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Opportunities

Three Minutes of Happiness has no branches abroad, which means creative entrepreneurs could consider spending some money on a roundway ticket to Tokyo to check out the concept, and then spread some happiness on a global scale

Japanese stores offer cheap-and-chic retail therapy for recession-sufferers

The economy and job market getting you down? Japan has been in a slump for years now, which goes a long way explaining the success of Tokyo-based Three Minutes of Happiness (part of Japanese ‘Five Foxes’ group). Three Minutes of Happiness stores sell design-heavy, extremely affordable ‘recession chic’ necessities, from clothing items to kitchen utensils, dished up in the colorful setting of a massive ice-cream shop. Real ice cream is available as well: sister company ‘Comme Ça’ has in-store ice-cream shops.

Opportunities

Three Minutes of Happiness has no branches abroad, which means creative entrepreneurs could consider spending some money on a roundway ticket to Tokyo to check out the concept, and then spread some happiness on a global scale

Opportunities

The most rapid acceleration in aging will occur after 2010, when the large post-World War II baby boom cohorts begin to reach age 65. Which means that in most European nations, where 60 is considered to be an accepted retirement age, 2005 is kick-off time. What about a whole chain of ‘Silver Malls’ in Vienna, Milan, Seattle and Melbourne?

Appealing to nostalgia, a retro-themed shopping mall in Tokyo draws in the silver-haired crowds

Although teenagers may have loads of money to spend, don’t underestimate the purchasing power of the silver-haired crowd. In fact, mature customers have money AND time. So why not give a shopping mall a retro-theme, like the Ichome Shotengai in Tokyo? For older Japanese, this is where you can buy souvenirs from the past, have a snack in a restaurant modeled after the dining car in the first bullet trains, or just feel like you’ve been transported back to the good old days. (Source: NYT.) The mall has done extremely well, attracting both crowds driven by nostalgia, and curious younger shoppers looking for retro-chic. Looking at the numbers from research institute Rand, dreaming up new businesses aimed at seniors is a pretty smart thing to do: the number of people over the age of 65 increased more than threefold since 1950, from approximately 130 million (about 4 percent of the global population) to 419 million (6.9 percent) in 2000. This age group is now increasing by 8 million per year; by 2030, this increase will reach 24 million per year.

Opportunities

The most rapid acceleration in aging will occur after 2010, when the large post-World War II baby boom cohorts begin to reach age 65. Which means that in most European nations, where 60 is considered to be an accepted retirement age, 2005 is kick-off time. What about a whole chain of ‘Silver Malls’ in Vienna, Milan, Seattle and Melbourne?

Opportunities

Will this be the last time we report on clever MMS inspired new business ideas? Not likely. Some numbers: according to research from Strategy Analytics, camera phones are expected to make up 11 percent of phone sales by 2004, while 50 million MMS handsets will be in the European market by 2004. It is also estimated that by 2007, there will be 147 million camera phones around world-wide. That should be enough to get creative entrepreneurs and marketers going! May we suggest a ‘lost and found’ dating service? Just imagine: cam phone owner X falls in love at first sight with fellow commuter Y, doesn’t have a chance to make contact, but is able to take pic of love object Y just before he/she slips through the train’s closing doors. Cam phone owner X posts the pic on a love-lost-love-found website, the heretounknown Y is delighted to find out that a mysterious stranger has a crush on him/her, and — hey presto! — an MMS match is made. New feature for match.com, perhaps? Just a thought. 😉

Three ventures that are using the MMS platform to introduce innovative, photo-based consumer services in real estate, soap operas and teen phone blogs

MMS (short for ‘Multimedia Messaging Service’, or ‘sending and receiving pictures from your cell/mobile phone’) has been around for a while in Hong Kong and Japan, and is steadily conquering the European market, with the first camera phones now being sold in the US as well. While the first stories about innovative use of MMS involved juvenile delinquents taking sneaky shots in girls locker rooms, and Ericsson pushing its latest model by urging owners to send each other semi-nude pics of themselves, the first serious new business ideas are emerging, as shown by three ventures that use the MMS platform to introduce innovative, photo-based consumer services. In Finland, real estate agent Huoneistokeskus is advertising property codes on billboards and in printed advertising, enabling prospective buyers to receive color pics and floor plans of properties on their mobile phones (source: Digital Bulletin). Meanwhile, in The Netherlands Media Republic, a cross-media company, is about to launch MMSeries, an interactive soap opera starring well known Dutch ‘soapies’. The episodes will be broadcast picture by picture to mobile fans, who will naturally be charged for each new dramatic event they receive. Participating celebs will take the pics themselves, following a flexible and partly self-evolving daily script. And in case you want to star in your own daily soap, just join the 42,000 Japanese girls who use phone blogging to send daily, weekly or monthly diary digests to eager fellow teens. The phone blogs are managed and hosted by Girlswalker.com (source: Wired). We’re surprised Vodafone Live hasn’t invited them to set up shop in Europe.

Opportunities

Will this be the last time we report on clever MMS inspired new business ideas? Not likely. Some numbers: according to research from Strategy Analytics, camera phones are expected to make up 11 percent of phone sales by 2004, while 50 million MMS handsets will be in the European market by 2004. It is also estimated that by 2007, there will be 147 million camera phones around world-wide. That should be enough to get creative entrepreneurs and marketers going! May we suggest a ‘lost and found’ dating service? Just imagine: cam phone owner X falls in love at first sight with fellow commuter Y, doesn’t have a chance to make contact, but is able to take pic of love object Y just before he/she slips through the train’s closing doors. Cam phone owner X posts the pic on a love-lost-love-found website, the heretounknown Y is delighted to find out that a mysterious stranger has a crush on him/her, and — hey presto! — an MMS match is made. New feature for match.com, perhaps? Just a thought. 😉

Opportunities

Not only do Expedia Cafés turn a virtual brand into a ‘real’ one, they also bring in revenues from the sale of snacks and beverages. On top of that, they give Expedia.com an opportunity to serve and support its customers during an often stressful part of the travel experience. Springwise wishes more corporations would show such a deep understanding of their customers’ needs (after all, isn’t it the only thing you want to do when stuck at an airport — plug and log in, while sipping a latte!?) May we see Yahoo! information/coffee kiosks on busy shopping streets soon!

Expedia.com established a presence outside the virtual realm, by building ‘wired’ cafés in airports

Over the years, dot com companies have struggled to establish a presence in the ‘real’ world, to remind potential customers of their existence outside the confinements of a computer screen. Online travel company Expedia.com has come up with an interesting solution: build ‘wired’ cafés at airports, where, after all, every passer-by could be an existing or potential Expedia customer. Each café table has a ‘road warrior’ station, with phone jacks, free internet access and electrical outlets for devices and recharging cell phones. The first Expedia Café opened its doors in San Jose Airport in 2001, and a second one in Los Angeles International Airport last year. The food, beverage and retail services are provided by HMSHost Corp.

Opportunities

Not only do Expedia Cafés turn a virtual brand into a ‘real’ one, they also bring in revenues from the sale of snacks and beverages. On top of that, they give Expedia.com an opportunity to serve and support its customers during an often stressful part of the travel experience. Springwise wishes more corporations would show such a deep understanding of their customers’ needs (after all, isn’t it the only thing you want to do when stuck at an airport — plug and log in, while sipping a latte!?) May we see Yahoo! information/coffee kiosks on busy shopping streets soon!

Opportunities

We think the world could do with a few more Victoria’s Secrets (starting with Europe, which lacks a professionally branded and sexy yet accessible lingerie chain) but that’s another story altogether, which we will tackle in one of the upcoming issues of this newsletter. For now, we are sure that some entrepreneurial immigrants might be sitting on a goldmine without even realizing it, whether it’s lingerie or fried chicken. Fried chicken?!? Check out our IMMI MERCE trend!

Private Joyce cleverly caters to Philippine women back home and abroad

Let’s say you’re a movie star, or even a nation’s sex symbol, and you want to start your own business. Why not launch a Victoria’s Secret inspired lingerie label? Philippine-American Joyce Jimenez did just that, and her Private Joyce lingerie and cosmetics are selling well in both the Philippines and the U.S. (source: Far Eastern Economic Review). Two smart moves that turned Private Joyce into an excellent new business idea instead of just a nice initiative: introducing a franchise formula, which is still quite a novelty in most of Asia (but catching on quickly!), and closing a deal with Philippine fashion store chain Sari-Sari which also has outlets in the US. The latter is a great example of what our sister-site TRENDWATCHING.COM has dubbed IMMI-MERCE: catering to ever growing, and ever more prosperous immigrant communities all over the world. In this case: selling lingerie to the sizable Philippine community in New York. Private Joyce appeals to Philippine customers who are not only happy to buy lingerie from a fellow compatriot, but who also appreciate the fact that the label carries smaller sizes, perfect for more delicate frames.

Opportunities

We think the world could do with a few more Victoria’s Secrets (starting with Europe, which lacks a professionally branded and sexy yet accessible lingerie chain) but that’s another story altogether, which we will tackle in one of the upcoming issues of this newsletter. For now, we are sure that some entrepreneurial immigrants might be sitting on a goldmine without even realizing it, whether it’s lingerie or fried chicken. Fried chicken?!? Check out our IMMI MERCE trend! Just when we thought we possessed every loyalty card ever invented by supermarkets, airlines and gas stations, US based Upromise proves that if you pick a worthy cause, you can still attract millions of consumers eager to sign up for the next big thing in loyalty programs: saving money for your kids’ tuition! Upromise combines the popularity of frequent flyer-like schemes with the ease of credit card reward programs. Consumers register their existing credit card details with Upromise (no fees are charged), then shop at participating companies — using the credit or debit card they’ve registered with Upromise — to get up to 10% of their spending back for college – automatically. Sounds simple? Maybe that’s why consumers like it so much: since Upromise’s launch only two years ago, the service has welcomed more than 3 million members. Participating companies include Mc Donald’s, Microsoft, ATT, Citi Bank, GM, Exxon, Amazon.com and Coca-Cola. Upromise get a small cut from each transaction, and from dedicated investment accounts for members, in cooperation with with financial institutions like Fidelity and Salomon Smith Barney. Upromise’s only competitor is Babymint, which has signed up close to 1 million members. However, Babymint doesn’t offer the service of registering current credit cards — members need a dedicated Babymint card to participate. The success factors behind a college-savings program: • Choosing a ‘good cause’ that is a natural winner — what parent wouldn’t want to automatically save money for future tuition for his or her children? And what company would refuse to participate in such a lofty goal? Saving for college also appeals to other family members who might want to pitch in: grandparents are target number one. • Fully automated saving-schemes, as offered by Upromise, are a big plus: no hassle with having to show special cards, or forgetting to ask for savings you’re entitled to. • Endless possibilities for data-mining, coming up with special offers, setting up advisory units and services (MSN Money, CNBC and Upromise have already set up a ‘college finance center’ website). And don’t forget the lucrative business of administering large amounts of savings.

Opportunities

As tuition fees are steadily increasing, even in traditionally generous European welfare-states, Upromise-like concepts should do well around the world. And what about other positive, self-empowering saving goals? Sabbaticals, world trips… Themed loyalty may be here to stay.

Opportunities

ESports, which has applied for a patent for its method and system of game entertainment facilities, has plans to roll out 400 other gaming theaters throughout the US in the next four years, including Los Angeles and New York. With gaming incredibly popular from San Diego to Stockholm to Seoul, that number could mushroom worldwide soon.

Making the best possible use of valuable real estate

Renting and exploiting real estate is costly. If you’re in a business where your B2C space is empty most of the day or night, but the rent or mortgage never takes a break, be inspired by Pacific Theatres in San Diego, which has cleverly anticipated the video gaming craze and the desire for BEING SPACES, by turning one of its screens into a massive multi-player gaming theater. Theater seats are equipped with Internet-connected computers and gaming consoles and visitors can compete against others in the theater or play online with people around the world. The theater offers 100 stadium gaming seats and more than 3,000 games (from “Madden 2003” to “Counterstrike”) for the PC, PS2, GameCube, and even Xbox Live. The service is doing well, even though most gamers have all the equipment they need at home. But then again, owning a TV, VCR or DVD player has never stopped people from going to the movies either. (Check out our BEING SPACE trend to see why.) Filmgoers who have a ticket to a Pacific Theatre movie get 30 minutes free playing time. Dedicated gamers pay by the hour, with opening hours being 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Which means Pacific Theaters not only gets the moviegoers that just come in to play a quick game, but also hard-core gamers who meet for tournaments, during hours the theater would normally have been (almost) empty. The new gaming theater was created by ESports Arena, a leader in computer and console gaming solutions, and interactive entertainment in online and offline venues. (source: techtv.com, livegamenews.com). ESports was inspired by South Korea’s 15,000 gaming rooms (which Springwise will cover in the upcoming May issue), which are lacking in the US, even though there are more gamers in the US, then realized that an infrastructure was readily available in the sprawling networks of cinemas around the US.

Opportunities

ESports, which has applied for a patent for its method and system of game entertainment facilities, has plans to roll out 400 other gaming theaters throughout the US in the next four years, including Los Angeles and New York. With gaming incredibly popular from San Diego to Stockholm to Seoul, that number could mushroom worldwide soon.