Emirates moves toward windowless planes, starts with first-class seats

Emirates president Tim Clark has been talking about virtual windows in an interview with the BBC.

And no, this isn’t just some wacky concept outlined in a recently granted patent. The first virtual windows are already here, in the first-class cabin of Emirates’ newest Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Clark said external fiber-optic cameras stream images to the virtual windows, apparently offering high-quality images that are actually superior to what you see when looking through a regular aircraft window.

The Emirates president said there was “absolutely no reason” why we can’t have passenger planes fully kitted out with virtual windows in the near future. Windowless cabins would give the aircraft more structural integrity while making it lighter, allowing for faster flights and improved fuel efficiency, Clark said.

But as the BBC points out, the design could prompt safety concerns. For example, in an emergency situation like a fire, cabin crew need to be able to see outside the aircraft to assess the situation before initiating evacuation procedures. If the plane’s power systems fail, that could result in the displays shutting down, leaving crew and passengers stuck inside a truly windowless, and possibly dark, aircraft.

When asked about this apparent obstacle, the European Aviation Safety Agency said it didn’t see “any specific challenge that could not be overcome” with the use of virtual windows inside passenger planes.

While some first-class Emirates passengers already have the chance to try out the virtual windows, it’s likely to be a while before an entirely windowless aircraft — one looking a lot like a cargo plane from the outside — takes off with hundreds of passengers inside.

The technology brings to mind an idea put forward by Airbus several years ago for windowless cockpits. The aircraft manufacturer suggested in a patent — one which you may or may not wish to describe as “wacky” — that it would be beneficial to move the cockpit to the back of the plane. It said that having it at the front reduces the aircraft’s aerodynamic qualities because of the complex shape and structure required to house it. The heaviness of the reinforced windows also adds to the aircraft’s overall weight, reducing its fuel efficiency.

As with Emirates’ design, on-board cameras would feed real-time video and pre-stored data to displays in the cockpit, providing pilots with all the visual information they need.

Source: Digital Trends

Why It’s Hot

While possibly more pleasant for travelers AND efficient for air travel, could this also be an additional engagement opportunity for brands? Or an educational opportunity for travels?

Sleepiest ad in the world

Ikea has created a sensuous print ad to help give people a great night’s sleep. The Sömnig (meaning ‘sleepy’) ad with Ikea as part of the brand’s 2018 bedroom campaign after discovering that nine out of 10 people in the UAE don’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. To aid people’s sleep, the agency created a soporific print ad that was designed to be placed on a nightstand.

The ad is printed with ink made from lavender (which is associated with relaxation), has a portal which gives off more lavender scent, and it also has speaker that plays white noise (a sound that cancels distracting noises and induces sleep).

The advert was placed in Good magazine (the April 2018 issue). It could be torn out of the magazine and it had adjustable tabs to help it stand upright. The ad was also fitted with a USB port, to charge the battery when it ran out.

Why its hot?

Turned a print ad into a problem solving object that people want to keep and use in their home.

Don’t stir. Spin

400 million stir sticks are used every day in America alone.
Stirring sticks come in all shapes and sizes, with the wooden ones being much easier to recycle than the plastic alternatives. But even so, we typically use these sticks exactly once before throwing them away and adding to the growing pile of waste us humans create every year. Scott Amron decided stirring sticks needed replacing, and so he developed Stircle.

Stircle is a device meant to be embedded into a table like those found at all major coffee chains, although you could just as easily have one at home if you have an aversion to spoons. Once it is hooked up to a power source the Stircle can stir any drink for you. Simply place your cup on the circular plate and watch it spin. Stircle spins in both directions, forcing the liquid inside to change direction with enough force for the contents to mix thoroughly. As the video above demonstrates, it really does stir drinks well.

At $345, the Stircle certainly isn’t cheap, but well within reach for an independent coffee shop or chain. Running costs are estimated at $0.10 per 50,000 cups stirred, so that’s negligible. Offering consumers a way to stir their freshly-made beverage without creating any waste could/should more than make up for the initial cost in the long run.

Why its hot?
Apart from the obvious good for environment and financial benefits, it gives coffee shops a new way to market themselves

Source: New Atlas and TechCrunch

gesture control comes to amazon drones…

Amazon has been testing drones for 30 minute or less deliveries for a couple of years now. We’ve seen their patents for other drone-related ideas, but the latest is one describing drones that would respond to both gestures and commands. In effect, they’re trying to make the drones more than sentient technological vessels, and more human-friendly, so if the drone is headed toward the wrong spot you could wave your hands to indicate its error, or tell it where to set your item down for final delivery. As described in the source article:

Depending on a person’s gestures — a welcoming thumbs-up, shouting or frantic arm waving — the drone can adjust its behavior, according to the patent. As described in the patent, the machine could release the package it’s carrying, change its flight path to avoid crashing, ask humans a question or abort the delivery.

Among several illustrations in the design, a person is shown outside a home, flapping his arms in what Amazon describes as an “unwelcoming manner,” to showcase an example of someone shooing away a drone flying overhead. A voice bubble comes out of the man’s mouth, depicting possible voice commands to the incoming machine.

“The human recipient and/or the other humans can communicate with the vehicle using human gestures to aid the vehicle along its path to the delivery location,” Amazon’s patent states.”

Why it’s hot:

This adds a new layer to the basic idea of small aerial robots dropping items you order out of the air. The more they can humanize the robots, the more they mimic actually deliverymen. And given the feedback we have seen on social about Amazon’s own human delivery service, this could be a major improvement.

[Source]

Successful Brands Focus on Users Not Buyers

According to an article from Harvard Business Review:

“What makes a brand successful in the digital age? A joint study by SAP, Siegel+Gale, and Shift Thinking suggests that digital brands don’t just do things differently; they also think differently. Where traditional brands focus on positioning their brands in the minds of their customers, digital brands focus on positioning their brands in the lives of their customers. Furthermore, they engage customers more as users than as buyers, shifting their investments from pre-purchase promotion and sales to post-purchase renewal and advocacy.”

The article also discusses the difference between legacy/traditional brands (customer-focused) and newcomer/digital branders (user-focused) and found a fundamental difference: legacy brands are brands that people “look up to” while digital brands “make people’s lives easier.” Examples included:

  •  Hilton/Marriott vs. Airbnb
  • Gillette vs. Dollar Shave Club
  • American Express/Visa vs. Venmo

Highly recommend reading the article as it goes on to examine the mindset shift that new, digital-savvy brands have been able to make in treating customers as users vs. buyers, and the success they’ve seen.

Why It’s Hot

At the highest level, looking at customers as continual users vs. one-time buyers is a core principle to be considering when designing the customer experience around your brand.

To be fair, there are certain industries that lend it self better to usage than others. For the pharmaceutical industry, this is a crucial mindset change that we need to help our clients understand if the industry is to evolve.

By thinking of physicians as people that use a specific drug to treat patients with a specific condition and patients that use the products to help treat illnesses, we can focus our efforts on optimization each instance of use around these treatments to be a positive one. This is crucial to the initial trial and ultimate habit formation that drives adoption and retention.

Posted in CX

Ikea has put on a twist on customer research

In November 2017, IKEA created an innovative survey about co-living spaces. This study explores what the future of co-living will look like in 2030 when there are 1.2 billion more people on the planet with 70% living in urban areas with limited spaces and resources. IKEA’s future living research lab Space10 launched One Shared House 2030 developed by interaction designer Irene Pereya of Anton & Irene. This is an interactive take on customer research.

  • It’s an experiment: there’s an intentional pioneering spirit in the survey
  • Empathetic for its subjects: the research was inspired by a documentary Pereyra did about her own co-living experience from when she was a child; giving authenticity to the survey and creating a deep sense of empathy
  • Beauty: the research is visually beautiful with bold geometric shapes and intense colors; it’s inviting and makes you want to participate
  • Playful: the research is positioned as playful research that is designed more like an app vs. survey with music and pop-up windows
  • Setting it in the future: the survey doesn’t act you to imagine the future – it sets the whole survey in the future; it tells you it’s 2030 and the world is more crowded – allowing people to get into the right mindset

Now, the results are in! More than 7,000 people from 147 countries answered the survey. People of all ages, and are in any life situation from all countries on average:

  • Would prefer couples, single women and single men in their community
  • Are happier with access to multiple homes they could easily move between
  • Prefer members to share equal ownership of the house
  • Only want the common areas to come furnished and furnish their own space themselves
  • Want house members from different walks of life
  • Think the two biggest pros of living with others is having more ways to socialize and splitting costs and getting more bang for your buck
  • Most are interested in living in shared houses between 4 and 10 people

Why it’s hot?

The Survey: is engineered as a digital experience. Everything from the empathetic positioning to the sonic // visual design pulls you in. IKEA demonstrates that CX is something that should trickle across all aspects of your business – even market research.

The Results: show that no co-living company has really figured out the right balance between an economically feasible scale and a scale that favors human connections. It shows that there is still ripe opportunity to re-think the co-living space.

Sources:

  • https://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/think-customer-research-is-boring-here-is-how-ikea-made-it-fun-utterly-inviting.html
  • https://www.fastcodesign.com/90161409/what-todays co-living-spaces-get-wrong
  • http://onesharedhouse.com/

The Next-Gen Clothing Brand: Everlane

Since launching the company in 2011 as a direct-to-consumer clothing brand committed to “radical transparency,” Preysman and his team have been strategically expanding its scope. Defying the reign of fast-fashion heavyweights like Zara and H&M, Everlane has used its website and social media handles to offer customers a glimpse into its factories around the world, give voice to the workers making its garments, and share a price breakdown of each product it sells. Shoppers can see that Everlane’s original $15 American-made tee costs $6.50 to produce—and that the company’s markup is significantly less than the $45 that traditional designer brands tack on.

Everlane’s forthright messaging, coupled with its spare, fashion-forward aesthetic, has turned customers into emissaries—and inspired a slew of upstart fashion brands, such as shoemaker M.Gemi and technical clothier Aday. “Everlane provided a model for how to communicate that our quality is what we say it is,” says Scott Gabrielson, founder of accessories startup Oliver Cabell. Preysman is also pioneering new approaches to retailing, making use of steady product launches, waiting lists, and limited inventory to both predict and drive demand. “Everlane created a sense of urgency and exclusivity [around its products],” says Marshal Cohen, an analyst with market research firm NPD.

Everlane uses its waiting lists, along with real-time data and customer feedback, to make inventory decisions. When in doubt, it stocks less. And when items sell out—which happens a lot—Everlane can restock quickly, thanks to its close relationships with its more than two dozen factories worldwide. All of this generates the specter of scarcity, which Preysman leverages: Customers sign up for early access to new clothes and to be notified when popular ones are back. Last year, when Everlane’s new ballet-inspired heels sold out within three days, 28,000 people added their names to the waiting list. This steady communication with customers is so important to Preysman that, until a few weeks ago, he was involved in drafting every single email.

To avoid the appearance of discounting, Preysman developed a Choose What You Pay model for overstocked items, where customers can pick up, say, a dress shirt for one of three different prices. The website explains that the lowest one lets Everlane recoup its costs, while paying more allows it to invest in future product development. Twelve percent of shoppers opt to pay more.

Why it’s hot?

(1) Transparency, transparency, transparency!

Everlane is the definition of championing transparency – and it pays off! They clearly articulate their brand values of ethics, price and design that differentiate them from other competitors. They market their brand values first, products second.

(2) Agile inventory management  

Everlane is also smart about how to leverage inventory data. They strategically stock less and use wait lists, early access data and customer feedback to determine if/when they should stock more resulting in a strong pricing model and reduction of wasted inventory.

Sources:

  • https://www.fastcompany.com/40525607/how-everlane-is-building-the-next-gen-clothing-brand
  • https://www.everlane.com/

Alibaba gives the elderly some luvin’

Last month, Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba launched an easier-to-use version of its Taobao e-commerce app built with senior citizens in mind. Although the app has a simpler interface, elders can access the same features – such as personalized shopping suggestions and live-streamed content – as those with the original app. It also makes it easier for seniors to register an account and browse products, delivering an improved user experience, from personalized recommendations to after-sales service.

It also includes a new peer-to-peer chat function, allowing family members to share products and consult or help one another in one click, as well as a new “pay-for-me” option to pay for another’s purchases.

Taobao also added a feature that lets seniors get in touch with their families with the touch of a button. Over 30 million Taobao users are 50 or older.

We often hear about tech-driven companies clamoring to cater to millennials and Gen Z-ers. The stereotypes dictate that younger consumers are ‘digital natives’, radically different to older ‘digital immigrant’ counterparts. But that’s not really the case. Consider one recent telling sign of the times: the number of senior Airbnb hosts in Asia is rising faster than all other age groups. Older consumers are increasingly exhibiting the same behaviors (digital and otherwise) and have the same expectations.

  • Alibaba made a simple tweak to an existing service and in doing so gained access to a huge aging population – one we often alienate
  • This also opens up the market for sellers that cater to a very large subset people that would otherwise be hard to reach via brick and mortar
  • Modifying digital commerce services for the elderly makes a ton of sense considering their limited access to transportation and less opportunity for mobility
  • The feed is curated for this demographic and it seems the Asian community dabbles in sexy underwear and flame retardant pants

Source: Alibaba

What your smart devices are telling companies about you

A Gizmodo reporter set up a smart house using countless gadgets to connect as many appliances to the internet as possible. Her mission was to find out what it was like living in a house where everything was only a voice command away.

At the same time, her colleague set up access to her home’s router, receiving all of the information each device was sending to her internet service provider.

What they discovered is two-fold. The first is that a shocking amount of information is sent, unencrypted, from smart devices. This includes shows watched on Hulu, the images of suggested Netflix content, whether your motion-activated camera has been triggered recently, and whether your smart lightbulbs have come on or been adjusted.

The second is that setting up this type of house on one’s own is a burdensome task. The author buys two separate coffee makers before realizing that a third would have been better suited to her setup. Countless notifications from robot vacuums, coffee makers, security cameras, and more made her anxiety skyrocket, and that was before she even realized how much that data was being shared.

Why it’s hot

It’s exciting to imagine a world where everything in your home works in perfect harmony and effortlessly takes care of your domestic needs, but the reality is that most people only have a couple of smart devices in their homes and don’t take full advantage of the suite of possibilities. When we design smart interactions, we should be mindful of the mental and emotional toll that things like notifications, alerts, alarms, and pings will have on users.

I thought the house would take care of me but instead everything in it now had the power to ask me to do things. Ultimately, I’m not going to warn you against making everything in your home smart because of the privacy risks, although there are quite a few. I’m going to warn you against a smart home because living in it is annoying as hell.

https://gizmodo.com/the-house-that-spied-on-me-1822429852

The Future of Access

Latch, a competitor in the smart-lock space, revealed today that they will be the lock maker of choice for Airbnb’s newest housing experiment Niido. Latch is a patent lock system that would allow e-commerce orders to be delivered directly into a home – while offering access credentials to any service.

Latch is only sold to managers running apartments and condos, for the simple fact that those managers buy in bulk and also face more complex problems related to building access. Users can use a key pad, phone or key card to get in to a building. The app allows for residents and managers to send out access codes to whoever they like that expire however long they designate. The delivery of hardware and service is the appeal for Niido – building managers can centrally manage all the Airbnb guest and create an accurate activity log. Every tenant using the service is charged $5 – as the lock itself is only an aspect of Latch’s business model.

What is Niido?

Niido is a new residential design concept specifically for home sharing. Tenants will sign annual leases and will be permitted to home share individual rooms or their entire units through Airbnb for up to 180 nights per year. Tenants who choose to share their homes will be part of Airbnb’s Friendly Buildings Program, in which hosts and landlords share revenues generated from home sharing.

Why It’s Hot

In a sea of smart locks, Latch stood out by targeting real estate developers rather than the average consumer – helping property managers navigate the operational burden with ease. Latch is demonstrating their value as more than a hardware or software company, and instead positioning the brand as a service that offers security, seamless access and simple management to consumers and customers alike. We’re moving towards a future where your user profile replaces your key.

Sources

  • https://www.fastcodesign.com/90160614/the-future-of-airbnb-and-amazon-might-hinge-on-a-smart-lock
  • https://press.atairbnb.com/airbnb-niido-to-partner-to-support-home-sharing-in-apartments/
  • http://fortune.com/2017/12/19/airbnb-niido-branded-apartments-investment/

Reply to customer reviews to drive better ratings

Overview: There’s been an upward trend in brand managers responding to customer reviews–both good and bad ones–for the last few years, particularly in the hospitality industry. Roughly one-third of all reviews receive a response, and nearly half of all hotels respond to reviews. Two professors set out to learn if by responding to reviews, customers would leave better ratings.

Methodology: The research team looked at tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor, which uses a review scale from 1 (terrible) to 5 (excellent). The vast majority of brands only respond to reviews on TripAdvisor, leaving Expedia reviews alone. The research team looked at Expedia as the control group and TripAdvisor as the variable group in an effort to establish a causal link between responses and improved ratings.

Results: They found that when hotels start responding they receive 12% more reviews and their ratings increase, on average, by 0.12 stars. While these gains may seem modest, TripAdvisor rounds average ratings to the nearest half star: A hotel with a rating of 4.26 stars will be rounded up to a 4.5, while a hotel with 4.24 stars will be rounded down to a 4. Therefore, even small changes can have a significant impact on consumers’ perceptions. They also found that when customers see management responds to reviews, they’re less likely to leave lengthy negative reviews.

Implications: Respond to customer reviews. We’re operating in the Age of the Customer, and they expect their comments–particularly the negative ones–to receive attention. While responses can clearly help decrease negative comments and increase brand ratings, reviews also give us a wealth of information about moments that matter, pain points, etc. that exist in customers’ journeys.

Further Reading: https://hbr.org/2018/02/study-replying-to-customer-reviews-results-in-better-ratings

Square Cash explains bitcoin in a way I can finally understand

Although the idea of a blockchain is simple enough – a ledger that securely tracks a list of events or records – the idea of cryptocurrency is slightly more complex. Where does it come from? Why does it have value? How does someone buy it? What do you do with it once you have it?

Thankfully, Square’s Cash understands this struggle and has launched an explainer on Bitcoin with language that even a child could understand. Called “My First Bitcoin and the Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto”, the page introduces brief explanations of cryptocurrency and the blockchain with illustrations of adorable creatures and wobbly parallax interactions. It answers all of our burning questions, and sticks the landing by encouraging readers to buy their first slice of cryptocurrency using Cash.

Why it’s hot

Unlike lengthy explainers that dive too deep into the nitty gritty of bitcoin mining, blockchain technologies, and secure storage methods, this colorful and friendly page covers a truly introductory view of cryptocurrency. From here, a user could chose to dive deeper into any one area, use Cash to jump into purchasing with both feet, or just feel confident nodding knowingly when Bitcoin comes up in conversation.

Learn more at Cash

Posted in CX

No Food Left Behind

An average restaurant might waste 100,000 pounds of food a year. Of the 50 billion pounds wasted en masse by restaurants across the U.S., only 1.4% is donated. Most edible food ends up in dumpsters. Any attempts to donate food might have involved multiple calls and complicated coordination, taking time that restaurant workers and short-staffed shelters/food banks didn’t have.

To solve the problem, a collaboration between DoorDash and Feeding America was born.

Using MealConnect, a Feeding America app, restaurants can now snap a photo of extra food, and the platform finds a nearby food bank, shelter, or other nonprofits that need it. Then DoorDash uses its delivery algorithm to find the most efficient way to transport it. DoorDash drivers who donate their time then come to collect and deliver the food.

 

Why It’s Hot:

-It’s not only a solution for the shelters, but also for the restaurant who are able to clear space as well as limit their waste

-It’s a great example of tech-for-good vs for profit

-It’s a plug and play solution that runs itself (more or less)

Source: FastCo.

Car Search Site Offers REAL People As Concierge

For those of you in search of a new car, like I recently was, you’ll know how much of a pain it can be.  First you have to know what features you want, figure out your budget, etc.  Then, you have to actually go to the dealership and test drive, spend hours haggling, etc.

There’s a new website out there called Copilot Search.  It will help you along the entire car buying process, offering a discovery engine (if you don’t know what car you want, but know what FEATURES you want, it will scape everything available and provide you with recommendations).  Next to that, they have the same tools as dealerships do, so you can truly identify what you should be paying.  What’s most amazing about this site though, is the one on one free concierge service.  When you sign up, there is a real person that can help you through the car buying experience and make your most educated choice.  In a world where chat bots are everywhere, this is taking a step back to truly servicing a customer and their needs, when they’re preparing to spend tens of thousands of dollars.

Why It’s Hot

Sometimes I think businesses get too focused on technology and forget about how to truly service a customer.  This site has strong service (I actually didn’t think my “copilot” was real… that’s how rampant chat bots are- but then I had an actual conversation with him on the phone!) and offers something that has been lacking in the car buying space.  Before I discovered it, I had a spreadsheet (yes, I know I’m anal retentive!) of the features I wanted and the vehicles I was thinking of.  I actually didn’t even know the car I ended up buying existed until I found Copilot and used their Discovery Engine (you don’t know what you don’t know).  As people servicing brands, we always have to keep in mind that service has to be #1- if the technology that exists now creates a lackluster experience, it may not be worth it in the long run.

Note: I’m not getting paid to support this site!

GM brings Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks Ordering to Cars

General Motors is launching a new in-vehicle app named Marketplace that will allow drivers to pay for goods such as gasoline or coffee and schedule service through their infotainment systems.

The automaker expects the free technology, which it is calling an industry first, to quickly expand from about a dozen offerings, such as ordering Dunkin’ Donuts or reserving a table at TGI Fridays, to other services such as Starbucks orders and dealership services, including oil changes.

“We are using it also to improve how our customers interact with the vehicle and the dealership network,” says Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of global connected customer experience. He emphasized the connections are secure, and Marketplace is not meant to be an in-vehicle digital billboard.

In-vehicle marketplaces and app-based services have been discussed for years. Offerings such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirror smartphone apps onto the vehicle’s infotainment screens but do not complete financial transactions.

Some services such as ordering Dunkin’ Donuts for pick up require drivers to have an account or profile with the store. Marketplace uses recent and favorite foods and settings from the profiles to customize the offerings for the driver. Deals and membership rewards are currently available from gas stations. Paying for gasoline is expected to be available early next year.

Dealership services such as scheduling oil changes or other maintenance are expected to be added as early as next year. Vehicles will have the capability to alert drivers of needed services and schedule them, if the driver would like.

Other current partners with Marketplace include Wingstop, Shell, ExxonMobil, Priceline.com, Parkopedia, Applebee’s, IHOP and Delivery.com. Starbucks is expected to be added in early 2018.

According to Consumer Reports, though, “The bad news is that in its current state, there’s not much reward for drivers to actually use it—though the automaker promises that will change soon as it adds more options and retail partners….Ultimately, instead of opening up an e-commerce gateway, GM Marketplace acts more like a middleman with limited options, at least in its current state.”

Source: AdAge

Why It’s Hot:
Automotive innovation is not only about self-driving technology, but about retail and the new consumer expectations brands need to meet. The opportunity for e-commerce to be at your fingertips even while driving may open up more geo-fenced, trackable marketing opportunities.

New, cutting-edge technology lets you… call a website on your phone.

Ok, so maybe it is not on the forefront of new technology, but artist Marc Horowitz’s new website makes wonderful use of existing and familiar technology to bring the experience of a guided museum tour into a new light.

A conceptual artist, Horowitz felt his work needed additional context to be fully appreciated, but did not want to go the traditional route of adding lots of text or creating a video for his portfolio. Instead, created an experience that is part audio tour, part podcast, and part interactive website.

At first glance, HAWRAF’s design looks like a pretty standard portfolio. There are tabs at the top, with images below that represent 32 projects dating all the way back to 2001. But the designers, inspired by the audio tours you’ve probably experienced at a museum or gallery, added another element of interaction. In big block text at the top of the website, it says, “Call 1-833-MAR-CIVE.” When you do, you can hear the artist himself tell you stories about each project by simply dialing the reference number below each image.

As an added bonus, users can choose to read the descriptions rather than dial in, making the experience not only unique, but also accessible for the hearing-impaired.

Why it’s hot

As brands and agencies scramble to adopt bleeding edge technology and embrace the latest trends, it’s worth remembering that existing tools and technology can still be harnessed in interesting and new ways. Fitting the experience to the needs of the brand and the user will always result in a more useful and lasting experience than something ill-suited but fashionable

Learn more at 1833marcive.com or on fastcodesign.com

Brands Put Pressure on Agencies to Develop Alexa Capabilities

“As the Bezos behemoth continues along its unstoppable, disruptive path, brands are increasingly requesting Amazon-tailored services. Agencies have been ramping up their capabilities on the platform and even launching dedicated practices as a response.”

“Many marketers now view Amazon as a legitimate competitor to Facebook and Google, according to 22squared vp, director of media planning Brandy Everhart. ‘What they bring to the table is an extensive data set that you can’t get anywhere else,’ she said. ‘We’ve seen a lot of successful campaigns that are focused on driving conversions on the Amazon platform.’

Even brands that don’t sell on Amazon are asking questions due to the power of its search reach and the benefits of its data sets. ‘Clients want me to increase their engagement in every possible way,’ said Matt Bijarchi, founder and CEO of digital brand studio Blend. ‘We’ve learned ecommerce is also a brand-building opportunity.'”

Article here

Why It’s Hot

This is hot for 2 key reasons: data and customer engagement.

As VRT devices like Alexa and Google home start to infiltrate the home and the office, it will be increasingly important to understand what information users are asking these devices for, and what content people are consumers – making it a perfect addition to our SENSE offering.

For pharma specifically, Alexa and similar devices offer opportunities to support and engage both patients and HCPs in office and at home. Building relevant skills for these audience could help:

  • support physician discovery and work as a valuable sales resource
  • Provide guidance for patients when self-administering at home and track adherence
  • Help patients track symptom improvement
  • Improve infusion experiences at home and in-office with original and curated content tailored to patient’s interests/needs

Podcasts: Trust, Immersion & Convenience

Podcasts are far from new. However, they provide opportunities to reach and engage a very active group of consumers in an environment that they trust, for long periods of time during moments that are convenient for them.

Source

Why It’s Hot

Trust content is hard to come by these days. Additionally, consumers increasingly expect information that’s tailored to their needs and interests. Podcasts provide opportunities to engage these consumers around complicated topics for long periods of time when it’s convenient for them.

For pharma companies looking to engage and educate HCPs around new treatment options or opportunities in digital health, this could provide opportunities for content creation and/or partnership. The same can be said for B2B and technology.

It’s not a marathon. It’s performance art

BMW partnered with running apps to give runners in the Shanghai marathon an artwork based on their performance data. It created digital artworks that turned runners’ pace and speed data into colourful cylinders and waves.

BMW partnered with running apps such as CoDoon, JoyRun and Rejoice, as well as a data artist Joshua Davis, to collect runners’ data and then present it as an artwork. Runners could interact with the digital artwork, by rotating it, to reveal more information. The imagery could also be shared on social media.

Why its hot:
Applied BMW’s positioning as the Ultimate Performance Machine to running. It doesn’t feel too forced or out of place.

Applied the insight from car customers: just like car owners are curious about their car’s performance, runners have the same desire to know about their performance

What BMW said:
‘BMW aspires to earn a place in running culture while staying authentic to their brand. So we asked ourselves, if cars and running have almost nothing in common how can BMW add value to the running experience? The simple truth was performance. BMW has a rich heritage using technology to enhance performance in everything they do and we thought, what if they could do it for runners? This was leap off point our creatives took and ran with’

Snapchat’s Redesign Aims to Pull Up the Nosedive

Snap got destroyed by Wall Street today after a horrible Q3 earnings where revenue and user growth fell well under expectations. So to get things going in the right direction, CEO Evan Spiegel says Snapchat will make some bold moves not everyone will like. Specifically, it’s redesigning the app to be easier for older people to use, and it’s using data to power an algorithmically sorted Stories feed instead of the strictly reverse-chronological one it uses now.

In the prepared remarks for today’s earnings call, Spiegel wrote about these changes:

Redesign

  • “One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback. As a result, we are currently redesigning our application to make it easier to use. There is a strong likelihood that the redesign of our application will be disruptive to our business in the short term, and we don’t yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application. We’re willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial longterm benefits to our business.”

Algorithmically personalized Stories feed

  • We are developing a new solution that provides each of our 178 million Daily Active Users with their own Stories experience, leveraging the tremendous benefits of machine learning without compromising the editorial integrity of the Stories platform that we have worked so hard to build. As part of our efforts around Search and Maps, we now index millions of Stories every day, meaning we have the long tail of content necessary to provide a truly personal experience. We hope that showing the right Stories to the right audience will help grow engagement and monetization for our partners and for Snapchat.”
  • During the earnings call, Spiegel discussed how he saw Facebook as wisely evolving the content-sharing format with its personalized feed of friends, but now sees another opportunity for progress. He explained how Facebook’s feed encourages people to add more friends so it has more posts to draw from, but Spiegel believes that people share less personal content when exposed to a larger audience. But if Snapchat integrates premium video and search-based content, it could fill gaps in friend content without incentivizing you to over-friend. To a similar end, Snap plans to make Snap Map more accessible, as right now it’s invisibly buried behind a pinch gesture on the home screen.

Why It’s Hot

  • As Snapchat improves design for “the olds”, will the younger generation abandon ship?
  • Anytime a social media platform drops the term “redesign” the eyes begin to roll. This could either make Snapchat friendly for all or it could be the death rattle.

Source

So Much Baggage

It’s widely understood that when it comes to Mexicans & travel, your luggage is always at the seams. Someone always wants you to bring them something and you always want to bring a whole lot of trinkets you don’t need. This is mandatory ☝.

Due to this unspoken rule, one of the most frustrating pain points is going over the weight limit.

So when Samsonite released their new lightweight luggage product line, they headed straight to Mexico. The appeal of the luggage for this market would be that the less your luggage weights, the more unnecessary crap you can lug with you.

They drove awareness to the luggage by introducing much-needed utility into the market – an unconventional luggage tag that acted as a scale to help people avoid overweight shock. The giant branded tags attached to luggage handles. If it held when lifted, then luggage was under the 50lb. If it broke, you were in trouble.

 

Why Its Hot:

– The brand chose to support their claims with actions and utility, not just with messaging

– The tag kept the brand top of mind, especially during the most critical trigger moment of consideration…when people go over the weight limit.

– It didn’t require an uber elegant tech solution, just some elegant thinking

Source

Hi Alexa. I need you to drop off my prescription.

Buzz, such as reports this week and last, around the increasing number of states in which Amazon has acquired wholesale pharmacy licenses, currently at 12, as well as forays into redefining other aspects of the healthcare experience, has been increasing.

The challenge is that these licenses lack an additional component, a Verified Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD) Certification which is authorized by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and officially permits companies to distribute pharmaceuticals. The current level of certification limits them instead only to distribution of medical-surgical equipment, devices, and other healthcare related equipment which they currently already offer.

Why It’s Hot

Current estimates state that only 10% of scripts are filed via Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs) leaving plenty of room for expansion in that market with the vast majority of scripts being filled by local pharmacies.

The biggest potential benefit Amazon can bring is its core excellence in product distribution. Just as applying their infrastructure to Whole Foods offers people anywhere the opportunity to engage with the Whole foods brand, prescription drug distribution offers the opportunity for patients to experience the customer experience they expect with Amazon.

Even the biggest advantage the local pharmacy can offer, its ability to give the patient face to face access to their pharmacist, has the potential to be challenged. Considering Amazon’s significant investment in voice-activated tech, Alexa, or her virtual co-worker name TBD, can surely provide quicker, friendlier service with the ability to access a catalog of knowledge larger than any human pharmacist can manage.

It will also force significant portions of a US $440 billion market to rethink how it serves its customers. After all, why shouldn’t the process of having your Advair script refilled be just as simple as clicking your Bounty paper towel or Scott toilet paper Amazon Dash Button?

Any way you slice it, Amazon should be able to win in the pharmaceutical distribution experience.

Internal Innovation Meets Telemedicine

As telemedicine becomes more and more prevalent in our healthcare, Warby Parker just took a very traditional appointment from the exam room; to your living room. The eye exam.

Warby Parker, whose “try before you buy” model of online glasses shopping has already disrupted the traditional eyewear retail store found that many of their users were needing more of an “Rx check” rather than a comprehensive eye exam.

This prescription confirmation, as WB calculates it is nearly a $5B market. So they decided to launch their own startup to capture the demand.  during the 2017 Fast Company Innovation Festival co-CEO Dave Gilboa stated

“We realized that we could use tech to make the experience newer, better, and faster,”

The new Perscitipn Check app leverages a desktop plus mobile experience to check the “health” of your current prescription. After the user completes a few tests the results are compared to a database. If the results are within spec, the user pays $40 for a licensed dr to confirm and write a new prescription. If out of spec, the app instructs the user to go for a traditional comprehensive eye exam. The $40 fee is over a 50% discount from a traditional eye exam.

 

Why It’s Hot

Warby Parker has once again launched innovation in a stagnate market space. Not only did they see that there was an experience gap for their customers, but also decided to take the risks and empower innovation from within. Companies who are humble enough to understand their “on-top” status won’t last forever often employee their best and brightest to create their own competition. This way they get the best new innovation without the delays of typical corporate sponsorship, and they see how the market might compete before a real competitor does.

The flying supermarket

German airline Lufthansa has partnered with an online supermarket so passengers can shop for groceries on their flight home and avoid returning to an empty fridge.

Passengers on long-haul flights can use Lufthansa’s in-flight internet, FlyNet, to access Rewe’s online delivery service and shop for groceries. Passengers can then select a delivery date and the food will arrive at their home (provided the address is in Germany) in a cool box. They are also planning to trial this in the US next year

The trial began on 1 October and will run until 1 December. For the first six weeks of the trial, the service will be available on long-haul flights to Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. In the second six weeks, the service will be available on long-haul flights that have those three cities as the final destination.

Why it’s hot
From plane to home at just the right moment. Not only they deliver to your home but you can choose the exact time you want it to be delivered to your address.

The idea came from a customer survey where people said they want duty free products to b delivered home

Source: FutureTravelExperience.com

Increased Use of Point of Care Tactics Offer Opportunity For Better In-office Experience

MM&M announced this week that “up to 20% of pharma brands are moving digital media spend to point-of-care tactics” which was grounded in a study fielded by ZS Associates. To a certain extent, this is unsurprising as many forms of digital media such as social and display continue to face increasing scrutiny around the topic of ad fraud.

This will have an impact on two key audiences in healthcare marketing – patients and providers – which if well thought through, should be overwhelmingly positive.

Phreesia Patient Intake Platform

Patients

Platforms such as Phreesia offer patients the opportunity to engage with content as part of the intake process. The biggest challenge here will be placements that are relevant to the specific patient as there is a potential to spend effort on poor placements. Case in point; when I took my son to the pediatrician for his flu shot this year, I was offered the opportunity to “Learn More” about a branded product. The only thing I can recall about the brand is that is had nothing to do with why I was there and wouldn’t be appropriate for my son. Contextual relevance will be critical to success in these moments.

epocrates advertising platform from athenahealth

Providers

HCPs, particularly PCPs, are the target of massive amounts of marketing. Overwhelming is an understatement here. When you consider the necessity of staying abreast of current trends and new therapies, to a certain extent, they need to be exposed to these messages. However, when it’s all said and done, the moment that matters is when the Rx decision is made. The opportunity to be a relevant part of that moment as part of the HCPs workflow in the EHR/EMR offers pharma companies an incredible opportunity. When you consider the number of drugs that don’t have the budget for mass DTC advertising, the HCP really is the decision maker in the therapy of choice.

Why It’s Hot

While contextual relevance for audiences is improving and offers plenty of potential, the real win will be when a brand can own the conversation across the moments in an office visit.

Consider a diabetes patient checking in for a check-up who is offered a message around potential therapy they may be eligible with a DTC ad based upon key factors pulled through from their EHR.

Then, at the end of the appointment, the HCP if offered a targeted message in the EHR with a savings offer the patient can print and take with them.

With brands doubling down on these POC channels, we have the opportunity to take the in-office experience to new levels.

Where Walmart’s Marc Lore Is Trying to One-Up Amazon

Tapping brick-and-mortar network for an edge

The head of ecommerce for Walmart, Marc Lore, acknowledges that the company has work to do to catch up with Amazon in some respects, but that doesn’t mean Amazon has the advantage in every digital matchup.

Lore said Walmart’s more than 1.2 million employees in the US, as well as its more than 4,600 stores located within 10 miles of 90% of the US population, are among its “unique assets.” They give Walmart advantages, he said, such as the ability to offer online ordering for grocery pickup, currently available in 1,000 stores.

The comments came only days after the company announced its partnership with smart-lock startup August Home to test delivering fresh produce straight to customers’ refrigerators.

As Amazon continues to expand into various areas of consumers’ lives and reshapes how people shop via its successful Alexa-powered voice assistants like the Echo devices, Walmart is partnering with Google to offer a feature where consumers can shop for Walmart items via Google Assistant voice shopping. The partnership also involves Walmart integrating its “Easy Reorder” feature to Google Express so Google can recommend a personalized weekly shopping list based on consumers’ prior purchase history.

How this deal came about also highlights the importance of the partnership for Google. In fact, Google was the one that approached Walmart first about the partnership.

“It’s been a perfect partnership,” Lore said. “We are a retailer. We don’t claim to be a tech company. … Google has more tech prowess. We are looking through the lens of how we can be the best merchant in the world. … The two of us are stronger than anyone alone.”

Why it’s hot:

  • Fascinating to see how the power of voice is continuing to be at the forefront of brands’ priorities when it comes to understanding and responding to consumers’ needs
  • The boundaries of cool vs. creepy keep getting pushed (would you be ok with a brand delivering food and restocking your fridge for you when you aren’t home?)

Return Your Amazon Orders at Kohl’s

Kohl’s announced on Tuesday that it will accept Amazon returns at 82 of its locations in and around Los Angeles and Chicago starting next month.

There will even be designated parking spots near entrances designated for people coming to return Amazon goods.

Why it’s Hot?

  • It’s interesting to see Kohl’s employ the ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ mentality’, and not see Amazon as the enemy (i.e. yellow cabs vs. uber)
  • It’ll be fascinating to see whether the additional foot traffic generated by this move will convert to sales (especially right before the holidays)
  • What incentives will Kohl’s activate to drive consumers into the store? Will there be a store credit alternative?
  • With Kohl’s falling sales over the past 6 quarters, is this a play to have Amazon buy them next?
Posted in CX

A bodega to kill all bodegas

 



Called Bodega, this startup installs unmanned pantry boxes in apartments, offices, dorms, and gyms. It promises convenience, but also represents competition for many mom-and-pop stores. Bodega’s logo is a cat, a nod to the popular bodega cat meme.

Bodega sets up five-foot-wide pantry boxes filled with non-perishable items you might pick up at a convenience store. An app will allow you to unlock the box and cameras powered with computer vision will register what you’ve picked up, automatically charging your credit card. The entire process happens without a person actually manning the “store.”

Why it’s hot?
Other than the fact that it has angered all the mom and pop corner bodega lovers

The end of centralized shopping as we know it 

“The vision here is much bigger than the box itself,” McDonald says. “Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you.”

Personalized Bodega Boxes
“By studying their buying behavior, we’re hoping to eventually figure out how the needs of people in one apartment building differ from those in another. We could customize the items in one dorm versus the next.”

The backlash:

Source: Adweek, Fast Company

 

Take Your Storms Scattered, Smothered, Covered and Chunked

With the recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma making landfall, they bring with it the full destructive force of nature. Storms of these type are measured by the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale that goes from category 1 – 5. Not only a measure of wind speed the SSHWS also can indicate the potential damage and flooding an area could see as the hurricane makes landfall.

But how can you measure the aftermath? How can you judge the infrastructure and the locations ability to start to recover? The Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA) employs an untraditional metric in this case; The Waffle House Index.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate stated “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?… That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”

Using a color-coded system, the Waffle House Index is purely based on how operationally ready the restaurant is. Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a sign that damage in an area is low, and that power is on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area as well as unsafe conditions in the surrounding neighborhood.

Waffle House has a history of being the “first food responders” in disaster areas. Their company heritage, as well as the management plan for these events, support efforts to stock up on items and work to be the only open restaurant in town.

In 2001, after Hurricane Irene, Waffle House lost power to 22 restaurants in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. Within days, all but one were back up and running.

Why It’s Hot

When faced with disaster, it’s amazing the impact a hot meal can have. Waffle House spends almost no money on traditional advertising. Instead, they have built a cult-like following by being there when it matters. Whether that’s when you’re pulling an all-nighter, you have 500 more miles left in your trip, or it’s literally the only place in town for a meal. By implementing a customer strategy of “loyalty through service”, they can put people first and reach people in ways that traditional advertising never could.

 

ASMR: Sounds and Videos That Feel Good

ASMR was once a YouTube niche trend, but now it’s appearing in museums and ads, and funding creative empires. KFC was one of the first brands to capitalize on this phenomenon, but others will likely follow suit.

But what is ASMR?

ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a sensation triggered by soft sounds like whispering, hair brushing, or page turning. Not everyone feels ASMR, but those who do describe a tingling sensation in the base of their skull or the back of their neck. The trend emerged on YouTube in 2008 and shows now sign of slowing down. According to Co. Design,

As of [August 2017], there are over 9 million ASMR videos on YouTube. According to Google’s internal data, ASMR grew over 200% in 2015 and continues to grow consistently. […]

 

The term ASMR is pseudo-scientific; there hasn’t been any major academic research yet on this subject. Early adopters of ASMR would compile clips of “tingling triggers”—the rustle of trees in nature documentaries, for example, or the sound of typing in a commercial. Bob Ross, the famously ‘fro’ed host of 1990s instructional painting videos, turned out to be a popular source of ASMR found footage. As the community grew online, people began making their own videos. Since ASMR triggers can be different person to person, DIY videos offer up a spectrum of different scenes and scenarios. Some are made of tightly cropped shots of hands popping bubble wrap, crinkling paper, or scratching rough surfaces. Others feature ASMRtists—mainly women—speaking directly into the camera, usually at a whisper (for some, intimate attention triggers ASMR). Still others feature role play and fantastical settings, giving narrative context to the sounds that provoke ASMR feelings. […]

 

[B]y and large, most people in the ASMR community consider it to be more about relaxation and self-care. Many watch the videos to ease anxiety, insomnia, or depression. Even people who don’t feel the tingling sensation can find the videos therapeutic.

Why it’s hot

ASMR’s is not simply growing in the fringes of the internet. The power that this experience gives artists and others to connect with audiences in a physical and visceral way is bringing it fully into the mainstream. IKEA is one of the brands quick to capitalize on the trend, releasing an ASMR audio version of their traditional catalog.

Read more at Fast Co.