Ian Dyason. 9 January 2022
In my previous article I spoke about focusing on with-covid opportunities, acknowledging that masking up, testing and social distancing may well be the norm going forward. In this article we will discuss how we can identify the with-covid opportunities, taking a look at a few examples. I hope that this is useful for your business as you build greater resilience in your company's business and operations.
Seven Reframing Techniques
To identify opportunities, we need to see things from a new lens, a new perspective. As Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results." In other words, if you want a different result, you need to do (or see) things differently. In this technique, I introduce 7 reframing techniques that were introduced by Prof Jeanne Liedtka of Darden Business School. These are different frames that you apply to your situation to see what new ideas you can get from them. In this case, the underlying constraint
(1) Diving Deep
In this first frame we look at how we can make add a differentiated value proposition to our customers on our commodity product. So let's assume that yours is a commodity product like fried rice. In adding a differentiated value, we could elevate it to Michelin Star quality, adding ingredients like lobster, oysters and caviar; and plate it so well for delivery so that customers can have the Michelin Star experience at home. And this could be paired with special cocktail (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) so as to top up the full experience. Suddenly, the plain fried rice becomes elevated into fine dining at home. A truly Diving Deep with-covid opportunity for the humble product.
(2) Swimming for the Surface
This next frame is somewhat the opposite of the first. In this case, it is assumed that you have a custom product for a target customer and you ask yourself how can you get more likeminded customers with this product? Commercialisation of R&D innovation takes this route - there is a use case for one customer, and then when that solution is created, it is commercialised for more customers' adoption. It could also be a response to a global change; like Covid. The medical devices manufacturers had pivoted their specialised products like personal protection equipment (PPE) to mass market products.
(3) Swimming Sideways
This next frame asks you to look at what adjacent customer needs you can fulfill. The key here is adjacent needs. For example, if you are a cinema operator, your main product is screening the movie. The adjacent products are the snacks and drinks. And these are already covered. But in this covid period, we try to social distance, so we don't want to queue with people to purchase the tickets and snacks etc. Hence, cinema operators could have a door-to-door service; where patrons are picked up from their designated place, chauffeured to the cinema, and escorted to the screen hall bypassing the crowds, and then seated in socially distanced seats. Of course these services have to be costed differently, but therein lies the opportunity!
The fourth frame is called bundling. This is a common practice that needs little introduction, but sometimes overlooked. Bundling is a great way to increase the perceived value of the product and the incremental cost of offering the bundle is usually smaller than the perceived value increase. Of course you need to bundle the products wisely. Say you offer cold-pressed fruit juices in the business district. Because of covid, your customers have stayed away. So, you would have to go to them and can bundle the drink with fresh cut specialty fruits and free delivery for a minimum order quantity. Since this is a cold chain, you can even throw in specialty ice cream! You can then charge more than your normal rate because of the increase in perceived value. So when you are looking out for with-covid opportunities, see what you can bundle with your products or services.
(5) Finding White Space
If Bundling is the combination of products and services, then Finding White Space is the combining of different business units to provide greater value. This frame is applicable to larger organisations that have separate business units that normally function on their own. If this is your case, then the frame asks how can you combine products and service from different business units to offer a higher value to your customers. Since most of our readers are not in this category, we shall not discuss this any further.
This is yet another dimension of bundling, this time the bundling of different companies. This is in effect a strategic partnership or joint venture between two or more companies that bring together value for a specific target customer. For example, McDonald's Singapore and Grab formed a partnership to expand McDelivery capacity. This came about fortuitously before covid, and proved to be so important during the lockdown when we had to rely on deliveries. So look for complementary companies that are servicing your customers and see if there is a way to collaborate for with-covid opportunities.
The cost of a cup of coffee at Starbucks is many times the cost in the coffeeshop. And this is basically for the same product. Why? Because Starbucks does not sell coffee, it sells the experience of drinking the beverage. So when you buy a cuppa, you are paying for the real estate, the seat, the whole ambiance. You perceived value increases tremendously when you sell the experience rather than just the product. But in a with-covid setting, how do you create the experience? Some mixologists have resorted to bottling their signature drinks and selling them in a whole pack so that customers can do their own mixing and enjoy them at home. What can you do to bring out the experience of consuming your product?
Imagination and a new perspective
Covid is here to stay and with that certain measures. Hence, there is a need for us to position our business to seize the with-covid opportunities. There will always be opportunities, it is whether we see them or not, whether we seize them or not. All it takes is a little imagination and a new perspective and we can see things in a different light, affording us the opportunities that were, hitherto, obscure to us. The 7 reframing techniques is designed to help you see differently and apply that new lens for your new opportunities.
I hope you use them to find those hidden gems just behind your current viewpoint.
I wish you all the success!