Lean Innovation: A Win-Win Strategy for Consumers and Employees
For years, direct-to-consumer startups had a leg up on big companies when it comes to getting products to market faster and into consumers hands. Today we’ve evened out those odds with our investment in lean innovation.
Lean innovation is a process that allows us to operate like a direct-to-consumer startup by making real products to sell in early stages, marketing them online, and testing how people respond to the product. Even if the product isn’t available for purchase yet, the insights gained on consumer demand helps shape the final product design.
Initial success can lead to putting products in physical stores or limited online retailer distribution. The key, according to Kathy Fish, chief research, development and innovation officer at P&G, is to have a proposition that makes sense so that we can move quickly to create and incubate a business.
Lean Innovation in Action
- The Charmin development team tested the Freedom Roll online in Facebook and Instagram ads, operating under the proposition that consumers would like commercial-size rolls of toilet paper in their bathrooms. After collecting consumer feedback, they tweaked the name to Forever Roll and it is now distributed to online retailers.
- The Pampers development team launched Pampers Pure, a natural-positioned diaper made with cotton and other plant-based material (albeit also with some synthetic ingredients like super-absorbent polymer). Pure has doubled the size of the natural diaper segment since its launch and is now the leader within it.
- Opte, is a $599 system that uses a blue LED light to scan and detect even subtle age skin spots, an algorithm to analyze them and an applicator that applies lotion to camouflage imperfections. Launching summer of 2020, this product started in the lean innovation labs and testing with consumers through social media.
The best part about lean innovation is that it involves pulling technical and marketing teams in the process early. “People love to work this way, because we're putting together small multifunction teams, and they sort of own their space,' Fish says. “They get to run as long as they're delivering, and then they come back to leadership if they get stuck.” An added bonus is that the teams move faster through the typical development cycle. In the case of Pampers Pure diapers, we cut the category’s development time by more than half.
From Day 1, our employees benefit from the resources of a large company and the innovation of a start-up. Embracing a process that is more effective, innovative and fun is a winning strategy for our products and our people.