“Knowing what consumers need, before they know it themselves”: With this visionary statement, the audio specialist Sennheiser has yet again set the tone for the market. And today in Hamburg, in recognition of its culture of innovation the medium-sized business received the Axia Award from the Consulting and Auditing Institute, Deloitte.
Since 2007 Deloitte has been presenting the Axia Award to companies which stand out as a result of their innovation. The jury recognised Sennheiser for its exemplary methodology of developing products for new groups of customers. “As a medium-sized German business, we strive to be more creative than our competitors. It is as a result of our ideas that we are able to steal such a march,” explains Volker Bartels, spokesperson for the Executive Management Board, President of Corporate Services. “The fact that our achievements have been honoured with the Axia Award has given us a great pleasure.”
The company’s founder, Fritz Sennheiser, coined the phrase that engineers need a “playing field”. Up until today, creative open spaces have been an important part of corporate culture. Sennheiser has professionalised the playing field principle and is building on four pillars: Think tanks, trend scouting, innovation networks and interdisciplinary work. Sennheiser Innovation AG, which was founded in 2008, is not your average medium-sized company. It is an organisation which is exclusively concerned with future trends – beyond short-lived fashion. In this “think tank”, headquartered in Switzerland, market-researchers, creative professionals, business economists and technicians are discovering values and determining consumer behaviour patterns for the day after tomorrow.
In order to be up-to-date with technologies - and so that Sennheiser could utilise these technologies - employees from Research and Development are being sent out as technology scouts worldwide. For the technical implementation, Sennheiser works closely with well-known research facilities in Germany, the USA and Asia. In addition, brand partnerships with other sectors inject new impetus. For example Sennheiser developed headphones in conjunction with the Adidas. These headphones; because of their design, technology and price point, were specifically targeted towards a young, sporty audience.
The development teams at Sennheiser work on an interdisciplinary basis. Besides Research and Development specialists, product managers and marketing professionals, (amongst others), are contributing to projects. The mixed work groups are examining problems from different perspectives leading to solutions being developed which are convincing in technical terms and which, in view of consumer trends, are advantageously marketable. In addition, Sennheiser encourages its employees to always think beyond. Using an internal online tool, each colleague can submit their own suggestions – so an ideas pool is created and Sennheiser can deliver innovations from these ideas.