Wellness, comfort, convenience and safety touch every aspect of consumers’ lifestyles. Increasingly, leading home goods brands and retailers are putting these interests at the center of their innovation strategies.
Britax Römer, a global manufacturer of child car seats, pushchairs and bike seats, continuously evolves its products to meet the highest safety and quality standards while addressing the lifestyle needs of modern families.
While the strategy is paying dividends – Britax Römer has grown into one of the world’s most trusted child safety product brands – it complicates management of the company’s supply chain to offer so many options while ensuring material safety.
“Parents are demanding high-quality products now more than ever,” said Moritz Walther, marketing director for EMEA at Britax Römer. “They are careful to ensure that the products that come into contact with their children have low levels of harmful chemicals and are safe to use. Additionally, they expect as much performance, comfort and ease of use as possible, as well as products that reflect their personal style. As a child safety manufacturer, we look to offer safety not only in terms of the features we provide, but also how and where the products are made.“
Britax Römer is a prime example of a trend driving many makers of consumer home goods today: the need to accelerate innovation and deliver on consumer demands.
“There is an emphasis among consumer product companies on innovation excellence linked to customer experience at scale – creating and monitoring customer experiences for individuals and groups,” said Ivano Ortis, vice president of US-based IDC Manufacturing Insights and IDC Retail Insights. “At the same time, the number of new products has increased. This creates operational issues, not least in terms of the supply chain’s ability to support the pace of innovation.”
SAFETY WITH PERSONAL STYLE
Health, wellness and convenience are key areas of focus in these endeavors.
“Marketing and innovation efforts have improved in the key areas today’s consumers are focused on – health and wellness, entertaining and convenience,” Joe Derochowski, executive director and industry analyst at US market research organization NPD Group, wrote in a 2018 blog. “Continue developments in innovation will be critical to staying top of mind with consumers, but those innovations need to have the consumer in mind.”
For Britax Römer, the need to combine safety and quality meeting customers’ lifestyle needs leads to an ever-expanding product selection, which requires complete control over data and processes.
“Two of our most popular pushchairs, for example, are extremely different,” Walther said. “The GO range is based on a Scandinavian design with extensive features and provides the ultimate comfort for parents and children. On the other hand, the Britax HOLIDAY is a simple, lightweight buggy ideal for a quick errand or for traveling.
CRITICAL: CONTROL OF SUPPLY CHAIN
Britax Römer’s “made with care” philosophy dictates strong internal standards for chemical and mechanical testing of fabrics and other components – often exceeding regulatory requirements. Safety concerns also drive the company’s supply chain decisions, and all of its suppliers and materials must be fully vetted.
“The safety of the products is directly linked to the component part quality,” Walther said. “The parts must be manufactured and delivered to the requested, defined quality without deviating from the exact specification.”
Britax Römer builds close relationships with suppliers that meet its high standards. “We primarily work with suppliers with whom we have long-term relationships; they recognize the importance of component part quality required for child safety products,” Walther said. “The majority of Britax Römer car seats and all our car seat fabrics and covers are made in Europe. This is an important step in our commitment to tightening quality control and developing the safest possible products for children.”
Innovating to meet rigorous standards while responding quickly to market trends is a combined effort that requires close collaboration among all departments, from engineering to marketing. Britax Römer uses a sophisticated, end-to-end business collaboration platform to manage the coordination.
“For car seats, for example, we develop the initial concept for each project by combining our know-how from previous products with new ideas and input,” Walther said.“The computer-aided design (CAD) engineers make the first CAD models in cooperation with the design, testing and simulation teams. Popular features from previous products are stored in the system as a reference catalog, and this helps us consistently meet tried-and-true safety standards.“
SAFETY-ENABLING AGILE INNOVATION
In the fast-moving consumer goods and retail marketplace, continuous, contextual and customer-centric innovation is a must. Finding smart, collaborative ways to achieve that, as Britax Römer has done, is a prerequisite for future success.
“Speed, insight and agility characterize the business needs of consumer goods companies,” IDC’s Ortis said. “The focus has shifted from selling products to delivering experiences. Consumer product businesses need to engage customers at scale and create a dynamic supply chain that enables rapid innovation to meet changing expectations. This requires a new model of automation and collaboration enabled by technologies such as cloud-based solutions, robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.”
These capabilities, Ortis said, create space where companies and departments can work together and innovate efficiently. “This is where companies will transform their business. It is a fundamental enabler for future opportunities."