Survival of the Fastest

Innovation in the Age of COVID-19

Innovative businesses whose fundamental models have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic are acting fast to turn disaster into opportunity. See what a few of them are doing here.

One that caught my eye is Cheeky Food Events. For a company focused on running large-scale team-building events focused on cooking, Social Distancing could easily be seen as a complete deal-breaker. Instead of throwing in the…err…apron, Cheeky Foods instead pivoted their business into “delivery-based” catering, in which ingredients are delivered to the homes of each team member, and cooking instructions are delivered via live webstreams.

Maybe less effective as team-building, and not a long-term business model – but an agile way to maintain a revenue stream, while also providing customers with a valuable and enjoyable experience while they’re locked in and looking for new ways of remaining connected and entertained. This is so cool it’s hot.

Why It’s Hot: (Did you not read that last paragraph…?)

From econsultancy.com:

Here are six examples of businesses and brands that are innovating and transforming their product offering during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheeky Food Events

Events, oriented as they are around large gatherings of people in a space, were one of the earliest casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, with major conferences being cancelled and entertainment venues closing their doors even before full lockdowns were implemented in most countries.

For companies whose business is corporate events, the impact was particularly dire, because workplaces also quickly shifted to remote working to minimise the spread of coronavirus. Cheeky Food Events, an Australian company that offers corporate team-building activities oriented around cooking, found itself needing to rethink its business model for a newly-distributed world of work.

The company has since shifted to offering delivery-based catering to remote workforces: ingredients for a two-course gourmet meal and dessert, delivered safely to an employee’s home, that they can cook with the aid of a live webstream of a chef showing how to prepare and cook the meal. This enables organisations to still carry out team bonding and building activities in a distributed work environment, while Cheeky Food Events can still bring in revenue and put the skills of its expert chefs to good use.

Budweiser, Rémy Martin, Carlsberg & Pernod Ricard

When the coronavirus pandemic first began to seriously impact day-to-day life, beginning with China in January, alcohol brands knew that they had a problem: no-one was going out to bars and clubs to buy alcohol any more. Many of them saw sales take a nosedive as a result of the disappearance of late-night leisure activities.

Four alcohol brands decided to adapt by partnering with ecommerce giant JD.com to take clubbing online. Beer brands Budweiser and Carlsberg, cognac brand Rémy Martin, and drinks brand Pernod Ricard joined forces with JD.com and Chinese music label Taihe Music Group to create an online clubbing experience, streamed directly to people’s living rooms and complete with liquor that they could buy from the stream and have delivered to their door.

Each week, JD.com is hosting a three-hour performance by one of the DJs signed to Taihe Music Group, with alcoholic beverages promoted throughout that viewers can buy. JD.com has already reported that one partner brand saw a 70% increase in sales of imported liquor during one livestream, with sales of its whiskey products increasing eightfold compared to the same period the day before. During another show, sales of beer increased by 40% compared to the day before.

Although the lockdown has now begun to lift in China, JD.com has said that it will “continue to leverage live broadcasts of music performance in clubs, live houses and even music festivals for products [sic] marketing, making it a long-term program to enrich customers’ shopping experience.” It has also stated that it will open the experience up to other product categories besides liquor.

While livestreaming, and in particular shoppable livestreaming, was already a major trend in China prior to the lockdown, this nevertheless shows that innovations and trends that develop in response to the coronavirus pandemic may well become part of our everyday lives.

Goat2Meeting

While a slightly more off-the-wall response to the remote working trend, this thoroughly deserves a mention. California-based animal sanctuary Sweet Farm used to bring in part of its funding from in-person visits, which dried up when the coronavirus pandemic and its accompanying shelter-in-place orders hit the United States. To recoup some of that funding, its founders started Goat2Meeting: a service where companies can pay to have a goat, llama or other farm animal make an appearance in their zoom call to liven the monotony.

Goat2Meeting typically charges between $65 and $250 for various virtual interactions with the animals, ranging from a 20-minute virtual tour of the farm for up to six call participants to a 10-minute animal cameo or a bigger virtual tour. Due to “incredible demand”, the farm has even added a bonus ‘VIP tour’ option for a $750 donation.

According to Business Insiderthe service has already had more than 300 requests from businesses, and its animals have made appearances in calls for Fortune 500 companies and tech start-ups. In one virtual happy hour for a law firm, lawyers brought their children along to the video call to meet the animals, in a unique remote working take on “bring your child to work day”.

Remote working got your goat? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. (Image: solomonphotos / Shutterstock.com)

Frame

London fitness studio Frame was forced to close its doors as coronavirus lockdown restrictions tightened, but the business has found ways to get creative with online content instead. It quickly launched Frame Online, an online fitness hub with a £10.99 per month subscription fee that allowed people who were stuck at home to get moving and keep fit with virtual classes.

Frame has also been using social media in creative ways to promote fitness, making six-minute clips of its workout classes available on IGTV and posting funny and relatable workout-related or inspirational content to Instagram. Frame’s Instagram posts promote a slightly more realistic image of working out at home than some fitness influencers (featuring a woman, for example, holding a glass of wine while doing stretches) and push back against so-called “quarantine productivity shaming” by encouraging people to book classes that suit their mood rather than feeling pressured into high-intensity fitness sessions.

How the fitness industry is responding to coronavirus with digital push

Kings Place

Kings Place, London is a cultural hub of live music, art and food that offers a variety of performances from live podcast recordings to classical music, illustrated lectures and jazz. As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, however, the venue was forced to close its doors.

It has since found ways to bring its performances to audiences who are confined indoors and searching for entertainment, launching an online content hub called KPLAYER. The platform features excerpts from past performances and full-length shows streamed live every Wednesday; Kings Place is also using the opportunity to drum up interest for its late 2020 and 2021 programme by featuring past performances from these artists on KPLAYER.

Whole Foods

Demand for online grocery retail is higher than it has ever been as people search for ways to get essentials without leaving the house and putting themselves at unnecessary risk. While many grocery retailers already sell online, they are being forced to get creative in order to keep up with demand.

Organic and health food supermarket chain Whole Foods is reported to have turned some of its physical store locations into ‘dark stores’, a location that only employees can enter to pick up goods and fulfil orders. It’s not alone in doing so: parent company Amazon has also transformed one of its Southern California locations into a dark store, and supermarket Kroger converted one of its Cincinatti-area stores into a collection-only location to meet customer demand for alternative shopping services like click-and-collect.

Water ATM’s in Rural India

How Piramal Sarvajal is using IoT to tackle safe drinking water issue for rural India

“Water is wealth; water is life. Without water, life would not endure, and access to freshwater and sanitation is a basic fundamental right of humans.”

Having said that, the availability of freshwater is still a significant challenge in India, especially in rural areas. According to reports, 25 million people in India lack access to safe drinking water, and rural Indian women waste 700 hours annually collecting water. It is also estimated that by the year 2025, almost more than half of the urban population of India will live in water-stressed areas as this precious commodity is becoming scarce rapidly.

In this context, Piramal Sarvajal is committed to leveraging innovative technology to create easy access to safe drinking water in rural areas. Seeded by the Piramal Foundation in 2008, Sarvajal has been working in the water space to provide clean drinking water in the far-flung rural regions of India.

Even today, three-quarters of India still drink unfiltered water, which, in turn, leads to diarrheal deaths and permanent fluorosis. To change this, Sarvajal founder Anand Shah created a program to achieve low-cost scalable solutions serving “safe water for all.”

Why it’s Hot: (In case you’re not sure if you want to read the loooong case study.) This is a really innovative convergence of technology, data and business model – aligned to solve a pervasive public health challenge, which negatively impacts the lives of millions of people every day. Interesting perspective, as we collectively consider ways in which clients might respond to the current global public health challenge.

A Mission To Provide ‘Water For All’

Water scarcity has been a global issue; however, Piramal Sarvajal believed that the problem is multidimensional, and therefore the solutions had to be locally suited. Additionally, the voluminous nature of water, coupled with its vulnerability to contamination demanded a localised and efficient purification-cum-distribution system. While many well-intentioned NGOs have tried to implement charity-based water delivery solutions, these ventures have not proven financially sustainable over time. And therefore, the need of the hour was to apply business thinking to solve public service delivery problems.

In recent years, decentralised solutions for community-level drinking water installations have achieved significant success in creating safe water access, even in remote rural areas. Serving large enough numbers at affordable prices leads to financial sustainability while creating a local entrepreneurial ecosystem. A market-based, pay-per-use model aims to democratise drinking water access and achieve operational break-even by selling drinking water to the community at affordable prices. Piramal Sarvajal has been at the forefront of developing technologies and business practices in the safe drinking water sector that are designed to ensure sustainable solutions in both rural and urban deployment conditions. Sarvajal created a business model that operates at community levels to provide decentralised drinking water solutions to underserved communities.

Challenges

During its inception, Piramal Sarvajal had their first version of its purification unit, which had no governance-based technology involved, and all the operations were done manually. Since the initiative was bound to be a multi-location affair, distributed operations posed a severe challenge to efficiently and cost-effectively managing the project. Besides, generating sufficient demand meant breaking existing taboos around buying water by educating consumers about water-health linkages was also a challenge. Sarvajal’s team, therefore, innovated a solution that could be customised for the water contamination profile of any location with pioneering remote monitoring technology. It also invested in community awareness activities while tapping into local entrepreneurial drive and resources by adopting a franchise model.

The company used to charge to the franchisee, based on the volume of water purified by our unit. Although there was a mechanical flow meter installed in the unit that used to measure the volume of water purified by our unit, every month, a person had to go to the field to note down the reading from each unit. This process, therefore, used to take about two weeks to complete the round and collect the data. This manual reading process created a delay in the billing cycle. Additionally, they noticed some tampering with water meters at various locations, which indeed is a separate challenge altogether. To resolve these, Piramal Sarvajal explored applying cloud-based technology in order to create a smooth process by using sensors for the measurement of vital parameters like quantity, quality, pressure etc.

Water ATMs: Automated Water Dispensing Units

The company started its technological journey using the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) with sensors and Human Machine Interface (HMI), which were attached with the PLC. “PLC-based automation has helped us in automating the unit’s operation and in remotely managing and monitoring the purification unit from our centralised location,” said Anuj Sharma, the CEO of Piramal Sarvaja. “Due to the fast-paced changes in PLC technology, we needed to update our software frequently. This triggered the design of our own, micro-controller based, control unit.”

Being the first organisation in India to develop the Water ATM, Piramal Sarvajal, operated the project in collaboration with a local entrepreneur or the local panchayat and community-based organisations to create sustainable livelihood opportunities within the chosen community. These cloud-connected and solar-powered WaterATM dispenses purified water 24×7. Villagers were issued RFID cards for collecting water, and these cards have a pre-paid balance, which can be recharged periodically as per consumption pattern. The RFID card gave the consumer the convenience of taking water anytime, anywhere across connected ATMs in a given location of flexible litres.

The IoT enabled technology installed at the purification level, ensuring the quality of every drop dispensed and supported oversight management on a real-time basis, while remotely managing locations for better governance. “The dispensing solution via Water ATM not only helps us manage and monitor user-level data but also supports targeted subsidies and variable pricing to support equitable and sustainable solutions at the last mile,” said Sharma.

The adoption of IoT technology for remote monitoring of the units helped the company in bringing transparency in operations across every transaction and ensured governance of widespread locations for both the service provider and the donor. This technology also assisted in managing the pay per use model, which, in turn, helped the consumers to pay an affordable price for clean drinking water — paying only for the service.

Operating Models

The technology that the company deployed was the Internet of Things (IoT), which required GSM/GPRS network as it acts as a backbone for communication between device and server. And, Sarvajal’s devices communicate with their centralised server over GSM/GPRS (2G) network. And ensuring that every installed unit has the availability of proper signal strength at the desired location. “Sometimes, we have noticed that even though there is a proper signal strength available at the place, still there is a delay in data exchange, which was due to the network latency,” said Sharma. And, hence, the company considered other network options like NB-IoT, which works on LTE (4G); considering its availability in most of India. The company also considered other alternate non-standard options, where telecom network is still not available, but it is under feasibility study.

Piramal Sarvajal also has enabled a technology device called Soochak, which is a remote monitoring device designed to be mounted on a commercial-scale water purification plant, to capture minute-by-minute machine status. This process works on Piramal’s technology backend, which allows the company to bring affordable, safe drinking water to underserved communities sustainably. At the same time, the touch screen of the machine easily guides the local operators on the daily functioning of the plant in the local language.

The company aimed to deploy technology at every stage — for specific parameter measurement Piramal Sarvajal have used state of the art sensors. As part of their regular preventive maintenance, these sensors are calibrated periodically so that they provide accurate data. With the help of IoT, the company gets its data from all units installed in the field, and these data are stored in their server’s database system. Also, considering the received data is large in volume; it practically wasn’t possible to do analysis manually, hence, decided to apply data analytics that provided them with meaningful information from the available data. “This helped us to know how many units are working in normal condition and how many units require attention from our maintenance team,” said Sharma. “Our devices are intelligent enough to provide real-time alerts to our operations team for any attention needed by them. Our operations team immediately acts on alerts and attends the situation.”

Application & Benefits

Sarvajal’s proprietary technology played a vital role in providing a comprehensive solution for delivering low-cost drinking water at the last mile. The various components of the technology include — water purification plants, monitoring device, the water ATM, and Sarvajal’s enterprise management system.

Sarvajal’s purification model was agnostic of the method of filtration and was utilising purification technology as per the source water. The water was getting purified through a site-designed five-step filtration process including media filtration, micron filtration, reverse osmosis (RO) filtration and UV purification. The employed proprietary technology of Sarvajal helped them in monitoring and controlling the machine operations, the source water quality, product water quality, litres produced (both rate and total), the overall health of the machine, and the amount of effluent created in the process. This real-time online monitoring enabled the company to assure a greater uptime in machine usage.

Sarvajal’s Enterprise Management System is the information processing hub of the entire company’s network of distributed installations. The SEMs receives all data sent over the cellular network for the Soochaks and Water ATMs and serves as the conduit for all operational activities within the business, such as inventory management, maintenance tracking, accounting, and asset tracking.

Additionally, the water ATM devices were solar-powered, cloud-connected, and operated automatically, which was designed to dispense water at the swipe of an RFID card. The ATMs tracked every transaction that took place, which enabled a sophisticated market forecasting and proactive multi-unit management. It also enhanced the scale of impact and optimised net investment per installation. Consequently, the ATMs established water-price transparent markets and assured 24×7 access to safe drinking water. Sarvaj’s initiative also presented an option to provide direct-targeted subsidies through government-run programs. Currently, the company is serving more than 7.30 lakhs of people daily, directly from our 1765+ touchpoints in 20 states.

While there are many players in the water space, Sharma believes, “What sets us apart is our effort of conducting community engagement activities to improve impact to increase the off-take.” Also, “Soochak throws data about machine health, so all maintenance activities are planned. Service tickets are even generated to track and also study the data generated. Our database shares information on all machines functionality at any given point in time.”

Sharma further added, “Being a technology expert in the water sector, we also aim to help the government by demonstrating the use of technology, so that the government can monitor the water supply schemes very effectively.” Sarvajal has extended the application of this model for a water pipe model too. The company partnered with the central government-run Jal Shakti mission to create a pilot model of monitoring the IoT-based water tracking mechanism at villages of Gujarat, Assam and Bihar.

Brands see big potential in ‘nighttime nutrition’

Late-night snacks may be due for a healthy makeover.

A small but growing number of products designed for pre-bedtime snacking are entering the market. They are described as healthier than traditional late-night fare and carry the added benefit of promoting sleep and relaxation.

Nightfood, Inc., Tarrytown, N.Y., launched a “sleep friendly” ice cream line last year. Available in a variety of flavors such as Full Moon Vanilla, Midnight Chocolate and Cherry Eclipse, the products contain more fiber and protein and fewer calories than traditional ice cream. Nightfood ice cream contains magnesium and glycine, which promotes relaxation, while ingredients that may disrupt sleep, such as excess sugar, fat and caffeine, are reduced or eliminated.

“Just being delicious isn’t enough these days,” said Sean Folkson, chief executive officer at Nightfood. “Neither is just being different. You need to be different, but in a way that actually matters to the consumer.”

Nightfood ice cream wasn’t the company’s first functional late-night snack. It launched a sleep-promoting nutrition bar in 2015. The brand struggled to generate consumer excitement around the product, but Mr. Folkson said its modest results led to an important insight: When it comes to late-night snacking, consumers aren’t searching for better-for-you products like nutrition bars. They’re reaching for more indulgent items like potato chips, cookies, ice cream or candy.

“I now understand that providing night snackers with nighttime nutrition bars is like giving an 8-year-old a pet rock,” Mr. Folkson said. “Interesting, but not exciting or life-changing. On the other hand, providing night snackers with nighttime ice cream is like giving that 8-year-old a puppy.”

Other companies, including Nestle-backed Goodnight and Milwaukee-based Good Source Foods, also are getting into the late-night, sleep-friendly sweets game.

Goodnight launched last year through Foundry Foods, an internal incubator from Nestle USA, Arlington, Va. Available in milk and dark chocolate varieties, the brand’s before-bed bites contain L-Theanine, magnesium and casein protein, which interact with metabolic processes related to sleep regulation.

“(Goodnight) is confirming our beliefs that people are looking for a natural remedy for something they normally take in supplement form such as melatonin,” said Doug Munk, director of new business ventures for Nestle USA. “We are also finding people are looking to replace some of their junk foods before they go to sleep with something that is a little better.”

The company currently is gearing up to launch updated “Goodnight 2.0” products following last year’s successful test run.

Good Source Foods uses dried cherries, which contain melatonin, and lavender, which is known for its calming effects, to make its Evening Calm variety of chocolate clusters. Designed to promote sleep and relaxation, the chocolates also contain turmeric, honey, oats and walnuts.

Nightfood, Goodnight and Good Source Foods are some of the handful of brands tapping into nighttime nutrition, which Mintel called “one of the most compelling and category changing trends” in its annual Food and Drink Trends report. More than 80% of consumers snack regularly before bed, Mintel said.

There may be a biological component driving consumers to the kitchen at night. Appetite tends to peak in the evening, when cravings for sweet and salty foods are strongest. Willpower weakens throughout the day, so the later it gets, the easier it is to reach for the cookie jar or bag of candy.

At the same time, interest in better-for-you snacks is at an all-time high. As many as 80% of consumers seek healthier snacks that pack an added functional benefit.

“Scientific research over the last several years has helped us more clearly understand why people snack the way they do at night,” said Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona and adviser to Nightfood. “It seems we’re biologically hard-wired to default to sweets, salts and fats as it gets later in the day.”

This may explain why more than 50% of consumers report dissatisfaction with their own night snacking behavior, despite spending an estimated $1 billion per week on snacks consumed between dinner and bed.

“More than half of that money … is being spent in a dissatisfied way, by people that want something better,” Mr. Folkson said. “That speaks to not only the size of the opportunity, but the immediacy and the motivation on behalf of the consumer, which is really powerful stuff.”

Source: Food Business News

Why It’s Hot

Good example of how healthy eating and mindfulness trends can translate into product development, and also how the nuances of those trends can make a difference in how consumer needs are met.

What’s in a name?





Hershey is making good use of its own name for International Women’s Day, launching a campaign in Brazil that includes the creation of “Her” and “She” chocolate bars—with packaging celebrating great women musicians, illustrators and other artists.

“International Women’s Day is marked by the struggle of women for their rights,” says Ana Costa, HR director at Hershey Brazil. “Having this in mind is crucial when sharing experiences with our employees, to assure they know they’re working for a company that acknowledges their value and believes in their potential.”

Hershey says 52 percent of its leadership is female, including Michele Buck, global CEO.

Hershey is encouraging other women artists to share their work in social media. Posts tagged #HerShe and #HerSheGallery could have their posts shared by the brand.

Why it’s hot?
Great use of something that’s inherent in the brand to seamlessly become part of a hot topic in our culture. Unlike so many other brands that are making forced efforts to become part of this conversation related to equality and progress of women, guess Hershey got lucky with its name. But very surprised this has not been done before.

Source: Muse by Clio

Panera coffee subscription is the new free-wifi, but it costs $9+/month

Panera has launched a coffee subscription as a part of its loyalty program. For $8.99/month, you get unlimited drip coffee — 1 cup every two hours for as long as you can handle it. They may be burning through beans, but what this really means is they’ll be selling a lot more sandwiches.

From Fast Company: “Though Panera is pitching the subscription as a way for you to save money on coffee, Panera’s 150 test locations over the last three months saw subscribers visit three times more frequently and purchase 70% more in add-on items than the average customer. In other words, watch your wallet. These metrics, in addition to a surge of new customers, are inspiring Panera’s quick nationwide rollout.”

Because most Panera locations are suburban, customers tend to drive to the location. When they’ve made the commitment to drive, people are more likely to “bundle” their shopping by also eating at Panera once they’ve picked up their subscriber coffee.

Bonus points: being mostly suburban, Panera also avoids the on-foot, in-and-out commuter coffee buyers who are not likely to purchase any additional goods.

For consumers, it’s a novel way to think about coffee purchase.

For Panera, it seems like a smart way to lure people into their stores, in order to sell them higher-margin products like sandwiches and soups.

Why it’s hot:

1. Data: Registered subscribers will give Panera a huge amount of consumer data that they could use to understand menu preferences by a variety of demographics, as well as better identify core customers and understand their habits.

2. Earn brand loyalty by exploiting commitment bias: If you get someone to buy into the subscription, they are far more likely to continue to go to you for their coffee fix even if they ultimately cancel their subscription as brains subconsciously associate their body’s physiological coffee high with your store, and those neural pathways are difficult (and cognitively costly) to change.

3. It’s a smart lure: A big challenge for suburban food and beverage shops is getting people in the door. This encourages that, and a lot of people who go into a shop to buy coffee end up buying a muffin, or a sandwich, which is where these companies really make their money. If you stay (or return) to Panera to take advantage of the every-two-hour refill, you’re likely to buy even more.

Source: Fast Company

Get paid to drink Pepsi (and eat Fritos)…

Pepsi is launching a PepCoin loyalty program that rewards you for buying both a single-serve beverage and a Frito-Lay snack by sending money to PayPal and Venmo accounts. If you scan enough codes on bottles and bags, you’ll receive a little bit of cash. You’ll have to earn $2 before it goes to your account, but this is real spending money.

How it works:

  • Buy a PepsiCo beverage and Frito-Lay snack.
  • Scan the codes on the bag and under the bottle cap with your phone.
  • Link the program to your PayPal or Venmo.
  • Once you accumulate $2, the money automatically transfers to your account with Venmo or PayPal.

It’s not a dollar for dollar point system, each transaction earns a person about 37 cents. So, like, 5.4 purchases.

Why it’s hot: Companies with multiple brands are increasingly using loyalty programs as a vehicle to sell across their portfolio and drive awareness of the many different products within it. With the exception of credit and debit cards, that apply cash back as a credit to your account, cash back incentives in the form of actual cash have yet to be tested (as far as I could tell). Truly successful loyalty programs thrive on creating engaging experiences and emotional connections with their consumers — it’ll be interesting to see whether Pepcoin will be able to establish a true connection with customers, past the initial shock and enroll stage and whether it’ll change how loyalty and rewards programs provide benefits to consumers in the future.

Sources: Engadget, Thrillist, MediaPostPYMNTS.com, Pepcoin, Pepsi press release

Peloton, but for cooking

Ask questions and interact live with your favorite celebrity chef, such as Guy Fieri or Martha Stewart, right in your kitchen. Linked to your Amazon Prime account. Need a peeler and some limes for this recipe? Amazon will send them over.

From The Verge: “Food Network says it’s specifically modeling its classes after Peloton’s live-streaming model. Food Network is banking on the power of its personalities, and the $7 streaming fee starts to make sense when it’s viewed as an exclusive membership, giving fans the chance to interact with their favorite stars.

Netflix may get Seinfeld in 2021, and Apple TV Plus may have all of, like, 10 shows — but only Food Network Kitchen will give its users the chance to interact with Guy Fieri and ask him cooking questions live. I’m imagining it to be the equivalent of your favorite Food Network personality doing an Instagram Live, but with way better streaming quality (have you ever sat through an Instagram Live you didn’t immediately want to exit?). And maybe that alone is worth paying for.”

Why it’s hot:

Since it’s on Amazon, it’s integrated with Amazon Fresh, so you can choose a recipe you want to learn and have the ingredients delivered to your door before the class begins. Agoraphobics rejoice!

It’s live streaming, but with food celebrities. But it could be any celebrities you otherwise wouldn’t have such intimate access to, doing anything. In a world where most content is given for free, it reinforces one notion of celebrity, in that you have to pay to have access them.

Bringing online habits to offline shopping

Price Kaki app by CASE

Price Kaki is an app that crowdsources and compiles the prices of daily goods sold across multiple physical retail stores in Singapore. The app enables price comparison of groceries, household items and hawker food, across outlets, thus helping shoppers make informed decisions and get value for their money. Users are invited to contribute real-time updates on prices and promotions, with the most active rewarded with e-vouchers. Developed by Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), the app is inspired by e-commerce price aggregators, and aims to bring the same level of transparency and consumer empowerment to offline shopping.

Fun fact: ‘kaki’ is local Singaporean lingo for ‘buddies’ .

Why it’s hot:  E-commerce is outgrowing physical retail, yet offline still dominates. As a result, businesses pursuing further growth are focusing on revolutionizing brick-and-mortar, by integrating the best aspects (like price transparency) of online retail.

Sources: Trendwatching and Channel News Asia

Cadbury Chocolate Feeds the Malnourished

In the Philippines, where almost one third of children under five are malnourished, the Cadbury has created a chocolate bar without milk, the Generosity Bar, and is donating the glass and a half to children in need.

The Generosity Bar launched at a pop-up store in a popular Manila mall and for every candy bar purchased, Cadbury redirects the forgone milk to malnourished children through its partnership with NGO Reach Out Feed Philippines.

So far 200,000 glasses of milk have been donated to Filipino children.

Other chocolate brands might struggle to form a meaningful partnership with a malnutrition charity, but Cadbury found a way to make this initiative feel natural and relevant. Rather than use its packaging and platform to just draw attention to the Philippines’ child malnutrition problem or encouraging consumers to make donations, Cadbury enabled its customers to donate simply by buying the product: a win-win for Cadbury, the children and the consumers.

Why it’s hot:

CSR has become a hot topic in the advertising world, but doing it right isn’t always easy as many times brands sometimes lack the ability to put others first. This is a great example of a brand wholly dedicating itself to a cause and providing an easy way for its customers to participate and give back by doing something they already do, eat chocolate.

Source: Glass half full – Contagious I/O

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Expands “Love Notes” to Even More Children

Last year, the Kellogg cereal brand teamed up with the National Federation of the Blind to create specialized “Love Notes” with phrases like “You’ve Got This” to “Love You Lots” written in braille for parents to share with children who are blind. Now Rice Krispies is continuing its mission with a new kind of love note, one designed with children living with autism or on the autism spectrum.

Since not every child communicates love through words, the cereal company partnered with Autism Speaks to create touch-and-feel sensory “Love Notes” so children can actually feel love and support as they transition back to school. The four “lightly reusable” stickers come in a range of supposedly calming colors and different textures, including fleece, faux fur, satin, and velour for sensory-focused kids to feel the love through a tactile experience.

Why it’s hot:
Kellogg’s expansion of its “Love Notes” write-able wrappers demonstrates the brand’s commitment to all parents – providing an otherwise under served audience (parents with children with autism and children who are blind) – helping them provide their children with love and support anywhere they are. They found a simple way to make love notes meaningful to any child.

Sources: Fast Company, Kellogg’s Love Notes

Mayonnaise + Leftovers = Gourmet Restaurant?

Unilever-owned mayonnaise brand Hellmann’s is so familiar that it can get overlooked in the fridge, along with other ingredients that often get thrown away when we don’t think we can use them.

In the brand’s newest campaign, Hellmann’s highlights the food waste caused by unused leftovers. To prove that mayonnaise can be a key ingredient that turns leftovers into a meal, the agency opened a temporary restaurant in São Paulo, Brazil: The Restaurant With No Food.

Diners were sent Hellman’s branded cool-bags to bring their fridge leftovers, and invited to dine for free at the restaurant. A handful of celebrity chefs then created gourmet meals from the ingredients and Hellman’s mayonnaise. Following the meal, Hellmann’s gave them the recipes for what they had been served.

During its two-day activation, the campaign generated more than 200 news reports and 50 million impressions. Sales of Hellmann’s went up by 8% and it’s estimated that over 2,700 ingredients were saved. The Restaurant With No Food also received an official endorsement from the UN World Food Programme, and Hellmann’s plans to repeat the initiative in other key markets in Europe this year.

Why it’s hot:

This campaign is a perfect example of what a good insight can do. The brand likely saw the decline in mayonnaise purchases, but this unique insight around food waste allowed them to unlock a solution to the problem in a new way. Viewing their business challenge through a wider lens than just “nobody’s buying our mayonnaise” allowed Hellmann’s to tap into a larger cultural conversation.

Source

Keurig of Cocktails or Juicero of Cocktails?

Drinkworks Keurig for Cocktails 6

Drinkworks, a joint venture between Keurig and Anheuser-Busch transforms pods of distilled cocktails into single-serve drinks such as gin and tonics, Mai Tais and Old Fashioned. It’s price point, $399, reminds us of the now infamous Jiucero’s price, not cheap.

Cocktail culture is thriving in the US as more and more Americans ditch beer and the industry giants are ready to play in the field. Each capsule will spout out a single-serve drink and act as an automated bartender for cocktail lovers and home entertainers alike.

“You can get a cocktail in a can, but it’s not the same experience,” Drinkworks CMO Val Toothman told Business Insider. “Cocktails … are a culture. It’s an experience. You want something crafted, freshly made.”

 

 

Why it’s hot: Pod machines are under more scrutiny since the Juicero scandal and companies have to bring a real products that really innovate to solve real needs to market.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/keurig-cocktails-drinkworks-makes-cocktails-from-pods-2019-3#each-sleeve-contains-four-pods-each-cocktail-pod-costs-399-with-beer-which-we-didnt-test-costing-225-per-pod-3

Burger King Trolls McDonalds, Gets 1 Million App Downloads.

The Art of the Troll. #Petty

Burger King got national attention this week for offering 1-cent Whoppers to those who drove up to a McDonald’s location (and then, presumably, drove away to redeem their BK coupons). Key to the stunt was the brand’s smartphone app, which unlocked the offer when it detected users approaching within 600 feet of a McDonald’s.

The “Whopper Detour” sent customers to a rival’s doorstep, and it worked, in terms of both publicity and app downloads.

Burger King today said its app was downloaded more than 1 million times since Whopper Detour launched on Tuesday, and the app is currently No. 1 among free software in the Apple App Store. That puts Burger King’s app, for now at least, above app giants like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Amazon.

(The McDonald’s app, in case you’re curious, is currently at No. 42.)

Why It’s Hot:

Brands trolling other brands has become a sure fire way to go viral, this uses brand trolling in conjunction with location based apps to drive people to a competitor and it worked to drive sales and app downloads.

 

Source: AdWeek https://www.adweek.com/creativity/after-trolling-mcdonalds-burger-kings-app-was-downloaded-1-million-times-and-hit-no-1/ 

A Smart Restaurant

Haidilao, China’s biggest hotpot chain, partnered with Panasonic and equipped a restaurant in Beijing with a fully robot-run kitchen. That means no humans are involved in the food preparation process.

The location has an automated cold room where robots prepare and deliver raw meat and fresh vegetables according to the orders placed by customers through an iPad at each table.

The soup base is also prepared by robots with machine-like precision that caters to individual tastes and specific requirements based on special combination of spices, various oil and key ingredients. Each individual combination is automatically documented and uploaded into the cloud.

Why it’s hot: These robots reduce wait time, adds consistency and increases the level of food hygiene.

Source

a glimpse at your food future via Nestle…

A kit for Nestle Japan’s nutritional drink. Photographer: Kentaro Takahashi/Bloomberg

Nestle is taking an innovative approach to product development, starting with the Japan market.

According to Quartz News – “Some 100,000 people are taking part in a company program there that gives consumers a kit to collect their DNA at home. The program also encourages them to use an app to post pictures of what they’re eating. Nestlé then recommends dietary changes and supplies specialized supplements that can be sprinkled on or mixed into a variety of food products, including teas.”

Ultimately, the goal for Nestle actually goes beyond this, to creating completely individualized products based on individuals’ DNA that could even be designed to prevent serious diseases like cancer. Quartz’s crude example is “Pizzas that can ward off Alzheimer’s disease, for instance”.

One nutritional scientist says, “This is going to be the manifestation of the future. The one-size-fits-all platform is a thing of the past.”

Why it’s hot:

First, as the largest food company in the world, Nestle could be leading the way into a new era of food production – one that’s almost completely the opposite of its heritage over the last few decades. But most importantly, it’s another example of the shift we’re finally seeing from mass production to ultra-personalized products. While using DNA as the mechanism is not without concerns, what better experience than having food and supplements created for you based on what your body needs to keep you at peak health.

[Source]

Making cereal cool again

Kellogg’s cereal cafe recently re-opened at Union Square in a space five times larger than its original location in Times Square. This is Kellogg’s attempt to stem sales decline by making millennials eat cereal as all-day snacks.

The cafe is operated by two famous restauranteurs, Sandra Di Capua from Eleven Madison Park and Anthony Rudolf from Per Se.

Why it’s hot: Leveraging food’s social status to make everyday mundane cool.

Source: Eater

Lifetime label




Mimica Touch, is a food label that decays at the same rate as food. The Mimica label is filled with gelatine, which decomposes in the same way as packaged foods. The gel is calibrated to each product line using shelf-life testing data, and it also takes into account the temperature at which it is stored.

When new, the label is smooth. But as time goes by and the gel decomposes, it becomes bumpy to touch, signalling that the food is no longer safe to eat.

The Mimica Touch was developed with visually impaired people in mind. It is also easy to assemble, so that manufacturers can make the label – which consists of a plastic tray, gel and a lid – on site.

Why its hot?
90% of Americans prematurely threw away food because they misinterpreted sell-by and use-by labels as indicators that food had gone rotten and become unsafe. 

Source: Mimica Lab

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

 

Going Digital to Rescue Food

About 40 percent of all food in America is wasted. Much of it ends up in landfills, where it emits dangerous-to-the-planet methane gas. At the same time, one out of eight American households don’t have enough to eat.

Wasted food. Hungry people. How do we get the two to meet?

Last month, food rescue made a leap to a national scale. Feeding America matches donors and recipients with an algorithm. A restaurant can go on Meal Connect to post an offer of, say, eight trays of fried chicken and biscuits. Meal Connect will automatically match that offer with the closest food pantry or soup kitchen that can get it up right away.

Feeding America

Meal Connect makes it possible to rescue prepared food and smaller quantities of food — and to do so quickly. “This allows us to provide real hot meals — virtually at the same time that someone coming off the street and paying for it would get it,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/02/opinion/going-digital-to-rescue-food.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

Why It’s Hot
When the scale and reach of digital is brought to bear on social issues, huge problems become more surmountable.

“That Place Where Coke Tastes So Good”

McDonald’s new commercials don’t appear on the brand’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter pages. And they never even mention the name McDonald’s, preferring instead to name-check Coca-Cola and Google.

It’s all part of a sly campaign by Omnicom agency We Are Unlimited to appeal to teens and twentysomethings, who prefer word-of-mouth and their own research about products and brands to corporate messaging, according to a writeup of the campaign in The New York Times.

The campaign does, however, feature a celebrity, the actress Mindy Kaling, who in several TV spots urges viewers to Google “that place where Coke tastes so good.” Kaling is wearing a yellow dress against a red background in the minimalist ads, but beyond those McDonald’s brand colors, she doesn’t actually say the name of the fast-food chain.

Source

Why It’s Hot

  • This campaign knows its audience. By allowing its target breathing room to do their own research, McDonald’s maintains some authenticity. With a wink.
  • Aligning with an influencer is always a strong move.
  • Bold move by McDonalds to purposefully leave out its own name while name dropping another brand. Win win for both Coke and that fast food chain where it tastes so good.

If salad ingredients and robots made love…

It would be a company called Chowbotics. They just landed $5 mil in Series A, further developing the food service robotic industry.

Its flagship product is called Sally, a salad-making robot that uses 20 different food canister to prepare and serve more than 1,000 types of salad. Number of pilot customers have signed on- restaurants, co-working spaces, and corporate cafeterias.

Benefits :

  • Sally-made salads can be precisely measured – know exactly how many calories are going into your food.
  • Data-driven platform can measure both popularity of specific recipes, # of caloric intake, increase or decline of demand on ingredients  – all that can help both healthcare and the food industry make better informed decisions.

 

what we should eat is defined by our DNA

A startup called Habit is providing personalized nutrition/diet plans and meals based on customers’ DNA. For $299, with few drops of blood and saliva, scientists and nutritionists can tailor nutritional advice specified to your biological make up – what food your body craves, rejects, etc.

Once customers’ metabolic and DNA analyses are gathered, Habit also recommends individual’s health goals through its Nutrition Intelligence Engine algorithm to place them into one of seven Habit types. Each type has different plan specifies the ideal ratio of carbs, protein, and fat in each meal in addition to the TYPES of carbs, protein, and fat their body will respond best to.

Meal plans and access to health coach are further complemented by personalized meals that are delivered fresh to your door – for extra cost of course. Working with biometric devices such as Fitbit, participants can use their devices to monitor their progress and enable Habit staff to input any changes to plans/meals as needed.

Why it’s HOT:

  • this is a business model around hyper personalization, based on individual biological make up, can’t get more personal that this.
  • there will be the growth of converging science/nutrition/data to create consumer facing products and services.
  • Habit was valued at $210 bil by Morgan Stanley Research for its meal-delivery services – with the potential to disrupt and clearly differentiate itself from Blue Apron and other food delivery services.

Swipe right for bacon

Not only can you swipe right or left on your smartphone for a date, now you can swipe for food. In a new app called Tender, users swipe to indicate whether they like a particular recipe.  Swipe right to indicate yes and the recipe gets saved to your file, which can then be accessed by a menu which allows you to filter your search. Swipe left and it disappears.

Modeled after Tinder, the photos show delicious food and inspire users to save them or not. “Food is about more than just calories, it is art,” claims Tender, as reported on psfk.com. This is what inspired the team behind Tender to create an app that will make it very easy for users to find the most beautiful and mouth-watering culinary creations on the internet.”

The app is simple to use. Only available through the Google Play Store or The App Store, you can sign in or log in via Facebook. Then let your culinary fancy take over and start saving beautiful recipes like Bacon Jam or Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos.

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Why It’s Hot

Marrying food and a swipe left/right interface made popular by Tinder means this app is incredibly simple to use and appeals to one of our basic instincts — food.  Look for the swipe application to become even more popular due to its simplicity and ease.  And put food in any equation and you’ve got instant success.

Nature vs Technology

In an age where the world has gone almost completely digital, granola brand Nature Valley wants its consumers to #RediscoverNature. In their latest advertisement they ask three different generations what they did for fun as children and this created quite the storm on their YouTube channel.

In the beginning of the video we get to hear the grandparents speak about the different things they played growing up. This was a technology less era where nature played a huge role. Some spoke of blueberry picking and fishing  Then the parents give their account that also uses nature as the background like playing hide and seek and baseball.

When its the children’s turn to describe what they do to have fun the answers were a stark contrast from what their seniors experienced. The children talk about technology and how it is the center of most their free time. One boy said that when he plays video games it feels as though no else is around, he is just in the game. One girl even said she would die without her tablet and states that she usually is on it from 3-4 hours a day.

The point of view that Nature Valley made that this generation doesn’t understand nature and the idea of playing outside and that technology is slowly taking us away from off line fun has been a real decisive line and many of the comments on YouTube have expressed this sentiment.

Why its Hot?

Working in the digital space sometimes it raises the question are we too digital?

 

 

 

Uber delivers

Two announcement this week about Uber expanding their territory:

1. UberEats has officially launched in four cities, including the Barcelona and Los Angeles trial areas as well as two new burgs, Chicago and New York City and that promises to deliver meals to customers in 10 minutes or less.

Uber drivers will go to certain approved restaurants, pick up several bags of a single kind of food — say a special sandwich, or a gourmet salad – and then deliver it to anyone who has requested it from an Uber app. Uber will offer a rotating menu of select items from a handful of restaurants in Chicago and New York and charges a flat delivery fee of $3 and $4, respectively, which goes directly to the drivers.

2.  TechCrunch has uncovered documents revealing that Uber is currently testing a system where high-end retailers can use Uber vehicles to make same-day deliveries to impatient customers. According to the site’s sources, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s are all in discussions to sign up when the program launches. It looks as if the eventual goal is that all Uber drivers will be able to take both human passengers and commercial cargo, with all of the information routed through the same mobile app.

TechCrunch goes on to speculate that Uber could be aiming to create a rival to Amazon and eBay that leverages the fact that local stores have stock available on shelves. That way, prospective buyers can spot an item, order it and know that it’ll be transported across town in an instant.

Sources: Mashable,  Engaget

Why It’s Hot: Uber has been a company to watch — what will they do next? These expansions make a lot of sense given their core capability, and show an interesting understanding of the urban market.

This 3D Food-Printing Genie Can Make Your Every Wish Come True

A new kind of food processing machine called the Genie can make personalized meals with the press of a button, ready for eating in less than a minute.

The appliance includes the single-portion capsules, ranging from couscous to cake and muffins, and the machine that prints the ingredients into edible foods. Genie can even consider dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and and vegetarian options.

Read more via No Camels.

Why It’s Hot: 3D printing is cool but 3D printing food is hot. We have already seen 3D printers that can make chocolate and print pancakes, but Genie expands this idea to make more personalized food and make it instantly. In addition to the fun tech aspect, Genie also seeks to eliminate food waste, as well as curb obesity by controlling consumers’ meal portions.

Fun technology, plus environmental and human benefits sounds like a piece of too-good-to-be-true instant cake to me. The company is already seeing public interest and are in the mass production stage for corporate clients, arranging thousands of orders from Israel (where it was founded), the U.S. and Greece.

Burger King Uses Sleepy Subway Passengers to Build Buzz for Breakfast

South Korea is one of the most sleep-deprived countries out there. And Seoul is known for epic work commutes. So people doze during their morning subway ride – the problem is how to wake up in time for their stop.

Burger King just ran a small, targeted campaign in Seoul with a quirky answer to that dilemma. The campaign offered sleep masks to commuters at five major stations in Seoul. Written across them was a message asking other commuters to wake them up at their particular stop. There were two coupons for free coffee inside the masks, so people could use one themselves and share the other with the person who woke them.

Burger King’s goal was to boast morning sales since they were facing heavy competition from McDonald’s morning menu. After running this campaign in Seoul morning sales at participating stores rose 18.7% in the month from the starting date, Feb. 23, Burger King said. And social-media chatter about the brand jumped 44.5% in the same period.

Burger_King_2

Why It’s Hot

Burger King’s agency took a very simple observation of how tired people were during their morning commute and used data to back this up 1) South Korean’s on average get less sleep when compared to other countries and 2) South Korean’s commute an average of one hour to work each way. They used these insights to create a buzz-worthy campaign that actually delivered on more breakfast sales for the brand.

Source

Turn Breakfast into Art with PancakeBot

PancakeBot is the world’s first pancake printer. A Norway-based American maker of an earlier DIY LEGO Pancake Bot is at it again, this time crowdfunding a smarter batter dispenser that 3D prints drawings in pancake batter and cooks them in the order the lines were drawn, resulting in pancake art.

Learn more and watch a demo video to see how PancakeBot works via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: Perhaps the only thing better than eating pancakes is getting to design them too. PancakeBot’s success with its Kickstarter campaign proves that consumers are enthusiastic about their pancakes – and technology.

While Tech Crunch notes that 3D printing of food is still a niche market, we’ve already seen other edible applications of 3D printing technology. Humans need to eat to survive, and suffice it to say that most enjoy it. Printing and physically designing food makes eating that much more fun. We’ve seen the lengths of 3D printing being tested in other fields, from treating brain tumors to manufacturing automobiles, but PancakeBot provides a unique user experience by enabling – and requiring – consumers’ participation. We’ll have to stay tuned to see what 3D printing will do next.

McDonald’s Refreshes ‘I’m Lovin’ It’

McDonald’s pushes global harmony hard in its new brand campaign, which refreshes the long-running “I’m lovin’ it” tagline by putting more focus on the lovin’. The spot is called “Archenemies,” and features pop-culture foes suddenly finding peace.

McDonald’s has never really leaned that hard into the idea of love— often focusing on the “I’m” and “it” parts of the line instead of the “lovin’ ” part. But the brand thinks the time is right for a shift.

“We recognize, and our customers do too, all the negativity that surrounds daily life and we are choosing to celebrate lovin’ more,” it says in a statement. “McDonald’s is in a unique position to use its scale to bring back the positivity with more uplifting content and conversations in the lovin’ spirit.”

The brand feels like it’s on to something here. The refresh will include new uniforms, new packaging, new signage in restaurants and a new focus on being more responsive in social media—which is in line with the transparency campaign it’s been running lately.

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Why It’s Hot

McDonald’s, a brand that still doesn’t allow fans to post on their Facebook timeline, is finally taking a step back and understanding the importance of transparency, authenticity and actually listening to what its consumers are saying. The fast-food chain is moving from a philosophy of billion-served to billion-heard,  in order to evolve with customers. As the brand is experiencing a difficult time – declines in sales and facing a new type of more ecologically minded customer – can this brand transformation be its saving grace? It sounds like the brand has a few tricks up its sleeve, especially with a return to the Super Bowl with a 60-second commercial that “will reveal a big idea.” Only time will tell if the fast food chain can turn “lovin'” into sales.

Now Your Coke Is As Unique As You Are

Coca Cola’s Share A Coke campaign showed that the soda brand seemed to really understand its drinkers – especially people with popular first names or those with the creativity to make something out of Coke cans. Now Coca-Cola Israel has expanded on this by creating a campaign with 2 million one-of-a-kind bottle designs.

Watch the video below for more information.

Via AdWeek.

Why It’s Hot: We’ve previously discussed the power of product packaging for a variety of brands. Coca-Cola, like many others, uses its packaging to engage consumers; the “Share A Coke” campaign felt personal, even though as AdWeek points out, it wasn’t personal at all. (If you’re able to find your name printed on a label, chances are that it probably isn’t too unique. Sorry to burst your carbon dioxide bubble.) The Diet Coke campaign, on the other hand, doesn’t leave anyone out and its designs alone are works of art.

I’m a fan of anything that doesn’t require finding “Lili” on a keychain – or in this case, a bottle label. Even as someone who can never find anything with my name on it, I think that a nice-looking keepsake bottle is a lot cooler than seeing my name on a label.