Challenging Conventional Wisdom to Create a Superior Hybrid Product
Solving two problems at once in a single, hybrid product means challenging the status quo at every point—from performance expectations to manufacturing to marketing.
Legacy tool company Irwin was looking to enter the wood-boring accessory market with a competitive edge. The problem? The category consisted of two types of bits: flat and auger, and neither offered a strong point of entry. That’s when THRIVE* stepped in to add a new product profile to the mix.
The wood-boring category was primed for a shake-up. Flat drill bit sales were declining and auger bits were too specialized a category for a newcomer to break into it easily. We began looking for a sweet spot between the two product types that would introduce fresh expectations and set Irwin apart.
Conventional wisdom suggested that faster drill time was better, so Irwin’s competitors were in a constant race for drill bit superiority based solely on speed. We questioned that wisdom, querying contractors of all types to see what really made a difference on the job. We discovered that faster wasn’t the issue—effort was. With hundreds of holes to drill each day, arm fatigue was a huge problem.
Despite our findings, the feeling internally and in the market was pretty set: faster always equaled better. To shift this mindset, we developed a testing protocol to compare competitors’ claims. It turned out that “faster” only meant 50 seconds a day or .5 seconds a hole gained. The current gains were doing little to help work sites win.
Returning to current options, we found that both types of traditional bits had their issues. Flat bits were cheaper, but were slower because they required more effort to push through wood. Auger bits were easier to use, but generally more expensive. We combined the two to capture the best of both and came up with the Speedbor bit: screw tip and auger head with the body of a flat tip. The result: a faster bit that also immensely reduced effort and hand fatigue.
Since our design was more complex than previous product types, typical modes of manufacturing proved expensive. We traveled the world searching for a cost-effective process and found it in South America. There we pioneered the process, then adapted it for mass manufacture in Asia to keep costs competitive with traditional drill bits.
In the past, wood-boring bits had been a quiet, unremarkable staple on hardware store shelves for decades. Focus groups that used the Speedbor bit, however, were so effusive that it caught the attention of both of the U.S.’s largest home improvement retailers. Each incorporated the product into their house line of tools. Thus, through research and ingenuity, we created a distinct, hybrid product that improved speed, ease-of-use, manufacturing practices and the standard for excellence in an otherwise staid market.
“Great new design...makes great smooth holes. Far better than the older style blade hole bits.”Product review on Amazon.com
“I got to say...these are simply the best and quickest set of drill bits I have ever used to drill through studs! If you don't own them you should! Bravo Irwin!”Product review on Irwin.com
“Love them. I don't think I'll ever waste my money on a spade bit again. You have to try them—you'll never go back.”Product review on Irwin.com