As experts in the field of R&D, we learn and read a lot about the latest in innovation and product development throughout the world. While many believe that innovation is simply about the creation of new products, we believe that innovation really happens when development leads to an evolution in consumer behaviour. The changes in consumer behaviour created by the new product of service, whether big or small, is what underlines how innovative and forward-thinking an idea is. In this short post, we’ll be going through a few of our favourite breakthroughs that have changed or are changing consumer behaviour and the world.
A bit obvious, right? The iPhone, as you’re well aware, has changed the way we interact with the world and one another. While there were products like digital personal assistants and personal music players on the market, the introduction of the iPhone and the technology behind it created an entirely new market and demand, ultimately leading to fundamental changes in how we live our lives, experience different media and communicate with one another.
What you may not know is that your iPhone resulted from the failure of the Apple Newton, the company’s attempt to compete with the Palm Pilot in the 1990’s. While the product’s promise of simple, efficient, use-everywhere technology did not come to fruition at the time, pioneering CEO Steve Jobs’ use of and additions to the Newton’s technology were what eventually led to the introduction of the iPhone.
Netflix and Zipcar
There are two distinct forms in which innovation can take: the introduction of an entirely new product, an example being the iPhone, and the implementation of a new business model. While operating in rather different spheres, Netflix and Zipcar have both managed to upend their industry and make the future uncertain for their more established competitors through the introduction of a business model that gives consumers more flexibility than ever before.
Netflix, originally conceived of as a mail-order DVD service, has dramatically changed the present and future of the film and television industry by shifting into online subscription service offering users a choice of thousands of movies and television shows to stream at any given time. Netflix has recently moved into the creation of original content for their site, further affecting the state of the film industry as consumers’ behaviour continues to change and viewers increasingly choose to watch new content from the comfort of their own homes.
Like Netflix, Zipcar is affecting the state of its industry by using the shifts in consumer demand to bring a new business model to market. Like Netflix, Zipcar is a subscription service that allows users to get what they need when they need it, allowing subscribers to rent a car by the hour or the day. Zipcar’s model plays on the shift in young people’s tastes away from car ownership as young people in cities continue to invest their money elsewhere rather than paying to own or lease their own vehicle.
This breakthrough innovation has yet to hit the mainstream market, but is likely to come soon. Patrick O. Brown, a biochemistry professor at Stanford University, set out to try to eliminate the impact of industrial animal agriculture, citing it as the world’s leading environmental issue due to the resources the process uses.
After organizing several conferences with experts throughout the world, Brown realised that a product needed to be introduced to the market for real change to happen. Brown’s company, Impossible Foods, has since introduced a substitute for beef that looks, cooks and tastes like beef but is entirely composed of plants, using 95% less land, 75% less water and emitting 87% less greenhouse gases than the meat equivalent. Impossible Foods’ product hitting the market is looking like it will seriously shake up and change the agriculture industry, a sector already feeling major effects as consumers increasingly choose to engage in alternative diets.
There you have it, a short list of our favourite breakthroughs that have changed or are changing our lives for the better. What are your favourites? What breakthroughs are you imagining and most excited about seeing? Let us know!