Three great examples underlining that retail formats and shopping habits continue to blend, turning everything into easy-to-ogle, easy-to-customize, and easy-to-buy:
At The T-Shirt Deli in Chicago, unadorned shirts are selected from a deli counter and then adorned with garnishings of personalized lettering, delivering on a “T-shirts made fresh daily” tag line. The starting price for t-shirts ranges from USD 15 (EUR 11.50 / GBP 7.90) for a basic T-shirt to USD 22 for a long-sleeve t-shirt and USD 26 for a long-sleeve hoodie. T-shirts are available for women, men, babies, kids, and dogs. Letters are USD 1 each: customers can use custom letters or their own design. Preaching flexibility and transparency, it may not come as a surprise that The T-Shirt Deli sources its T-shirts from sweatshop-free American Apparel.
For those of you interested in introducing this concept in your own home town/country: The T-shirt Deli website states that they currently don’t have opportunities for franchising (they are however open to proposals, which they may reply to if they find them intriguing). In Springwise speak, that means you may as well go it alone: the world is a big place, and the demand for cool T-shirts and/or unusual retail experiences is infinite, especially with the Fast Fashion trend still picking up speed!
Sometimes, the world of social software can be a bit too…virtual. It’s easy to network, easy to connect, but equally easy to give out one’s details without ever really following up. To the rescue comes UK-based PleasureCards: personal contact cards that allow their owner to share personal contact information stored online. The colorful cards, roughly half the size of a standard business card, feature whatever personal information you the user wishes to add, and a PEP (PleasureCard PIN). This number allows recipients to view a cardholder’s online profile, identifying themselves in the process and automatically becoming part of the card holder’s contacts section.
The online profile can include (offline) contact details, photos, wishlists, links to websites, and more. To cater to multiple-identity loving MASTERS OF THE YOUNIVERSE, customers can have up to five different PEPs, on different cards, allowing them to vary the level of access they grant to someone they hand a card to, whether business, friendship or dating is involved. In their own words: “PleasureCards works because, unlike the sometimes meaningless “pass me on” nature of viral messaging – people give out their cards to express who they are to people who are truly interested – a genuine connection is made.”
PleasureCards are sold in packs of 100 satin-coated paper cards (prices from EUR 30 / GBP 20 / USD 40), including the online profile service, and are delivered globally. Cards can be customized by choosing from thousands of designs. Adding a splash of MASSCLUSIVITY and CUSTOMER-MADE, PleasureCards are by invitation only, and professional and aspiring designers are encouraged to display and sell card designs in the online galleries. Currently in its pilot phase and relying on ‘word of card’, PleasureCards has signed up 2,000 members in 25 countries.
Burgeoning social software meets the physical world: PleasureCards are an interesting way to fill the gap between offline encounters and continuing the conversation online: if we were Friendster, or Orkut, or Flickr, or Match.com we would study and/or partner with this company straight away.
The Amouage perfume brand is available in 26 countries worldwide and is reputed to be the most valuable perfume in the world. No wonder then that when the fragrance company recently decided to open a new store, it turned out to be nothing short of spectacular. Borrowing elements from regular bars, Amouage’s ‘perfume bar’ in Muscat City Center, Oman, offers inverted perfume bottles, bar-style seating, and knowledgeable perfume baristas who decant 25 ml perfume pegs for customers.
Extra DORMANDISE twist: the perfumes on sample and sale are all discontinued Amouage brands, like Ubbar or Silver Crystal, which adds to the exclusivity, discovery and experience. The bar is already a runaway success, which is why a second branch will open soon, in Sabco Centre at Qurum. No word on international expansion, but that has never stopped any of the eager entrepreneurs (that would be YOU) who read this newsletter! Oh, and besides perfume bars and wine-jukeboxes (see below), which other retail-theater concepts can you come up with to boost your brand experience?
Not exactly hot news: discerning consumers want healthy, tasty, and increasingly also organic produce from trusted sources, if not their own backyard. Pretty hot news: companies that deliver on this desire, either by making it easy for consumers to grow and produce their own food, or by adding a dose of convenience to the fast growing organic movement. Here are six spottings begging to be copied in whatever (urban) environment you may find yourself in:
• UK based Omlet brings hens to consumers’ gardens and thus fresh eggs to their table every morning. The company has designed a hen kit for the town or suburban garden, aimed at first time chicken owners, families and eco-savvy individuals. How it works? Omlet supplies organically reared and fully vaccinated female chickens (no early morning cock-a-doodle-doo), at a cost of GBP 365 (USD 700 / EUR 550). The two-hen service comes complete with an ‘Eglu’, an eye-catching, 21st century version of the henhouse. Springwise foresees over-easy market opportunities from Stockholm gardens to Manhattan roof top terraces.
• Urban wine is now a reality thanks to Crushpad. A licensed winery in the heart of San Francisco, the 9,000 square feet facility caters to aspiring winemakers, wine retailers and restaurateurs, assisting them in creating as little as 25 cases of ultra-premium, branded yet affordable wines (in their own words: ‘end-to-end winemaking from grapes to bottle’). Crushpad provides the equipment, winemaking talent, and fruit sourced from well known California vineyards. For wine fanatics who don’t live in the Bay Area, Crushpad’s extensive online courses will do the job. But since nothing beats real-world tastings, may we suggest that urban entrepreneurs near the world’s great vineyards, from Melbourne to Cape Town to Bordeaux, pay attention and take a cue from Crushpad? And how about a Crushpad for cheese, to name just one high-interest edible delight?
Last month’s edition of our other newsletter TRENDWATCHING.COM introduced the TRYVERTISING trend: how consumers are increasingly becoming familiar with new products by actually trying them out in a relevant setting, for free or for a small fee. These real world product placements (think everything from strategically placed samples to a Mini Cooper that comes with your hotel room) work particularly well in environments of ‘voluntarily captive audiences’ like waiting areas, business lounges, and work spaces. So if hotels, airports, offices, even cruise ships (easyCruise anyone?) are serving as try-before-you-buy alternatives to advertising, who’s going to intermediate between venues and manufacturers, brokering placements and audiences?
One interesting example we spotted in this still pretty uncrowded field is Vacation Connection, peddling an organized approach to in-hut, in-room product placement of samples from Carnival Cruise Lines to Las Vegas and South Beach hotels, all targeted at vacationers. In their own words: “Give your target audience your product sample when they are most likely to try it, and associate unforgettable memories to the experience. Your target consumer is greeted with your product sample on the first day of their vacation. At a time when they are without their ‘stuff’ from home and will have up to 7 days to form a new habit with your brand.”
Carnival Cruise is already a client, as are Absolut, Colgate-Palmolive, Kraft Foods and Unilever Group. Planes, trains and rental cars to follow? Springwise sees massive opportunities for those who dare to facilitate and speed up the move from advertising to tryvertising.
If you live in Europe, you must have heard of easyCruise by now, yet another low fare concept from the people that already brought cost-conscious Europeans easyJet, easyCar, easyHotel and more. With the launch of the 289-foot-long easyCruiseOne on May 6th in Nice, France, budget travelers will soon be able to invade the playgrounds of the rich and famous on one-week itineraries that allow them to embark and depart at any port along the route, provided they stay onboard for at least two nights. Targeting passengers in their 20s, 30s and 40s who have not previously considered travel on a conventional cruise, the easyCruiseOne itinerary covers St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Imperia (for San Remo), Genoa and Portofino. The ship’s six decks include a Caffe Ritazza, an American-style Sports Bar, and a Tapas Bar with a live DJ on some evenings. There will also be an outdoor six-person jacuzzi on deck. All food and beverage will be sold on an a la carte basis.
Cabins are available in three categories, with 72 twins, 6 quads and 4 suites. For passengers who want their cabin cleaned or bedding and towels changed during the course of their cruise, there will be an optional housekeeping charge of USD 20 (GBP 10 / EUR 15) payable on board. If easyCruise proves successful, another 4-6 ships may be added to the fleet by 2010, cruising not only the Mediterranean but possibly Caribbean and Australian waters as well.
While easyCruise’s tag line “CRUISE INTO THE PLAYGROUND OF THE RICH & FAMOUS” initially conjures up fantastic images of horrified jet setters taking to their Wallies to escape the very orange easyCruiseOne, the company’s vision could play out well. It capitalizes on changes in travel patterns and a predicted growth in the cruise market of 6 new million new customers in the next few years. The fact that up to 80% of all Northern American and European households have never taken a cruise, doesn’t hurt either.
On a grander scale, easyCruise could change the dynamics of a somewhat conservative industry. After all, boats may have gotten better and more luxurious, but the product itself has shown remarkably little innovation, and remains geared toward a run-of-the-mill audience, sustaining a fairly un-cool image of what could be a really fun or hip way to spend a part or all of one’s holiday. Naturally, easyGroup’s low fare airline division easyJet will also benefit from flying aspiring cruise passengers to Mediterranean ports. With tourists going on short breaks non-stop and year-round, adding a few nights on a cruise ship should appeal. Other cruise companies to follow? And on a grander scale: which industry will succumb to the low fare revolution next?
As we’re rapidly moving towards Dan Pink‘s right-side brain, design-loving, aesthetics-driven economy, an abundance of opportunities has opened up for smart designers. One sector ripe for the picking: computers. Afterall, Apple is pretty much the only company that currently steals the limelight with beautifully designed devices, not facing any serious competition from other established players.
Is the new Tulip E-Go a taste of changes to come? The Dutch computer company claims to have developed the first personalized lifestyle computer, a designer notebook with interchangeable covers, aimed at female users. The E-Go will launch in Europe in October 2005, and availability in North America and Asia is scheduled for January 2006.
Sticking with the UBER PREMIUM trend, a handful of extremely exclusive E-Go’s will guarantee sufficient buzz: for a cool EUR 283,000 (USD 378,900 / GBP 197,000), customers can pick up a Tulip E-Go Diamond, studded with hundreds of diamonds, and a pair of tulip logos that each house a massive square-cut ruby.
Let’s not forget; no product or industry is immune to the power of cutting edge design, from laptops to dish soap bottles. We know you know, but apparently it still takes guts to go for beauty and aesthetics. Take a close and honest look at your own portfolio…