Written by: Ashok Jaiswar
About the author: Head Marketing & Corporate Communications – Greaves Cotton Limited & Ampere Electric
How would you feel if work for 12 hours a day and still save 30-40% less? Your output isn’t efficient, you don’t earn more & ultimately you continue to fight the hardships of life.
It’s not easy for the person to continue living like this nor it’s easy for us as corporate entities to turn a blind eye & keep allowing this divide to further get bigger which worsens the situation.
Over last several years of my working with automotive users, farmers, rural customers & those in bottom-of-pyramid even in city areas,I have realised that biggest challenge is to create simple solutions. This comes with bigger responsibility of fulfilling customers needs, matching his aspirations & real dilemma is when their expectations are higher and payouts much lesser. The challenge lies in delivering the right product with appropriate features that enhance the usage, relevancy, efficiency, adds more to the life of the user and the community. As product designers & planners we are driven by desire to delight the customer, maintain edge over competition & create strong sustained value for our stakeholders groups.
In typical board room parlance, I call it the 6 T challenge.
Simple and affordable products stand a chance to be bettered very soon because even with smaller variations the product advantages can be covered by the competitor.
While designing we keep the customers requirement to deliver products with following:-
- Lower TLC(Total Lifecycle Cost) which means you have lesser acquisition cost, maintenance/ operations cost over complete usage life of the product.
- Product has top class performance which means superior over existing players and fulfills core requirement of customers.
- Doesn’t stop or doesn’t calls for maintenance. Lower downtime or higher on-job uninterrupted performance.
This means, we design to impress not just at buying stage while customers choose from plethora of options but also design for easy service, higher reliability, durability and dependability of the product & with all these still maintain the cost competitiveness in marketplace.
While this is the outside story for the organisation, internal challenges remain on following:-
- How we meet the desired numbers, how we hit the top line target & Market share?
- How we become popular within the category or redefine the category to set a new trend?
- How our product story gets solid start & it creates positive rub-off across all stakeholders interfaces?
The designer balances his work like the walker on thin rope, too much surround noise, many suggestions but he maintains his calm carrying everybody together.
He carries along internal & external stakeholders and builds a new future basis deeper insights, unlocking diverse behavioral codes & unleashing the new product range for the markets. The product delivering on core functions with snob value, respecting his pocket( affordability) and pride is not usually easy to achieve. In automotive, there lies a lot of weight-age for motion & emotions both and the most complex thing to solve previously used to be “How do we make the consumer feel?”
Now with several disruptive changes around, we have to create products that have winning equations for customers, company and community at large. Finding harmony between collective set of product users and planet has been at core of ESG compliance and one of top priorities for everyone of us.
In future, automotive products will be designed using materials that are easy to find, easy to regenerate, easy to recycle & off-course easy on pocket (Save more) as well. No doubt light weight,low cost products are finding meaningful substitutes in composing new frames of automobiles, renewable energy source such as solar finding place in future product plans & have seen an exponential rise in usage & discussions around #electricvehicles.
“Mobility for All” has been very inspiring mission under which companies especially focusing on customers at the bottom-of-the-pyramid have been working to create products that cost significantly lesser / km of their drive. With such good affordability this opens up access to billions of people who can easily move and fulfill their daily commutes. These products are low on frills and high on functionality serving the utility needs for average entry level buyer. As we move up the pyramid, there comes another line up of mid-range products that are high on performance and also on several value added features, which enhance social equity of buyers. The upper end of the pyramid has discerning buyers extremely conscious of their esteem value, usually don’t compromise on their standard of living and ready to pay premium for the products. All attractive features are offered to this segment. Hence luxury products with higher opulence quotient are handcrafted/custom designed to suit taste of high end buyers & connoisseurs. As we straddle across different level of buyers, we see different value proposition created to attract and sell in marketplace. Designers & Product planners keep constant watch on the market insights & validate various hypothesis & keep evolving as they come back with blueprint on various products to win with sustainable long term competitive advantage.
A healthy trade off determines what to keep and what to let go, what will make the customers happy and also build +ve advocacy, what will lead to quick acceptance and lead to surge in volumes and growth. Such trade offs on product deliverables & feature basket can lead to win or lose in marketplace.
This gets more critical when you are dealing with mass products or dealing with entry level buyers who also have several options from unorganised segments today.
A well reasoned and calculated judgement backed by strong customer data is the only way to solve this further and really build winning products & solutions.
Keep designing. Keep exciting. Keep growing.