Frugal Innovations

Frugal innovation is a new global phenomenon. But what do we mean by frugal innovation?

It is usually defined as stripping down and/or re-engineering products and services, to offer quality goods at very low prices to the people in who are at the “Bottom of Pyramid”.  A recent comparison of product prices has shown that frugal innovations can lower the price of a product between 50% to 97% (Rao, B. C., “How disruptive is frugal?”; published in 2013).

But there are also broader definitions of “frugal”. If you look in the dictionary, frugal is defined as “economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful; entailing little expense or requiring few resources”. From an economic perspective, frugal products and services seek to minimize the use of material and financial resources in the complete value chain with the objective of substantially reducing not just the price point, but the complete cost of ownership/usage of a product; while fulfilling or even exceeding pre-defined criteria of acceptable quality standards. 

Frugal innovations often - considering the clients - should be able to cope with everyday conditions like dust, heat or power failure.  So, the design - and the mindset of the designers-  has to take this into consideration. It has to serve users who face extreme affordability constraints, in a scalable and sustainable manner. 

Take note! Frugal does not mean a poor-quality, off-the- mark, improvised solution! 

We do hope these materials help you get inspired!