Product Development Strategy for the Divinycell Product in the Composite Materials Category.
What we did:
Product Strategy for Divinycell
Diab Sweden approached COG Strategy brand strategist, Luke Sullivan, with a brief to develop a product strategy for one of Diab’s key composite materials, Divinycell.
Composites can be bent, curved and joined together in an almost limitless range of geometric configurations. Further, their durability and weather resistance mean less maintenance and cleaning cost over time. Potential applications for these high-strength, weight-saving materials are limitless.
Divinycell provides excellent mechanical properties and low weight. It is widely used and has a proven track record in virtually every application area where sandwich composites are employed, including the marine, transport, wind energy and civil engineering. It is compatible with most wet resin systems and its low thermal conductivity makes it especially suitable as insulation at low or cryogenic temperatures.
The volume and number of applications of composite materials is growing steadily, continuously penetrating and conquering new markets. Lighter than concrete, steel, aluminium and bricks, composite materials offer low transportation costs and require minimum heavy equipment during installation.
The key focus of the product strategy brief was to use Luke Sullivan’s lifelong involvement with surfing and surfboards to create a new category for Divinycell within the action sports market, specifically surfboards and recreational watercraft and sports equipment.
Diab – A World Leader In High-Performance Composite Core Materials.
Diab has been at the leading edge of composite core material development for over sixty years, supplying a wide range of markets including marine, wind energy, transport, aerospace and industry.
Diab has a global manufacturing, sales and engineering presence. We follow our customers – and even anticipate their needs – positioning ourselves in locations to best support them. We have manufacturing sites in strategic locations around the world offering our full range of materials, plus local representation in many countries – ensuring security of supply, cost efficiency, flexibility and local support.
The COG Strategy Solution
Fly to Sweden for the Summer of course! And create a tactical and strategic suite of technical communications that bridge the gap between surfboard builder and performance related issues within the common PU surfboard construction that Divinycell solves.
Inherently the surfboard industry is only now onboarding new technologies in the last 10 years. Prior to that the simple products of polyurethane foam, polyester resin and fiberglass was all that was used for surfboards. As surfing became more focused on high perfomance shortboards, the need for strong, lighter and more responsive equipment has evolved. With that is the need for new materials that can increase the strength to weight ratio, and flex characteristics of the regular six foot long surfboard starts.
Divinycell is a heavily used product in many industries such as aerospace, transport, subsea marine and wind energy – though none of these come close to the fickle and complicated relationships within the surfing industry. The key to delivering a core material to replace what has been a standard for a hundred years requires careful consideration and a unique approach tailored purely to the market influencers and individuals who lead the way in product development.
Sponsorship and endorsement are key in surfing. An easy example is Kelly Slater, he put a small fifth fin in between his quad fin set up, about as big as a guitar pick or plectrum. Went surfing at Snapper Rocks in Queensland and someone loaded up a video to the internet – BOOM! over night there were thousands of orders for this fin in Japan.
The key to the product strategy was to ensure that there was adequate R&D prior to any formal release and promotion in the market place. There was also a group of relationships that needed to be formed that all understood the capabilities of the Divinycell product and how to use it in the construction of surfboards and other equipment. The go-to-market strategy needed to have support and recognition for some key industry players prior to any marketing communications or sales channels being opened up.
With the client being predominantly Scandinavian – the core Australian and American surf markets were not understood, thus the communication of the COG Strategy business strategy needed time and space to carefully articulate the idiosyncrasies of Swedish business culture and finicky surfing culture – and join them together.
With a strong global brand in Diab, the product strategy needed a strict adherence to the global brand guidelines while also stimulating interest and confidence in a new market. The actual brief was executed over 24 months between a international group of business people and surfers. Largely B2B networking and localised R&D events formed the backbone of early entry of Divinycell into the surfboard market.
The knowledge gained from Diab head office on sub-cultures and NPD development was enlightening and important for then to understand that while Divinycell is a superior engineered composite material, not all markets are aligned with the same thinking.
The Divinycell product is now widely used on a variety of surfboard and watersports equipment, and has enabled Diab to influence new markets with their broader products and services and continue their global growth as a composites market leader.
You can read more about some of the care studies that the COG Strategy Product Strategy laid the foundations for, at the link below.
FIREWIRE MAKES WAVES WITH DIAB MATERIALS
Innovation is critical for manufacturers of sporting equipment. Even in long-established sports like surfing, the slightest advance can mean an advantage for the user. Firewire Surfboards, today’s leader in alternative surfboard design, relies on Diab to stay at the cutting edge.
Firewire Surfboards believes more in revolution than evolution. The company’s mission statement makes clear that the future of surfing lies not in subtle tweaks to board shape, but in the use of entirely new construction techniques. A good example is the company’s own proprietary sandwich construction, which yields a lightweight and resilient board with extraordinary performance.
Firewire’s reasoning is simple. International surfing has moved into an era where aerial maneuvers are commonplace. This creates a demand for lightweight boards with lively flex and high durability – a combination that leaves standard construction methods behind. Traditionally, the only way to lighten a surfboard has been to reduce the amount of material, which provides greater flexibility but also increases the risk of breakage.
Firewire has resolved the dilemma by being the first global manufacturer to commercialize a new construction technique that defies the limitations
of traditional surfboards. Above and below an extremely light core of shaped EPS, a 3 mm layer of Diab Divinycell H 80 is bonded with fiberglass and epoxy resin, creating an incredibly lightweight and durable blank. Complemented with balsa rails, balsa springers or carbon rods, the construction is used in Firewire’s FST (Future Shapes Technology), FST Springer and Direct Drive models, which account for 50% of the company’s overall output.
Firewire began using Divinycell H over four years ago, and the company’s positive experience with the material has led to a further exploration of alternatives. Diab has met with Firewire several times to discuss designs and possibilities, with the result that both Divinycell Matrix 11-9 and Divinycell F 90 are now being used in different stages of testing.
Meanwhile, both the general surfing population and an increasing number of the surfing elite have found their way to the company. Firewire is championed by some of the most recognizable names in surfing today, and is in fact the only OEM surfboard manufacturer using sandwich construction to have top professional surfers riding its boards on the World Championship Tour. With the high strength-to-weight ratio that is characteristic of Diab composites, Firewire’s surfboards are riding a wave of success.