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Growth Champions: The Battle for Sustained Innovation Leadership by

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CHAPTER 6

Audi and Samsung Electronics: Design as the growth driver

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Globalization and the fast diffusion of new technology and ideas have shortened the lifecycles of numerous products. New versions are released in ever-decreasing timescales and the so-called ‘fast followers’ are quick to launch imitations. Many products can be copied and ready for sale within weeks of the original launch. Across many different sectors, differentiation is not about just price and positioning – it is about the product itself. This presents a challenge as many manufacturers now have access to and use the same technology platforms as their competitors. Therefore the role of design as the driver of visible innovation has come very much to the fore.

On one level this is nothing new. For companies that want to generate higher margins and grow revenues, better design has been a long-standing focus. Indeed, throughout the second half of the 20th century, leading manufacturers embraced design as a source of differentiation. Some companies built in-house teams to not only develop new product concepts but also define what became known as the language of the brand and how to apply it across multiple product lines. Braun, Herman Miller, Sony, and Philips are perhaps some of the most longstanding examples of this. More recently, high-growth companies such as Dyson, LG, Virgin Atlantic, and Apple have all taken ...

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