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Cross-Breeding Products New Frontier

Marketers' "don't-overextend" mind-set has so dominated companies' approach to developing new products that it has led them to ignore a critical alternative: cross-breeding. Instead of using features from many but similar product categories, cross-breeding uses only two dissimilar and even highly remote product categories to spark the conception of a truly new product.

Classic examples of hybrid products include the sofa-bed, fax-phone, and fridge-freezer. What is new, however, is forming hybrids by using products from dissimilar or even highly remote product categories. For example, DeLonghi SpA and Kenwood produce a stylish two-slice toaster with built-in FM radio. LG Electronicshas launched the fridge-TV, and a cell phone with a built-in glucose meter for diabetics. Apple has cross-bred the iPod Nano with a Nike jogging shoe to display information about the number of miles run, pace and calories burned.

It's not enough simply to physically integrate two products. The attributes and functionalities of the products need to be carefully examined for new links to be created. Psychologists call the result of this process "emergence" and find that the more remote two products are, the more potential for emergence.



Read the whole story at The Wall Street Journal »

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