Decorative fibre cement boards: what happens when customer challenges drive the innovation wheel - 30/08/2016

When Pizarreño asked its customers about their home building projects, the Chilean Etex company found that, two thirds of the time, the homeowner or the handyman decides on which type of materials to buy. They usually look to strong brands they can trust for the professional installation advice and expertise needed to complete their projects. And no project is complete until it gets a splash of colour. In fact, 50% of homeowners who use fibre cement building boards to renovate or extend their homes, also take the time to paint them.

Finding out what homeowners want for their home building projects, sparked the idea by Chilean Etex company Pizarreño to develop Simplísima: a new fibre cement board with a unique, decorative finish. Discover how Simplísima is a good example of how the customer experience drives commercial innovation.

How customers drive innovation

In 2013 Pizarreño conducted a market study. Their analysis found some interesting food for thought. It turns out that 50% of Pizarreño’s customers use fibre cement boards for extensions, and 25% use them for renovations of both interior rooms and exterior building structures. What is remarkable, is that 50% paint the boards to add a finishing touch. And all used screws or nails to fix the boards to walls, floors or ceilings – a time-consuming installation method with less aesthetic results.

To dig deeper into customers’ wish lists, in 2014 the company asked focus groups made up of both do-it-yourself enthusiasts and professionals what they were looking for in a fibre cement building board. After all, only by knowing your audience can you try to surpass their expectations. What better way to learn more about customers’ needs than by listening to them?

Armed with these insights the Pizarreño team had a clear idea of two challenges they needed to tackle to innovate with their customers’ wants:
  • move from the world of plain construction material into the colourful realm of decoration. The idea to make a fibre cement board with a decorative finish was born.
  • develop a steady, fast installation system that ruled out the need for screws or nails.

Inauguration Karawang plant 3 Inauguration Karawang plant 3 Inauguration Karawang plant 3

Simplísima fibre cement building boards come in a myriad of colourful designs and can easily be used in all areas of the house, both internally and externally. Images provided by Pizarreño.

Ticking the right boxes

By identifying two specific customer problems, Pizarreño was able to work out useful solutions. Simplísima fibre cement building boards come in a myriad of colourful designs. Installation is fairly easy through the use of construction adhesives instead of screws or nails. The boards can also easily be used in all areas of the house, both internally and externally.

As one customer summed it up:

“When you choose this product, it gives an image of who you are. That is what makes the design on the board so important.”

The road ahead

In June 2015, Simplísima sales kicked off in 12 points of purchase. Today, the boards can already be bought in 60 locations across Chile. Customers love the easy-to-install, all-in-one solution.

“Most people do not even realise that Simplísima is a fibre cement board when they first set on eyes on it, which is something that speaks volumes of its decorative qualities.” Joaquín Castro, Chief R&D at Pizarreño.

It is no time to rest on one’s laurels, though: Simplísima is in a continuous development process. On the to-do list is production process improvement, along with enhanced designs and even higher quality – with the customer’s needs in mind.

The Etex Innovation Awards

In 2015, Etex organised its Innovation Awards for the fourth time. This internal initiative puts the spotlight on the most promising industrial and commercial innovations from Etex companies around the globe. With the 2015 edition focusing on innovation based on customer needs and market insights, it should come as no surprise that the team behind the Simplísima boards won the first prize in the Commercial Innovation category. It is the result of a lot of hard work that the Simplísima team were able to bring this innovation to the next level and launch a finished product in 2015.

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