Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

Last month, we highlighted the bright and shiny new world of exotic toothpastes, state-of-the art whiteners and medicinal breath strips. No exciting floss innovations were spotted at that time though, despite the fact that the Academy of General Dentistry touts brushing and flossing as the best method for controlling bacteria that cause bad breath. Even more surprising: 76% of all American households don’t use floss at all. Smell (no pun intended) an opportunity? So did Aquafresh, who recently launched Floss ‘n’ Cap, a toothpaste tube with built-in floss dispenser. Now, this is clearly not going to bring us world peace (though we suspect it will definitely get copied around the world), but as it’s one of those ‘why didn’t we think of this before’ moments, we thought we’d pass it on to you. What other products do you (or one of your partners’) have that are basically begging to get combined and bundled? Isn’t it time you reread TRENDWATCHING.COM’s BRANDED BRANDS? Hey, if it works for floss… Remember Norwegian ‘Paraplyselskapet AS’, who came up with the world’s first fully connected umbrella vending machines? Well, Springwise guess they hit a bit of a rainy spot (maybe it was their name?), as the company is basically inactive these days. So bad idea, end of story? Not really: UK-based Umbrolly has resurrected the concept, and is busy installing machines all over London. There are currently 10 of them dotted around London, with a further 10 out at the end of this month. Machines sell approximately 50 umbrellas per machine per rainfall day. They also signed a deal to place the machines exclusively across the London Underground and will have 150 units on the network by the end of 2005. International expansion is also in the works: the company is in talks with location providers in Germany, Holland and the US. No doubt an interesting franchise/partnering opportunity for entrepreneurs in rainy cities around the world, and a source of inspiration for vending machine enthusiasts! Potential franchisees can email Umbrolly at enquiries@umbrolly.com. In March of last year, we spotted Tomboy Tools‘ dedicated home improvement tools for women, and Home Depot’s home improvement night classes for girls and women, which were just two examples of how even the most conservative, male-dominated industries are discovering that there’s another 50% to their target audience. What happened since? Well, for one, we spotted Barbara Kavovit, (a.k.a. Barbara K), a former head of a major New York City construction firm, who right now seems to be Tomboy’s main competition. Her business in her own words: “do-it-yourself home repair and home improvement tool kits take away the ‘fear factor’ and empower women with clear and simple day to day household solutions.” Example? How about a 30-piece do-it-yourself kit that comes with a 84-page exclusive Barbara K Guide to Simple Home Repair? Meanwhile, Tomboy Tools is not resting on its laurels: the company actively promotes its Tomboy Tools Workshop, a Tupperware-style training and incentive program for independent Tomboy representatives. There’s a lot of construction going on in this space!

Opportunities

So here’s the beauty: we’re talking only two specialized firms in a DIY market that is worth USD 200,000,000,000+ in the US alone, while phenomena like single women becoming homeowners, and the rise in the number of divorced women, are commonplace in North America, the European Union and many metropolitan areas in the Asia-Pacific region. Need we say more? Leave it to auction juggernaut eBay to single-handedly inspire thousands of entrepreneurs to launch complementary services catering to eBay’s 95 million or so registered users. Our favorite new eBay feeder business? Auction drop-off shops! At DropShop in Munich, Germany and AuctionDrop, iSoldIt, AuctionWagon, and Quikdrop.com in the US, consumers and businesses can now drop off items they want to sell. Staff will evaluate the goods, take professional photographs, and prepare an attractive, detailed listing on eBay. They’ll then track the auction, answer questions from prospective buyers, and process payment when the auction closes. Once an item has been sold, they’ll ship it to the winner, and send their customer a check minus the shop’s commission, which ranges from 20 to 40% of the final selling price. Items that don’t sell are returned. Benefits for consumers and businesses extend beyond just saving precious time and hassle: selling on Ebay these days is quite an endeavour (feedback ratings, ad and price strategies, PayPal accounts!), so what started out as the ultimate do-it-yourself service has turned into something better left to professionals. This latter also explains the massive growth of eBay’s Trading Assistants Program, which allows individuals to leverage their eBay selling experience, sell and buy on behalf of others, and basically function as one-man drop-off stores. More than 21,000 people worldwide have registered. To qualify, a seller must have a minimum of 50 feedback comments from previous eBay sales, at least one transaction in the previous 30 days and a positive rating from at least 98 percent of his/her customers. How’s that for re-intermediation?! (more…) Modestly heralding itself as the most unique and unrivaled candy store of the world, Dylan’s Candy Bar definitely provides sweet inspiration to marketers from around the world. Like buybuyBABY, it has turned a fairly mundane retail category into a (dare we say it) EXPERIENCE. Sheer size in floor space and assortment, with some eye-catching design mixed in, creates a Willie Wonka feeling that opens wallets from young to old. In their own words: “our 10,000 square foot New York City flagship store totally redefines the idea of a traditional ‘sweets’ store by creating a unique and completely unmatched shopping experience in a visually awe inspiring environment”. This includes Pez dispensers ranging in price from USD 2 up to USD 2,000 for a rare vintage collectable. Lollipops range in size from 3 ounces up to 3 feet tall. And let’s not forget the candy-scented spa items, from chocolate bar soaps to bubble gum bath fizz.

Opportunities

Business is sweet: Dylan’s two outlets in New York have recently been joined by one in Houston and another in Orlando. But as a candy store new-style cum flagship should work equally well in Tokyo, Seoul, or Stockholm, this sweet spot is bigger than NY or Houston. The sweet tooth theme continues. Starbucks, certainly one of the most successful new B2C businesses to hit urban and recreational areas in years, smartly put coffee at the heart of its ‘third places’ or BEING SPACES. Needless to say, the other hot drink, tea is now getting in on the game as well, with tea rooms popping up everywhere from Taiwan to California. So, what’s next? Well, a third place deserves a third hot drink: add cocoa to the hot list!

Opportunities

Chocoholics and BEING SPACE fans: time to jump on the cocoa bandwagon! Though Hot Chocolate is heating up, you’re still early in the game. Australian Homemade in particular is pretty serious about franchising worldwide. So from partnering to licensing, to starting something from scratch: time to do some research.

Australian Homemade

And definitely keep an eye on Dutch Australian Homemade, a super-stylish, rapidly proliferating chain of chocolatiers selling chocolates, ice creams and hot chocolate (some stores have a café-section). After blanketing northern European countries, expansion is now taking place in the US, Korea and Australia. Australian has a Krispy-Kreme feel to it: visible in-house chocolate and ice-cream production, high quality, and an overall enthusiasm that may make it a global cult brand. However, what sets it apart from Krispy and other sweet indulgence chains is its cool design: its stores are decked out in funky steel and glass. We guess someone at Australian truly understands the GRAND BOUTIQUE trend.

Opportunities

Chocoholics and BEING SPACE fans: time to jump on the cocoa bandwagon! Though Hot Chocolate is heating up, you’re still early in the game. Australian Homemade in particular is pretty serious about franchising worldwide. So from partnering to licensing, to starting something from scratch: time to do some research.

Moonstruck Chocolate Café

In the US, the Moonstruck Chocolate Café chain is positioning itself as the Starbucks of Chocolate. Their six outlets, four in Oregon and two in Illinois, serve up seven flavors of hot chocolate, from Chocolate Chai and Malted Creamy Caramel to Mexican Cocoa, flavored with cinnamon and almond. Chocolate shakes come in flavors like root beer and berries and cream. Moonstruck even sticks with Starbucks’ tall, grande, and venti sizes to reinforce the global standardisation of ‘a home away from home’. Though there are no plans to franchise, growth plans are in the works: Moonstruck wants to open several more units and intends to introduce a proprietary dessert line.

Australian Homemade

And definitely keep an eye on Dutch Australian Homemade, a super-stylish, rapidly proliferating chain of chocolatiers selling chocolates, ice creams and hot chocolate (some stores have a café-section). After blanketing northern European countries, expansion is now taking place in the US, Korea and Australia. Australian has a Krispy-Kreme feel to it: visible in-house chocolate and ice-cream production, high quality, and an overall enthusiasm that may make it a global cult brand. However, what sets it apart from Krispy and other sweet indulgence chains is its cool design: its stores are decked out in funky steel and glass. We guess someone at Australian truly understands the GRAND BOUTIQUE trend.

Opportunities

Chocoholics and BEING SPACE fans: time to jump on the cocoa bandwagon! Though Hot Chocolate is heating up, you’re still early in the game. Australian Homemade in particular is pretty serious about franchising worldwide. So from partnering to licensing, to starting something from scratch: time to do some research.

Cadbury Cocoa House

Cadbury, the USD 1 billion chocolatier, just opened the Cadbury Cocoa House in Bath, UK. The new café gives consumers the chance to sample classic Cadbury ‘Moments of Pleasure’. Drinks range from hot chocolates and juices to a range of Chocolate Chillers: chilled chocolate milk drinks. Deserts and typical British fare are on the menu as well. As always, Springwise will keep a close eye on first results and expansion plans. (Source: Sara D’Amore.)

Moonstruck Chocolate Café

In the US, the Moonstruck Chocolate Café chain is positioning itself as the Starbucks of Chocolate. Their six outlets, four in Oregon and two in Illinois, serve up seven flavors of hot chocolate, from Chocolate Chai and Malted Creamy Caramel to Mexican Cocoa, flavored with cinnamon and almond. Chocolate shakes come in flavors like root beer and berries and cream. Moonstruck even sticks with Starbucks’ tall, grande, and venti sizes to reinforce the global standardisation of ‘a home away from home’. Though there are no plans to franchise, growth plans are in the works: Moonstruck wants to open several more units and intends to introduce a proprietary dessert line.

Australian Homemade

And definitely keep an eye on Dutch Australian Homemade, a super-stylish, rapidly proliferating chain of chocolatiers selling chocolates, ice creams and hot chocolate (some stores have a café-section). After blanketing northern European countries, expansion is now taking place in the US, Korea and Australia. Australian has a Krispy-Kreme feel to it: visible in-house chocolate and ice-cream production, high quality, and an overall enthusiasm that may make it a global cult brand. However, what sets it apart from Krispy and other sweet indulgence chains is its cool design: its stores are decked out in funky steel and glass. We guess someone at Australian truly understands the GRAND BOUTIQUE trend.

Opportunities

Chocoholics and BEING SPACE fans: time to jump on the cocoa bandwagon! Though Hot Chocolate is heating up, you’re still early in the game. Australian Homemade in particular is pretty serious about franchising worldwide. So from partnering to licensing, to starting something from scratch: time to do some research. On a regular basis, Springwise receives emails from start-up entrepreneurs requesting new business ideas that don’t require trust funds or cut-throat VCs to get started. Always eager to please, we spotted this simple yet brilliant idea: there’s money to be made in selling laminated, 2- or 4-sided, satchel-sized ‘Quick Study’ guides — from the periodic table of the elements to the basics of Spanish grammar — to consumers at news stands, airport kiosks, and on the web. How is it done? Closely study BarCharts, the world’s largest provider of laminated reference guides. BarCharts started with a handful of subjects and now offer over 250 guides for students, computer users and general home use. They’ve sold 21 million QuickStudy guides, distributed from a 28,000 square foot facility in Boca Raton, Florida. Rest of the world? Wide open! So get yourself a USD 259 (EUR 215) laminating machine, a handful of one-page guides on anything from health to education to business wisdom, and you’re in business. Or partner with BarCharts for an extra fast start. And there’s a B2B twist as well: if you offer tailor-made guides, schools, universities and businesses will be willing customers, too. Who would have thought? Marketing innovation in the skies is back! Think Song, think JetBlue, think AirAsia. And now: Backpackers Xpress. The new airline is slated for launch this June, and is going (you guessed it) after the backpacking party crowd looking for cheap flights headed to and from Australia. Roughly half a million young budget travellers flock to Australia from the northern hemisphere every year, of which Backpackers Xpress hopes to lure 139,000 in the first 12 months. Stopovers will include Delhi and Bangkok. It’s going to be fun. Backpackers Xpress’ first two jumbo jets have an all-economy seating area with a pub(!) instead of a first class cabin (source: Sydney Morning Herald). There will be karaoke, dance competitions, pizza and a personal DVD service with over 300 titles to choose from. Could Backpackers Xpress signal the start of no-frills airlines taking on long haul routes, something that would further disrupt the already turbulent aviation market?

Opportunities

You don’t have to be a certified trend watcher to spot the rapid changes in travel patterns and travel behavior across the world. Especially for young Europeans, traveling around the world has become firmly entrenched in their lifestyle, with Thailand quickly replacing the Spanish Costas for a fun ten days on the beach. 30-somethings might mourn the loss of old style ‘roughing it’, and 40+ boomers may not get it at all, but for generation X, the no-frills experience economy now includes partying and lazing around, anywhere that takes their fancy. Time to further sharpen your segmenting strategies? Babies may be small, but the amount of stuff parents need to feed and accommodate them isn’t. So the nation that taught the world to ‘super size’ it, now brings us buybuy BABY, a chain of seven massive, 35,000 – 60,000 square feet retail stores across the States of New York, Maryland and New Jersey, offering over 20,000 infant-related products (source: Ruth Thomas-Suh). Think mattresses, cribs, cradles, bassinets, portacribs, clothing, gliders, rockers, toy chests, table and chair sets, cribs, chests, changing tables, toys, books, CDs, audio and video tapes, stuffed animals, infant seats, walkers, bassinets, playpens, high chairs, car seats, booster seats, strollers, diapers, wipes, feeding, safety, and gifts. Oh well, you get the picture. A typical store also features a breast feeding room, a computerized gift registry, artist on staff, and 12(!) check-out registers.

Opportunities

The name may give you the creeps, but the buybuyBABY concept works. The sheer dedication and size of the assortment will make unsuspecting parents spend a good many hours and dollars wandering the aisles of these one-stop stores. And since most people on this earth will sooner or later engage in a bit of spawning themselves, Springwise suspects there’s more room for baby mega stores than the current seven buybuyBABYs in NY, MD and NJ. This is a great import idea. If you live outside India, you may not have spotted the all pink Star-Girl Bike yet, manufactured by India’s Hero Bicycles. Playing the girlie and cuteness cards on a mass scale like few others in the EU or US have done so far, Hero’s affordable-yet-cool bikes could attract a cult following in trendy and flat cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Berlin. The fact that all things Indian are HOT right now lends an added appeal. Last but not least, throw in the relatively low manufacturing costs, and what you’ll get is a very good reason for contacting Hero’s export department, whether you’re into bikes or lifestyle in general (and which brand isn’t these days?!).