Let’s talk frugal innovation

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In 2020 we saw greenhouse emissions temporarily plummet by record amounts, a surprising/rare positive to arise from the pandemic. The UK showed the second largest fall in global emissions, dropping by 13%. However, emissions are set to rebound as restrictions are lifted, and as a collective we will need to take a proactive approach in tackling the ever-evolving problem that is climate change.

Amongst a host of other techniques, this is where Frugal Innovation comes in.

Frugal Innovation, stems from the idea that ‘The West’ can learn from developing countries, where engineers use less expensive tools and materials to make product accessible to more people at lower costs. The phrase was first coined by Carlos Ghosn, the joint chief of Renault and Nissan, when observing India’s manufacturing process. However, when employing Frugal Innovation from a sustainability standpoint, the key concepts, of reducing the complexity and cost of production, are used as a means of reducing environmental impact.

Sustainability relies on three mutually dependent factors; the economic, the environmental and the social. Frugal Innovation essentially covers all three. From the economic, diminishing purchasing power means customers can no longer afford expensive products. The crux of the environmental, as we all know, is that we are running out of natural resources; and the social, growing income disparity has resulted in a shift in the needs of the consumer which no longer align with existing products and services on the market.

Tiger Global are implementing Frugal Innovation throughout our supply chain. The products we develop are sustainable in form as well as function. For example, the Million Mile Light has eliminated the need for batteries as it runs solely on kinetic energy. Similarly, our Core150 shaker comes with its own containers for protein powder, which again, eliminates the need for additional product or single use packaging. In terms of product development, we work to engineer our products to have the minimum materials and waste output to function brilliantly, be that in process or material, so the Co2 and environmental impact is at its minimum. It also allows us to supply our product as competitively as we can, granting consumers greater access to reusable product, which thus increases consumer uptake and decreases the need for single use products.

In developing countries, Frugal Innovation was born out of necessity, but with diminishing resources, it will become a necessity on a global scale. It is about designing with long term consumer/society needs in mind, and it doesn’t have to reduce the quality of the product, initially it doesn’t have to change the product at all. A first step could be reducing packaging rather than the product. Effectively it’s about doing more with less. 



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