The Marketing Innovations Episode
This episode takes a look at the most recent - and interesting - marketing innovations from around the world.
One of the most profitable categories in the world of marketing… is pets.
The pet supply market is huge, and growing every day.
The number of dogs in the U.S., for example, exceeds the human population of the U.K.
There are over 80 million dogs and close to 100 million cats in North America. And those numbers don't include the 126 million pet rabbits, hamsters, birds and tropical fish.
Money spent on pet supplies has gone from $17 billion in 1994 to over $58 billion in 2014. That includes everything from pet food, toys and medication to grooming merchandise.
With that kind of growth comes innovation.
There are now many premium pet foods, organic pet foods and gluten-free pet foods to choose from. There are even pet sports nutrition products.
There are pet sports nutrition products, and products for pets with special dietary needs, allergies, and even sexual issues.
Yes, there is a Viagra-type pill for pets.
If your hamster isn't looking particularly happy - in that special way – there's a pill for that.
Apparently, hamsters, guinea pigs and even rabbits sometimes get the blues when they can't perform in the bedroom, so to speak.
Some small animal experts say hamsters, in particular, can be neglected by their mates, maybe they feel unattractive, and sexually frustrated.
The new pills, marketed under the brand name Feralmone, promise to straighten out that problem.
Owners are instructed to simply grind the pills up and sprinkle them into the pet's food. Then let the romance begin.
Welcome to an episode about marketing innovations.
Every day, new products and services are developed, and marketed to the world.
Some of them are kooky, some seem way ahead of their time, and others are so smart, you wonder why someone hasn't thought of them already.
From wearable technology to fashion, to food, to pets, the innovations are simply… unbelievable.
One of the big trends arriving in our lives these days is wearable technology.
Apple, for example, has recently developed a watch that performs many of the functions of your computer or smartphone.
And now Toshiba has released DiGiT, its first wearable glove technology.
The gloves contain multiple features, not unlike a smartphone. But instead of reaching for your phone, you simple make gestures with your fingers.
Want to talk on the phone? Just hold your hand up to your head, with your thumb at your ear, and your little finger at your mouth – once the universal hand-sign for a "telephone" – and make a call. Using voice recognition, you can now ask your glove to "call home."
Want to listen to music?
Just put your fingers in your ears, and tell the gloves what song you want to hear.
Want to take a photo? Just hold your forefinger in front of you, smile, and squeeze your other fingers quickly to your palm.
A commercial from Toshiba began with the line, "He who has technology at his fingertips, holds the world in his hands…"
Just when we thought smartphones were the future, gestures and fingers are the new new.
But wearable technology isn't just about hands.
Twitter has just announced its latest entry into the category.
It's called a "Twitter Helmet."
Made with an impact-resistant, olephobic-treated glass, the Twitter helmet is a high-resolution wearable device. It lets users tweet with a simple "pecking" head motion - while leaving their hands free.
This custom aviary interface will be available later this year at a cost of $139.99 retail.
The world of fashion has given us several innovative products and marketing campaigns recently.
American Eagle Outfitters, the clothing retailer that operates over 1,000 stores around the world, has introduced a new division.
American Eagle has opened American Beagle – clothing for dogs.
To achieve this line, American Eagle had to recalibrate its thinking.
The American Beagle dog clothes match the owner's American Eagle clothes.
Patterned puff jackets, plaid collars, and colourful leashes and even sunglasses…
Contemporary fashions for dogs that match their owners.
The world of fashion often surprises me.
I'll see a new trend that I can't believe exists, yet there always seems to be a market for it.
I remember being in New York with one of my daughters once, and she spotted a woman with a bizarre purse that looked like it was made completely of ostrich feathers.
We both shook our heads and kept shopping.
A little while later, we walked into a store of a designer my daughter loves, and there on the shelf was the feather purse.
My daughter's eyes bounced open. She said she had no idea the purse was created by one of her favourite fashion designers.
Then she looked at me and said, "Dad, now I want it."
The power of a brand. Two minutes before, we both laughed at the purse. Two minutes later, my daughter wants to buy it.
Well, I saw a fashion innovation recently that made me shake my head again.
It was from Hunter Boots. One of their classic designs are tall, calf-high rubber boots. The most popular style comes in Hunter green, and they have an almost equestrian look to them. Like a very expensive riding boot.
They are mostly worn by women who have never been near a horse. It's just a cool country style worn by women who live in the city.
But, the Hunter Boot I was looking at had a new feature.
It was open-toed.
Yes, an open-toed pair of tall rubber boots.
I can't imagine anyone wanting to own a pair.
And my only fear is that my daughter will see it.
There are always new products in the food and beverage category.
Over the pond in the U.K., Dominos Pizza came up with a new idea.
Edible Pizza Boxes.
Called the "Edibox," it looks just like a regular pizza box, complete with a Dominos logo on it, except it's made of dough.
So when you're finished eating the pizza, you can nibble on the box.
As Dominos said, it's a world first in snacking innovation. Research told the company that the crust is the favourite part of a pizza, and the majority of Dominos devotees crave extra crust once they've finished their pizza.
The Edibox wasn't easy to develop, as pizza dough is tricky to handle, but the team at Dominos UK figured out a solution. And - you can see a photo of it on our website.
As Dominos says, it's not only tasty, it's an eco-friendly, waste-free dining experience.
Many times, brands will see an opportunity to create a niche product.
Sometimes it's an undeserved part of the market, other times it's an opportunity that can generate sizable returns.
Rosetta Stone is a language-learning software system. Students can learn any of 30+ languages in the comfort of their own homes, at their own speed.
Recently, Rosetta Stone came out with an unexpected language:
Aimed at die-hard Star Trek fans, the software teaches students conversational Klingon, explains Klingon nuances like inflected prefixes and situational suffixes, the software gives feedback via speech recognition technology and offers live conversation sessions with fluent Klingon speakers.
Rossetta Stone even hired actor Michael Dorn, who played Klingon Starfleet Commander Worf to star in their commercial.
If you've ever been to – or seen – Star Trek conventions, you know how rabid the fans are.
And Rosetta Stone found a niche they could own.
A few weeks ago, we talked about the impact of the sharing economy on the world of marketing.
And one of the top sharing sites around the world today is AirBnB.
It began as a couch and spare room sharing site, and has grown to include homes, castles, and even treehouses – and the online company now has an estimated market value of $10 billion dollars.
But now AirBnB has expanded again - to include the rental of office desks.
The new service is called AIRBrB – which stands for Air Be-Right-Back.
If you have an office desk, and you know you won't be at it for short periods of time, you can now rent that desk out to people who only need a desk for short periods of time.
Unlike other AIRBnB locations that rent by the night, AIRBrB rents by the hour.
When looking for a desk to rent, you simply tap your AIRBrB app, look for available desks in your area, and enter your request:
Once you've found an available desk, you go to the company, check in at reception, then just sit at the AirBrB desk and do your work - even though that desk is in the middle of a busy company. If your allotted time runs out and the owner comes back, you can quickly go to the app, find another desk in the area, and do it all over again.
You might even make a few new friends along the way.
Simple, easy, and as close as your smartphone.
And yet another aspect of the world falls to the sharing economy.
One of the most innovative companies in the world is Virgin, headed by the charismatic Richard Branson.
Virgin has disrupted many different industries, and has, at various times, branched out to cinemas, colas, radio stations, record labels, record stores, rail transportation, space travel, and of course, airlines.
Recently, Virgin America announced a partnership with Nest.
Nest is a home automation company. Started by Tony Fadell, an ex-Apple team leader who helped develop the iPod and iPhone, Fadell's new company creates beautiful technology to control a home – like thermostats that learn your routines, smoke and CO alarms that send you alerts when you're away, and discreet home cameras that stream HD video of your home to your computer, phone or tablet.
Recently, Virgin CEO Branson teamed up with Nest CEO Fadell to unveil a new feature for Virgin America.
The Total Temperature Control.
Now passengers on Virgin America flights will be able to control their own climate - at their own seat - with new Nest thermostats.
There are a wide range of pre-set climates to choose from.
Say you want to feel like you're sitting in a tropical paradise, even though you're probably flying to Newark, New Jersey in December. You could just select "Cancoun Afternoon" on the thermostat, and a ray of sunshine emits from your in-seat TV screen, while you're enveloped in tropical warmth.
Using highly accurate sensors and a digitally confined climate radius, the temperature changes don't affect your seatmates.
Or if you run a little hot, for example, you could just select "Chicago Polar Vortex" and enjoy a cool breeze through your hair.
Hey, hey. It's a whole new world – at 35,000 feet.
The digital world accelerates at speeds that are mind boggling.
And the ingenuity is remarkable. The Nest thermostats we just mentioned light up when you approach them. They learn your daily routines, so it knows when you usually get up, and turns the temperature up. It knows when you usually go to bed, automatically turning the temp down.
Or take Wi-Fi. In this day and age, we expect to be able to go anywhere and upload photos or download videos. But mobile signals don't always live up to our demands.
There are large swaths of geography that still have no Internet availability.
I was reading recently that companies are considering using drones. Instead of building expensive infrastructure, drones can stay in the air for days, and beam Wi-Fi down to the ground at a very minimal cost.
But listen to this idea:
Samsung is developing a next-generation micro-router.
Incredibly small and feather light, it's remarkably powerful for its tiny size.
With this micro-router, Samsung is experimenting with building an astounding innovative network.
It's called Fli-Fy.
What many of the world's cities and towns have in common are huge populations of pigeons.
So Samsung has developed a way to harness the presence of the birds by attaching a micro-router to their bodies.
Because the micro-routers are so tiny, the pigeons hardly know they're there.
So as the pigeons fly, super-fast Wi-Fi – or FLI-FI – is delivered effortlessly to people who had no previous access.
But here's the amazing part.
Pigeons are natural conductors of electricity, because they have hollow bones.
So they can re-charge the routers when they sit on wires.
And when pigeons congregate, as they often do, they offer another benefit…
If the pilot project is successful, Samsung says it could go a long way to solving the problem of Internet accessibility everywhere.
Samsung FLI-FY. Possibly coming to a pigeon near you.
One of the most innovative techniques in marketing these days has to do with the sense of smell.
As we've discussed before, your sense of smell is different from other senses. It is processed first by the limbic system – the part of the brain responsible for perceptions, memories and emotions. Unlike the other senses which are filtered by the analytical parts of the brain.
Advertising Age magazine recently stated that customers will spend 40% more time in a retail space scented with a specific fragrance than they will in an odour-neutral area.
And as we mentioned before in our "Sense of Persuasion" episode, shoppers were willing to pay over $10 more for a pair of shoes that were presented in a lightly-scented room than they were in an odour-free room.
That's why many retail companies have developed their own scents to enhance a mood, trigger desire or relax their customers so they'll linger. When you walk into an Abercrombie & Fitch store, for example, you walk into an energy-filled environment with an exciting scent in the air.
If you've ever been to the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, you'll notice a subtle, yet pleasing flower-like scent. That's because slot machine receipts have increased by as much as 53% in scented areas of casinos.
Some grocery stores have the smell of freshly-cut grass gently wafting around their dairy coolers, because it makes you think of green pastures and happy cows.
So it shouldn't surprise you to hear that corporations are experimenting with a much broader use of scent.
Enter… Brand Drops.
Developed in Seattle, via a partnership between a multinational advertising agency and the scientific community, Brand Drops is being called the world's first branded aromatic rain.
First, rain clouds are tracked on weather radar.
Then planes are dispatched to seed the clouds with a patented aromatic agent, using a chemical process to inject customized scents into water molecules.
And when that rain starts to fall in that particular area, pedestrians are immersed in that brand's unique scent, reminding them of a brand, triggering positive associations, and maybe influencing them to seek out the store to shop.
The creators of Brand Drops call the resulting effect, "Cognitive Scent Consumption."
The CEO of Brand Drops says the process is environmentally safe, and the applications are endless.
And here's the big pitch:
As the company's marketing video says, they're not just rain drops, they're Brand Drops.
Rain as marketing.
There's a reason why all of the innovations I've discussed today are so unbelievable.
Because none of them really exist.
They were all April Fool's Day ads.
Yup - every year at this time, many brands create elaborate April Fool's ads as part of their annual marketing strategy. It's feel-good advertising, designed to surprise and delight. Every advertiser wants to connect with their customers, make them smile, and hopefully, people will transfer those feelings to the brand.
And maybe the ads will get a little press along the way.
Some of the fake ads are ingenious – like the Toshiba wearable glove technology, or the edible Dominos Pizza box.
Others seem so plausible – like the climate control button on Virgin planes and the open-toed Hunter boots.
Then there are the so-crazy-it-must-be-true marketing ideas – like Brand Drops, Wi-Fi pigeons and even Rosetta Stone Klingon.
Oh, and I said that none of these really exist, right? That's not completely true.
When American Eagle created American Beagle as an April Fool's ad, the response was so positive, that American Beagle now exists.
You can walk down the street sporting the same American Eagle puffer jacket as your dog.
But that's the power of marketing. There might even be profit lurking in an April Fool's Day ad…
…when you're under the influence.
We couldn't show you the ads earlier in the page for fear of exposing our surprise.
So, here they are. Marketing innovations so amazing, they're unreal. Shhh, No spoilers please.
American Beagle Outfitters:
Rosetta Stone's Conversational Klingon:
Virgin America's collaboration with Nest: