GE Healthcare India (A): The Marketing Challenge Of Low-Resource Customers
This three-part case series examines the marketing challenge encountered by a leading medical technology manufacturer, General Electric (GE) Healthcare – a division of General Electric Company – in India. It follows the development of Lullaby Warmer Prime, an infant warmer that was designed, manufactured and commercialized by the Maternal Infant Care (MIC) division of GE Healthcare India from 2011 to 2014. The case series, together with a PowerPoint slide deck and video link, assesses the main issues that business-to-business (B2B) companies face in their efforts to create and capture value in emerging markets. Case A sets the scene by describing the problem of infant mortality, India’s healthcare system and the unique challenges in serving what we refer to as low-resource business customers. It culminates with the realization that there is a tremendous market opportunity, which GE Healthcare decided to exploit. The case also provides an overview of the recent history of GE Healthcare India and its “low-cost, high-value” innovation strategy for developing countries. Case B addresses GE’s novel approach to product innovation. In creating a new infant warmer for low-resource business customers, GE decided to employ original and unconventional principles for product design and development. Case C discusses how GE adopted fast commercial prototyping in order to diffuse its innovation in India and other emerging markets. Capturing value is the second and biggest hurdle.
The three cases invite participants to reflect upon and comprehend the following issues for B2B companies operating in emerging markets:
1) Low-resource business customers pose unique challenges. Management needs to gauge the implications for product development and the marketing and sales strategy.
2) Defeaturing existing products does not suffice. The traditional approach to product innovation used by Western multinationals in emerging markets no longer fits the bill. New products should be designed from scratch and incorporate the best available technology.
3) Product innovation and commercial innovation should go hand in hand. Fast commercial prototyping should be adopted to design the go-to-market model in parallel with product development.
GE Healthcare, General Electric
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