From Down Under, a cool candy retail trend is sweetly spreading: earlier, Springwise reported on Sweet and Sticky and Suga Candy Kitchen in Sydney and Melbourne. Now, add Brisbane to the list with Cane & Able, while the Australian founders of Papabubble have set up shop in Amsterdam, Tokyo and Barcelona, taking the concept across the globe.
Papabubble’s sales rose 25 percent last year to EUR 512,000, returning a profit of EUR 135,000 (USD 160,000 / GBP 91,000) (source: EasyJet Inflight Magazine). No wonder the company is planning to open shop in London and Paris in 2006. As they say, “no matter how bad the economy is, people will always buy candy.”
The candy store craze shows that making money from good concepts can be done from just about anywhere on the planet, which makes it so important to spot these concepts on time. Which of course is exactly what Springwise aims to deliver every month. As for the candy stores 21st century style; hundreds of cities remain game. Get going.
Opened in 2004, New Jersey based eMachineShop solidly puts the power of design and manufacturing into the hands of individual creators (formerly known as consumers). eMachineShop is perfect for aspiring craftsmen who want to design anything from a saxophone mouthpiece or a balcony railing, to parts for an experimental airplane. In eMachineShop’s words: “You design and we fabricate the custom parts you need via the web, easily and conveniently.”
The process is straightforward: consumers download free, user-friendly (if not dummy proof) computer-aided design (CAD) software which they use to design their product. Once the drawing is submitted and approved, the customer receives a quote, and after giving the green light, the design is sent to a real machine shop. The product is manufactured and delivered to the customer.
As the software performs many functions normally performed by people, and no valuable time is lost over price negotiations, prices are reasonable. The system is speedy as well, taking around 30 days for the whole process.
Now, in addition to creating digital content such as movies and music tracks, GENERATION C can also take a stab at designing ‘real world’ products. eMachineshop is landing hundreds of orders per month and facing no competition as of yet.
Springwise receives tons of ideas a month, from the super serious to the very frilly. Of course we always have a few personal favorites, and this month, Rio de Janeiro’s Bus Bike tops our list. What must be the word’s first mobile and moving gym, the Bus Bike is a totally modified bus offering indoor bike classes. ‘Passengers’ pay a monthly fee of BRL 145 (USD 64 / EUR 54 / GBP 36) for two classes a week, and BRL 190 (USD 84 / EUR 70 / GBP 47) for three classes a week. On board are an instructor, overseeing 16 bikes, as well as a dressing room, a fridge, and a sound system. The bus is connected to a GPS system to avoid getting caught in traffic jams.
The bus uses fixed stops on three different 45-minute itineraries: one departs from Barra (at 6h, 7h, 8h and 9h), one from Leme (at 12h, 13h, 14h and 15h) and one from Lagoa (at 18h, 19h, 20h and 21h), operating from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays the bus can be rented for special events. Just launched in Rio de Janeiro, Bus Bike expects to roll out service in other major Brazilian cities soon.
The Bus Bike turns a dreaded but necessary activity into great fun: going to the gym and cycling off those extra pounds now IS the ride. The unique selling point? How about the ever changing view of Rio’s beauty, buzz and diversity while working out? Sure beats those TV screens in sterile gyms! We have a hard time coming up with world cities where this concept would not work. And how about an eco version — a bus powered by human energy instead of fossil fuel? 😉
For existing gyms: just the PR value of doing something like this would be priceless; it’s hard to imagine CNN, BBC, AlJazeera or CCTV not wanting to follow you around. Bus Bike offers a wise lesson as well: there is ALWAYS something new on the horizon, you have no excuse to run (or cycle) from global creative destruction.
Spotted by: Paula Rizzo
Let’s face it: from the moment human beings turned into avid consumers (moving from defense and protection to enjoyment as their main goal in life), we’ve been living in an entertainment economy. Which is why it’s quite surprising that it took so long for dedicated experience stores to pop up. It’s starting now, though: witness Portuguese-based A Vida E Bela, which has turned experiences of a lifetime into a flourishing business.
How it works: the gift giver purchases an experience card from A Vida E Bela, which looks like a personalized credit card and can be redeemed for an experience of the gift recipient’s choice, depending on the card’s value. Experiences can be selected from the company’s website or via its call centre, and range from a professional photography session (be a top model for a day) to flying fighter jets over Moscow (top gun for a day).
Experience cards or vouchers can be bought as presents, but also make great promotional giveaways and incentives. A Vida E Bela is distributing pre-paid versions by the thousands daily, through incentive programs and nationwide promotions with partners like BP. Proving that the experience business is booming, the company is expanding to Spain and Brazil in 2006, and will even have its own TV show in Portugal.
Meanwhile, in the US, Signature Days and Experience Wish are vying for the rapidly growing USD 200 million experience gifts market. Chicago-based Signature Days offers service similar to that of A Vida E Bela, enabling experiences such as trapeze lessons or (in the self-improvement category) hypnosis sessions.
Californian Experience Wish caters specifically to women, and sells a combination of experiences and products. From a Marc Jacobs’ knitted sweater to a day of flower arranging with top floral designer Rebecca Cole. Packages are priced from USD 420 (EUR 350 / GBP 230) for the ‘Petite Wish’, to USD 10,000 for the ‘Ultimate Wish’.
For more international inspiration, see Total Experience in Australia and Red Letter Days in the UK.
Credit card companies were actually among the first organizations to catch on to this fast growing industry; Diners’ Club recently launched Ultimate Experiences, allowing customers to spend membership points on such experiences as being a rodeo clown for a day, while American Express started up an auction site where Blue Card holders can bid on experiences like meeting Sting backstage.
With consumers continuously befuddled by the sheer overload of mass goods, desperately on the look out for riveting and unique experiences, this is a perfect business idea, whether developed as an urban gift outlet or as a well-designed website.
Experience stores offer the opportunity to become an aggregator and intermediary in an ever-growing industry (the market for gift giving is USD 250 billion a year in the US alone). Millions of niche providers of unique experiences eagerly await the moment you’ll bundle and promote their services to experienced, experience seeking consumers! A no brainer.
Springwise is about new business ideas, not about advertising ideas, but the following venture turns advertising into, well, a cool new business idea! SailsVision has developed a patented printing technique that will enable sponsors and advertisers to use yachts and catamarans as floating outdoor media. Think gigantic 25 meter, eight-floor building style photographic ads, like the ones you now see on scaffolding around the world, but now on yachts, vying for the attention of beach goers or party crowds at the 59th Cannes Film Festival, the America’s Cup, or the Volvo Ocean Race Rotterdam.
SailsVision just got started, and is in talks with various interested parties. Always a good moment to get involved, whether you’re a willing franchisee, advertiser or agency. And may we humbly suggest that someone start a business intermediating between advertisers and owners of yachts (big and small) to add a healthy dose of minipreneurism to this business? Should be a good summer next year 😉
As our sister company TRENDWATCHING.COM‘s SACHET MARKETING trend shows, less can be more. So, after reporting on everything from breath strips to sachet shampoo, we were not completely surprised by Dutch SoapUnltd‘s Laundry Leafz and Pure Soap Leafz, even though they do have a first in this industry. Soap Leafz consist of sheets of pure soap (available in 6 swanky colors and 4 fragrances), while Laundry Leafz come in a compact case filled with leaves of detergent that dissolve instantly in warm water. Convenient for use in teeny tiny washing basins, while traveling etc.
Prices? When bought in bulk, a compact case holding 50 leaves of pure soap or 10 Laundry Leafz costs EUR 1.50 (USD 1.80 / GBP 1.00), while a compact card, which fits 15 Pure Soap Leafz or 6 Laundry Leafz, is EUR 1.
SoapUnltd has already nailed clients in the travel industry, personal care industry and even clothing manufacturers. What’s more: they can customize any of their packages with company logos and messages, pegging the service as “it will keep your name to ‘hand’ for days and weeks.” Talk about leaving lasting impressions.
Consumers who live on the go, who travel often, who want to cut through the clutter, who believe less is more, will no doubt snap up these laundry and soap leaves. Are you going to snap THEM up, inking a deal with SoapUnltd? Or even better, will you come up with the next big thing in miniaturization (think portability or sex-appeal or usability or variation)? From the Nano to coffee pods to soap strips; small IS the new big!
Previously, we reported on art sold in discount supermarkets and art popping out of vending machines. This month we bring you artists, designers and minipreneurs who no longer need publicists or advertising, but would rather score themselves hot retail space, renting it by the shelf.
In Hamburg, Germany, consumers can score authentic works of art at miniature prices from over forty national and international artists who rent a shelf at Yokozuna, a 15 square meter high-in-demand retail hotspot. For a mere EUR 5 per month, young artists, designers and hobby enthusiasts can exhibit and sell their work, with a third of the retail price going to Yokozuna. Hot items currently on sale are a milk carton radio at a reasonable EUR 10.34, a computer key etched with ‘panic’ priced at EUR 3.45, and a house fly magnet for EUR 4.
In New York, young designers are lining up for a space in EMERGE*nyc. Open since August, this 3,500 square ft space houses 26 independent stalls, or mini-boutiques. Here, up and coming designers run their stalls, interact with customers and sell their collections of clothes, bags, and other accessories. Available on a month to month basis, the spaces, sized from 50 to 150 square ft, go for USD 1,400 to USD 2,500 a month. Alternatively, merchants can rent a simple counter space for USD 450 (EUR 375 / GBP 250). With such high demand for a space in this bustling part of downtown New York, owners of EMERGE*nyc do some heavy curating, carefully selecting designers that fit the profile and aesthetic of the entire space.
In San Francisco, a similar service, though less costly, is offered by the Residents Apparel Gallery, a boutique/gallery/co-op, where Bay Area clothing and accessory designers rent their own rack and display their biography in a gallery-like space. R.A.G. currently showcases 40+ designers and rotates in a few new designers monthly. Designers pay a modest fee per month (USD 30-50), and keep up to 70% of profits.
In a world of millions of new minipreneurs and a swelling GENERATION C, shelf space, big or small, could well turn out to be the new currency. In the offline world, renting just a tiny part of a retail store like Yokozuna is a pretty cool business idea, while in the online world, the concept of many-stores-in-a-store, in which merchants do their own online upkeep, is a success story waiting to happen. What’s really new here? Think curator meets shopkeeper meets real estate agent, all in one go. Unlike eBay, which is mainly about enabling listings, or traditional galleries, where the curator gets to decide everything and content is pretty static, the Yokozunas, R.A.G.s and Emerges of this world are offering a glimpse of new distribution channels for new content. It’s a win-win: consumers get direct access to truly original goods, services and experiences, while designers can just get started: no contracts, utility bills or advertising strategies necessary.
Dutch bank the Postbank is offering customized ATM cards. Customers can upload a photo, edit it in the paskamer (fitting room) and receive their personalized, working bank card within six days.
Soft launch for now: no advertising and lots of blog coverage. For a limited time only, the cards are free; they’ll be EUR 9,75 after the trial period. Creating a “My Postbank Card” automatically enters the cardholder into a contest. The winning card not only bags its creator a trip to New York, but will also be used in national billboards promoting the service.
Allowing consumers to flaunt their adorable infant, prize-winning hamster or best holiday snapshot — in short, appealing to their gravanity, this should be an instant hit.
Update | December 2005
A month later, over 100,000 Postbank customers in The Netherlands have ordered their own customized cards. Are you letting your customers get personal and creative?