In 1992, a collaboration between two units in a world-leading paper products company led to the discovery of an environmentally friendly material that had unique absorption properties. The company produced the new raw material in one of its manufacturing units and sold it to its internal hygiene products unit, which manufactured hygiene products and sold them to end consumers.
As the demand for one of their products began decreasing from their first internal customer, the team sought to identify new opportunities for the product and Googol was brought into the fray.
Googol was tasked with the challenge of evaluating and capitalizing on the opportunities of this product, and to successfully commercialize it in the consumer market.
The entire project was a close collaboration effort with the client team, from planning to execution.
The project was divided into 3 distinct phases. Phase 0 provided the team with a clear framework and basis to work on the project.
- It defined the goals of the project
- Set boundaries
- Listed available resources
- A timeline
- Clarified the objectives of each step.
As the supplier of intermediate materials to one of the world’s largest producers of personal care products, the client’s efficiency in its bulk production processes was top-notch.
However, its existing systems were not catered to producing and marketing a niche product. The client’s sales network operated through overseas sales agents, who were already selling in bulk highly successful products, had little incentive to market the niche product.
In providing a complete assessment of this project, Googol was able to spot critical areas with regards to pricing and branding that could be improved. We also addressed details related to sales strategy and organizational structure, setting the stage for a complete overhaul.
The business planning process gave us a set of radical solutions that served as a roadmap for the project team to carry on with its execution.
Innovating around the product experience
To date, the company had just been focused on marketing a revolutionary product, but we discovered that there was a customer need for product training and complementary services as well.
Googol’s in-depth understanding of the new material’s situation allowed the team to generate 5 comprehensive solutions, in order to take the product to the next level. These were divided into product-oriented and market-oriented services, and the considerations for the what, how and why were laid out.
Don’t sell to the next actor in the value chain. Partner them.
The company had traditionally been focused on a buyer-seller relationship with the next actor in the value chain – the converters of the new material. To address this, Googol innovated on the business model of the client; it would form strategic partnerships with converters instead. This created an opportunity for the client to develop new concepts and mould the material to better meet the needs of the end customers. The discussion would be driven by customer needs instead of price and volume.
Furthermore, while the new materials project was led by experts in engineering and technology in the past, Googol suggested that the team should put in place project leaders focused on business development. These business developers would be in a good position to understand their commercial partners’ needs and hence work with them to meet the needs of the end consumers.
The critical factors that could make or break a partnership were enumerated and a plan detailing the precise steps for selecting the ideal partner was designed.
The Effect: Executing the Project
By shifting the fundamental paradigm of how the product was viewed, Googol was able to fully explore the potential of the product in its applications, and how the experience should support it.
We assisted the client to reduced vulnerability and risk through the new services we created around the product, which connected the client and its customers and started strategic dialogues that brought added value and loyalty to the relationships. This meant building additional revenue streams and greater insight into their customer needs.
Googol’s risk analysis and forecasts clarified the need for multiple partners. Googol also identified the lowest-hanging fruit amongst the great number of potential partners available, setting a clear direction for the client’s immediate action.
A testament to the successful collaboration was that the company ended up restructuring the business around the new material, based on the plan we had defined and set up together. In accordance with Googol’s recommendation — dedicated sales agents were hired; a business unit; and work on establishing partnerships had begun.
Don’t give them a fish. Teach them to fish.
The team had gained insight into managing innovation and commercializing business opportunities, and will be in a much better position to work on the next big innovation.
Don’t settle for one partner. Spread the risk with more.