Reverse Innovation: Why Emerging markets are the next frontier and how gatorade is an excellent example of reverse innovation
The story of Gatorade can be traced back to the ‘60s, the University of Florida and its football squad: the Gators. The state’s heat and humidity forced the team’s coach to approach the university’s science department and see if there was something more effective than water to replenish players quickly. The labs whipped up a formula of water, glucose, sodium, potassium, and flavour. In 1967, the university’s team defeated Georgia Tech, which prompted their coach to state, “We didn’t have Gatorade”, when asked about his thoughts on his team losing the match.
This tale is woven into American folklore and makes for a great story, but the origins of Gatorade stretch back even further than this.
Earlier in the ‘60s, Bangladesh and other countries in the South-East Asia were hit by a widespread cholera epidemic. Part of the treatment was to keep patients hydrated.
Western doctors who were sent to these countries to help with treatment were amazed to discover an old formula for helping to treat the disease. The mixture contained coconut water, carrot juice, rice water, carob flour, and dehydrated bananas. The doctors from the West were of the opinion that carbs in the stomach would cause cholera bacteria to multiply and make the situation much worse for the patient. However, combining carbs and sugar with the salt meant that the body re-hydrated faster. This cholera treatment was published in British medical journal Lancet, with a doctor from the University of Florida reading it and using this knowledge to quickly re-hydrate the players in the college’s football team. The rest, as they say, is history.
Gatorade story is just one fascinating example given in Vijay Govindarajan’s new book, Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywere. Innosight has featured an excerpt of his book:
The Gatorade story was unusual for its era. It ran counter to the dominant innovation pattern. Innovations typically originated in rich countries and later flowed downhill to the developing world. Gatorade, by contrast, swam against the tide. It was a reverse innovation. Quite simply, a reverse innovation is any innovation that is adopted first in the developing world. Surprisingly often, these innovations defy gravity and flow uphill.
The except includes two other example of reverse innovation: Walmart entering the South American markets and adopting local practices and a doctor in India who performs successful heart surgery in his homeland at a fraction of the cost that American hospitals do.
Be sure to read the excerpt of the book here.
- Five Steps to use Innovation to find Market Growth Opportunities - September 23, 2019
- How to recognise Innovation Theatre - September 2, 2019
- 5 Ways to Create a Customer Centric Strategy - August 22, 2019
- The Future of Leadership – Empathetic Leaders - August 11, 2019
- Creating Time for Innovation - August 5, 2019
- 10 Lessons to Learn From Startup Failures - August 5, 2019
- The Top 5 Digital Transformation Insights from Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Report - June 20, 2019
- Bridal Wear and Business Model Transformation: What do They Have in Common? - June 19, 2019
- How Amazon is Reinventing Retail – Literally from The Ground Up! - May 28, 2019
- Bezos’ letter to shareholders showcases great communication and strategy - April 29, 2019
Managing Director, The Strategy Group
Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.