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Entries in consumer (3)


The Lego story: fail forward to success.

The rise, fall and comeback of the 'brick'.

As The LEGO Group celebrates its 80th Birthday, they take a look back at its history with an animated film. It shows that innovation is hard work, and requires personal drive and persistence to turn innovation into a successful business.

We all know that Lego experienced very hard times in the last decade, almost going bankrupt in 2004, but they managed to get their act together. Some of the things they did: restructuring the product portfolio and reducing the number of products from 13,000 to 6,000, selling off some properties, licensing the amusement park business and videogame business to people who actually know how to run it and reducing their product development cycle from idea to launch by 50% to one year. And the brick made a comeback!
If you want to know more, I recommend you watch this ABC News video from 2009.

But in all of its history, the greatest achievement of Lego in term of innovation is that it ‘put a system into toys’. Thank you Lego! And happy birthday.

Inspiration: The People's Supermarket (London)

"For the people by the people"
A while ago I visited one of the most remarkable supermarkets ever. Today, exactly 18 months ago they openend their doors and are throwing a party for it as we speak. Anyway, it was very innovative, but not in the way one would expect at all... No fancy lighting, self scan or other high tech shopping solutions to be found. Not even close! First of all I had to actually find the supermarket (currently there is only one in the world) and secondly I had high expectations, but was a bit dissappointed when I entered the supermarket. It was small, not very organized, and not well designed at all. But as said before: the innovation here is in the thought behind the supermarket and especially in the way of running it: for the people by the people. This sign in the store explains the basics:

So this is nice and all, but what is the aim and mission of this community initiative? One of the founders explains and says: "The People’s Supermarket is not for the exclusive use of members. The aim is to convert regular customers to Members when they see the quality of the produce, the lower prices and the vibrancy of the supermarket."

"It has 8 key objectives:
♣ Create a commercially successful social enterprise that is not grant/fund dependent.
♣ Helping families and low income groups in the community buy better quality fresh produce.
♣ Enable a local community to shape the provision of their local food retail offer.
♣ Provide training opportunities for the long term unemployed or socially excluded.
♣ Minimise food waste.
♣ Act as a catalyst to improve community cohesion.
♣ Through education encourage healthier eating practises.
♣ Supporting British farmers and food producers.

"We are a cooperative store that seeks to deconstruct the way mass food retailers do business and reshape it along what we feel are more ethically and environmentally sustainable lines. By bringing communities and people together."

For more information read the entire co-founder speech or have a look at the short animation

My learning (over and over again): innovation isn't always about the newest of the newest, the highest tech available, futuristic design or finding alternatives for 'dull' hand work. Sometimes it is just about not accepting the status quo, or going back to basic consumer needs or staying much closer to original products or even letting go of the usual business models and come up with less money driven models, but with other kind of benefits. It may sound easy, but it takes a lot of guts to turn around 180 degrees.

Most important of all: do it, implement it, walk the talk. Otherwise your ideas will just be ideas; nothing more, maybe even less

Andrea Ragnetti (ex-Philips CEO) about Apple’s Competitive Advantage

Andrea Ragnetti observed Apple’s behavior and choices from a privileged point of view, as Chief Executive Officer of the Consumer Lifestyle sector and Member of the Board of Management of Philips. Ragnetti left Philips last year.

On his personal website he explains how Apple does not rely on the genius and inspiration of Steve Jobs only. He shares his thoughts on the reasons why Apple has an almost unbeatable competitive advantage that is intertwined with its organizational choices and management style and embedded in its practices:
  1. Apple says “no” much more than “yes.”
  2. Apple is organized differently from all other competitors.
  3. Apple has an approach to product launches that is more similar to Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies than to the world of Consumer Electronics.
  4. Apple is relatively uninterested in competition.
  5. Apple values the whole consumer experience more than the actual technical performance.
  6. Apple has a healthy, rather distant relationship with retailers.
  7. Apple value people and rewards them handsomely.
Read more on Ragnetti's website: