Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

There’s a pleasant overlap between Springwise and our other newsletter, TRENDWATCHING.COM. Which is why we’re forever urging you to sign up for that one as well, if you haven’t already done so. Take, for example, our MASSCLUSIVITY trend: “The more access consumers have to quality, MASS CLASS goods and services (the DVD player in your living room probably doesn’t differ too much from the one Madonna’s children use to watch Lilo and Stitch), the more they want exclusivity and status of a different order. The kind that visibly sets you apart from the masses and gives you access to privileges most others won’t get.” MASSCLUSIVITY is at the root of many new business ideas, favored by large and small companies alike. In this month’s (free!) edition of the TRENDWATCHING.COM newsletter, you will find Sony’s new Qualia consumer electronics, the Boston LimoLiner (a luxury bus offering passengers, amongst others, a permanent WiFi connection) and Puma/Karmaloop.com’s exclusive ‘Freedom Trail’ shoes. As a Springwise-bonus, consider this MASSCLUSIVITY idea from the new (and much hyped) Louis Vuitton store in Tokyo. Part of Roppongi Hills, Tokyo’s hottest, USD 2.25 billion, 11.6 hectare entertainment and retail complex, the venue is a take on the area’s nearby clubs and bars. Centered around a ‘dance floor’ (the main shopping area), the store also boasts a Bag Bar, a Shoe Salon and a Luggage Lounge. Vuitton takes things one step further, though. In line with VIP rooms at clubs, Vuitton features a polished staircase that leads customers to a vaultlike room, incorporating a wall of steel compartments resembling safety-deposit boxes. Inside the boxes? A handful of super-expensive watches, rings, and jewel encrusted bracelets (source: Fortune). How’s that for mixing a shop, a museum, a club, a bank and God knows what else?

Opportunities

If you’re in retail, start building that ‘select customers-only’ room as fast as you can! Not only will ardent big spenders expect one, the margins you can get on ‘vaulted’ items are often worth the expensive architect and designer you’re going to need to get the job done. A while back we reported on Dutch cross-media company Media Republic’s plans to launch an interactive soap opera for cell/mobile phones. Now fully operational, the series, which goes by the name of Jong Zuid, reaches its audience via mobile phones (‘MMS’), the internet and MSN Messenger. Soap addicts register online and receive two episodes a day, with each episode consisting of 6 pictures and accompanying texts. Jong Zuid’s cast features famous Dutch soap celebs, with the script revolving around a group of youngsters living together in a dorm-like setting, resulting in plenty of drama, comedy, and everything else that interests hormone-driven teens. In fact, with MSN Netherlands as a powerful partner, hundreds of thousands have already checked out the website, and tens of thousands have subscribed to a twice-daily fix of web or camera-phone based ‘episodes’. Nice touch: subscribers can win a guest role, appearing with their favourite celebrity in one of the pics. How’s that for GRAVANITY!? (more…) For 1 euro (roughly USD 1.1) a day, you can rent a Smart car from Maxhopp in Berlin and Hamburg. Sound too good to be true? (Or, from an entrepreneur’s point of view, too painful?) It helps to understand that Maxhopp is not really a car-rental company: its main business is advertsing. Maxhopp’s rental cars are literally plastered with ads (source: tjacobi.com). In fact, this rental company must be the only one in the world that encourages you to rack up as many miles as possible, without extra charges. Requirements? Customers rent a Smart car for exactly three days, and have to do at least 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) a day. The cars also don’t go much faster than 60 kilometers an hour, which is no problem as long as you drive within Berlin and Hamburg city borders. So far, Maxhopp is doing well: a Munich branch is in the works.

Opportunities

If you throw in a couple of environmentally friendly cars, and perhaps even some bikes, this concept should do well across the world. After the growing popularity of car sharing ventures and low-cost car rental companies, will we soon see ventures actually paying consumers to happily roam the streets? A few months ago, we highlighted New York City’s customer service initiatives, notably the ‘311’ service number, with its 24/7 call center, allowing New Yorkers to immediately report everything from potholes and defect street lights to loud noise and parking violations; get information on trash collection schedules or community center resources; or leave a (frank) opinion for the Mayor. We noted that not only other city governments around the world should pay attention, but many corporate laggards as well. Now, with some remarkable marketing initiatives, New York is again pioneering new business ideas that no doubt will be copied by other large cities around the world. First, in April of this year, Mayor Bloomberg appointed Joseph M. Perello ‘Chief Marketing Officer’ (CMO) for New York City, which could well be a world’s first. Perello is charged with, in Bloomberg’s words, “establishing a centralized marketing strategy for the City that will enable us to effectively leverage the world’s affection and admiration for New York City and the unique assets that we possess.” For an interesting interview with Perello, check out this Reveries article. Two recent deals seem to indicate that this City-CMO is taking his job seriously: a five year, USD 166 million vending and marketing agreement sponsorship with Snapple Beverage Group (source: nyc.gov). Elements of the deal: • In adherence with the NYC nutritional guidelines, Snapple will become the school’s exclusive provider of water and 100% fruit juice via vending machines in the city’s 1,200 schools. To keep things healthy (after all, the government is supposed to lead the way), Snapple is developing four new 100 percent juice drinks — Green Apple, Orange Mango, Grape and Fruit Punch as part of the deal. • Outside of the schools, Snapple will become the official iced tea, water and chocolate drink (Yoo-hoo) for vending in the City. Narrowing down the deal to “iced tea and water” clearly leaves the city’s doors wide open for a whole variety of other deals. • Snapple will market these products directly with the City through the sponsorship of concerts, events, and utilization of the City’s owned media including outdoor media, TV and online assets. • Snapple has committed to work with its affiliates to promote New York City through its marketing and communications efforts, with a promotional value of more than 60 million USD. (more…) This is exactly the kind of thing Springwise likes: a cool, hip new business idea, funky enough to appeal to a sophisticated crowd, yet marketable enough to eventually also convince the global masses to part with their dollars, yens and euros. So what’s it all about? Art*o*mats! Art*o*mats are retired cigarette vending machines that have been converted to vend art. Currently, there are 49 active machines in museums and various locations throughout the US. The experience of using the stylish machines is quite a thrill, but you also walk away with an original work of art. Approximately 300 contributing artists from 10 different countries are currently involved in the Art*o*mat project. Work from participating artists has to be the exact size and shape of a pack of cigarettes, and is sold for five dollars or less to everyday consumers. Think painted blocks of wood, stained glass, poem decks or clay sculptures. On each art package within the Art*o*mat the artists have the option to include information about themselves: if buyers like the artwork, they can e-mail or call the actual artist to request more art. The economics? The artists get 50% of the revenues, USD 1.50 goes to the company/venue hosting the machine, and the rest goes to Art*o*mats.

Opportunities

A no-brainer if you’re a budding artist, if you work in a museum, or run a gallery, shop, restaurant, bar. Get exposure or turn your customers into ardent art-buyers. Art*o*mat is still very US-centric, but would obviously do as well in Sydney and Seoul as it does in New York and LA. A global roll-out would truly bring art to the masses: give it a shot by contacting Art*o*mat at www.artomat.org. Talk about a family affair — Sexie Booda’s funked-out-chic Afro Nostalgia bags star the designers’ parents wearing Afros. Hot in London. Afro Nostalgia print bags by SBSpringwise editors rely on a worldwide network of Springspotters to stay on top of what’s new and hip in the ferociously fickle world of business, including fashion. This month’s most stylish submission comes from London (thank you, Fiona Venus). Fashion label McOdi is scoring big time with its accessories line, celebrating Afro with its ‘funked-out-chic’ Afro Nostalgia bag collection. Designers Leigh Odimah & Stephanie McLaren digitally print pictures taken from their personal family photo albums: cool images of their parents in big Afros. T-shirts can be had at Urban Outfitters in London and Glasgow, and as of this month, the more expensive goodies like leather bags are sold by House of Fraser in London. Fashion-obsessed Japanese can get their fix at Tokyo’s YSH (La Foret Harajuku – 2nd Floor). We hope they have a Vault 😉

Opportunities

SB’s Charlie capYou don’t have to be a fashion guru to know that success breeds success. With well-deservedly basking in London’s Eye2Eye spotlights, who is going to represent them in New York? Paris? Seoul? Barcelona? Rio? All you savvy entrepreneurs and distributors: McOdi can be contacted at dropusaline@mcodi.com.