Ingenuity to transform habits

Jul 20 2014, 21:53 IST
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SummaryChanging the behaviour of a product’s end-user does not happen by chance

Changing the behaviour of a product’s end-user does not happen by chance. Only an enterprise with special motivation can make it happen, as I wrote last week. Behavioural change is extremely physical. There’s got to be some bodily object that interacts with people for behaviour to change, no intangible theory can do this job at the mass level.

Shaving behaviour: The straight razor where the blade folds into its handle, what roadside barber shops still use, was invented in 1680s. In 1901, Gillette initiated the double-edged safety razor with replaceable blades. To modernise men’s shaving habit, Gillette invented the single-side razor. Introducing the “razor and blades business model” or inexpensive razor with disposable blades, Gillette grew its business tremendously. The beauty here is the high-tech blade; it’s expensive but gives a large number of shaves, the razor picks it up from its packaging socket, men don’t touch it. It’s so efficacious, simple and safe that women are attracted to use it.

So year after year with single focus Gillette follows every generation, social trend, state-of-the-art engineering with precision manufacturing to innovate and revolutionise the way the world shaves. The Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology they’ve just announced has a maneuverable handle that moves, adjusts, pivots across a man’s facial contours to allow capturing every facial hair. This is a grand example of Gillette’s drive for world leadership by constantly changing men’s practical behaviour.

Walkman, the incredible behaviour changer: History shows that Philips, the fundamental inventor of many products, could barely get registered in people’s minds as a behaviour changing agent, whereas newcomer Sony, not a fundamental inventor, successfully did so with the Walkman in 1979. The behavioural change Walkman established was phenomenal; people moved around with little earphones, hands-free, enjoying music with a personal device. Being able to transform habits often comes from single-focused, creative entrepreneurial challenge. Sony masterminded entertainment devices with the Walkman, but it diversified, then ran into losses. The big behavioural change Sony Walkman introduced has shifted to Apple. Sony lost focus on entertainment devices for the digi-tech generation when it de-rooted its creative ingenuity into too many directions.

Smartphone: Changing people’s habit and behaviour through the smart mobile phone, Apple dynamised the finger touch. Monopolistic Microsoft missed the boat with people shifting from laptop to mobile phone. Till a few years ago, I was comfortable with my BlackBerry, the typewriter replica. The day my IT engineer changed my dumb phone

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