BMW Ringtones

BMW Financial Services wanted to interact with drivers more often than just at the beginning and end of their auto loan or lease. Pulling sounds from a real BMW 3 Series “driving machine,” BMWFS created a website that lets visitors design and download from a library of ringtones, even giving drivers the option to design their own.

The site designer from Partners + Napier describes it as, “… truly deliver(ing) a positive brand experience – every time your phone rings.”

How do drivers find these ringtones? In addition to buzz in BMW forums and social media, the ringtones are delivered to each BMWFS account holder on his or her birthday, far different any crummy canned message or expected discount you might get from other brands on your birthday.

Take a listen to the ringtones here.

Why its hot?
1) Surprise and delight meets long-term usefulness: BMW drivers know the brand for sending surprise and delight swag, but this one also delivers value. Unlike a hand-drawn image of your car series or a discount for your birthday, this is one drivers will likely use for awhile, keeping the brand top-of-mind without being intrusive.

2) Insight: The brand knows its customer (they call them drivers) well. BMW drivers love the sounds of their car (or even the car they aspire to have). BMW knows this and acted on it.

Design will kill marketing, says Ikea’s former design chief

Marcus Engman is leaving Ikea to run a consultancy that convinces companies to spend their marketing budget on what matters: design.

For the past six years, Marcus Engman has successfully made Ikea weird.

As the company’s head of design, he spearheaded artistic collaborations on tropical furniture and L.A.-inspired skateboards to push the reserved Swedish furniture giant out of its minimalist comfort zone. But Engman recently left Ikea to start a company of his own called Skewed Productions, as a partner of the design firm Doberman. Think of Skewed as a hybrid of design studio and ad agency–its goal is to create marketing moments for companies through product design itself. Instead of spending money on ad buys, Engman wants to teach companies to market themselves through their design.

“I want to show there’s an alternative to marketing, which is actually design,” says Engman. “And if you work with design and communications in the right way, that would be the best kind of marketing, without buying media.”

Why this is hot?

Every industry is being disrupted and challenged by new entrants, philosophies, and breakthrough models. Design is making its way into the marketers territory and should be kept on everyone’s radar.

A dog treat that doubles up as a selfie stick

To promote its DentaStix product, Pedigree in New Zealand created SelfieStix – a smartphone clipper which can hold one treat. Dog owners simply have to clip the SelfieStix on their phones and attach a DentaStix to take the perfect selfie with their pup.

To support the SelfieStix clip, they also created a standalone app which, using machine vision technology, recognises dog faces and puts filters on them.

The agency reports that, so far, across social platforms, the project has reached over 2.1 million interactions, 3.5 million engagements and a 24% increase in sales. One quarter of New Zealand’s dog owners redeemed a SelfieSTIX, making acquisition cost 12 times lower than the industry standard.

Why its hot
The DentaStix was, in many markets, perceived as being quite a functional product as opposed to other dog treats on the market. DentaStix was the thing you gave your dog to keep their teeth clean. The brief was to change the perception of DentaStix from being this functional product to something that is equally irresistible for dogs.

Do you even lift?

“Across the board, across all industries, you see about $96 billion in worker compensation costs,” says Benjamin Kanner, CEO and founder of Worklete. “About 64% of those are related to musculoskeletal injuries–your back injuries, your shoulder injuries, your knee injuries.

“If we can teach these folks basic rules for human movement, and say, ‘Yes, there is a better and a worse way to move,’ that’s really how we win. That’s how we help blue-collar, underserved populations stay injury-free so they can work hard all day long and then go home and enjoy their lives outside of work, too.”

Worklete trains workforces to move in better, smarter, and safer ways, whether that’s teaching the proper driving posture when operating a forklift or the best technique for lifting a five-gallon water jug. Today, 20,000 frontline workers use the smartphone app, which runs each employee through 10 two-week training modules. The first week of each module is centered around movement “basics,” with photo- and video-based lessons followed by short quizzes. The total time commitment is about five minutes per week.

The second part of each module involves in-person practice sessions with partners or teams. These trainings are led by “champions,” unofficial leaders on the ground. Champions, typically shift managers, are selected during new client onboarding. For Worklete subscribers, an admin dashboard allows managers to monitor employee progress on training modules on an individual basis, evaluate performance at the city or regional level, and review team rosters, including new hires (marked with red), who might benefit from extra attention.

Why its hot

This is great on multiple levels. Not only does it solve a problem (workforce injuries from heavy lifting/general stress), but it also creates brand evangelists within the companies themselves, keeping employees engaged and using the service. Throw in the cost savings from keeping your employees healthy and it’s a no brainer for any company with a lot of physical labor. I would love to see companies with even less physical stress, where people mainly sit all day, use something like Worklete as well.

JPMorgan built an online bank for millennials, and it should have apps like Acorns and Stash worried

Legacy organizations have been looking for ways to compete with nimble startups disrupting their respective categories. However, the secret sauce for these legacy giants might be in modernizing their product offering by blending traditional services with disruptive feature enhancements. JPMorgan is looking to disrupt the banking industry by building a mobile-first bank aimed at millennials dubbed Finn.

 Finn which is an end-to-end mobile bank, recently rolled out nationwide. In addition to offering bread-and-butter checking and savings account functionality, it also offers services many firms in the personal finance startup space have built their businesses around.

With Finn, users can create specific rules that determine when money will be transferred from checking to savings. One rule, “Work Hard, Save Smarter,” puts aside a set amount of money on pay day. There’s also “the Limit Does Not Exist” which saves a predetermined amount of cash whenever a user spends over a certain amount on a purchase.

That raises the question: what do fintechs do when big banks decide to step on their turf?

Why it’s hot?

It’s not all about the new kid on the block. Industry giants can compete with startups and even pose greater threats to them by transforming their product offering to meet and exceed their targets’ needs.

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Amazon to Buy Online Pharmacy PillPack, Jumping Into the Drug Business

Amazon announced Thursday that it would acquire PillPack, an online pharmacy with a nationwide reach, in a deal that could quickly make the online giant a major player in the drug business.

The deal is precisely the kind of news that the health care industry has been fearing for months, as Amazon hinted that it was interested in expanding its reach to include prescription drugs, a $560 billion business.

One barrier to entry for Amazon had been the bureaucratic hassle of securing pharmacy licenses in each state. But in acquiring PillPack, it is essentially leaping over that hurdle because the company is licensed to ship prescriptions in 50 states.

Anxiety over what Amazon might do in health care has unsettled the industry and has been seen as one factor in a wave of recently proposed mergers, including CVS’s acquisition of Aetna and a union between the health insurer Cigna and Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit manager. Last fall, perhaps in a move to get ahead of Amazon, CVS announced it would offer next-day delivery of prescription drugs and same-day service in some big cities.

The entry of Amazon into the pharmacy business could make it easier for the big pharmacy benefit mangers to persuade the Justice Department that their contemplated mergers with insurance companies will not harm consumers by hindering competition.

PillPack, which started in 2013, is an online pharmacy that distributes its pills in easy-to-use packages designed for consumers with chronic conditions and multiple prescriptions. The company sorts prescriptions by the dose and includes a label with a picture of each pill and notes on how it should be taken. It has long been seen as a potential target for larger businesses looking to expand their reach in online drug sales, including Amazon and Walmart.

While innovative, it is not necessarily a major player in the pharmacy world, bringing in about $100 million in revenue in 2017, according to the company.

Revolve: The Billion-Dollar Clothing Company for Millennial Women

The fashion industry is not for the undisciplined–or the slow-moving. Customers change their preferences seemingly as fast as they can scroll through their Instagram feeds. Case in point: Once-hot brands such as Nasty Gal and American Apparel are worth a fraction of what they once were.

All of which makes the story of Los Angeles-based e-commerce clothing brand Revolve especially noteworthy. Founded in 2003 by Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, the company is reportedly on track to pull in more than $1 billion in sales this year. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Revolve–known for its daring, trendy clothing–may be preparing for an initial public offering late this year. (The company declined to comment on its plans.)

The company scouts for niche designers that can’t be found at Barneys or Macy’s and analyzes how the brands perform on the site. Revolve can tell the designers exactly what customers are looking for, such as more mid-length dresses or a particular shirt color. The company says that designers who are receptive to this data often will see their sales improve.

“Everything the company does stems from data,” says Gerona.

The company’s inventory process is another example. Revolve’s reordering platform automatically pushes out a notification to buyers on a daily basis when an item is selling quickly. A tagging system–which tracks every detail on a piece of clothing from its length to its buttons–allows the team to easily distinguish or collect data on the designer, look, and cut. While the automation helps, humans ultimately step in to make the decisions. “If we take a risk on a trend and can see it doing extremely well, we can qualitatively distinguish how future styles will sell,” she says.

Revolve manufactures and designs 18 of its own brands, a move that helps it stay nimble and ahead of trends. The clothes are manufactured in China and India as well as locally in L.A. Gerona says the company can ask its 40 or so designers to create something around what’s trending and can expect the garments to arrive on its site in weeks. Revolve says it can target exactly what customers want.

“This marrying of data and buyers and the designers has been incredibly successful for the business and it continues to grow exponentially year over year,” she says.

Scroll through Revolve’s Instagram–with its 2.4 million followers–and you’ll see photos of these influencers, clad in the company’s clothing, taking tropical weekend getaways, brunching with friends on Sundays, or attending Coachella. The attraction is not just the clothing but also the aspirational lifestyle that caters to the Millennial audience. “Our customer wants a piece of that lifestyle,” Gerona says.

Why It’s Hot:

Revolve has designed a bullet-proof strategy grounded in the millennial audience. They found a way to build a a data informed fast-fashion company that harnesses the power of influencer marketing. Thus far, it’s been a winning combination.

Source: https://www.inc.com/michelle-cheng/how-revolve-has-built-a-billion-dollar-fashion-company-for-millennial-women.html

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.