James Dyson has just revealed what his engineering firm has been working on for the past four years: the world’s most advanced hair dryer, called the Supersonic.
Known best for its high-end vacuum cleaners, Dyson has consistently entered new markets which make use of its digital motor technology to get more airflow through smaller areas. It achieved this to great effect with its hand-drying solution, and to a lesser degree with its bladeless fan.
Now it has its eye on the premium consumer with its new hair dryer. Why the premium? Because these hair dryers will cost around $399 when they go on sale later in 2016.
Dyson is often held up as an example of an innovation leader, especially when representing Great Britain. His original vacuum cleaner allegedly went through 5,000 prototype versions before finally being released. And this new product keeps that tradition going, having taken approximately four years and $71 million to develop.
And as you can see in the video above, the product is over-engineered compared to cheaper competitors, so should stand up to abuse.
So does it make sense to spend $71 million to develop a product which will undoubtedly lead to an influx of cheaper, copycat competitors? Dyson’s view of innovation suggests yes.
According to a breakdown of their financials for 2015 in the Guardian, the company spends around £3m a week on Research and Development. Specifically, it’s £113m annually, up £80m from the previous year, with a total revenue of £1.38 billion.
And for Dyson, this level of investment makes sense because it is one of the defining aspects of the perceived value of its products. Its products cost more than the market average because customers have shown they are willing to pay those prices since Dyson shows it focusses on performance, engineering quality, durability and leading innovation in the market.
Your company’s perceived value drivers may be different, and so your innovation strategy should be adjusted accordingly.
But for me, I don’t think I need a hairdryer that expensive. My hair is so short a towel will do fine.
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