Vijay Govindarajan On Reverse Innovation

Reverse Innovation reveals a bold discovery with far-reaching implications: Innovation flows uphill and its future lies in emerging markets. Today’s developing countries are being tapped for breakthrough innovations that can unlock new markets in the rich world and help solve global societal problems such as the high cost and poor access to health care.

Most global companies recognize that emerging markets have become today’s last source of growth. But all they do is modify and export products that

Vijay Govindarajan On Reverse Innovation
Vijay Govindarajan On Reverse Innovation

they developed in their home country. To capitalize on the full potential of emerging markets, they must head in the opposite direction—by innovating specifically for and in developing countries to create breakthroughs that will be adopted at home and around the globe.

The idea for the book originated in 2008, when Govindarajan was chosen as GE’s first Professor-in-Residence and Chief Innovation Consultant. Reverse Innovation offers an inside account of how reverse innovation is transforming GE’s strategy.

Some success stories:

  1. PepsiCo, which drew upon local teams and global resources to develop Aliva, a new savory cracker created by Indians for the Indian market, but with high global potential.
  2. Before employing reverse innovation, Logitech almost lost leadership of computer mice in China to an unexpected Chinese rival with a better understanding of local needs.
  3. Procter & Gamble, which developed a globally successful tampon called Naturella in Mexico after discovering why its American product, Always, was losing market share to rivals there.
  4. In China and India, Harman designed from scratch a completely new infotainment system for emerging markets with functionality similar to their high-end products at half the price and one-third the cost. It has generated more than $3 billion in new business.
  5. Mahindra Tractors developed smaller tractors for small time farmers across the world and have succeeded tremendously from it based on their India model
  6.  Narayana Hridayalaya has developed the process for low cost cardiac surgery and is now setting up hospitals close to the USA to deliver lower cost healthcare based on the model they perfected in India.
  7.  GE developed smaller hand held ultra sconic scanners for medical diagnosis seeing the acute need for smaller machines in countries like China and India.

As these examples show, the biggest hurdles to reverse innovation are not scientific, technical, or budgetary. They are managerial and organizational, and with the right mindset and tools they can be overcome by any manager. Better yet, the evidence shows that companies can earn the same or even better margins and return on investment for a low-cost product designed for China or India than for a higher cost current product at home. The result is a win-win at home and abroad.


Mumbai, Jan 28, 2013  


Reverse Innovation Workshop Opinion
Reverse Innovation Workshop Opinion

World’s No 3 ranked thinker Vijay Govindarajan and the acclaimed practical innovation Guru Frans Johansson, for the first time together at a forum, To take you to the next stage of globalization from India.

The intensive event will address many of the following issues relevant to Indian businesses:

  • How do we identify the market discontinuities that could transform our industry?
  • How can we create new growth platforms with a view to exploit the market discontinuities?
  • How do we allocate resources to support growth?
  • What is your role in shaping the future of your company?
  • What kind of organizational DNA must we have in order to anticipate and respond to changes on a continual basis?
  • Why do companies need to continuously innovate strategically?
  • How to lead and leverage from diversity
  • How to create informal organizational connections for growth