Putting the squeeze on Big Juice?
You don’t care about juicing. Of course you don’t. Life’s too short. But you should care about this story. Why? Because it’s a lesson. Apply it to your own products. This is a story of big companies failing to address the real issues. This is a story of big companies being disrupted by an upstart. Above all it is a story of supreme design and integrated operations.
If you’ve ever tried to make your own juice you will know there are shortcomings. It’s expensive if you buy it, and you don’t really know what’s in it. If you make it at home, it’s expensive too. Plus, you need a ton of fruit and veg, a strong arm for all that chopping, a big bin for all the waste, and an unshakeably upbeat or stoic nature to face up to ALL THAT CLEANING of the juicer afterwards.
Nonetheless juice is big business. It accounts of $5B p.a. in the US alone, $147B globally.
If we were going to improve the experience we would apply the ideality principle, right? Get all of the good stuff, and get rid of all of the bad stuff. What could that mean? Take 1 minute and write down your own version. Here’s mine (no peeking till you’ve done yours): -
I WANT : -an instant, fresh, juice of my choosing, bursting with fantastic flavour and all of those clever little phytochemical that keep my skin looking so young and lovely. I want it whenever and and wherever I am. And I want it for free.
i DON’T WANT : - disappointing taste, mess, hassle, waste, effort, pesticides or industrial gloop masquerading as juice.
So how do the big juice companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, appear to have addressed this ideality issue? In my view they -
Enter Juicero - a start-up juice company that has been in stealth mode for 3 years, and went live two weeks ago. The company raised $120M from Silicon Valley, including Kleiner Perkins, one the most prestigious VC in California. The company is currently valued at around $270m !!! Check out the video here
The founder, Doug Evans, wanted to create a juice experience that made you crave for more. More than that, he wanted to bring the health benefits of juicing to the whole world. In order to do that he needed to make juicing easy, sexy, and he needed to have total control of the whole supply chain.
After 12 different prototype juicers, the final Juicero press is a device that looks like no press you’ve ever seen before. It looks like an iMac, a triumph of beautiful design. And it operates like a Nespresso (other coffee machines are available) - you buy the veg packs from the company, load them into the machine, press a button and two minutes later you have a glass of fresh, organic juice.
From an innovation perspective Juicero has solved the contradiction of how to create a simple elegant system - Ease of Operation - without compromising on freshness, flavour or quality of ingredients (loss of substance). They have (unwittingly) utilised a number of key inventive principles in designing the product that others have used in other industries to solve such a problem. These are .: -
1.) Segmentation - they have separated the fruit and veg from the press. There is no physical contact between the two. This enables the machine to be clean, always.
2.) Trimming - there are no screws, drums, sieves, meshes, jugs, tamper sticks. Just two plates that press together.
3.) Prior Action - all of the purchasing of the produce, washing, mixing, chopping and prep is done beforehand, by Juicero on behalf of the consumer. All the consumer needs to do is press.
Juicero would obviously prefer us to use their own packs and not some cheap counterfeit product - a real problem with this kind of “razor blade” business model. The contradiction here is how to increase the device’s complexity without sacrificing ease of operation. The contradiction matrix suggests the use of prior anti-action (i.e. do something in advance to counter the hing you don’t want to happen). So each pack has a QR code that is read by the press. If the press doesn’t recognise the code it won’t press. If the code says the pack is out of date, it won’t work.
For me the Juicero is a Red Curve product - one that changes the way we think about something. It may be initially problematic (fabulously expensive), but is an inherently better system (you just know this is going to a better way to get juice, whether you make it yourself or buy it from someone else). The concept of selling juice a la Nespresso is a light bulb moment - brilliant and after the fact obvious. The story of Juicero brings out some common attributes associated with creating step-change innovation : -
1.) Know your stuff - Doug Evans has lived and breathed juice for over thirty years. He understands the benefits, the shortcomings, the industry and the market.
2.) Think big - Doug has a vision to bring super-fresh, top quality juice to EVERYBODY. He believes in the health benefits of fresh organic juice and he wants to bring it to the world.
3.) Don’t compromise - zero waste, zero mess, ultra fresh. Keep working the problem until there’s a solution that ticks all of the boxes.
4. ) Be tenacious - Doug has spent 3 years chasing his vision and developing his product. The need to have top quality fresh products has meant he has had to vertically integrate and become a farmer. The desire to create an awe-inspiring product has meant that he has had to create a tech company, and not just a juice business.
4.) Be true - Doug claims to have juice running through his veins. His mantra is fruits and vegetables saves lives. He is maniacal about quality, passionate about health, and focused on service. Juicero embodies all of these values.
Green juice may not be your cup of tea, but the story of how this start-up is shaking things up should be a tonic to your drive for a successful innovation.
We were in a meeting. We were explaining our concepts for new products in terms of S-Curves. The starting point was the client's current product line, which was at the top of the S-Curve. Most of our ideas would fit on this S-Curve. The client cut us short - "Never mind those - I want to see the Red Curve"