General Electric’s design team were tasked with creating the next generation of home fridges. But how might they innovate in a category where little had happened since the 1960s?
Focus groups with existing customers and research into the existing market were not going to deliver the breakthrough thinking required to deliver a future proofed product. GE needed radical proposition development to meet the needs of its future consumers and earn its place in their homes. We knew where to look! Radical ideas need radical users to show us how they interact with the products currently available on the market.
We engaged members of the network that had a special relationship with water & ice. This included a high profile cocktail mixologist (who got his ice from arctic lakes), a water sommelier and a culinary scientist who could ‘print’ food. One participant was a chef de cuisine at The Aviary in Chicago who used a vibrator to remove air bubble from his ice cubes so they were crystal clear. These extreme thinkers pitched a range of ideas, from next year’s model to ideas straight out of science fiction.
‘The Opal Nugget Ice Maker’ was released in 2016 to positive reviews which praised its ability to make large quantities of chewable ice on demand. PCMag said “It makes perfect ice“. The ideation process & product were so revolutionary that Alicia Clegg of The Financial Times wrote about it here.
This was the first product that GE launched through its FirstBuild Initiative on Indiegogo. The reception was incredible, with consumers pledging $2.7million (putting it in indiegogo’s top 10 project of the year). Sales of the ‘The Opal Nugget Ice Maker’ have been so successful that a 2.0 version was released in 2019 to even better reviews. Quality of life improvements were made to the cleaning process and volume of the ice crushing, with chewable ice still being the star of the show.
It makes perfect ice.
John R. Delaney, PCMag
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