Back in 2012, under the leadership of Indra Nooyi, Pepsico embraced design thinking as its fundamental principle driving innovation. As a part of the new strategy, an entire customer experience team was formed with Mauro Porcini as its Chief Design Officer. With him leading from the forefront, the cross-functional teams came together to brainstorm, innovate and re-design the corporate strategy when it came to critical brands like Lays, Doritos, and Pepsi.

The Back-end and the Front-end Action  

The first act was to understand how the products looked on the shelves of retail stores and how did it connect with the target audience. The idea was to develop a superior customer experience not only in terms of packaging but also in terms of crafting a product that resonated with the emotions and the needs of the customer. The Pepsi Spire, the touchscreen fountain machine, is considered globally as one of the best outcomes of Pepsico’s design-based corporate strategy. It was not just an ordinary fountain soft drink machine that would enable the various combination of flavours. It was powered by a gigantic iPad that invited customers to interact with it and develop some sort of connection. This machine operated through a unique ID for each user and it generated data for each customer. Basis the data captured during the previous interaction; the machine would suggest newer flavours thereby establishing a strong connection with the brand. 

Doritos was another brand from the Pepsico stable that witnessed a massive transformation owing to design thinking. Designating it as a snack option specially designed for women, the company completely rehashed the way it developed the product and the packaging. Basis research conducted by the marketing team; it was gathered that women snack very differently than men. For women, keeping the place tidy and not making a munching sound while having the snack was as important as having the snack itself. In the Chinese market, the company introduced a different variant of Doritos that produced less crunching noise and was stacked in a plastic tray inside a cylindrical pack. This not only gave women the choice to snack at convenience without getting messy and noisy. 

Learnings 

In both cases, the entire emphasis was on generating a unique experience that immediately connected with the need of the customer. Apart from the user experience, another key takeaway from the twocase studies is that design and innovation were intrinsically connected wherein the design drives innovation and innovation dictates the design. According tor Mauro Porcini, innovation is comprised of "imagining, designing and developing solutions for people’s needs and wants.” The design on the other hand was a culmination of desire, viability, and feasibility. The desire corresponds to human science, viability corresponds to business and feasibility corresponds to technology. In Pepsico, each of these elements was brought together to re-create experiences, brands, and products. 

Design strategy is one of the very critical parameters for success in a competitive ecosystem. Business leaders and managers need to remain abreast of the top trends and emerging principles. This is possible through engaging in academic endeavour. Business executives can explore India’s most coveted Executive Programme in Business Management offered by IIM Calcutta in collaboration with Hughes Education. This course has been tailored by industry veterans to enable upcoming business leaders to challenge the redundant practices and explore new ideas to lead and deliver.