The Wall Street Journal, 20 December 2007, reports how two years ago, Kiwi “interviewed 3500 people in eight countries about their shoe care needs” and they found that “on a list of more than 20 attributes people desired in their shoes, shine ranked merely 17th.” Kiwi went on to re-architect the company from being a shoe shine-centric one to one with a varied shoe care product line more in tune with customer needs for fresh smelling and comfortable shoes.
The Chief Executive of Kiwi states─ “‘it became clear: innovation was a key value of ours’…but innovation wasn’t enough…products had to be informed by the needs and desires of consumers.”
Kiwi’s approach was very much in line with User-centric EA. They focused on the user requirements first and foremost. Then, and only then, did they apply innovation to new products to satisfy the needs.
The company went on to develop: “’fresh’ins’ (thin lightly fragranced shoe inserts for women) and ‘smiling feet’ (a line of cushions for heels and the balls of feet, anti-slip pads and strips that can be placed behind the straps of high-heel sling-back shoes.”) Kiwi transformed itself and became “a foot care brand without losing its edge as the world’s shoe-care expert.”
How did they transform themselves?
1) Requirements gathering: They surveyed and sought to understand their customers’ needs.
2) Solution analysis and design: They consulted podiatrists and physiologists “to understand foot anatomy and how bacteria trigger odor buildup in shoes.”
3) Prototype development: Kiwi created “prototypes that customers could actually put on their feet.”
4) Marketing planning: Kiwi designed new packaging and made a new merchandising system for in store displays that grouped “their women’s products, athletic products, [and] shoe shine products by color─moves intended to make the shoe-care aisle easier to shop.”
Kiwi implemented a true User-centric EA approach to its transformation efforts. They did not let advances in foot care products drive the business approach, but rather they let the consumers and their requirements drive the business and its product development expansion. Moreover, the company focused not only on product development, but integrated a comprehensive solution to meet their consumer needs through a whole new line of foot care products (augmenting their shoe care line) and incorporated testing and marketing to ensure a successful launch. What an amazing feat for Kiwi (no pun intended)!