Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

BTween $1 and Five

Tweens (boys & girls aged 7-14) influence an estimated USD $270 billion in spending per year and will personally spend a total of $38 billion in 2004 in the US alone. Even so, they’re known to be a little tight with their allowance money. They want value, and Dallas-based retailer BTween $1 and Five aims to give it to them. In their own words:”Tweens have learned how to be very cost-conscious. They’re smarter than ever and want to get more bang for their buck.” (more…)

Yoya Mart: a shop for dads

Mom isn’t the only one who takes the kids shopping anymore, and Yoya knows it. From the husband-and-wife teams that founded NYC’s YoyaShop – the baby-clothing retailer designed to appeal to the hip urban mom’s love of boutique aesthetics – comes hip urban dad-friendly YoyaMart. Designed for fathers by fathers, YoyaMart carries children’s and tweens’ clothing plus funky gadgets for Dad, all set in an environment featuring a stylish male-centric design, big screen TVs, and music (which of course by now reminds you of Dubai’s 1847!). YoyaMart’s focus on urban style is also reflected in the hipster-kid brands they stock, including Diesel, Puma, Ray Ban, and Antik Batik, along with Yoya’s eponymous sportswear line. (Source: WWD.com.)

BTween $1 and Five

Tweens (boys & girls aged 7-14) influence an estimated USD $270 billion in spending per year and will personally spend a total of $38 billion in 2004 in the US alone. Even so, they’re known to be a little tight with their allowance money. They want value, and Dallas-based retailer BTween $1 and Five aims to give it to them. In their own words:”Tweens have learned how to be very cost-conscious. They’re smarter than ever and want to get more bang for their buck.” (more…) Yes, male grooming dominates every single lifestyle publication known to metrosexual man in big, happening metropolises. This may just have something to do with the fact that this is now a multi billion dollar market: commerce and vanity rule the world, after all. For example: in the UK, sales of male grooming products grew 560% over the last 5 years. Yet, we’ve managed to spot something promising in this field that is NOT located in New York or London:starting with a dedicated male grooming facility in Dubai, called 1847 (no website yet), which is ready, in our opinion, to be franchised around the world! Dubai’s upscale 1847 grooming lounge for men (see pics to the right) takes a decidedly executive-friendly approach to male grooming. 1847 is located in a prime location to service their target customers: The Boulevard of the Emirates Towers Hotel, an uber-swanky shopping complex attached to one of the best executive-focused hotels in the UAE. And by the way, don’t call 1847 a “salon” — the management is adamant that they “are not a spa or a salon” but rather a new sector of men’s grooming. Service areas in 1847 are partitioned for privacy and designed to feel like traditional male retreats such as libraries and studies. 1847 also has wireless LAN throughout the facility, 18″ LCD screens with DVD and personal libraries in each service area, a 42″ plasma screen television in the lounge, custom designed treatment sofas, and hand-made Italian barber chairs so clients can catch up with work or indulge in extra leisure and comfort while enjoying 1847’s signature treatments. 1847 also has an in-house retail boutique featuring premium grooming products designed to address the travel and grooming needs of busy, powerful men who want to look good. (more…) The LIFE CACHING phenomenon we covered in July’s TRENDWATCHING.COM newsletter continues its major upswing as more and more industries take advantage of portable tiny tech innovations to capture, package and store consumer experiences. One of the newest entries in the music sector has the potential to make old school concert bootlegging all but obsolete, and instantly puts once-in-a-lifetime shows in the palm of the audience’s hand. Meet the USB Concert-On-A-Stick (and the umptieth nail in the coffin of the big bad ‘record’ companies). Subscription-based MP3 outfit eMusic recently debuted USB downloads as a service available from eMusic Live, their concert division that sells CD copies of shows at select venues a mere 10 minutes after the last encore. The high quality of the CDs, reasonable pricing, and legal status positioned them as viable alternatives to often-substandard bootlegs, but the groundbreaking new USB-based system trumps bootlegs and the CDs by a mile in portability and potential. The service’s focal point is the on–site, wall-mounted eMusic Live download kiosk, where concert goers can use a credit card to buy reusable USB 2.0 keychain drives for $20 and download a live recording of the entire performance they just enjoyed in MP3 format for another $10 (Source: AP). Consumers also have the option of bringing their own USB flash drives to use in the kiosk – either way, the recording is restriction-free, making it perfect for easy, unlimited (and encouraged) legal sharing. (more…) When Springwise first highlighted New York’s 311 Service back in June 2003, its primary focus was as a municipal clearinghouse for non-emergency services. In those early days, 311 operators typically handled issues like complaints about noisy neighbors, pothole repair requests, and clarification of the city’s Byzantine alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules. Now, the initial success of the service has prompted New York’s city government and tourism sectors to set new, loftier goals – 311 is being transformed into a one-stop info source for the city’s vast cultural and entertainment offerings. The first stage of 311’s expansion, already in effect, includes information on street festivals, a running concert calendar, and alerting callers. The latter was put to good use when last month more than 1,000 callers were informed about rained out New York Philharmonic concerts, saving them a trip to the park. (Source: NYT.) The second stage is being jump-started in time for the Republican Convention through the combined efforts of the system operator (the Department of Information Technology and Communications) and non-profit tourism marketer & promoter NYC & Company. NYC & Co. is providing 30 volunteers to man a temporary help desk at the 311 call center specifically to handle entertainment-related requests during the Elephant-fest. (more…) The more phone based ideas the better. Because that’s where the MONEY is these days. And this new business idea could make your cash register ring big time! If you (like us) missed out on making money from the text/SMS revolution, and then failed to make millions again by ignoring ringtones (a multi billion dollar business these days), then be one of the first outside Japan to finally rake it in with ring videos! Called Chaku-Motion (a trademarked DoCoMo moniker), ring videos are the new, must-have content in Japan. The 10 to 20 second video clips with audio (which cost approx 1 USD to download) may be from live performances, music videos, or customized just-for-keitai clips with Japanese pop stars singing “denwa dayo!” — “your phone’s ringing!” (source: JapanInc). NTT DoCoMo’s FOMA 900i series 3G handsets are all Chaku-Motion compatible, and iMode subscribers can already download clips of some of the most popular acts. And as Avex, arguably Japan’s hottest music label, has deals with DoCoMo and Vodafone to provide chaku-uta (pop song ringtones and artist voice ringtones), Springwise is betting that Japanese teenagers are waiting eagerly for Avex to OK Chaku-Motion so they can snag keitai clips of megastar artists like BoA, Exile, and Hamasaki Ayumi for their very own.

Opportunities

If you’re one of our 34,000 subscribers not based in Japan, and you happen to live in one of many countries now rolling out 3G networks, Chaku Motion may be your ticket to success. It’s still early enough to set up a business catering to the next big thing after polyphonic ring tones, so that you can sell it (including the brand equity) to one of the network operators the moment this becomes hot on a worldwide scale. Time to invest in a return ticket to Tokyo? In the few short months since our May coverage of LG’s handset with an imbedded Qiblah indicator, several companies have joined LG in spotlighting technology specifically targeted to the world’s Muslim population. Malaysian mobile service provider Maxis has actually been providing a host of “meaningful and relevant” Islamic-themed content and services to its subscribers since 2001. Their pay-per-download offerings include nasyid (religious songs), spiritual guides, quotes from the Koran, Ramadan fasting schedules, screensavers, picture messages, and WAP-based access to prayer times, many of which they showcased at the Infocomtech Convention in Brunei in mid-May. In July, Dubai ‘s IlkoneTel launched a Korean-made USD 500 mobile handset called the Ilkone i800. In addition to a Qiblah indicator, the phone comes loaded with the entire Koran, 2 calendars (Hijri & Gregorian), azan (the Islamic vocal call to prayer) and more. IlkoneTel sought and received certification of the handset by a leading center of Islamic scholarship; it was released in Beirut in early August 2004 and is slated for wider availability by the end of the year. And finally, Malay e-tailer TravellingMuslim.com‘s products include an Automatic Muslim Prayers Watch, which calculates prayer times for up to the next 100 years based on city codes entered (USD 22).

Opportunities

It’s a global world, and the cell phone is not only more ubiquitous than ever, it’s also rapidly becoming the number one device for consumers to express and identify themselves. So expect dedicated, customised services, content and designs for handhelds and mobile that reflect every persuasion, religion, gender, belief, age group, country, region, interest, and so on. The Islamic Tech examples above would do well in many countries outside the Middle East and Islamic Asia: between 12 and 16 million muslims alone live in Europe. But if you’re in the business of content, cellular networks, or advertising, you may also just use this input to get inspired to finally give every audience segment and niche (or even better, micro niche) the respect and relevance they crave! Springwise believes the internet will remain the harbinger of value innovation for years to come. Take start-up Who Lives Near You from Singapore; a Friendster-esque creation of two Singaporeans looking to revive the kampong spirit i.e. the tight-knit and much-missed community feel of traditional villages. WhoLivesNearYou.com’s homepage in July 2004 started posing questions like ‘ever seen a neighbor that you have always wanted to get to know but didn’t have the courage to talk to?’ and ‘want to get to know people working or studying in the same area as you so you can share a car?’ The response from Singaporean surfers so far has been very promising! How does it work? WhoLivesNearYou.com Postal code-based registration allows users to chat or arrange live meets with people in their immediate neighborhood. Neighbors are categorized by their proximity – in the same block, within a one-block radius, and within a 15-minute walk. The site had 4,000 registrations within two days of its early July launch and currently has more than 50,000 subscribers, most between the ages of 18 and 30. (Source: Straits Times.) Where will the money come from? The service is free now, but it isn’t hard to see how Who Lives Near You could eventually charge for membership. The real beauty of this new business concept is of course the opportunity to sell more-local-than-thou advertising space – local being the holy grail for advertisers right now, from the Googles, Ebays and Yahoos to the Yellow Pages and the Match.coms of this world (just think about the online dating opportunities for this one!!)

Opportunities

Globalization created a thirst for the new and the exotic, while also fueling local pride and nostalgia. And that’s not just a baby boomer thing — look to younger demos too, and methods of servicing unique micro-regional needs. The ‘WhoLivesNearYou’ concept would work in any major city. It’s easy to set up, and fun too. And as Ebay just bought 25% of Craig’s List, why would Springwise not be surprised if they or Google (sitting on a pile of post-IPO dough, not to mention their Orkut service) would be happy to guzzle up WhoLivesNearYou-me-toos all around the globe? May we suggest you get started on your own WhoLivesNearYou in Stockholm, Sydney, Sao Paulo, or Seattle NOW!? The much-discussed documentary flick “Supersize Me” demonstrates in (rather horrifying) detail exactly what a steady diet of fast food will do to the human body, but the big screen isn’t needed to see the scope of the problem: current statistics show over 37% of American kids are overweight, and more than 15% are clinically obese. The opposing issues of serious obesity-related health concerns and the entrenchment of fast food in American culture present a unique problem to parents who want their kids to eat more nutritiously. Sure, McDonald’s is now offering smaller portions, and has added deluxe salads and spring water to the menu, but sometimes a newcomer, unburdened by legacy, can set the new standards. Could it be Ozon, a new kid-centric fast food franchise that’s quick and healthy? “Kids in the know eat at the O”, Ozon’s website proclaims, and from the website and menu items to the store design, it’s clear Ozon has carefully crafted every aspect of the brand in a serious effort to catch the eye (and the business) of kids from toddlerhood to tweens. The restaurants’ aesthetics include funky facades in bright colors, and cool tech elements like flat screen TV’s. The six Ozon mascots are anime characters with kid-trendy hobbies like soccer, karaoke, skateboarding, and karate. Veggies, fruits, lean meats, and fresh breads baked in-house feature prominently in the tasty, creatively presented, affordable food selections. There’s not one single fried item on the entire menu, and Ozon even offers items for customers who have food allergies (like lactose intolerance, common in children and adults). Ozon currently has three outlets in NY and NJ-area malls, and they’re planning expansions in the US and internationally (the first international target is Seoul, Korea). The appeal of Ozon doesn’t end with kids – food franchise studies show the whole family often eats where the kids want to eat, and Ozon’s healthy menu is better than typical fast food for overweight parents, too.

Opportunities

The obesity epidemic is not just a problem for kids in the States: every consumer society now has its share of fast food outlets, and thus ballooning kids, from the UK to China! Restaurateurs, food service providers, franchise entrepreneurs, and food/lifestyle-related marketers should take note – start-up businesses like Ozon and Healthy Bites Grill (which we covered earlier on in our newsletter) are just the tip of the iceberg, and customers are more receptive than ever to the idea of fast-without-the-fat. Go with your gut here, and put turning the fast-food into a healthier, better looking version at the top of your to-do list.