Greater education and awareness are changing consumer needs rapidly. One impact of this is shorter product life cycles- especially in the area of engineered consumer durables. A viable business plan, therefore, needs to be based on a road-map of innovative products – e.g. Apple. Success based on a single product – e.g. Hero Honda CD 100 - is no longer viable
There is also a convergence of needs of the growing number of middle-class consumers in BRIC & S.E. Asian economies. They seek “Better Value”, not “Cheap”. Meanwhile, bleak economic realities are forcing consumers in USA and W. Europe, too, to trade “Top-of-the-Line” for “Better Value”.
The stage is therefore set for:
• Product development in India for a larger, homogenous global audience.
• A bigger vision, scale of production, and therefore investment, for world-class product design.
• More importantly, greater scale, which allows funding for the research needed to give product designers meaningful, breakthrough briefs, i.e., Who are we designing for? How can product design from India delight him/her?
The point: Products designed in and for India, could be acceptable across the world. E.g. two motorcycle concepts developed by Embrand as part of its brand-revival strategy for Yamaha motorcycles in India, soon found a market in USA as well. (Case study at https://embrand.in/blog-post/yamaha/)
Doing so for Indian brands, however, requires moving the “Made in India” label up, and away, from “Made in China”. In turn, this requires Indian manufacturers to shift their mindset – From being suppliers of commodities, to conceiving innovative products as the pillars of highly differentiated brands.
Brand Strategy is not about new logos, names and advertising for old products. With shorter product cycles, such measures will no longer pull consumers. In fact, LVMH studies indicate that BRIC consumers today make-do with domestic brands, but hunger for premium Western brands. And these brands are now designing lower-priced products to meet his hunger – e.g Harley Davidson in India. Its INR 0.5 million motorcycle is a roadblock to any Indian motorcycle brand with ambitions of selling higher-priced products. In fact, it may already have done so for Hyosung’s recently launched models in India.
Embrand’s initiative - Made in India, Designed for World
Launched early this year, this initiative has so far identified gaps in automotive and related sectors that Indian brands can bridge with new products.
Embrand’s proven research tools and methodologies have also identified the Value Equation - the core of a brief to product designers - for such products. (Value Equation = Benefits divided by Price)
Results of the Initiative
Five concepts for “Halo” products that, when yoked to the engineering and quality of leading Indian automotive companies, can reposition their brands. Collectively, they have the potential to move the “Made in India” label upwards in international markets as well.
As befits “Halo” products, the brief we worked to was to that each design should challenge the perception that “Made in India = Cheap”.
The products are:
• A compact multi-utility tractor
• A scooter inspired by, but not limited to, Goa.
• A marine leisure-craft to attract novices to water sports.
• A bus seating and interior design offering a less stressful alternative to economy class air travel on selected inter-city routes.
The fifth “product” is actually an event. It is aimed at raising the stature, in every industrial society, of its backbone - the skilled blue collar worker. We hope that the revenues that will accrue to an Indian brand from our allied efforts will also flow to these unsung heroes who will help realize them. The end, hopefully, is that the ‘skill drain’ that India is witnessing will be reversed.
The product concepts can work at two levels for potential investors/manufacturing partners:
• Styling (sheet-metal, other materials) as a signature of brand renewal. This can be a potent branding tool if mated to renewal under the skin.
• Value-additions. E.g. Tractors are used in agricultural operations for just 15-20 days a year, so our tractor design includes accessories that allow farmers to earn money by haulage of passengers and cargo, as well as other activities.
The biggest barrier to up-market Indian brands can be the Indian consumer. Embrand’s methodologies can also create the correct positioning for crossing this hurdle. E.g. Embrand’s bus project hinges on the ergonomic seating designed to go with it. To canvass the support of Godrej for manufacturing these seats, Embrand created positioning concepts to illustrate the value of extending its “Interio” brand into transportation with our designs.
Who knows, the success of this initiative may draw Godrej into challenging Recaro in the global aviation and automotive seating market next?
The following pages feature the positioning concepts made for Godrej, and the capabilities of the team behind Embrand’s initiative
Capabilities behind the initiative
Brand Strategy - Formulation & Research
• Gap analysis in brand domains.
• Identification of areas of opportunity for brand through product design.
• Design Research for formulation of brief for Product Design.
• Validation of final design through clinics, user trials etc.
• Positioning of product in sync with existing brand platform, or creation of new brand platform in sync with new product.
Translation of brand strategy into product design & development
Design team members are from prestigious design schools in India and Europe, with design competence for material such as composites, sheet metal and various polymers.
Engineering expertise in Machine design, Electronics, Dynamics and materials are provided by a network of experts and academics.
Technology and data transfer from client
Technical collaboration with SOLIDWORKS India for software, including legacy data conversions. 3D scanning of components and assemblies for accurate assembly data and site conditions
Concept evaluation through mock-ups and software simulation
Mock-ups are produced in-house in a well equipped workshop which can work with composites, metal, wood, foam, clay and ceramics.
Development, validation & testing
Concept development & validation is done in-house. Specific tests for fluid dynamics, stress, mould-flow etc are provided by specialist associates.
Developed concepts are validated with prototypes. These prototypes are either simulated using Rapid prototypes or made in actual material with short run moulds. Patterns are developed using 3d-5d milling in FOAM or MDF. Fabrication facilities in Steel and Aluminum are another advantage.
Extensive design documentation provided for developed documents, to help clients to progress/evolve the design to suit their manufacturing processes.