Change Through Incremental And Radical Approaches

Introduction

The world is changing day by day. As changes occur, there is the need of new methodology or improvement to the existing approaches to tackle issues and challenges in life. Creation of new approaches gives rise to innovation. Innovation definition takes many forms according to the discipline or school of thought that an individual argues. Innovation involves a process where persons successful exploit new ideas or re-arrange the old ones in a new way to produce new merchandises or services, new business/industry models, as well as new or upgraded means for providing goods and services (Uzkurt et al., 2013). Innovation responds to changes in a creative way by conducting R&D or revamping products (Hall, Lotti, and Mairesse, 2013.).

Innovation may refer to both incremental and radical changes to products or processes (Norman, and Verganti, 2014). The mentioned types of innovation are fundamental in this paper where they represent two different spectrums.

Radical innovation, on the one hand, involves the adoption of changes that wholly replaces the entire existing process, design or system by creating something noticeably new as well as unique. Remarkably, radical innovation fundamentally reorders any current patterns of consistency Tushman and Romanelli (1985). Different people see radical innovation as disruptive. The American scholar Clayton M. Christensen first used the term in 1995 (Ab Rahman, Hamid, and Chin, 2017). Christensen used the term disruptive innovation to replace his idea of disruptive technologies after realizing that business model usually creates disruptive impacts and not the technology (Christensen, 2003). At first, Christensen used to describe how disruptive technologies bring about radical changes in a business.

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The key features in this theory are the overall replacement of old ways and products in the market. The new product usually fits in serving what the incumbents are not serving. The theory is essential as it gives ideas on how disruptive innovations can disrupt companies. Christensen gave two types of disruption; low-end disruption which targets customers who do not need full performance; new-market disruption targeting consumers previously unserved by the incumbents. Radical changes are crucial when changing the whole project to meet novel entrepreneurial investments (Knošková, 2015).

The strengths of radical innovations include bringing new product or processes into the market. It helps bring competitiveness in creativity considering production out of customers’ expectations (Mugge, and Dahl, 2013). Similarly, radical innovation has no incumbent hence remain limitless in advancing and making bog wins in the market. However, it has some disadvantages. Radical innovation is very risky if not well-timed besides the risks of starting the process (Mugge, and Dahl, 2013). Customers may lose interest hence the total failure. Developing idea that seems unique is a challenge as individual fears high cost and the uncertainty.

On the other hand, incremental innovation refers to specific changes aimed at improving the existing products. There are a series of minimal changes or upgrade in the services, process and strategies adopted (Nagy, Schuessler, and Dubinsky, 2016). The main feature revolves around step-by-step adaptions to the status quo. Usually, different ideas are harmonized to come up with an improved feature(s). The theory concentrates on how a product gets improved by incorporating the views of customers and other user making the process or product look new. Authors of the theory developed it to assist in evaluating reasons why companies adopt specific changes partially and wholly. As companies change to incorporate development efficiency, competitive differentiation, and overall productivity, the theory offers in-depth explanations of what approach to innovation is better at what time. For example, product improvement (incremental innovation) is necessary when the management tries to incorporate customer-friendly features (Menguc, Auh, and Yannopoulos, 2014).

The benefits of incremental innovation include reducing the level of risk and it all about improving the existing products. Besides, there is the ability to reduce overall costs, and increasing efficiency as this innovation allows affordable development. Furthermore, firms undertaking projects remains competitive in the relevant marketplaces (Morris, 2013). However, incremental innovations are sometimes slow where they can lead to overtaking by firms conducting radical innovations (Reguia, 2014).

In this essay, Gillette Razor innovation will be subject to evaluation. Gillette Razor is a product of Procter and Gamble Company based in the United States. The Gillette Razor dates back in 1901 when King C. Gillette founded it (Gillette. n.d). Before merging with Procter and Gamble, on October 1, 2005 (Gao, 2014), the Gillette Company made different alterations to meet customer demands. For years, Gillette Razor has seen various innovations. The innovations include both improvement and introduction of new product in the market. The essay will utilize both incremental and radical innovation theory to analyze Gillette Razor innovations based on historical past. Later, it will give the future development of the same product concerning the theories.

Gillette Razor Analysis

The following part will evaluate the innovation process of Gillette Razor over the years using both incremental and radical innovation theory considering the history.

Historical Innovations

The first Gillette razor was invented in the year 1901. By 1903, it had the first razor containing disposable blades at that time. The razor targeted men who usually shaved regularly as the disposable blades provided high-quality shaving. It was easy to handle making the safety razor stand out in the market. Gillette maintained the razors in the market by undertaking price differentiation to make the product affordable to every man.

In 1932, Gillette introduced another blade into the market. The blade name was Gillette Blue Blade as it was usually dipped in blue lacquer. After selling the blades in two years, Gillette introduced the twist to open (TTO) blade design in1934. The razor became popular as changing the blade become much more comfortable than the previous razors. Later in 1947, Gillette modified the TTO model by introducing the ‘Super Speed.’ The Super Speed razor went into the market for eight years, and in 1955, the company updated it. The new SuperSpeed came in different versions that produced much closer shaving. The in this model, Gillette gave different colors to represent the closeness of shaving. In the same year, 1955, Gillette introduced its first adjustable razor which allowed adjustment of the blade and production went on until 1988.

In the mid-1960s, Gillette introduced the Techmatic blade razor where they reinvented to adjustable Techmatic from 1970 (Gillette. n.d). However, the production of this kind of razor was discontinued. In 1971, Gillette introduced a revised version of safety razor named Trac II razor. As the name (II) suggests, it had two blades cutting some strokes where it reduced facial irritation. Later, Gillette introduced the Trac II Plus razor an identical model to Trac II but modified its look with additional features (Gillette. n.d).

Good New! was a disposable double-blade razor released into the market in 1976. The Good New! came in three forms: the Original, the Good News! Plus as well as Good News! Pivot Plus. Good News! was convenient for men to use. In 1977, Gillette introduced Atra razor and Atra plus (Gillette. n.d). The difference between the two razors was their features. The two made shaving the neck easier for men than the previous razor model. This razor model was discontinued.

By 1990, Gillette had adopted technological advancement to produce good razors. Gillette Sensor debuted in that year (Gillette. n.d). The razor was unique as it receded when it came to contact with the skin. It helped reduce chances of cuts while maintaining closer shave. At the same period, Gillette targeted women with their Sensor for Women a product introduced in 1992. The women’s design was identical to Gillette Sensor with minimal alterations. In 1993, Gillette improved the model by releasing the Sensor Excel razor that helped raise facial hairs hence leaving a smooth surface. Similarly, Sensor 3 razor came into the market having many blades.

Custom Plus is another variety of Gillette razors that came in different types including the Custom Plus 3 Sensitive Disposable, Fixed Disposable razor, the Pivot Disposable razor, as well as the Custom Plus 3 Soothing Disposable.

Gillette released Mach 3 version of razors in 1998. It was an improvement of the previous razor which Gillette claims reduced irritation to its users as it was flexible. Following the introduction of Mach 3, Gillette reinvented it to produce Mach 3 disposable. Mach 3 Turbo came later in 2001 which Gillette said improved lubrication as well as anti-friction blades. Gillette developed the Mach 3 Turbo into a newer version of Mach 3 Turbo Champion with slight differences in features.

Gillette has a great interest in customer’s satisfaction. In 2006, they introduced Gillette Fusion. It was a technological innovation where the Fusion razor can trim mustaches and sideburns (Gillette. n.d).

In the later stages of Gillette innovations, there is the introduction of power versions razors. Most of the modern razors use batteries to operate. Gillette indicates that the razors cause hair to stand erect hence creating an occasion where the razors shave closer and smoother. Mach 3 power is one of the battery-powered versions invented on Mach 3 Turbo razor. Mach 3 sensitive is an award-winning razor in 2012 where customer voted it for its effectiveness. There is also a Mach 3 Power Nitro is a razor that has some slight modifications from Mach 3 Turbo enhancing customers’ experience.

Gillette Fusion Power is another brand that uses batteries to operate. The Fusion version has a wide range of product. They include Fusion Power Phantom released on February 2007. In 2008, Gillette released Fusion Power Phenom an upgrade of Gillette Fusion Power. On June 6, 2010, Gillette re-engineered the razors to come up with two different battery-powered razors namely Fusion ProGlide and Fusion ProGlide Power. Gillette claims the experience of the razor was much better in terms of operation. In 2014, they released the Fusion ProGlide FlexBall an upgrade of previous 2010’s razors that increased skin contact and missed fewer hairs (Gillette. n.d). Gillette improved the Fusion ProGlide FlexBall and produced the Fusion Proshield Flexball in November 2015 (Gillette. n.d). Finally, they produced the Fusion Power Gamer also referred as Cool White in some markets.

Gillette invested in a new segment of women. It releases numerous products under the name ‘Venus.’ Venus Divine is the Mach 3 version for women while Venus Vibrance is the Mach 3 Power similar to that of men. There is the Venus Embrace and Venus Breeze which has another version called Venus Spa Breeze. In the United States, Gillette launched the Venus ProSkin Moisture Rich in 2011 which had enhanced features.

The present innovations have pros and cons. The Gillette razor gives a smooth glide and super comfortable shave than the older version. It improves consumers’ satisfaction in the short and long run. The flexibility in the Gillette new battery-powered razors ensures comforts as the users do not require moving their wrist so often. The razors are easy to use.

Furthermore, the increased number of blades ensures that the hair is as short as possible without leaving scars on the skin causing irritation. These advantages come with razors like Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide and Fusion Proshield Flexball. However, the modern Gillette products have a weakness of breakage on the flexible parts showing that innovation has its share of disadvantages.

Incremental Innovation

Incremental innovation follows the step-by-step production of good to fit markets and customer’s demand as mentioned above. There are different characteristics that incremental innovation has and Gillette observed them to produce the razors.

Incremental innovations consider utilizing current core competencies as well as capabilities to maintain relevance and productivity. Gillette is a favorite brand that exploited its publicity to produce its product. Given that its establishment was in 1901, it had expanded regarding experienced technicians and the quality of the product. It produced as it gained popularity in the United States and globally.

Similarly, incremental innovation calls for modest technological modifications from existing products or services. As stated above, most of the razors are an improved technology. The technological change happened from human-powered razors to battery-powered razors. As technology change, there are increased changes in the product. Needless to say, for example, Mach 3 Turbo first production was not motorized, but Mach 3 Power was a battery-powered variety of the previous Mach3 Turbo razor. Incremental innovation considers gradual technological adoption; something Gillette achieved from its first production in 1901 to its current 2015 razor.

Another feature of incremental innovation is responding to customer needs. This kind of innovation considers differentiation acknowledged from current offers. Customer input is vital in any business (Mäkinen, Kanniainen, and Peltola, 2014). Most customers complained about Gillette Razor irritation after shaving. Gillette Company took those complaints seriously where they altered introducing sensor blades receding when in contact with skin as well as lubrication strips which reduce irritation. Apparently, without considering customer’s feedback, alteration of appearance and operation of the blade would be impossible.

Incremental innovation has a more predictable path or process regarding costs. Gillette production line has varieties of cost. The different razors distributed have different price according to the technology incorporated. For instance, Mach 3 Turbo is cheaper than Mach 3 Power. There is a clear, predictable path of price.

Gillette followed a formal stage-gate process a characteristic of incremental innovation (Berends et al., 2014). For example, its Gillette Fusion has had modernization from Gillette Fusion Power to Fusion ProGlide and Fusion ProGlide Power to Fusion ProGlide FlexBall and finally to Fusion Proshield Flexball.

Incremental innovation upgrades the product hence expanding its competitiveness. Through the increased feature and look, Gillette Company prolonged it the market life. From its establishment, Gillette razors production is over 100 years old. The change in the generation requires a shift in technology to incorporate generation change features. Gillette sustains the competitiveness of existing products by improving the technology which upgrades workability of the razors serving consumers in the market.

Gillette has been running a low-risk business enabling constant growth. Remarkably, incremental innovation follows a stage by stage process which reduces risks (Berends et al., 2014). Companies can evaluate customer’s requirement and have time to analyze which is the less risky innovation while still distributing the older products. In its production of razors, Gillette has not encountered loses due to poor investment but rather continued profitability.

Radical innovations involve bringing into the market a new product that did not exist by either removing the incumbent or inventing something new (Henkel, Rønde, and Wagner, 2015). In this theory of innovation, the developed product or process brings in some added experience to customers. Gillette undertook some radical innovation when they introduced the women razors. Prior to its launching, women razors were not on the market. Gillette utilized the disruptive innovation theory advocated by Christensen Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) theory. In the JTBD theory, a customer seeks to hire the best product which can do the job they have (Romero, and Molina, 2015). High levels of research and development characterize radical innovation (Van Beers, and Zand, 2014). Gillette understood what the women needed and introduced the Venus razors for women. Not only did Gillette release the product but also they have integrated different technological alteration to fit the clients.

Gillette introduced the battery-powered razors. Previously, the use of manual razors was prevalent. With the advancement in technology, the Gillette razor attracts new consumers it did not have prior-motorization. In one way, it seems like an incremental innovation, but it is a radical innovation. In defining radical innovation, there is the aspect of being unique. The incorporation of powered razors serves the customers on the bases of ‘job-to-be-done.’

Noticeably, Gillette launched a new product line. In the wake of continued shaving, Gillette introduced their batteries to serve in the product. Likewise, they added the shaving creams, gels as well as aftershaves (Gillette. n.d). It complimented the clients’ shaving experience by avoiding cuts. In addition, the aftershaves ensure that the skin is moist after shaving. The batteries, gels, cream, and aftershaves are completely a new idea put in practice that came wholly from the company. In radical innovation, there is a characteristic of being introduction been risky. The gels, aftershaves, and creams have substantial risks as not every consumer will purchase them. They are just complimentary substance in the razor business.

Future Development of Gillette Razor Gillette can have some development of the razors. Changes can occur through either incremental or radical innovations

Future Incremental Innovations

Blade longevity is a course Gillette should take. In the manual and battery-powered razors, the blade replacement stands as the biggest problem. Some blades go blunt after a few shaves making replacement costly. Gillette can maintain competitiveness by upgrading the blades they use. They should employ blades that remain sharp for a long time. Besides using sharp blades, Gillette should advertise about quality blade thereby reassuring the consumers’ confidence. By so doing, they will prolong the market life of the razor while sustaining its competitiveness.

Gillette should also seek the customer’s opinion. In their large market, not all customers can afford the expensive razors. Gillette should develop inexpensive razor but of high quality as per the customers demand. Engaging the customer will allow incorporation of different ideas where any product they would make could have a readily available market. A step by step production would be advisable in this instance.

Future Radical Innovations

Over sometimes now, Gillette has continuously added the number of blades in the razors. It is an incremental innovation that may soon become obsolete as increasing the number of blades may quickly have minimal value to clients’ perceived product satisfaction. It, therefore, necessitates the introduction of radical innovation that can lead to growth. Gillette can invest in research and development in such of a chemical which will eliminate hair. Taking a keen interest in the product development will assist Gillette to expand their overall product line hence growth. The chemical will render the razors useless. However, it is a risky endeavor as chemical administered on the skin may have severe side-effects.

Radical innovation can be the introduction of electric razors. Such razors should make obsolete the manual and battery-powered razors. With such an electric razor, it should use less energy to be pocket-friendly in times of operation. The razor should ensure that it leaves a smoother surface than both manual and battery-powered razor failure to which it will be a risky investment that could lead to high loses.

Automation of razors may be a way to go. With automation of razor, a person would sit while the razor shaves the hairs. It would require the use of artificial intelligence and sensors which identify a strand of hair and cuts. This technology will eliminate manual and battery-powered razors which sometimes lives some cut irritating the skin. Such a razor can be hand-held or attached to a machine. An automated razor will use a computerized sensor that only cut hairs on the skin. This automated razor will have benefits like avoiding unnecessary cuts besides saving on time.

Adapting such a high technology may introduce some cost of production which the company may transfer to customers. It may make the razor expensive hence targeting affluent individuals.

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Conclusion

Summarily, innovations are essential in developing new products, processes, and services. Different theories are explaining the process of innovation. In this essay, there is incremental and radical innovation. Incremental involve a step-by-step upgrade of the existing product to enhance competitiveness and maintain growth in the industry. On the other hand, radical innovation revolves around to bring in an entirely new product or service eliminating the incumbent as it is obsolete. Gillette Company has had the innovation of its razors as mentioned above. These innovations have taken the form of both incremental and radical changes. The essay also presents the modern innovation and suggests future inventions which include producing long-lasting blades, introducing new chemicals and sensor recognition razors among others. Evidently, there is no better innovation than the other it all depends on the project.

References

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