In Simplicity There Lies Success

April 11, 2018

Last week we discussed the new trend of DIFM (do-it-for-me) replacing DIY (do-it-yourself) across CPG product categories. This week, we examine successful DIFM innovation in the consumer context.

At the core of the DIFM trend is consumers’ desire to optimize their time. Shortening the time invested in an activity is part of optimization, but time savings alone are insufficient. Convenience is also core to the goal. Removing friction from the engagement and simplifying choices is paramount.

Aligning products with the DIFM trend can be about the purchase experience as well as the end product. Online mattress companies like Casper and Leesa capitalize on the DIFM trend not only by providing delivery – brick-and-mortar mattress companies have been providing delivery for decades – but by offering limited choices and a streamlined digital experience. By offering only a few choices and reducing friction in the engagement, these companies deliver the convenience that DIFM customers are looking for.

In addition to being convenient, successful DIFM products are also simple. DIFM consumers are motivated to try engaging with products with convenient digital interfaces, but don’t convert to long-term, repeat customers if managing the experience is too complex. Delivering the right balance of complexity is not easy. An often-told anecdote of innovation management is that when just-add-water cake mix was first introduced, consumers didn’t like it. The experience was too simple, so the formulas were modified to require egg and oil. Meal kits like Blue Apron and HelloFresh seem to be at the other end of this spectrum. These services have struggled to convert trials to consistent, repeat customers because of the complexity of planning and managing the experience and preparing meals with unfamiliar ingredients and techniques.

If you’re working on a new product or service aligned with the DIFM trend, remember that it’s not just about saving time. Optimizing time is the goal. Experiences must be convenient, and simplicity in the choices and experience is paramount. If you need help figuring out how to deliver the right amount of convenience and simplicity in your product, or you need enabling technologies to make it possible, we're here to help!

About the Author 
Cary Strickland leads our consumer packaged goods work and brings to our clients his extensive experience helping product development teams find the right partners, assess technology options, or evaluate their competition for developed and emerging markets. He has expertise in technology scouting, landscaping and evaluation, market opportunity analysis, and technology-inspired ideation and human-centered design. He has also managed projects in infrastructure and construction, industrial coatings and chemicals, food, and packaging; his international experience includes Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines. When not musing on innovation excellence he plays guitar and bass.

Cary has an M.E.M. in Engineering Management from Duke University, a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, and a B.S. in Paper Science Engineering from North Carolina State University.

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