October 7, 2013

Take five – examples of curiosity in action

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Innovation,Marketing — by xrematon @ 7:58 pm
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Picture1I have been building up a little collection of examples of organisations that are keeping their head above the parapet and spotting interesting opportunities. It’s time to share them.

Pizza Express and the 500 calorie pizza

Diets come and go faster than the changing seasons. Perhaps one of the last places you might expect to find a menu matching the latest ‘in’ diet is a pizza place, but Pizza Express is currently doing just that. The 5:2 diet has been gaining a lot of traction over the past 12 months and so it’s pretty smart of Pizza Express to find a way of pitching products they already had as perfect for fasters. The Leggera range was actually launched four years ago, but its offerings have now got a new wind in their sails. The company has seen that today people aren’t motivated so much by the promise of lower calories, but instead a magic number of calories, which is what a 500 calorie pizza, a 300 calorie salad and a 100 calorie pudding offer.

Meeting changing needs isn’t always about changing products – it’s about seeing what’s happening and knowing how to make the most of your current assets.

Green People and Kate Moss

One big development that’s going on at the moment is companies doing less of the hard sales-y work, and instead making the most of the opportunities of other people doing it for them.The example I am going to bring up here is a very simple one. It’s from Green People, who picked up that Kate Moss had listed their Aloe Organic Shampoo as one of her favourite hair care products, and dedicated an excited blog post to the mention.

It’s about thinking of all the places where potential customers might be engaging in your brand and product space. For personal care products, fashion magazines and beauty blogs are a good bet – these are increasingly influential sources of inspiration for people. This means it’s critical to keep eyes peeled, not to miss out a mention and, most importantly,to capitalise on the opportunity to be a free-rider!

My next example is from an institution which has managed to reinvent itself from something that was seen as a bit fuddy-duddy into something that meets the needs of today’s experience-orientated consumers. Can you guess what it is yet? The National Trust – now a peddler of fun days out and happy memories, and not fusty ‘don’t touch’ houses.

The reason I mention them for my third example is that they haven’t just spotted their opportunity (pitch yourself to families to expand your customer base), but they have also looked beyond the marketing and thought about what else can be done. National Trust shops have changed as a result. They are no longer havens for tea towel collectors and lavender-junkies only – now they have tables loaded with bits and bobs to cater to pocket money budgets too.

National Trust haven’t just shown us the dream – they spotted opportunity in the detail.

Mariott International and congee for breakfast

Big hotel chains aren’t generally top of the list for being the most innovative companies, but I would like to include them for my next example. Many of these chains – Mariott isn’t the only one – have sussed out that a lot of their customers now are Chinese and that what makes them happy is a bit different to your average Western traveller. Bring on slippers and hot tea in rooms, put Mandarin-speaking concierge staff in the lobby, and make sure to include congee, salted duck eggs, pickled vegetables, dim sum and sliced pig’s liver, amongst the delicacies on offer for breakfast.

In a way it’s very simple – follow the new money and make sure you meet the new needs that come with it.

Facebook ice-cream

My last example is somewhat tongue in cheek. An enterprising café-owner in Croatia has developed a new flavour of ice-cream made by dripping blue syrup over vanilla ice cream. Eating ‘facebook’ ice-cream– perhaps it’s taking the idea of living one’s life on social networks too far. Still, it shows how it’s possible to capture the mind-set of your teenage target audience in an original and irreverent manner. Make of it what you will!

A version of this post first appeared in Brand Gathering, and is re-published here with acknowledgments.

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