Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

On-the-spot labeling and burning of CDs has recently opened a whole new market of instant ‘in concert’ souvenirs

What gets serious music fans seriously excited? Try bootlegs of a live concert they attended. But how to retrieve the thousands of concertgoers after the bootleg has been secretly recorded, labeled and manufactured? Well, why not make them legal and sell them right after the concert, together with collectibles and souvenirs that fans are so happy to snap up at over-the-top prices? It’s happening as we speak, as improved technology for on-the-spot labeling and burning of CDs has recently opened a whole new market of instant ‘in concert’ souvenirs around the world. Experts in this field are US-based Clear Channel Entertainment and Disc Live (headed up by the co-founder of hip hop label Loud Records), who have or are about to set up CD burning on the spot, using sophisticated audio recording systems and stacks of CD burners, which can duplicate up to eight discs at a time (sources: NYT and TrendCentral). Clear Channel’s ‘Instant Live’ venture announced that of all concertgoers they offered their instant CDs to, an impressive 30% was happy to take the bait! In the Netherlands, Sony Music and DJpower scored similar results when they sold instant CDs to visitors of ‘Acda en De Munnik’ concerts in March 2003. What better way to make money than to offer pre-concert ordering or on-the-spot selling of unique and highly personal content? Going back to the authentic musical experience, and selling the recordings while an audience’s ears are still ringing, will bring back at least some of the bucks, euros and yens lost to the Napster/Kazaa phenomenon. And what about the live DVD? Springwise is willing to bet that if one-third of fans want to buy live CDs, even more will want to own a copy of the full concert in moving pictures. (See “DVD singles” below!)

Opportunities

Springwise believes the soap shoe design, together with grinding’s aura of danger, risk and fun, should help push sales to teenagers around the world. Even if they have no intention of sliding down a rails or other scary stuff, the cool-factor will win them over. Bit like what SUVs used to be for adults. With the trend having faded a bit in the US, renewing international soap shoes sales seems to be on Heeling’s to-do list (the only non-US distributor appears to be UK-based Shiner at this point), so distributors take note! Oh, and from a marketing point of view, if you’re into anything youth-related, being associated with grinding wouldn’t hurt if you need an extreme sports image. Just make sure you sponsor professionals: you probably don’t want Jackass-like lawsuits grinding your business to a halt!

Slip into these shoes for some extreme street sporting

Hip sneakers and extreme sports: a combination made in teenage heaven, especially if that extreme sport is grinding: sliding along curbs, benches, rails, or whatever will support your skates, board or shoes. For the latter, you’d be best off wearing ‘grinding shoes’: sneakers that come equipped with replaceable plastic plates under the arches to smoothen the ride. The only established brand in this arena, aptly named SoapShoes, has gone through many tribulations over the last few years, including failed adventures outside the US, but seems ready for survival after being purchased by Heeling Sports Limited in September 2002.

Opportunities

Springwise believes the soap shoe design, together with grinding’s aura of danger, risk and fun, should help push sales to teenagers around the world. Even if they have no intention of sliding down a rails or other scary stuff, the cool-factor will win them over. Bit like what SUVs used to be for adults. With the trend having faded a bit in the US, renewing international soap shoes sales seems to be on Heeling’s to-do list (the only non-US distributor appears to be UK-based Shiner at this point), so distributors take note! Oh, and from a marketing point of view, if you’re into anything youth-related, being associated with grinding wouldn’t hurt if you need an extreme sports image. Just make sure you sponsor professionals: you probably don’t want Jackass-like lawsuits grinding your business to a halt!

Opportunities

Will breath strips change the world? No. (Unless you consider fresh breath to be one of life’s essential pleasures.) Could it make you money? Sure, and especially outside the US, as these strips have not yet been spotted in Europe and Asia. Time for some fresh air!

A blast of innovation in the growing segment of breath fresheners

Studies by the National Confectioners Association show that during the past five years, sales of breath freshening products have gone up 58 percent. In 2001, Americans spent more than USD 2,1 billion in grocery stores and drugstores on these products (source: bizjournals.com). Assuming that Americans are not the only people on this globe suffering from bad breath, many billions more are spent worldwide on mints, gum and other breath fresheners. Want a piece of this fast growing market? Check out breath strips (or ‘mint films’): tiny pieces of transparent ‘film’ that dissolve in your mouth instantly (and thus discretely), leaving you with fresh breath (and, of course, personal success and confidence ;-). In the US, tens of millions of the 1-inch square packs (at about USD 1.50) have already been sold by Pfizer (Listerine PocketPaks), Wrigley (Eclipse Flash), and Myntz (Instastripz). To underscore its commitment to fresh breath, Wrigley is in the middle of spending USD 50 million on its US launching campaign, which includes celebrity endorsements and free samples on United Airlines flights. As always, diversification-loving US manufacturers are about to bewilder the market with sugar-free, calorie-free, and aspartame-free variations. Teeth whitening and semi-medical oral-care versions can’t be too far away, nor are cactus/papaya and licorice flavors!

Opportunities

Will breath strips change the world? No. (Unless you consider fresh breath to be one of life’s essential pleasures.) Could it make you money? Sure, and especially outside the US, as these strips have not yet been spotted in Europe and Asia. Time for some fresh air!

The Apple store is the first affordable alternative to illegal downloads and expensive, outdated CD disks.

If you’ve flipped through at least one respectable business publication over the past two weeks, you will have heard about Apple‘s new iTunes Music Store. An instant success, the well thought-through website and software have attracted heaps of praise AND buyers. Offering more than 200,000 songs which can be downloaded for USD 0.99 a piece, or USD 9.99 per album, the Apple store is the first affordable alternative to illegal downloads and expensive, outdated CD disks. Once customers buy the music, they own it — no complicated rules, no clubs to join, and no monthly fees. And it’s not all rap or boy bands: baby-boomer favorites like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles and Bob Dylan are prominently featured, attracting a mature, web-savvy crowd who can afford NOT to engage in illegal practices, and just pay for their downloads. In its first week (May 2003), the store sold over one million songs, with over half of the songs being purchased as albums, dispelling industry concerns that selling music on a per-track basis will destroy album sales. Could it be that paying a NORMAL price for online music AND getting real service may actually work? 😉 Remaining challenge? iTunes Music Store is only available in the US. But that, we’re sure, will change quickly enough: either Apple will quickly expand, or someone, somewhere, is going to copy this model, to cater to the other 420 million consumers who are online outside the US.

A more exclusive heir to the CD single’s throne

CD singles have more and more in common with vinyl 45’s: they’re both disappearing faster than you can say ‘Napster’. Never massively popular to begin with, the CD single seems to be the ultimate victim of downloading. End of story? Not exactly: DVD singles may start making up for lost revenues. Typically including two music videos and extra features like exclusive backstage footage, DVD singles are hot promotional material. For the time being, with super broadband not having gone mainstream yet (and thus making downloading DVD singles too cumbersome), this could be a nice cash cow. It’s all about exclusive content!

Opportunities

Right now, initiatives to uncork more affordable and/or hip wines seem to be very US, UK and Australia focused. Time to get the rest of the world guzzling more wine too? Hospitality marketers, pay attention! (And NO, we’re not promoting boozing and alcoholism, just more stylish alternatives to beer and breezers!) And for a quick action-reaction example, check out TRENDWATCHING.COM’s snobmoddities update, which shows that brewers of upscale beer may go after… mature wine drinkers!

Initiatives to uncork affordable and hip wines

First it was light beers, then came alco-pops, and now the Breezer crowd (and their slightly older alcohol peers, the 25-35 olds) is being enticed to start sipping… wine! How? Well, matching the price of other casual drinks seems to work. At least in the US. Example? ‘Two Buck Chuck’, a wildly popular, USD 1.99 wine, which is only available at Trader Joe’s supermarkets. In 2002, when it was introduced, 2 million cases were sold to wine guzzlers (source BW). Launching trendy wines, with equally cool marketing campaigns, is another option: in the UK, Pernod Ricard’s Jacob’s Creek is the exclusive advertiser for TV series Friends. Not to be outdone, Diageo‘s ‘Blossom Hill’ picked TV sitcom Will and Grace to appeal to a hipper crowd. The deal is reportedly worth in the region of GBP 850,000 and will run for twenty-four weeks. In 2002, Hardy Wines sponsored London’s Mardi Gras and Gay Pride parades. And Brown-Forman‘s Italian wine brand, Fontana Candida, placed hip lifestyle ads in Glamour Magazine. (Source: WSJ.)

Opportunities

Right now, initiatives to uncork more affordable and/or hip wines seem to be very US, UK and Australia focused. Time to get the rest of the world guzzling more wine too? Hospitality marketers, pay attention! (And NO, we’re not promoting boozing and alcoholism, just more stylish alternatives to beer and breezers!) And for a quick action-reaction example, check out TRENDWATCHING.COM’s snobmoddities update, which shows that brewers of upscale beer may go after… mature wine drinkers!

Opportunities

Yet another load of interesting new business ideas that are not only based on adapting to new times, but on exploiting new opportunities as well. If you’re with Burger King or one of the other many fast food chains, you may want to start playing the corporate catch-up game. And if you work for an IT company, you may want to email these chains to offer them some help. Or maybe try an old fashioned call first 😉

McDonald’s turns to technology for a boost, trying its hand at automated convenience stores; DVD machines; chat orders; WiFi; and online advertising

Hit by its first ever quarterly loss, price wars, food scares, and other tribulations, McDonald’s is doing everything it can to get back into the game. Will technology come to the rescue? The fast food giant has embraced the online world, judging from the following new services and business ideas: In the Washington, D.C. area, McDonald’s seems interested in following in Yatoo Partoo and Shop2000’s footsteps (see our March 2003 article), testing fully automated, stand-alone convenience stores under the name ‘Red Box’. The refrigerated units are about the size of a minivan and sell food, drinks, laundry detergent and other products. By installing DVD-rental machines outside some restaurants, another robotic vending initiative, McDonald’s has put a fast-food twist on dinner and a movie. Yet another way of getting more ROI from all that real-estate! The machines, called TikTok DVD Shops, charge customers 99 cents to USD 1.50 per day. All of the 14 suburban TikTok DVD Shops are in McDonald’s parking lots, in an attempt to encourage customers to forgo making it a Blockbuster night and instead stop by for McDinner and a DVD. To cut queues and introduce a bit more service, two McDonald’s restaurants in Alphaville, Brazil, offer the ‘chat order’, allowing video-conferencing style ordering between seated customers and counter personnel (including table mounted terminals equipped with cameras). Burgers and Happy Meals are brought to the table. The restaurants also offer a quick printing service, with customers being able to choose from news clips and coloring books for kids, which they preview on an employee’s palm computer. And not to be outdone by WiFi-enthusiasts Starbucks and Borders, McDonald’s restaurants are going wireless in New York. Not just to let customers surf the web while downing a shake, but to make employees more mobile and connected as well. In their own words: “This technology enables us to share information immediately with hundreds of mobile employees who are dedicated to serving our customers and our restaurants.” Last but not least, McDonald’s is discovering online advertising. (Surprise! Everbody is online!!) Not only can gamers visit the virtual Yellow Arches in SimsOnline, they can actually become McDonald’s franchisees and learn the tricks of the trade. More on this in our March 2003 article on in-game advertising. (Sources: Seattle Times; Washington Post.)

Opportunities

Yet another load of interesting new business ideas that are not only based on adapting to new times, but on exploiting new opportunities as well. If you’re with Burger King or one of the other many fast food chains, you may want to start playing the corporate catch-up game. And if you work for an IT company, you may want to email these chains to offer them some help. Or maybe try an old fashioned call first 😉

Selling their ‘own’ music may be profitable for a host of companies that entertain customers in settings where background music is accepted and often even welcomed

With the risk of Springwise contributing to a Starbucks overload, consider the following successful foray into the music industry: the coffee giant, which entertains patrons with java and jazzy tunes, has made music a fixed part of its products for sale. Besides pushing new artists like Norah Jones, the company will release 16 new compilation CDs this year, put together by Hear Music, the San Francisco boutique music retailer which got bought by Starbucks in 1999. Other retail chains selling their own CDs, as heard in their stores, are Pottery Barn, Banana Republic and Victoria’s Secret (source: WSJ). The real catch here is that these stores reach a mature audience that may have less time and options to check out new or obscure artists, or get fanatical about mixing together their own compilations. They’re also less averse to paying for CDs, having the money to do so, and having grown up before everything-for-free became the norm. Editing, compiling and selling their ‘own’ music may be profitable for a host of companies that entertain customers in settings where background music is accepted and often even welcomed. And as this will be anything but core-business more often than not, it’s a great chance for music stores to strike deals with these chains and provide them with the merchandise. Which makes it a typical case of figuring out in what new ways you can actually reach your end-users. There’s money in alternative distribution channels!

Opportunities

By turning ad watching into a game, and by moving the ads to a positive, opt-in environment, this new service may attract viewers, much like some of the funnier TV commercials that enjoy a world-wide audience when they get forwarded in MPEG format by the millions. Springwise obviously does not expect Ad Channel to turn the world of advertising on its head, but it is worth tracking HomeChoice’s first results. Stay tuned.

A British video-on-demand service dedicates a channel to ads, making the rest of its programming commercial-free

Understandably, many TV viewers have made an art-form out of avoiding commercials, and TiVo recording devices in the US make it easy to skip commercials all together. British video-on-demand service HomeChoice has come up with an interesting approach: its programs aren’t interrupted by commercials (source: Brand Republic). Instead, commercials are shown on a dedicated Ad Channel. This way, HomeChoice hopes to capture the attention of those viewers who may not have an aversion to commercials per se (let’s face it, they sometimes can be quite funny) but hate the intrusion of ads during something more substantial. In their own words: “Can a great ad be as funny as a good TV comedy? Currently on HomeChoice, we’re showcasing some of the funniest ads that we’ve seen in the last 12 months, from both the UK and around the world. Turn to the HomeChoice service, click on the ad you want to see, watch it, then vote and tell us whether you think it’s a keeper or a stinker. Come back and see how your favourite ad did, and watch it climb up the Ad Chart.”

Opportunities

By turning ad watching into a game, and by moving the ads to a positive, opt-in environment, this new service may attract viewers, much like some of the funnier TV commercials that enjoy a world-wide audience when they get forwarded in MPEG format by the millions. Springwise obviously does not expect Ad Channel to turn the world of advertising on its head, but it is worth tracking HomeChoice’s first results. Stay tuned. ** Note: unfortunately Leaping Salmon went out of business. There is hardly anything to be found on the why or how. If you know more, please add to the comments section below. The business concept is still appealing though: check out this new Parisian ‘semi-cooking’ venture! **

Opportunities

Delivering or offering almost-ready gourmet meals at major commuter hubs in large cities smacks of a winner. Leaping Salmon is about to reap the rewards for fine-tuning a great idea and turning it into a viable business. And as they don’t have any serious competition yet, this arena is wide-open to other entrepreneurs, who can avoid potential pitfalls by spending some time studying Leaping Salmon’s business and logistics. In the case of almost-ready meals, going with the flow may translate into tasty profits.

British Leaping Salmon offers almost-ready gourmet food in handy meal kits, making home cooking a breeze for busy urbanites

You may have heard stories about newly-built Manhattan apartments without proper kitchens: urbanites eat out or order in frequently these days that the art of serious cooking has become entertainment: something you watch on TV but would never do yourself. Springwise has highlighted a number of new fast food/take-out business ideas over the last months, but a new niche for ‘almost’ ready-to-eat delivery meals of high quality should inspire food loving entrepreneurs. British Leaping Salmon (the restaurant has recently become unactive) is showing the way, and its concept is ready for international adaptation after having gone through some trials and tribulations. The new business idea behind Leaping Salmon is to deliver its customers (including those who can’t even fry an egg) the ingredients for a gourmet, 3-course meal that can be home-cooked in half an hour or less. Leaping Salmon meal kits come with ingredients selected and washed, measured out exactly for a particular recipe, and delivered to home or office. Detailed instructions for the chosen recipe are included. The food is packaged in cool bags for same day delivery in London (within half an hour in some central London neighbourhoods), or polystyrene boxes for overnight delivery in the rest of the UK. But delivery is not the only way busy Londoners can get their nourishment: Leaping Salmon has recently set up clever kiosks at major London railway/underground stations, and in department stores (from Paddington to Canary Wharf to Selfridges), to cater to those who prefer to by-pass delivery, and to gain brand exposure amidst more visible competition from supermarkets and fast food chains.

Opportunities

Delivering or offering almost-ready gourmet meals at major commuter hubs in large cities smacks of a winner. Leaping Salmon is about to reap the rewards for fine-tuning a great idea and turning it into a viable business. And as they don’t have any serious competition yet, this arena is wide-open to other entrepreneurs, who can avoid potential pitfalls by spending some time studying Leaping Salmon’s business and logistics. In the case of almost-ready meals, going with the flow may translate into tasty profits.