship to the teams and handed off knowhow to build a repeatable process.
  • Present concepts and validation results to the China management team.
  • Request budget for either additional validation or for product development and market entry.
Result
  • Three teams tested a total of 12 products or digital service over a three-month period during the initial program. By the end of the program, each team had refined their concept down to one clear product or service.
  • Two of the three teams secured go-to-market financing from the investment committee based on the results of their validation efforts. The remaining team was disbanded and returned to their normal jobs in the organization. There was no stigma attached to validation failure and all team members were invited to apply in the future with new ideas.
  • After the successful conclusion, the program was handed off to an internal team to repeat and scale.

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