How to disrupt a problem like skin cancer: L'Oréal on setting a precedent through (almost!) invisible innovation

In a recent edition of our Featured Innovators series, we chatted with MC10, who partnered with L’Oreal to create My UV Patch – an adhesive patch that monitors UV rays, with smartphone-accessible results.

But, as we’re all aware, each side of a collaboration presents different challenges and sources of inspiration. We spoke with Guive Balooch – Global Vice President of L’Oreal Technology Incubator – to hear how one of the world’s most popular cosmetics companies approached tackling a problem as prominent as skin cancer. 

Guive Balooch, L'Oreal

What was the inspiration behind My UV Patch?

Skin cancer is the most prominent type of cancer in our nation, and UV exposure is a huge concern for our customers. We were interested in finding a way to leverage new technology to help educate consumers about their exposure levels.

My UV Patch was born in our San Francisco labs from the idea that connected technologies have the potential to completely disrupt how we monitor the skin’s exposure to a number of external factors. Our goal was to design a sensor that was thin, comfortable and pretty much weightless so people would actually want to wear it.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

One of the hardest things was creating the design itself. Wearables have historically been clunky, which isn’t an ideal user experience. Wearables that blend seamlessly with the day-to-day—including shirts woven with microsensors, stretchable “second-skin” patches like ours, and even ingestible health sensors—are the future. With My UV Patch, we wanted to set a standard for what the future of wearables should look like. I think we accomplished that!

While we announced My UV Patch at the beginning of 2016 at CES, it just recently became widely available. La Roche-Posay is L’Oréal’s dermatological skincare brand that’s recognized for its best-in-class sunscreen products, so it was a natural fit to collaborate with them on this project. The patch is free and available at select dermatologist offices, some Women’s Dermatological Society skin check events and through key e-commerce retail partners.

MyUV-Loreal-1

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

Make innovation a key part of your business. Have people at your organization whose job it is to think about not only where the world is going but what that means for the consumer and their evolving needs.

You’re featured in our briefing that addresses our IMPACT INDICATORS trend – covering instant and useful real-time feedback on health and wellness impacts. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

We need to get smarter about how we, as the creators of wearables, provide data to consumers that provides real value to their lives. More data isn’t always better; the key is for it to tie back to the end goal. For example, it’s great that someone knows how many steps they take each day, but it’s also important for them to understand how that is impacting their health.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why? 

My UV Patch of course! We are also really excited about augmented and virtual reality, customization and exploring new technologies to bring new experiences to our consumers. Like a lot of companies, we’re thinking hard about how we can innovate to provide value and improve the customer experience.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

How do you adapt yoga for a POST-DEMOGRAPHIC society? Moon & Son on filling a void, going it alone & staying unique

Our Featured Innovators series once again returns to the FUTURE OF BETTERMENT, this time talking to Stephen Watson – former Fashion Director at Men’s Vogue and creator of Moon & Son, a new brand of yoga clothing and equipment especially designed for men. We discuss the POST-DEMOGRAPHIC nature of his new venture, as well as the challenges and frustrations that come with changing the context of the conversation about yoga leisurewear in general. 

Stephen Watson, Moon & Son

What was the inspiration behind Moon & Son?

Moon & Son was really born out of my own personal frustrations in finding the right kind of mens clothing for practicing different types of yoga — especially hot yoga. The conditions of heated yoga are so unique, I found it difficult to find simple, modest, functional gear, made especially for the extreme temperatures.

I also wanted clothing that avoided the usual yoga cliches — hippy patterns, mandalas, sacred symbolism — something that would appeal to the cool city guys I see in my classes here in Brooklyn. The clothes are very serious in their technical make and fabrications — but with a sense of fun in color and design.

I wanted things to wear that could enhance my practice instead of creating the usual distractions — like glued seams or strange fit. I also thought there was potential in marketing this idea to men directly — especially in a field dominated by women with products usually made for women.

Moon & Son - 3

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

Honestly, the hardest thing is getting the word out. I created Moon & Son on my own, with the intention of starting out small with e-commerce and taking my time to grow the business slowly. Getting press, managing all the necessary social media, and creating web traffic, has been extremely difficult to maintain by myself. I created the business while doing other freelance work, and managing everything has been tricky and time consuming — not to mention expensive. 

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

The best advice? Fill a void, go with your guts, be brave, and go for it. A perfect example: I created a very simple black yoga short because I thought it was a necessary ‘basic’ that would be an immediate best-seller. I found that the customer came to me because Moon & Son was different, a simple black short could be purchased from anyone. Discover what makes you and your brand special and capitalize on those unique details. 

Moon & Son - 2

You’re featured in our briefing, falling under our POSTDEMOGRAPHIC BETTERMENT trend covering the throwing out of old preconceptions when it comes to gender and health behaviors. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

In terms of trends, I see activewear filtering into all types of daily wear more and more. Guys are discovering the benefits of yoga and I’m finding that many of my customers are wearing my gear all day, not just to class.

In the past few years, I’ve seen the number of guys in class increase steadily, and these guys need mats, towels, and clothing, with specific needs. There is tons of yoga stuff out there for ladies, and I wanted a line that spoke to this growing group of guys directly. Yoga clothes only for guys – I figured the niche was probably small, but possibly worth trying to go to market as one of the first.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

My favorite innovations, especially for a small business owner, has to be all the amazing technological developments available online like shopify or squarespace. The idea that I could easily open a virtual retail store, customize it, make it look totally unique, accept credit cards, create various shipping options  — all on my own — is completely mind-blowing. 

Reaching customers directly online, avoiding the typical retail channels, using my own site and through social media is totally fantastic. The fact that I can sell Moon & Son stuff around the world, simply and easily, never ceases to amaze me.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

Putting your best foot forward: Wiivv Insoles on integration, creative control and the personalized economy

Our FUTURE OF BETTERMENT Global Trend Briefing, released in April 2016, featured Custom Fit 3D-Printed Orthotics (formerly known as BASE) – customised fit orthotics designed by Wiivv. Consumers use the Wiivv app to take five pictures of their feet, and Wiivv then use the images to design insoles that perfectly fit the contours of each foot – something that the company’s co-founder, Louis-Victor Jadavji, believes is set to revolutionise the industry.

We caught up with him (pictured left, below) to talk biomechanics, integrating your brand’s solutions into real-life activity and the importance of the personalized economy.

LV and Shamil Promo Shot

What was the inspiration behind BASE?

The orthotics and insoles industry has been problematic for consumers for a long time. It’s a shame because proper footwear can benefit many people – I experienced this first-hand after a high-jumping injury led me to use foot orthotics.

At Wiivv, we put our brains together and came up with a very innovative solution that takes minutes (not weeks) to get fitted, is built on sound principles of biomechanics (not one person’s opinion) and, at $79, it doesn’t break the bank. It’s 100% digital – you just need your smartphone! I don’t think I’d be exaggerating when I say this is one of the biggest leaps for custom footwear technology in many decades.

WIIVV INSOLES - CALIBRATED HEALTH

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

The industry itself is highly fragmented, and we had to learn a lot about the diverse preferences and methodologies used. After we had spent over a year fulfilling through certified pedorthists who loved our product for its accuracy and repeatability, we learned how to make BASE and the Wiivv App a superior product and measuring experience.

It’s during this period that we developed unique design features, like our patented hole-in-the-heel to rest the foot in a neutral position without the discomfort caused by a raised heel. The materials we used were also carefully chosen to address the need for rigidity for some parts of the foot and flexibility for others. We even found that before 3D printing, we could adjust the material properties of the insole in software so that it would move more dynamically with the foot.

The industry’s fragmentation required a standalone solution to make buying and getting a custom orthotic easy – like we always intended. We do not rely heavily on doctors, manufacturers, distributors, and so on. We own our channel, production, design and technology! That’s a big step for us ;)

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

I would encourage other professionals to try to build vertically-integrated solutions. Nowadays, it’s not enough to solve one piece of the puzzle. Consumers expect to be held by the hand throughout the process of accessing a service and getting a product…with the same hand! It’s also nice to know that we’re in full control of our product experience. We pinpoint the cause of any dissatisfaction and crush it in short order.

Custom Insoles

You’re featured in our briefing, falling under our CALIBRATED HEALTH trend – looking at how expectations created online are converging with those created by new health tech to drive demand for health and wellness products, services and experiences that are personalized around the individual. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

We’re in the thick of an on-demand and highly personalized economy for services. If health and wellness products can’t catch up, then I see consumers just avoiding some product categories altogether. If you think of foot orthotics, they are often the solution of choice for foot, leg, back, and overall body pain – that’s a big opportunity! Then you look at the size of the industry and realize that it could be much much greater if we prioritized the customer experience.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

UnderArmour’s 3D Architech. There’s been a lot of news on large footwear companies, like UnderArmour, adopting 3D printing technologies. This new direction excites me because it’s a sign that more mass-scale 3D printed product applications are on their way. 3D printing is no longer a prototyping technology.

I’m also excited because for Wiivv it means that our customization engine (what allows us to generate fully custom products in seconds) will be sought after by these companies. I think that we’re on the cusp of several huge breakthroughs that will make custom footwear the only kind of footwear you’ll want to buy.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

Temporary tattoos, epidermal electronics & seamless solutions: How to integrate wellness into our everyday lives

MC10, a healthcare company whose mission is to redefine the boundaries between humans and electronics, featured in THE FUTURE OF BETTERMENT, April 2016’s Global Trend Briefing. We managed to catch up with Rooz Ghaffari, the company’s co-founder and VP of Technology, to discuss the unique technology behind My UV Patch – an adhesive patch that monitors UV rays, with smartphone-accessible results.

Roozbeh Ghaffari, MC10

What was the inspiration behind My UV Patch?

MY UV Patch represents several years of advanced research in the design and development of ultrathin, stretchable electronics, which we call ‘epidermal electronics’. We set out to create an entirely new class of a skin-mountable wearables in the format of a child’s temporary tattoo with sophisticated sensing and wireless capabilities. The My UV Patch embodies these key technical attributes and design principles, and has commercial utility in the skin health marketplace.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

Developing new supply chains and leveraging existing ones were challenging endeavours for a small company like MC10. It takes time to build prototypes and transfer those prototypes to manufacturers with minimal hiccups — high yield and low cost constraints. Our partnerships with L’Oreal Inc. and PCH International have helped us establish this unique technology in the cosmetics/skin health marketplace with an existing customer base, which has quickly gravitated towards the vision of epidermal electronics. 

My-UV-Patch-interaction-2

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

The ever-changing landscape of consumer products is challenging for product companies to navigate around. We listen to the voice of the customer through our partnerships with leading brands. We try to keep the voice of the customer in mind throughout the research and phases of development. Often, the simpler solutions win and serve as the platform to develop further advanced versions of our core technology.

You’re featured in our briefing, falling under our IMPACT INDICATORS trend – covering instant and useful real-time feedback on health and wellness impacts. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

As the digital health technology adoption curve continues to grow, consumer solutions in the wellness/wearable industries will continue to mature and the trend will move towards better comfort and enhanced signal quality. We will seek solutions that seamlessly integrate into our lives, unobtrusively, and with high signal fidelity.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

How Impossible Burger’s ‘Tesla strategy’ also shows you how to spot the trends of tomorrow.

Crispy on the outside. Lip-smacking saltiness. A little pink inside. A hint of the usual juiciness. The Impossible Burger ticks all the boxes. Which is a pretty big deal, given that this isn’t your usual burger. That patty described above? It’s entirely plant-based.

The company has a pretty ambitious aim: to help solve (or at least massively reduce) the environmental and ethical issues related to eating meat, by creating a healthy, humane, low-impact alternative that tastes as good as the ‘real thing’. Impossible Burger 3

In a recent appearance on the The Ezra Klein Show, Klein and Patrick Brown (Impossible’s founder & CEO) discussed how the company was following the ‘Tesla strategy’ to launching its product: starting small; not asking customers to compromise on quality; downplaying the company’s environmental mission; preparing to compete in the mass-market on all the usual metrics (i.e. by being just as tasty).

The Tesla strategy is an effective playbook for those launching products that shatter industry conventions. But it’s also more than that: it’s a powerful way to spot the trends that will define your customers’ future expectations.

Trends and the Expectation Gap

Startups such as Impossible Burger and Tesla often kickstart and accelerate new trends by setting customer expectations about what is possible.

Impossible Burger shows that a tasty burger doesn’t have to be environmentally destructive. Tesla shows that buying a sports car doesn’t have to leave you feeling guilty about its impact.

The next time a customer eats a ‘normal’ beef burger they can’t help but feel an underlying tension: “why does this burger have such a large environment impact? I know there’s a burger out there that doesn’t!”

This is the Expectation Gap. What happens next is other brands adapt and also take steps to resolve this tension. New products come into the market that don’t leave customers with such a sense of unfulfilled expectation.

But it’s more interesting than that. Expectation Gaps aren’t simply limited to adjacent products within a category. Perhaps you’re thinking it already:

If Impossible Burger and Tesla can create high-performance, guilt-free versions of fast food and fast cars, why can’t other products and experiences that have a negative impact be similarly guilt-free?

Switched-on innovators will be thinking the same thing. And the brands, products and experiences they create will reduce or eliminate consumer guilt around endless indulgences, from sushi to smartphones (of course, this trend wasn’t started by Impossible Burger! We featured Tesla wayyyyy back in our 2013 Trend Briefing on GUILT-FREE CONSUMPTION). And the more startups that successfully achieve this holy grail, the more obvious and painful the tension will be for customers still using legacy products that fall on the wrong side of this Expectation Gap.

Which is why our entire approach to spotting consumer trends is grounded in the counterintuitive truth described above. In summary: to anticipate what people will want next, stop looking at customers and start to look at businesses.

Look around. Look at the pioneering brands, startups or novel innovations that are setting customer expectations around what is possible, desirable or simply ‘normal’ and use these — and the insights you can draw from them — to anticipate what your customers will want next.

Look for Expectation Gaps. Resolve them!

Easy, right? ;)

Side note:

The Impossible Burger is a perfect innovation to show an Expectation Gap in action. In presentations, we’ve long used the image below to illustrate the how the Expectation Gap manifests itself to customers (from a McDonald’s Canada campaign addressing why the burgers you get served don’t look like the ones in the ads).

impossible-burger-2
This post was inspired because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to Momofuku Nishi and try the Impossible Burger for myself while on a recent trip to check in with our New York team.

For the record, my Impossible Burger didn’t score too badly compared to the promo pictures. It genuinely was a little ‘bloody’.

impossible-burger-3

However, this was my second burger (in the same sitting!), as the first one was a bit overcooked.

If you get a chance to try the Impossible Burger, I’d highly recommend it. If you didn’t know it wasn’t meat and weren’t thinking too hard about it, I don’t think you’d realise. But do make sure to ask for it rare (why not: you can’t get ill from it being undercooked!).

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TrendWatching’s content and tools give business professionals in 180+ countries the actionable foresight and inspiration to create successful trend-driven innovations.

Join the 250,000+ people who receive our free monthly Trend Briefings at trendwatching.com, learn more about our Premium Service, join us at our 2016 global events, or get your hands on our end-to-end methodology in our new book, Trend-Driven Innovation.

Trend Safaris: Exploring the natural habitat of consumer trends

Experiencing trends in the real world is a great alternative to yet another Power Point presentation. It helps people understand one of TrendWatching’s core beliefs: trends aren’t mystical abstractions but are around us at all times. We just need to keep observant and when you see something novel or innovative ask the right questions: Why is this happening? What new consumer expectations will this trigger? And so what? What is the innovation potential it presents to my business?

I recently had the pleasure to run trend safaris in two of the most exciting cities in Europe: in Berlin for Autogrill and in London for Marriott Hotels.

Innovative retail experiences, culinary concepts, exhibitions, sensory installations, quirky design shops, startups and local entrepreneurs, new client service and promotion approaches, innovative products etc. made up some of our stopovers.

Stops were chosen as demonstrations of the consumer trends previously identified as most relevant for the client’s business. Different routes throughout the city are created for different teams, each being guided by a team leader. The participants have short chats with the business owners to get more insights, learnings, and find out about challenges in running their businesses.

In their trend safari kits, besides a map, a pen and information about the stopovers, each participant also received Inspiration Cards. These help them document and translate the insights they get from each stopover into potential ideas for their business. These ideas are shared and built on in the group, during dinner or the next day when the safari could also be followed by a workshop.

At the same time, participants take pictures and upload them on Instagram with predefined hashtags. At the end of the day, the team has a visual wrap-up of the safari and everyone can see which areas were the other teams exploring. Here are the wrap-ups from Berlin/Autogrill and London/Marriott Hotels

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Chris Stephenson, Director – Design and Development

Global Operations, Europe at Marriott International explains why they turned to a trend-driven workshop and trend safari for their Operations Academy when 20+ directors of operations met in London:

What role did trends play in solving the business challenges you set for your teams? 

We were inspired by the trends session as it provided examples  from other industries that enabled us to consider our own business challenges differently. As a result, the concept ideas presented by the teams were much more ambitious and represented a bigger stretch for each of our brands.

What was the biggest benefit of the trend safari for you & all involved? 

Learning about innovative concepts developed by local entrepreneurs in other sectors was a critical part of helping us to think about how to take a different approach to problem solving within our own business.

 What was the most surprising aspect of the trend safari for you?

Finding out how well networked local entrepreneurs are; by collaborating together they get to take risks on innovation that they may not otherwise be able to do alone.

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TrendWatching’s content and tools give business professionals in 180+ countries the actionable foresight and inspiration to create successful trend-driven innovations.

Join the 250,000+ people who receive our free monthly Trend Briefings at trendwatching.com, learn more about our TW:Premium service, or get your hands on our end-to-end methodology in our book, Trend-Driven Innovation.

How different will watching trends be in 2030? The answer, of course, lies with the Class of 2016 ;)

Victoria Foster, the head of TrendWatching’s insight network, took up the position of Guest Lecturer of the Year at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, bringing #TrendDrivenInnovation to their International Lifestyle Studies (ILS) program. The task for her students? Predicting what watching trends would be like in the future. Simple, right?

Working for a firm called ‘TrendWatching’ often prompts questions like, “do you know what I’ll be wearing in Spring 2017?”, or “do you predict the future?” (unfortunately, the answer is the same for both — I wish!). So when I get the chance meet and partner with other ‘trend watchers’— people who specialise in watching and analyzing consumer trends — it’s an experience that always feels like a gift.

So, as you can imagine, being invited to become Guest Lecturer of the Year at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands for their International Lifestyle Studies (ILS) program was an inspiring, exciting opportunity. So much of their focus is already on consumer trend watching, allowing me to meet of a number of like-minded people that all bonded over a shared passion.

VF-Fontys-1

The guest lecture program began in December 2015 with an introduction to our methodology, Trend-Driven Innovation. For us, being a trend watcher begins with a mind-set — a way of looking at the world with fresh eyes and endless curiosity — and a way of spotting trends that starts with businesses, rather than consumers. So, for students who are still learning how and where to spot trends (and why they can be so valuable), hearing this methodology — and, crucially, how we also put this trend theory into practice every day for our clients — is an invaluable lesson in real-world trend watching.

Through this session, the students’ understanding and interest in our methodology took hold – and even resulted in many of them joining tw:in, TrendWatching’s insight network on the heels of our time together.

With this way of looking at innovations, trends and the world at large in mind, the students were then set a challenge to develop a concept for how trends will be communicated in 2030.

Tackling the future of communications and the trend industry is obviously no easy feat. The students were pushed to think even further beyond their comfort zones with a concept development and prototype workshop led by designer and futurist Hiek Pulles, with sessions including a dismantling today’s technology — from a vacuum cleaner to a battery pack — to encourage them to draw on past trends to help envision 14 years into the future.

VF-Fontys-2

Over the next few weeks they conceptualized their ideas, culminating in a final pitch-style presentation in June 2016. While selecting an ultimate winner was far from easy given the research, insights, passion and maturity of the thinking by each of the teams, one in particular stood out.

Hobie Gorissen‘s non-tech vision went against the grain of technological ideas and embraced the basic human need for connection— something we believe will still be relevant in 2030 and beyond.

His vision? To present trends, to clients and other Trend-Driven Innovators, in a technology-free zone, secured within a signal-blocking building, so that connections can only be made between attendees and the trend analysts for exclusivity and personalized focus. Trend-driven and innovative, indeed, and perhaps something to consider for our trend events in 2030!

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Victoria Foster is the Head of TrendWatching’s Insight Network, as well as working with numerous universities from across the globe to provide materials for students, guest lectures and facilitate longer project. Think a similar course could work for you? Get in touch at victoria@trendwatching.com.  

Always putting off the dentist? Don't panic - Dentapple has changed the context of an everyday item to cater to your health & wellness needs

The latest stop for our Featured Innovators series? Japan, where we caught up with Shota Hatanaka, the Creative Director of Hakuhodo to discuss one of their recent innovations, Dentapple – a line of apples that included free, personalised dental consultations – that has appeared in not one but two (!) of our free briefings, BUILT-IN BRANDS and THE FUTURE OF BETTERMENT

What was the inspiration behind Dentapple?

From old times, biting an apple has been a symbol for excellent teeth. In fact, there are many dental clinics using apples as their visual identity, so we utilized the hardness of the apple in Matsumoto and transformed it into an apple that can detect the health status of the teeth.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

‘The Design of Dentapple’ that is what we discussed more than anything. In the beginning, we had idea to make the shape of apple in line with the shape of teeth. However, considering the cost of that level of production and then to distribute it widely, we decided it was better to simply putt sticker on the apple, rather than changing the shape itself.

Dentapple - on location!

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

I think that a great tip to better understand consumer is “be a consumer yourself anytime”. If you are not moved by the communication or idea that you have created, it’s likely that consumers won’t be moved either. The important thing is whether you can be an ordinary consumer anytime, rather than a marketer or creator!

You’re featured in our briefing covering our DISTRIBUTED DIAGNOSIS trend – covering new, innovative and seamless ways to access health and wellness services. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

Innovations in mobile technology give consumers better ways to know their health conditions. But the thing is people still don’t care for their health that much. It’s really hard to change peoples’s health behavior and perception just through the mobile technology that’s been developed.

So we decided to add an idea onto their daily behavior, one that already existed: ‘biting an apple’. We gave it the function of dental checkup. We gave a meaning to what they do everyday, allowing them to be able to know their health conditions better.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

It’s called ‘MotoRepellent’, small fly spray device attached to motorcycles in Thailand (an innovation that, like Dentapple, featured in our Asia Trend Briefing from back in April, BUILT-IN BRANDS – editor). MotoRepellent is a light-weight, mobile device filled with non-toxic mosquito repelling oil and magnetically attached to the end of a motorcycle’s exhaust pipe. Heat from the exhaust activates the oil and mosquito-repelling scent is propelled out into the air via exhaust pressure. It changes the motorcycle to a motorised fly spray.

It’s also an idea that add an meaning on people’s daily behavior that already exists: just ride the motorcycle everyday to become the innovative way to kill mosquitos.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

All roads lead to digital: How the modern CMO builds a brand

People have been saying ‘everything is digital’ for years, but has that always been the case? Instead it’s now, more than ever, that the modern CMO faces large-scale challenges to harness technology and secure the most valuable of assets: consumer attention.

In the latest in a series of posts from one of our longtime partners Taan Worldwide – a global network of carefully selected independent advertising & communications agencies – Taan member and founder of Ciceron, one of the first digital agencies in the US, Andrew Eklund explores the new landscape (and what it means for those in charge). 

 Andrew Ecklund, a TAAN-endorsed Trend Champion

We joke in this business that, “Someday, this internet thing is really going to take off.” In fact, we’ve been joking about this at Ciceron for the past 21 years.

However, for the past ten years or so, the digital Pied Pipers of the marketing industry have claimed that “everything is digital”. But let’s be honest — those who said this had something to sell you.

A decade ago, everything was not digital. There were clear divides between digital marketing channels and 20th-century ones. The integration of the two was clunky at best and took monster efforts to bring about seamless experiences. Frankly, the returns on that work were suspect. (Can anyone say, “QR codes?”) But those hackneyed days are over, and I can give you a couple of fresh examples to prove it.

The symbiosis of online and offline.

A few weeks ago, I met with one of our agency partners, MacDonald Media, which has been in the out-of-home (OOH) market for nearly two decades. We’re talking billboards, subway stops, and retail. Together, we’re utilizing the incredible, emerging tech of OOH to drive consumer actions on mobile devices. The targeting capabilities from our tech partners, who use latitudinal and longitudinal data, combined with beacon technologies, and the interactivity of mobile apps provide consumers with unparalleled potential for very real and valuable experiences in ways that transition from creepy to cool.

TAAN for TW, Andrew Ecklund 

That same afternoon, we met with a new client from a recognizable record label (can’t name names yet). This discussion centered squarely around how to allow record labels to share data among themselves to identify cross-genre appeal and more effectively generate awareness of emerging artists. Then, drive ticket sales and digital downloads. And if the consumer wants to buy good old-fashioned vinyl? Go nuts. The tech is killer. And it’s all about marketing.

What this experience, and other client work, clearly indicates is that the ‘all things are digital’ claim is indeed very, very real.

The role of marketing, traditionally, has been to reach people — plain and simple. Mass media did this well through television, print, and radio. Digital taught us the power of one-to-one, segmentation, and transactional adroitness. Not everyone needs mass, or, shall we say, ‘mass’ is relative to the size of the market you are trying to connect with.

Digital is also increasingly becoming less about attracting and more about transacting.

These decisions to buy are immediate for consumers. Awareness of a brand’s product can now come from anywhere, clearly, but the desire to transact is no longer solely an event that happens later at a retail store or in the comfort of one’s home. There’s simply too much time between initial awareness and the transaction for a competitive brand who’s more nimble to intercept a consumer’s attention and provide a perfectly simple way to interact and transact.

Q: What does this mean for the modern CMO?

A: Adaptation out-trumps experience.

The CMOs who cut their teeth in mass media without the benefit of digital now find themselves squeezed uncomfortably between a world of tech and the consumer. The case of the CMO who was vaulted into office primarily for ushering in the winning television campaign rarely happens anymore. The new CMO is now a fully integrated role that oversees creative, technology, analytics, and the totality of consumer experience across all consumer interactions. It’s decidedly high-tech. It’s unavoidably data driven (just look at a recent WSJ article on the topic). It’s still fully baked into the creative realm, yet redefined to fully immerse creative applications of technology and experience to realize a brand’s potential.

Suffice it to say that the most successful CMOs today are largely self-taught when it comes to technology and its impact on consumer experience. There ain’t no MBA for this, and if there was, I’d be highly suspect of its credentials. The CMO who’s thriving today is doing so because she has experimented, taken risks, learned, adapted, and discarded a thousand different ways of reaching the consumer. The thriving CMO isn’t swinging for the fences on most days, but galvanizing the team around continuous innovation and metrics. She’s adaptive to technology and highly nomadic. She recognizes what digital platforms do well and do not do well, and doesn’t try and force any one of them to do something they’re not designed to do.

The dawn of the new CMO is clearly now.

If I hadn’t started a digital agency at the dawn of the Web, I’d like to be a CMO today. What a fascinating role that merges some of the most exciting changes in behaviors, loyalties, and technologies to hit us in the past 100 years. But the CMO’s exhilarating ride is not for the weak of stomach.

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Andrew Eklund is the founder of Ciceron, one of the first digital agencies to establish itself in the US. He’s also a prominent member of TAAN—one of the world’s largest and most successful networks of carefully selected independent communications agencies. Operating since 1936, TAAN exists to enhance the intelligence, expertise, reach and effectiveness of their members, through cooperative learning and shared capabilities. Want to know more? You can contact Andrew right here.

The experience economy, PEER ARMIES and 'parasite' projects: how to create something memorable for a hyper-local community

In the latest of our Featured Innovators posts, we caught up with Wiezte Gelmers of Dutch agency Golfstromen to discuss his recent work on IJburg Serveert – a collaboration between local home cooks and a P2P delivery service, that featured in our recent Global Trend Briefing, PEER ARMIES.

Wietze Gelmers

What was the inspiration behind the innovation?

The idea behind IJburg Serveert originates from our real fascination with the growing sharing economy. We found out that IJburg, one of Amsterdam’s youngest neighborhoods, is known for its strong and active community of home cooks who frequently use the food-sharing program Thuisafgehaald to share their meals with fellow neighbors.

With IJburg Serveert, we gave this community a larger podium by opening a pop-up beach restaurant. The project lasted for only a single weekend, and relied completely on sharing economy-based services. By having home cooks run the kitchen of IJburg Serveert, they were offered an opportunity to share their family recipes and signature dishes with other residents of IJburg. As often, home cooks have quite a small circle of regular customers – this, in turn, would contribute to expanding their marketplace as well as strengthening IJburg’s local community.

The event took place over three days at Centrumeiland, an as-yet-undeveloped part of IJburg in Amsterdam. Six IJburg-based home cooks were in charge of the restaurant’s kitchen, meaning that their signature dishes formed the menu being served to customers.

Making the most of the sharing economy in a restaurant without a kitchen, dishes were prepared by the cooks in their own home, and needed to be delivered to the restaurant. That is where TringTring came in: a peer-to-peer bicycle delivery service that delivered the dishes directly to the guests’ tables. The result was an exclusive pop-up restaurant that tapped into the sharing economy by combining two peer-to-peer services.

IJburg-1

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

Organizing a project like IJburg Serveert was anything but easy.

Many factors made it a complex and difficult operation to execute. To start, setting up an outdoor pop-up restaurant on an undeveloped plot of land is not something that happens overnight. We quickly ran into issues concerning legislation and permits, since we were using government-owned land. Once we got past these obstacles, we were able to create a detailed set-up for our restaurant. It was quite challenging to make sure that the various peer-to-peer services (Thuisafgehaald and TringTring) were connected in such a way that our ‘restaurant’ would act as an ‘oiled machine’.

We wanted to offer our guests a decent level of service – simple as that. It was quite a puzzle to make sure that everything was fine-tuned logistically: the food preparation by the home-cooks, the delivery by TringTring’s bike-deliverers, and serving out hot and steamy dishes by our waiters. ‘Smooth sailing’ is of great importance to such a project!

Although all can be very well-arranged beforehand on paper, you are always dependent on external factors beyond your control when it comes to a project of this manner. One of the most important things for us was needing to create enough buzz and enthusiasm around IJburg Serveert in a relatively short amount of time. We designed a website, got in the local news, and put up promotional material both online and in IJburg’s streetscape, to make sure we generated plenty of visibility among IJburg’s (and Amsterdam’s) residents. And of course, there’s always a risk of the weather in the Netherlands. But, we were lucky with that as well!

IJburg-2

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

Increasingly, we witness that we’re in the middle of an experience economy.

More and more, it has become a goal to create something memorable; a project that offers an experience that is rare and appeals to people’s genuine interest. At the same time, we see that peer-to-peer networks and services are establishing themselves solidly in (parts) of our societies and daily routines. These are two important trends that, in our eyes, offer lots of opportunities and deserve a closer look.

Taking IJburg Serveert as an example once more, we like to label this as a parasite project.

By this, we mean that we use existing platforms exemplifying a larger trend – which in this case would be Thuisafgehaald and TringTring who both fit the growing peer-to-peer trend. By looking closely at the direction in which society is moving towards, and by building on pre-existing  platforms, you get yourself some fruitful ground for a successful project.

In our eyes it is important to make sure that people know ‘what is happening’ out there. Getting yourself a good understanding of (societal) trends, and being be on top of the latest, can be crucial in designing a successful project. Thanks to our blog Pop-Up City, we are always on top of new trends in urbanism and urban lifestyle. We use those insights in our projects.

Spacious, NY

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

Something we have been following closely as of late is the ways in which cities, venues and people are dealing with issues of vacancy and temporarily unused spaces. Nowadays, we are living in a society in which temporality seems to have become the standard – also in terms of the ways in which we use various types of urban spaces.

An interesting example of an initiative in line with this trend would be Spacious: a New York-based start-up that aims to maximize a space’s usage by turning restaurants that are empty during the day into co-working offices. This innovation, labeled as a ‘space hack’ or a ‘reprogramming of urban space’, is something we find really interesting. These are the kinds of trends and innovations we like to feature on our blog Pop-Up City.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

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