Sir James Dyson: “Most of the discussion groups are wrong”

Internal technology helps you evolve

When I started I tried to outsource everything. While we were improving our technology, I was purchasing electric motors from a Japanese manufacturer. They were making tiny, tiny improvements every year and I wanted to make a [big] movement. So we had to develop our own electric motor, which took a long time. We then became a very large manufacturer of engines and last year we made 30 million. It was a lot more expensive to do that than to buy the motors, but it paid dividends because the technology is amazing.

If sales are low, consider raising prices

[When we launched the Contrarotator] washing machine, we didn’t charge enough for it. Marketing said, “If you charge him less, you’ll sell more. We lowered the price and didn’t sell at all, but lost even more money. I think no one wants to pay more [for a product], but with good enough technology, they could do it. If you fail, don’t kill yourself. Lowering prices means committing suicide!

Long-term quality trumps brand

The only word I forbid at Dyson is the word “brand”. I really worry when someone says it. The reason being that we should never think that people buy our products because they carry the word “Dyson”. The only reason people should buy them is because they think they’re better at what they want to do.

Don’t be guided by research

We do a little research, but be careful not to be guided by it. Most focus groups are wrong. You just can’t ask people what they want and then go and do it. People want to be surprised, to see something different. This is what is exciting: the total uncertainty when launching a product; whether it sells or not. We weren’t sure if people were going to buy a Dyson hairdryer. And it’s very exciting.

Little country? Go global – fast

Unfortunately, England is a relatively small market compared to the Americans or the Chinese. So if you are successful in America, you are hugely successful. In Britain you are tiny, in global terms. We had to globalize quickly enough to be able to have sufficient volume to fund research.

Limit the volume of your emails

You could spend your entire day answering emails. I’m not sure this leads anyone. I don’t do social media at all; I just do emails and texts and as little as possible. Communicating directly with people, discussing a problem and trying to resolve it in face to face meetings is what creates progress.


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