As part of the Roofspace launch at Brand Potential recently, we facilitated an informal Q&A session with 3 market disruptors. In the third of a series of extracts from these conversations, we captured some of the thoughts from Richard Joseph, MD at Joseph Joseph, on how the brand continues to innovate and enter new categories.


BIOG: Richard Joseph |Managing Director, Joseph Joseph

In 2003 twin brothers Antony and Richard Joseph launched Joseph Joseph with the goal of creating functional, problem-solving household products. The business has grown to become an award-winning international houseware brand sold in over 100 countries across the globe.


Richard, how did you start Joseph Joseph? What got you going?

We started the business 14 years ago, just myself and my twin brother Antony. Two of us at a desk, both of us product designers. I guess our vision at the start was to create our own product – we had the idea that you could design something and get it made, sell it to a retailer and then see a consumer buy it. We thought that would be an amazing thing to achieve ourselves, as opposed to going to a design consultancy and it being designed by someone else. We wanted to do it ourselves, to test our skills and put our name to something that worked.

We had no idea initially where to focus. We launched four products at the start which were a real mix of giftable homewares, of which one was a chopping board – that was the one that sold really well. The other three were disasters and absolutely killed us. The early breakthrough when a department store buyer said to us: ‘Look I’m the kitchenware buyer, I love your chopping boards, do more chopping boards; I don’t buy the clocks that’s the clock buyer’. So that’s what we did – we focused on chopping boards. And we thought every kitchen shop and department store around the world has a chopping board section, let’s own that part of the store. But, in order to own it, we need to do things differently; we need to be able to be able to wave a little flag in store to say “come and check us out, we’re a little bit disruptive in this space” – we use our product design knowledge to do that.

We love the idea of functional products, products that can be used every day, so we set out on that journey and we’re here 14 years later. We sell in 104 markets around the world and 23% of our turnover is in the UK. We do kitchenware, accessories, chopping boards, gadgets, utensils, and we’ve just moved into bathroom. It’s been a really great journey and it’s still going 100 miles an hour.


So let’s talk about innovation. In terms of innovating out into new categories, new sectors and new audiences what are you looking for?

We have a 3% success rate, which we think is quite good. It takes us 18 months to develop a product from research to launch, for every 100 ideas we launch three, and we launch about 100 products a year. So you can see the sort of scale of ideas that go through the mill.

We’re always looking for new categories to move into.
We look for categories that have scale but have seen very little innovation for a long time, then it’s about identifying the gap and what you can do. We’ve just launched a bathroom range – we’ve spent about two years on it; all the way from working out how we simulate a dirty toilet to then tackling how to improve the toilet brush. We launched in September (2017), but it’s going really well. It’s an example of a big category that hadn’t had innovation at all and that we were able to disrupt.


Richard, you and your team spend lots of time in people’s homes with them before you start designing, in terms of just looking for that need. Tell us a bit more about that.

We always look in lots of different areas, we look at competitor products and test them to see how they could work better. We look at environments. Due to urbanisation, space is such a premium these days, everyone is living in smaller and smaller homes so we look at how we can make things store better, take up less space. Hygiene is a theme. Also how can we make things more multi-functional. So it’s simple really, we look at environments, how people live their day-to-day lives, identifying the issues that may seem small but can cause consumer frustration, we then design products out from there. We’re always asking ourselves, not so much “can we invent something new”, but “how can we make this better”.


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