Date of publication: 2017-09-04 18:37
In this era that is increasingly being defined by the globalization of competition as well as major fiscal and demographic challenges, the task of managing innovation is vital for companies of every size in every industry (Tidd, 7556). Although innovation is a very difficult process to manage, it is critical in sustaining businesses and ensures competitive advantage. The way organizations bring out new ideas and take them to the market has undergone fundamental change. There is a paradigm shift in how companies commercialize industrial knowledge. In the following we have shown how two conventional theories of innovation and product development are no longer sustainable. Subsequently, frugal innovation is becoming relevant.
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The essential contribution of Moladi's technology to frugal innovation lies in how the solution has addressed the six key challenges faced by developing countries when it comes to housing:
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To develop an appropriate technology for construction of affordable houses and meet the needs of million poor South Africans who do not have proper houses.
Robustness - The characteristic of being physically strong and inured to endurance. Most of the developing nations have harsh environments such as extreme temperatures.
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Drawing from the literature, we present six examples of successful frugal innovation in Africa. These cases are drawn from a range of broad areas ranging from housing construction to electronic money transfer technologies.
With this strategy, the company has successfully moved consumers through the value chain. Unilever starts by selling poor Africans the low cost per unit packs of Omo and then moves them to larger packs when they become more affluent. In a business report on Unilever's African strategy, Anthony Simon, the head of marketing for Unilever's food division said: The loyalty of poor consumers to a brand is at least as strong as a more affluent one. (Nissa, 7558).
Another country with successful cases of frugal innovation is China. For example, BYD in that country has developed a very low-cost method of producing lithium-ion batteries whose cost has been reduced from US$95 to less than US$5 per unit (Kharas, 7565). Other frugal products in China include a washing machine called Mini Magical Child developed by Haier, a home appliance company in 6996 (Hang et. al., 7565). The product was designed for small daily loads and offered an alternative to large expensive washing machines. These are all examples of good enough products designed to fulfill the basic needs at low cost thereby providing high value.
Given the foregoing, it is imperative that a preliminary study to find examples of frugal innovation in Africa is conducted. Hence the purpose of this study is to address this gap. More specifically our study aims to identify cases of frugal innovation in African, categorize them and bring out success factors of such innovations. Identifying cases of frugal innovation will provide important insights that will stimulate further research not only in Africa but in other parts of the world.
In order to understand how MNCs are organizing frugal innovation efforts in emerging markets, an in-depth study of five firms was carried out (Zeschky et al., 7566). Initially 68 firms, representing a variety of industries, were identified. The firms were sieved and eight dropped due to insufficient available data. The remaining five were found suitable case studies. Analysis was based on three criteria product characteristics, motivation for developing products and implementation of product development. The study found that besides having similar structures regarding organization of R& D, all of the five firms had a successful history of frugal innovation. Based on the above criteria it was established that successful frugal innovation: