In a competitive housewares environment, innovation can be an important tool for appliance companies. Richard Hoare, whose title is innovation director at Breville, Housewares International Ltd. (Botany, New South Wales, Australia), looks at best practices in innovation from his company’s perspective.
“Innovation goes to the core of our company. It’s part of our values, part of who we are. We have developed many world firsts, not by trying to be first, but by focusing on what the consumer needs. Our innovation must be relevant to what the consumer wants, otherwise it’s worthless. If there is something they would like to do at home, but currently can’t, we use innovation to make it possible.
“For example, people told us they would like to make panini at home like they could buy in a café, so we developed the first home panini press. Now it’s sold around the world. Innovation is a process and a culture. It is precious and easy to lose. It takes a lot of care and cultivation.
“The new products we develop with innovation are what differentiate us from our competition. Through innovation we develop unique intellectual property that gives us an edge in the market. This helps us develop existing or new categories, which ultimately contributes to our profitability. Also, because innovation is what we are about as a company, it is also part of our brand position, or what we stand for. This is important in a world where consumers are increasingly disillusioned and distrustful of brands. Innovation is the tool we use to make the consumer’s experience in their kitchen a more rewarding one. We hope to get this message to people not by what we say, but by what we do.
“We do not separate style or ‘look’ from function, performance, and ease of use. To us, it’s all one and the same. Our products do have a unique family feel and aesthetic, but this is by no means superficial. We have designed our products around fitness for purpose, so the way they look is an expression of that.
“For example, our new blender (BBL600XL) is designed to be high performance, versatile, quiet, durable, easy to use, and easy to clean. This is what people told us they wanted. The ‘look’ of the blender reflects this. The protruding base provides stability as well as an ergonomic angled face for the controls and display. The simple geometric shape is easy to clean, while fitting seamlessly into the kitchen environment. Level markings printed on the jar and a ring-pull on the lid are new to blenders and, while they add a unique look, they are there for very functional reasons. The expression of all these practical functions in our designs has ended up giving Breville products a unique look. We are about simplicity, easy to use, real performance, and function, not frivolous shapes or gimmick features. We hope our products look like what they do.”