Sunday, November 25, 2007

Environmental Manifesto for Businesses - 1st posted on 24th Sept 2007

I just happen to be blessed with a wave of good ideas that hopefully would be able to make a difference to how Mankind will conduct their businesses in the future, for the benefit of the environment. Hopefully this can be an impetus to something more!

1) Lifelong customer relationship: The concept of selling by perhaps major retail and departmental stores when it comes to home electrical appliances for individuals could perhaps be better tweaked. Instead of trying to focus on only individuals for their purchases and focusing only on the short term gains of closing that sale, retailers should go beyond and look at the totality of the purchase. Sell the entire experience of using an array of appliances to the entire family itself, instead of only the key decision-maker of the family. Instead of selling the microwave oven to the mom, sell the array of accompanying appliances like the oven, the refrigerator, the juicer, the coffee maker, in fact, sell the experience of using it all! And here's the kicker, offer a lifetime replacement warranty, so that when a newer product, or model, or version of whatever that they currently have is offered, allow them to be exchanged, perhaps maybe at a discounted price of the new product. This perhaps is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) taken to a whole new, lifetime levels of sorts. What these means to the user is some degree of familiarity in terms of branding, you know about how we ourselves, when we were growing up, are used to certain brands of cornflakes, soap, hair cream, etc. I mean what this basically means is the idea of more than just offering an experience that goes along with the product, but more importantly, an experience that attaches emotional significance to what the product/s means to the end user!

2) Hyperconnectivity: With things going wireless seeming to be the norm here, it is only a matter of time when appliances are going to be connected in one way or another to create that rich experience of hyperconnectivity. What one can even tweak further for a more environmentally enriching experience is perhaps to enable some form of a green indicator of sorts between these appliances at home, so that when Jack enters his room during a hot summer day, the air conditioner will be on automatically at just the right temperature for him, and maybe perhaps if his homework is due, the computer would switch on, and his TV would be off. Detecting moments later no particular movement in his room, the sensors might want to turn the air con to a more economical mode, and switch off the computer too! Mom or Dad would perhaps be alerted to Jack's state, and perhaps go and have a look if there is something out of the ordinary...perhaps he is on the verge of having the flu, of perhaps he is just plain tired!

3) Active packaging: Packaging should be more than just a means of offering information or protection. In fact, why not offer the packaging as a part of the user's experience of the product itself! The charging unit of that cordless handphone set also double up as its packaging when Dad bought it last week. Or did I mention the Plasma TV...the box actually doubles up as a mini-foldable lazy chair, for all of Dad's lazy football evenings! Or perhaps, the bottle of the chilli saucee is actually a free vase thrown in! Get a couple of them and wah lah, you would have a very stylish arrangement of vases for your flower beds! Or how about edible 'paper' plates, which I think is currently available, but of which its use is not that pervasive yet. Wouldm't it be nice to be able to save up on cleaning time, plus the water bills, when one plans to hold a party to celebrate an occasion?

4) Designing for the 20%: Sadly product engineers are very much the propagator of this constant need to have as many functions as possible fit into as little or the tiniest of space available. I mean wouldn't you be comparing the various technical specifications when one considers his purchasing decision for a mobile phone? The marketing people here tells us that the sexier the shape of the phone is, plus the more packed the functions that are availabe in the phone on offer, the better it seems to be! I mean ask yourself, how many of us would use the entire array of functions made available to us. Have you ever seen the number of buttons on the remote control of your TV? I'll bet that most of us would only be using around 20% of the functions! Or how about some of the things or services that are available to us! Do we really need to be offered with an array of choices, a whole lot more! The book 'Made to Stick' says otherwise. I guess its better for one to just stick to basics, and perhaps, just perhaps, for the sake of 'mass customisation' offer only 20% of their products to those who really wants that much more!

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