August 2010 | Each year, around this time, we take a look at the most promising ‘on trend’ innovations, as spotted by our sister company Springwise. No surprise, that with the entire world now battling it out in the consumer arena, the amount of talent, of creativity, of innovations, is staggering. Welcome to INNOVATION INSANITY ; -)

INNOVATION INSANITY: The amount of talent, of creativity, of innovations out there remains staggering. Invent, improve, copy… or perish.

We all agree that innovation is the only way to survive in an ever more global, competitive business arena. We’re talking basically anything that will get consumers spending, and preferably the kind of spending that involves sustainable goods, services and experiences.

And since everyone from Seth Godin to the Harvard Business Review is providing you with excellent, inspiring insights and theory on innovation as a mindset, a process, a way of life, we'd like to contribute to the conversation with examples of actual B2C innovations. Tons of 'em.

As we see it:

INNOVATION INSANITY | There will never be a shortage of smart new ventures, brands, goods and services that deliver on consumers’ wants and needs. In fact, with the entire world now engaged in creative destruction, INNOVATION INSANITY is upon us. So yes, the dozens of innovations we’ve rounded up for this briefing, courtesy of our sister-site Springwise, are just the tip of the iceberg. Invent, improve, copy… or perish.

The link between INNOVATION INSANITY and consumer trends? As focused as we are on emerging consumer trends, we never tire of pointing out that trends are only good for one thing: inspiring you to innovate, to come up with new goods, services and experiences for (or even better, with) your customers.

Innovation: not just labs, not always earnest, not necessarily expensive

Three more thoughts on innovation:

  • Innovation is not necessarily about people in white coats puttering about in R&D labs. In our current experience economy, marketing innovation is equally important, and often trumps technical innovation.
  • Furthermore, as consumers’ wants are sometimes frivolous, new products and services can be, too. Really, innovation doesn’t have to be so earnest all the time.
  • Thirdly, doing or starting something new doesn't have to cost the world. Many of the innovations featured in this briefing thrive on nimbleness and creativity, not huge budgets.

67 INNOVATIONS

Springwise New Business Ideas is trendwatching.com’s sister site. Do not miss out!

OK, enough preaching, let’s get to practicing: check out these 67+ innovations, arranged by trends (STATUS STORIES, CROWD-EXPRESS, and more) and B2C industries.
All sourced from trendwatching.com’s sister site Springwise, which finds and publishes the best innovations from around the world, with the help of 8,000+ Springspotters. Seriously, if you don't yet subscribe to their weekly newsletter, you're missing out! Here goes:

STATUS SKILLS

Our recent STATUSPHERE Trend Briefing gave you a taste of some of the ways in which consumers are now getting their status fix.  Here are a few more innovative examples, related to skills and status:

1. [US] Hotel offers cultural ‘night school’ for guests

Hotels | Dubbed “Night School,” the Seattle Sorrento Hotel offers a collaboration with chef Michael Hebb and “an array of intellectuals, artists, writers, filmmakers, mixologists, chefs and the leading cultural institutions in the Northwest”. The Night School's Midnight Symposium series, for example, invites guests to gather and discuss a particular reading, while the Drinking Lessons series in the hotel's Hunt Club bar offers two-hour lessons in the preparation and history of three distinct cocktails. More »


2. [Spanish] Free English lessons at Spanish restaurant chain

Bars and Restaurants | Spanish restaurant chain Fresc Co offers free English language lessons to its patrons. Fresc Co operates 40 restaurants in 11 Spanish cities, focusing on fresh ingredients and Mediterranean dishes. Last February, two of its Barcelona locations began offering two-hour sessions targeting professional workers with a focus primarily on everyday language and work situations. More »


3. [UK] Truck offers mobile bottling for DIY brewers

Food & Beverage | British brewer Tom Wood's recently launched a mobile bottling operation for DIY brewers in the form of a well-equipped truck that can drive to virtually any UK location. Services include everything from pre-production bottle washing through a range of bottle capping options, labelling and finally shrink-wrapping. More »


GENERATION G

We covered GENERATION G last year, and with even more brands and consumers adopting a generous mindset, the innovations keep on coming:

4. [Ghanian and US flags] Bamboo bikes from Ghana

Bikes | Calfee Design is helping entrepreneurs in the developing world make locally sourced bamboo bicycles for domestic and international sale. Through the Bamboosero initiative, Calfee set up two bike-building groups in Ghana who build frames using locally sourced bamboo before shipping them to the US. The Ghanaian entrepreneurs earn about USD 150 for every frame they build. More »


5. [US] ATM machines offer embedded charity with every withdrawal

Financial Services | Launched in February 2010, Choose Change ATM has developed a brand of ATMs that lets users donate USD 1 of each USD 2 transaction fee to a non-profit organization of their choice. Users select from a display of eight non-profits, supporting causes such as disaster aid, poverty relief and human rights. The ATMs are installed at no cost to retailers and Choose Change handles all of the maintenance and refills. More »


6. [UK] Water-bottle refills at cafes, with a charitable twist

Not for profit & social cause | GiveMeTap lets consumers in the UK refill their water bottles for free at participating cafés. Beginning in Manchester, GiveMeTap has signed up numerous restaurants and cafés willing to supply free access to clean tap water; said providers can be located via PC or smartphone using GiveMeTap's mapping service. In order to partake, consumers need to be carrying one of GiveMeTap's branded aluminium bottles, which are priced at GBP 7. GiveMeTap uses 70 percent of the profits from those sales to fund independent water projects in regions where they're most needed. More »


7. [US] Mobile laundry truck facilitates clothing donations

Domestic Care | Cleaning-products maker Method toured the streets of New York in May 2010 with its “Wash Smart, Give Smart” truck to encourage people to donate clothing. Through a partnership with Goodwill, San Francisco-based Method equipped a glass-walled truck with a mobile laundry room that was used to wash and dry clothes before delivering them to New York Goodwill locations to be resold. Passers-by were encouraged to spontaneously donate an item of clothing off their bodies, and as part of Method's “laundry smarts” campaign, there was also a photo station, samples, games and prizes. More »


8. [US] Buy-one-give-one indie eyewear

Fashion | Philadelphia-based Warby Parker offers its own, in-house designs through the mail for USD 95 including delivery. Rather than maintain a physical store, Warby Parker gives consumers two ways to try its frames on: with its virtual try-on feature using an uploaded photo, or via its free, 7-day home trial of up to five styles at a time. For each pair of glasses it sells, Warby Parker donates to nonprofit Restoring Vision, which then donates a pair of glasses to someone in need. More »

 


9. [US] Wine vendor donates clean drinking water

Food & Beverage | Online wine vendor CellarThief donates 100 days' worth of clean water for every bottle of wine it sells. Launched in early 2010, CellarThief sells only three heavily-discounted wines on its site at any given time, hand-picked from world-class wineries by industry veterans. The company has partnered with Charity: Water to provide clean water to those who need it. In addition to the donation made each time a bottle of wine is sold, further donations are made each time a wine sells out. More »


10. Transforming Rio’s slums through community-driven art

Not for profit & social cause | Aiming to transform the slums of Rio de Janeiro through large, community-driven murals, the Favela Painting project also incorporates training and employment for local residents. In each of its projects, Favela has focused on recruiting local residents to do much of the painting, including training and paying them. More »


11. [US] Buy a tie, give a child a school uniform

Fashion | FIGS is a California-based tie maker that donates a school uniform to a needy African child for each purchase on its site, allowing those in poverty-stricken areas to attend school where a uniform is necessary. The company sells a wide variety of neckwear—in varieties including Italian silk woven, pure British woolen and fine wool tartan—at prices ranging from USD 105 to USD 140 each. Custom ties are also available. More »