From shaping an effective market expansion strategy for the business to apprehending constant shifts in the market, it is an uphill battle to live as a Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). But with a design thinking approach, every CSO can create a plan of action that allows them to grow their footprints as well as understand their market better. In this blog, we will reveal 5 design-thinking tips that every CSO should know.

As a Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), you are bound to encounter distinctive challenges, especially when it is about implementing a market expansion strategy. Market expansion is a strategy that allows you to expand your product/service into new markets, and it is something that has to have concrete steps to be a success. 

Design thinking is a blueprint for solving problems and generating fresh ideas to help you provide better products or services to the end-users. If applied to market expansion strategy or product development, it can sharpen the organization’s revenue and profit exponentially. Let us spill 5 design-thinking secrets that will help your business grow exponentially. 

How Design-Thinking Principles Can Collaborate with Market Expansion Strategy?

When foraying into new territory, there are a lot of things that need to be considered. This ‘new territory’ is going to be completely foreign to you – it might seem strange and unfamiliar. Based on your product/service, you might want to achieve multiple goals with your market expansion strategy. However, you cannot just make decisions based on instincts; you must study how consumers in that geographic region might respond to your service/product. You might want to tweak your products in such ways that they resonate with the “foreign place” you’re about to land. 

The concept of design thinking is human-centric in the sense that it is based on understanding consumers’ needs, which can further give you pointers to develop services/products in a way that can give you a solid base to achieve success. The principles of design thinking bring together what is desirable by the audience with what is technologically achievable and economically efficient. That’s why employing a design-thinking approach can come in handy for every CSO. It’ll help to develop a clear roadmap to achieving a great market expansion strategy for their business. 

5 Design-Thinking Tips for a Chief Strategy Officer to Create a Rocking Market Expansion Strategy 

how to plan market expansion strategy with design thinking

According to researchers, design thinking is a process that involves various stages to help create solutions to problems. These five phases are— Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Deploying these five phases in the process of strategizing for market expansion can make your life a lot easier if you are a CSO. Each phase of your project will be a learning process for you. There are going to be many iterative loops and to-and-fros to achieve the most desirable strategy. However, the end result will help you take your market expansion strategy to the next level. 

Here, we are sharing 5 tips to bring into play the phases of design-thinking while creating strategies for the growth of your business. 

  1. Conduct Empathy Workshops

While you are looking to reach as many users through your market expansion strategy, what’s the first thing you must understand better? Your audience! Gauging a better understanding of your audience allows you to take insights into what your audience needs, which further can be aligned and integrated into your business for better growth in the market. 

The traditional way of research and surveys might give you certain numbers about the audience but they seem to be incomplete. That’s because of the lack of cultivating deep empathy with people you are designing the product/service for. 

To understand your audience better, you need empathy. You have to get into the shoes of your audience and feel their pain points. You must empathize with your users at the beginning itself. In order to do so, one can conduct Empathy Workshops. These workshops combined with market research can give more holistic insights about the new market. 

An Empathy Workshop is a focus group of people that include a certain set of people that belong to your target audience. In this focus group discussion, one can explore the behavior, attitudes, and thinking patterns of your potential customers regarding the services your organization offers to them. Two-three rounds of intense brainstorming sessions with your potential customers will help you identify what they desire and where they feel a gap in the fulfillment of their desires. 

While conducting empathy workshops, you can create informal customer journeys in an excel sheet and highlight the major outcomes of the discussions. At the end of an empathy workshop, you may also ask your potential customers to explore some potential solutions to their pain points to help you design your product/services accordingly. 

  1. Redefine Your Product (if needed)

Throughout the empathy workshop, you will arrive at either one of two initial conclusions regarding your product/service: (a) your product/service exactly serves the purpose that your consumers are looking for, and (b) your product/service needs relook to fit the customers’ needs in the region where you’re planning to implement your market expansion strategy. When it is a new market altogether, chances are you will find yourself wondering about the latter, which is completely okay as it is an unexplored segment of the market. 

The advantage of the empathy workshop is that it gives you deep insights as to what a user exactly wants. Now that you have known your customers’ point of view on your strategy for growth, you might get a basic idea as to how much redefinition your product/service requires to be a perfect solution for the users. Use the insights and try inculcating changes as per your new target market. Redefine the outline of your product/service so that it fits better with your new universe of customers. 

  1. Conduct Ideation Workshops

Once you have gathered all the relevant information that you need from your potential customers, it is time to collate all of it and generate some ideas to bring effective solutions to the table. This is when you need to conduct Ideation Workshops.  

In the ideation workshop, the group of strategists who conducted the empathy workshop may sit together and brainstorm through each customer journey. The first thing they must do is share their best ideas to create solutions. 2-3 of the best ideas can be selected to brainstorm. Then, a list of criteria can be created to rank the best ideas. In the end, the group may refine the ideas even more and choose the best ones by voting for the best ideas among the selected ones and then move forward with the next steps in your market expansion strategy. 

  1. Prototyping Business Models 

After you’ve concluded and finalized the greatest idea amongst all the short-listed ones, it is time to bring changes to the product/service. This is the fourth phase of design-thinking where everything you have learned so far at the empathize, define and ideate stages come together to implement in real-time. 

On the basis of your interpretation of all the data collected in the earlier stages, you can plan to prototype your business model in order to fit with the users’ needs. Basis the insights from empathy stage you can choose to prototype the product, place, price and promotion strategy to enter in the new market.  The plan is to repeat this cycle and keep experimenting until you feel confident enough about the new business model that can replace the existing one and scale your business. 

Don’t worry, you don’t have to change your entire market expansion strategy permanently. Let your ideas flow in and make mock-ups or prototypes of your product/service. This is called ‘Prototyping’. 

In design-thinking, prototyping is an essential step, which allows you to mold your product/service as per the user’s desires. In this phase, you will create almost-working models of your product/service and test them on your potential customers to know whether it is working or not. This phase also allows you to test the practicality and feasibility of your product/service in the new market and how trials of your product/service are being conceived by potential customers. This phase is all about hitting the trial-and-error button. You can come up with as many prototypes as you can. In the end, it’s all about understanding the various advantages of incorporating design thinking 

  1. Testing the Prototypes  

The basic idea of creating prototypes is to test them on your potential customers to know whether your product/service serves the purpose to your audience or not. This is the fifth phase of design thinking. During this phase, you will get the actual learnings about your new market as it allows you to learn more about your users’ needs. While testing the prototype, your approach should be completely unbiased. Do not give your audience any lead; let them experience the prototype on their own. Allow them to talk freely about their experience of the prototype. During testing, focus on what the user does rather than what they say and observe the interesting conflicts between the two.

There are chances that you might receive negative feedback from the audience. In such a case, you must ask follow-up questions— why are they not satisfied with the product/service, and what can be done to enhance their experience? 

If your prototype is not received well by your audience in this testing phase, go a phase back, i.e, create another prototype! With your learnings from the testing phase, you can create as many prototypes until you hit the chord with your audience. In the end, your market expansion strategy needs to be aligned with what your audience is looking for. 

Creating a Great Market Expansion Strategy – The Bottom Line

As a Chief Strategy Officer, you wear many hats to create a solid market expansion strategy for your business. Whatever you do to achieve success has just one ideal end goal: to create a product/service that is desirable, feasible, and viable for the end-users. 

By implementing the design thinking process to your market expansion strategy, you create a product/service that focuses on the audience’s desires, is technologically feasible for your business, and is viable to earn revenue and expand your footprint as a business. When you create a product that passes the desirability, feasibility, and viability tests, no one can stop your business from skyrocketing! That’s why every CSO should integrate the principles of design thinking to take their business to another level with a world-class product!

About the author

Anuradha is a passionate Design Thinking practitioner with 10+ years of industry experience. She has dived into the field of Design and Design Thinking, where she is trained to design experiences. She is the Founding Partner and Design lead at Humane Design and Innovation (HDI) Consulting. Her professional career spans across various roles in Advisory, UX Design, Service Design, Engineering Design, Design integration and Training. She was the lead designer of the Design Thinking and Innovation practice at KPMG. She has designed multiple digital experiences by conducting strategic UX workshops and design experiences that add functional and emotional value. To her friends & peers, she is the Bonding Agent of the team and always a Go to person. She is an avid reader, blogger & a painting enthusiast.

We at Humane Design strongly believe in the human ethos and draw inspiration from humans and other elements of nature to design innovative solutions for organizations of all sizes. We will be glad to be your success partner. Email us your requirements at explore@humaned.in.

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