Creating a new product category in a competitive market.

Client: Quinny

Quinny is a global baby stroller brand. It is part of the Dorel group, which also owns other familiar family brands, such as Maxi-Cosi, Bébé Confort and Safety 1st. The market is very competitive and it is becoming harder to differentiate since the highest levels of quality and safety are simply the norm.

Exploring opportunities by sketching the future

Quinny’s innovation team kicked off an extensive exercise to discover new opportunities. A multi-disciplinary team of designers and experts, such as urban planners, engineers and sustainability specialists, worked on different themes that would define the near future. We joined the team as an external design studio. An in-depth exploration of the different themes resulted in a number of Design Challenges, which were then answered with dozens of validated product and service ideas.

One of the ideas was an early version of a stroller mounted on a skateboard. This idea addressed the fact that the travel distances in urban areas will increase in the future – a fact that would affect families with young children. Our studio was asked to develop this idea further since founding partner Peter Van Riet was a passionate skateboarder in his younger years.

Prototyping an experience

Instead of sitting down to draw, we got our hands dirty and prepared a number of prototypes and parts. Then we organised an afternoon with moms, dads, children, skaters, designers and innovation team members. Everyone was encouraged to start playing around with the prototypes.

The resulting movie perfectly captures that first experience:

Finding the community

The prototypes evolved and the idea was entered in the OVAM Ecodesign award competition. It won in the “product in development” category — after first filing for IP protection.

Winning an award is one thing. Building acceptance in the market is another. Not even the brightest marketer can predict the success of a completely new product category; it must be tested in the market.

And this brings up another dilemma. Do you secretly develop the product further, test it in small sworn-to-secrecy consumer panels, and start building awareness after the product launch? This will keep the idea secret, but competitors may get to the market quicker with a similar idea. Another approach – nowadays common in crowdsourcing – is to beat the competition on speed-to-market by going public in the concept stage and building a community of buyers before the final product actually hits the market.

The innovation team took the courageous decision to go public. So we created a simple website and Facebook page and posted the “first experience” movie. In a few weeks, the idea went viral and the longboardstroller had an instant fan base and a highly engaged community.

The early concept of the longboardstroller went viral in a matter of weeks.

We involved the community in the future product development phases by keeping them updated, but also by asking questions about certain design decisions. This increased the community population and participation as well as the overall feeling of product engagement. At this point, we had a proof-of-market and the concept was ready for additional engineering and extensive testing.

In the meantime, we started to create the branding, the initial website, and a variety of social media streams together with the team at Quinny. In late 2015, the Quinny longboardstroller was successfully launched, making another big splash in both the worlds of social and mainstream media.

Design as a holistic approachDesign as a holistic approach

The Quinny longboardstroller was new on many levels. Not only is it a new product category, it also included many novelties in the design and go-to-market process: co-creation, viral media, online community involvement, online sales — not to mention the challenges in sourcing, engineering, certification and testing.

At our studio, we approach each challenge with a holistic mindset. Even if the result is a product, each and every step is approached using design thinking that is customer-centric, future-proof and that focuses on iterating ideas, prototyping, validation and learning.

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