3M Taiwan: Product Innovation in the Subsidiary
On January 17, 2005, the function head in the Health Care Business in 3M Taiwan, found himself in a meeting with the Acne Dressing project team. In 2004, the function head initiated a project team to exploit local market needs for 3M Hydrocolloid Dressing, a technology that existed in the company for many years without any practical applications. The local project team suggested applying the material for acne treatment. The product would be known as Acne Dressing. There was no standardized solution for acne treatment in Taiwan. If developed, Acne Dressing would be a brand new product in the local market. The biggest challenge would be how to change local consumer behaviors on new acne treatment products. In addition, since there were no similar products in the market, the project team only had limited information. The potential sales and volume estimation were all uncertain. If the local development were to be launched, Acne Dressing would be 3M's first product application from Hydrocolloid Dressing technology. With little previous experience in product development and no similar products existing in the market, the function head had to decide fast whether to proceed with this new product development. Should the team carry on with the project? If so, what options did the local project team have? What kind of resources and support should the local Health Care business segment seek from the headquarters for the product development? Should the local product development collaborate with other subsidiaries?