The Carrot Sharpener: How Flying Tiger Copenhagen Managed To Produce An Effective “Novelty” Product
Disclaimer: The following is solely theoretical. There is no evidence to suggest that Flying Tiger Copenhagen actually used Value Proposition Design in the development of the carrot sharpener.
The carrot sharpener, often purchased as a novelty secret Santa gift, or a stocking filler. Usually considered a farcical kitchen utensil among the able-bodied, however, this innovation is significant to those who have limited mobility in their hands and fingers. For many with arthritis, EDS, or Parkinson’s disease, the use of a knife to cut vegetables such as carrots or parsnips could mean that these vegetables end up being neglected, not due to being disliked, but due to the impracticalities and issues that may arise in preparing them. Injuring yourself when doing daily tasks is embarrassing for everyone, but for people who are disabled, it adds to the shame that is already experienced due to the stigma latched onto the label of their ailment, disorder, or illness.
The carrot sharpener has been part of the standard shop stock in Flying Tiger stores nationwide for a number of years, never failing to amuse those who purchase it for the sake of poking fun of the seemingly needless invention.
Like many seemingly novel items, the true target audience for an innovation is actually someone who is disabled, and struggles with day to day tasks that able-bodied people take for granted, however, it is marketed to a broader audience in order to make sure the product is on the shelves for those who actually need it.
Have you ever seen the viral videos where people use a snapper-head toy, such as a tyrannosaurus rex, with its bodiless head attached to a stick, with a handle to open and close its mouth, to pick up items from the floor? Using such an item could significantly assist the paralysed in collecting items they may have dropped on the floor!
Do you see what I mean? The same can be said for someone who struggles to hold onto a sharp knife to cut raw veg.
Theoretically, let us unpack the idea of the carrot sharpener, through the lens of Value Proposition Design.
The idea of Value Proposition Design was coined by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, and Alan Smith. Their book Value Proposition Design – How To Create Products and Services Customers Want is largely successful, and the ideas behind it make product design etc. much easier to understand.
What this book explains is that you need to profile your customer: what do they do during the day, tasks they partake in, household chores, emotional labour, social exchanges, and, do they find any of this a pain? Are there any issues in their daily lives that cause them stress or irritation, something we could change and make better? And what would they gain from investing in the product and or service you are proposing. By doing this thoroughly you would be in a position to do a deep dive into the purpose of your product, is it going to make something easier for a customer and allow them to gain from the experience.
Lets look at this with reference to the carrot sharpener and its true audience: people with limited mobility.
What tasks do people with limited mobility do during the day, that cause them stress or irritation? Food preparation, especially with hard vegetables such as carrots or parsnips.
Could we change this? Yes, of course, as Flying Tiger managed to do. By creating the carrot sharpener, the carrot, and or parsnip could be placed inside the giant orange sharpener, and be wound through, producing shaving-like pieces of veg, with significantly less risk of being cut by a blade during a tremor or losing your grip on the handle.
Of course, the gains from this product are significant in their own right, by implementing and mass producing this product, the people who actually need it for a greater sense of autonomy, are able to access it for a reasonable price. Losing autonomy is a great wear on pride, as many elderly and disabled people may tell you, so retaining what you can, for as long as possible is significant, especially if someone you love is being struck down by an ailment, disorder or illness that gradually manifests. It can be very emotional.
Obviously, as we have said above, there is no physical evidence to suggest that this product was subject to value proposition design during the conceptualisation and product development phase of its creation, but it is interesting to explore the nature of this process in this way.
Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra, The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.
He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.
The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.
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