Yingfluence coined the term “Diversity Thinking” to describe the advanced application of Design Thinking to customers and markets in other cultures.
Stanford University’s Design School is widely credited with advancing the concept of Design Thinking. Steve Wilson is VP of Cloud Engineering at Citrix. He attended Stanford’s Design Thinking Bootcamp and was tasked with asking people at the local airport (SFO) deeply probing, emotionally charged questions to get to the core of how they were feeling about their experience with the airport. The purpose of the exercise was to find empathy, and see past the status quo to redesign what travelers deal with along their journey. Wilson observed “the broad adoption of these techniques is going to make Citrix a more empathetic, customer centric, fast moving and successful company. And, I’ve become convinced that these techniques and process really do push us in a direction where innovation can be a repeatable practice.”1
Diversity Thinking means that marketers need to actually understand the language and cultural mores in which they wish build brands and sell products or services. Marketers and analyst should consider empathetically understanding the limitations of different economies. People in first-world countries often cannot see the challenges that face third-world countries. Some reports suggest there are more than a billion people in the world with only sporadic access to electricity.
Godrej & Boyce applied Diversity Thinking by first understanding that electricity comes and goes in many parts of India. The result of their efforts was ChotuKool, a reimagined refrigerator with better insulation. It does not require the use of the coolant freon, which is dependent on electricity. Godrej & Boyce priced ChotuKool at $69, so families living on low wages could afford to buy it. This thinking enabled the expansion into a new market segment, and worked within an economic constraint to engineer a solution with lower production costs. This resulted in scalable profitability. Godrej & Boyce then expanded to more affluent market segments, leveraging its core technology to produce mobile coolers.
Other brands selling refrigerators realized that no amount of clever advertising in Hindi, Bengali, or Telugu would be enough to compete against the real value of ChotuKool. Operates without the need for electricity is not only a disruptive solution, but addresses a fundamental problem. Empathy opens the imagination to creating more differentiated value.