INNOVATIVE ELECTROLUX, PART 3: Innovation fuels growth and strengthens brands. One of the ways Electrolux ensures that it stays at the forefront of innovation is through a solid innovation strategy.
Joachim Rask, Vice President of Innovation Operations for Electrolux Group, shares how the innovation strategy comes alive at Electrolux.
Q: What are the keys to the Electrolux innovation strategy?
Rask: We have identified innovation territories, which we define as places where innovation is meaningful for consumers. Currently the territories are: culinary enjoyment, healthy well-being, sustainable homes and effortless living.
We take these territories and hone them into focus areas. Then we define each of these areas, we research them, we find out what consumers want, we look into what the competition is doing, and we examine current trends.
Afterward, we fine-tune the focus areas and articulate a number of consumer benefits, using terms that our consumers would use. These elements provide a story that guides product development, marketing and other areas. We use these focus areas to help identify ideas and innovation opportunities that later become projects, which in turn later become products.
Q: How is it possible to coordinate innovation considering the size of the company?
Rask: Electrolux is a huge company, and we’ve had a history of being split up in different units. To govern the innovation agenda, which includes our innovation strategy, we introduced the Innovation Triangle Council, with representatives from all sectors within the Electrolux Group.
The Innovation Triangle is a cross-functional concept with representatives from R&D, Design and Marketing, and with Product Lines in the middle.
It’s necessary to bring these sectors and functions together to work with innovation collaboratively and cross-functionally.
The Council meets four times a year to discuss different aspects related to innovation and ensure we have a common view of where to focus our innovation. This is a gigantic milestone. Before the Council was established in 2011, we were lacking a common view of where to focus our innovation efforts.
A few of Joachim Rask’s recent favorites
Electrolux Masterpiece blender and food processor with our own PowerTilt technology: The blender is tilted 10 degrees so that ingredients are perfectly blended and chopped. The innovative feature is visible through the design.
Electrolux I-Touch refrigerator: This fridge includes a touch-screen panel with a built-in recipe book and healthy-cooking app, making it easy for you to find delicious, nutritious recipes.
Q: Can you give an example of the strategy in action?
Rask: All new products are a result of our effective innovation strategy. We take consumer needs and translate these needs into products. We take a focus area tied to a consumer benefit area and then articulate it in a product value proposition.
Consumers want to prepare delicious food, but they are uncertain how to go about it or they are afraid of failing. To mention one example, our Major Appliances EMEA sector has done a great job of providing ovens with steam, which delivers tasty food and is also a healthy way of cooking. The sector has also crafted a vivid taste story around the theme of cooking with steam, which engages and interests consumers.
Q: What sets Electrolux apart in how it works with innovation?
Rask: Every large company does research. We’re not unique there. How we execute, that’s the difference. We focus on weaving our innovations around consumer stories. That connects us more easily to our consumers.
For example, a few years ago, we decided to focus on culinary enjoyment. We’ve had a number of fantastic storylines based around that theme. We’ve used the storylines in both our innovation plans and external customer storytelling.
Everything ties together. Consumers see our messaging, not just our products.