Innovation Spotlight

This month’s innovation spotlight goes to Whirlpool. The appliance manufacturer has been around for over 100 years now. Since 1911 Whirlpool has continued to lead the industry through ideation, innovation, and creation of new appliances. Their claim to fame is that they “create purposeful technology that helps free up your schedule for what really matters” (whirlpool.com).

Now, I am a lover of tech innovation to begin with and I enjoy all sorts of new gadgets. I would have an entire smart home hub if I could. I find it fascinating to be able to interact with the appliances in your home to make life easier or more convenient. For example, the latest in technology by Whirlpool allows you to survey your refrigerators content while outside of the home. How cool is it to eliminate having to guess about whether you have eggs at home when you’re making a quick stop at your local grocery store? Technology now allows you to simply check a mobile app that will tell you if the frig has eggs in it. That’s cool!

The Zera Food Recycler fits the same mold in my opinion. This kitchen appliance allows you to turn a full weeks’ worth of food waste into ready to use fertilizer. Now you may ask why this would be of any use for the average household kitchen. Well, in Fredrick G. Crane’s book, “Marketing for Entrepreneurs: Concepts and Applications for New Ventures” he talks about Social Change and how it effects the way entrepreneurs find market opportunities. He says that a “notable social change is eco-consciousness or going green” (Crane 26). Taking care of our ecosystem while reducing or eliminating waste is a huge focus for many Americans nowadays. I love the idea of being able to use my family’s food waste to produce fresh fertilizer. The wife would love to use something like that for her home garden, which she has been urging me to carve out more space for in our backyard.

Value Proposition

The value proposition here is that the consumer can satisfy their need to be environmentally aware, while disposing of their own leftover food. This technology allows you to solve two problems at once. You can essentially get rid of the potentially spoiling waste and at the same time not ‘waste’ it at all.

Customer Segments

The customer segment that is currently being targeted with this solution is the eco-conscious consumer that recycles everything to benefit our environment and often looks to shop companies or brands that do the same. The ecological footprint that a company leaves behind has even attracted the attention of our government affording tax breaks for minimizing the impact of your footprint on our environment.

A new customer segment could potentially be the agriculture workers looking for ways to eliminate their waste. If Whirlpool can find a way to make a larger appliance to run the same decomposition with twenty-four hours, I think those who have a profession in agriculture would become the early majority and help Whirlpool “cross the chasm”.

Why is Whirlpool Innovative

Whirlpool has found a way to truly maximize their research and development. With one hundred plus years in the game I think they have a bit of a leg up on their competition. Innovation to me is about finding the right idea and pairing it with the perfect gap or need. Former Chairman of IBM Europe Larry Hirst put it best saying that “innovation is turning ideas into money”. Whirlpool has done that very thing with this new product.

Whirlpool’s Differentiation

The company has set itself apart from the competition because they are finding unconventional use for conventional products. I think this sort of thing adds value for consumers and creates new customer segments. Essentially, the Zera is a recycle bin for food that produces soil to grow more food. It seems simple and genius all at the same time. When your R&D can come up with things like this on a yearly basis, all I can say is be thankful for that team and don’t let them go.

The Zera Food Recycler is said to launch this year and I cannot wait to grab one for my home.

I’m Just Saying…

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