Business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs spend so much time agonising over the age-old question, “How can I create a truly innovative product?”
So many think that innovation equates to invention; that coming up with a brand new product, market or idea is what’s needed. In actual fact, if we take a moment to analyse what many of the world’s most innovative brands have actually done to achieve immense success, we will find that they actually didn’t invent a thing!
Read on to discover how Virgin, Zappos, Ferrero Group, Cold Stone Café and Hotmail introduced a product that reinvented the established norms and propelled them to their current-day success…
When you think of entrepreneurs who are pioneers in reinvention, Richard Branson immediately comes to mind. Although he didn’t invent flying, he did reinvent what it feels like to fly by introducing outstanding customer support and an elevated flying experience. In 1991, Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to offer individual TV screens and channel options to every passenger in all classes. At the time this created immense hype, and the brand has continued to reinvent customer experiences in the industry ever since.
Zappos reinvented the online shoe industry by offering outstanding online customer service. Instead of going with the status quo and offering a standard 30-day returns policy and generic customer service, they delved into the market with an impressive 365-day returns policy, free shipping on all returns and a Freephone customer service number on every page of its website. This resulted in huge media attention as well as positive word-of-mouth customer support that created a massive buzz around the brand, both online and offline, and attracted countless people to the company’s website. Today, they are the number 1 seller of shoes online.
Founder of the delicious Ferrero brand, Michele Ferrero, understood that every new product actually evolved from other ideas and experiments. In 1974 he launched the incredibly popular Kinder Surprise eggs, which have since sold nearly 30 billion products worldwide. By observing consumers and building on an existing idea, he was able to reinvent an already existent product, generating millions in profits as a result.
Cold Stone didn’t invent ice cream, toppings, flavours or anything else for that matter. Instead, they reinvented the way a globally-loved product is prepared. When you ask for ice cream at cold stone, it’s lovingly prepared in an almost hypnotic way on a frozen granite stone that’s fascinating to watch. No other brand offers the experience of creating and customising ice cream the way that Cold Stone does, and ever since it launched, the brand has grown significantly, boosting demand for ice cream like no other time before it.
When Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith encountered issues with accessing their email accounts due to a company firewall, they reinvented email by creating web-enabled email that could be accessed anonymously through any web browser. Their product, ‘Hotmail’, launched on the 4th July 1996 and was acquired by Microsoft on 31st December 1997 for $400 million.
As these 5 companies have shown, reinvention is all about generating buzz around a product and providing value to the customer in unique ways. So next time you’re thinking about what you can create, why not instead think about what you can reinvent?
P.S See here and here to learn all about Domino’s, Uber and J-Crew can teach us about reinvention.