Friday, April 11, 2014

From healthy to well'thy - insights regarding the new definition to health

The consumers in the rich part of the world appear to experience even growing pressure. You may think it has something to do with the conflicts around the world, the pressure of finding work-life balance or climate change. All those things probably hold true... but in addition there is a challenge of a more personal and physical matter.

The mother of a friend described the situation vividly following a recent visit to Thailand. At a popular Scandinavian hotel she witnessed mid-aged Scandinavians in their prime. Their beautiful toned bodies, bulging muscles and tight six-packs were on show by the poolside while watching their young kids having fun. Being of an older generation and with different priorities she was amazed by their healthy and toned bodies. But beyond the surface she also noticed that in their beautiful healthiness, they did not look or seem particularly happy.

This was an insightful observation which I've since thought about it whilst working on the creation of a deep understanding of consumer needs and insights related to health.

What remains as an important consumer health need is of course the long-standing impact of a healthy lifestyle. The feeling of being able to turn-back the clock and live longer. Another reason for embarking on a healthy lifestyle is the impact that good nutrition has on energy levels and on the ability to handle everyday life. And thirdly of course the want to ‘look-good’ and perhaps lose some weight. However, beyond these typically vocalized health needs and reasons emerged a more unarticulated ‘meta’ need. I would claim that this need has the power to change the view on health and the health foods territory as a whole. And perhaps this ‘meta’ need is the one with the strongest impact on the people by the pool in Thailand. This ‘meta’ need is to show your status in society through a healthy looking body. We call it ‘Health is the new status symbol’ and in the terms of Maslow it can be summed-up to ‘self-actualization by looking truly healty’.

I am convinced that this strong desire to demonstrate ‘status through health’ will have a strong impact on the food industry. It probably already has when you witness the strong growth in categories such as health snacks and the many launches of protein yogurt. In the fashion world Marc Jacobs has dropped 15kilos and is now selling his version of a sport on the catwalk. Swedish retail giant H&M has opened up their own sport stores well aware that ‘Health as the new status symbol’ is desired state that sells. It is only a matter of time until retailers give health foods an even larger share of space.

Out goes the envy of the Oligarch flexing his Rolex or the ‘beauty fake’ of Hollywood quick-fixes. In comes a desire and praise of the toned bodies of international sportsmen and sportswomen. Never before have such serious effort, time and money being spent on personal trainers, health foods, running gear, bicycles and health retreats. Health is the new status symbol – and for the food industry this realization will open up many opportunities. But let us try to be a bit more cheerful than the Thailand crowd in our endevours to achieve status through health.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Strategic Innovation Management

It’s only during the last few years that I have heard Nordic companies talk about innovation from a more strategic and business growth oriented perspective. Maybe this shift to what I would call a more sophisticated approach to innovation is linked to the last few years of European recession where companies with a strong innovation pipeline have proven that growth is possible - despite the economic gloom. Or could it be the result of a new generation of senior management with the growing awareness that innovation doesn’t simply pop-up from nowhere but is rather a business growth discipline with opportunity to learn from the likes of the 3M’s and P&G’s of this world.

No matter what, it’s with great anticipation I see this growing awareness and first foundations to a more sophisticated innovation approach. I hear of companies that employ innovation leaders, build innovation teams and invest in tools and processes for how to manage innovation successfully. It’s early steps and a new discipline for many, but I believe that these early steps of approaching innovation as a business discipline may soon be compared to the quality movement of the 90’s.

When it comes to the HOW of innovation, I would like to raise the importance of top management leadership and ‘Strategic Innovation Management’. In my definition this relates to the importance of raising innovation to the higher management agenda, to act as a continuous steering tool with focus on identifying and managing the projects leading to organic business growth. Some of the important elements to consider in that respect would be to:

Establish a top management ‘Innovation management’ forum
oThis is a decision and steering forum for all innovation projects, where projects are established, gate decisions are taken, and particular steering is given on the request of the project lead or owner.

Identify future growth drivers or opportunity platforms
o Growth drivers or opportunity platforms are identified and promising innovation territories in a market. These are used to help focus innovation efforts in the direction that the business feels would be the most promising.

To actively manage and balance the Innovation Portfolio
o This is the classification and continuous analysis of innovation projects, to ensure that there are enough projects and project breadth in the innovation portfolio to secure future profit streams. With innovation project breadth I mean the mix of more easy wins, low risk and less groundbreaking initiatives VS projects that are truly big opportunities but also with a much higher risk profile.

An innovation process with direction, steering and clear decision points
The classical Innovation stage gate funnel is a commonly used approach that makes sense in my world but each company would of course have the opportunity to create its own process, and a process that is fit for the business and market environment. The key thing is that there is a framework for innovation with clarity on why projects are run, who gives direction, who makes decisions and when in time each of the previous points should be handled.

The above factors I would consider being core of the discipline of ‘Strategic Innovation Management’. And once those are in place a good foundation for promising innovation projects would be in place.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What's a trend anyway?

It was a few weeks back in time and it was just another morning on the tube. I was on the way to work, somewhat bored when I came across Metro. Browsing through the pages I spotted this article about the very cool fashion designer Mathew Williamsson. Unfortunately I'm not the proud owner of any of his garments but despite my relative ‘untrendyness’ I've still somehow grasped that he is übercool by the more eloquent fashionistas out there (the ones that somehow squeeze in thoughts about fashion into their lives = not me). Now, the thing that grabbed me with the article was not so much Mathew's sayings regarding fashion as such, but rather the things he said about trends. In his übercool way Mathew proclaimed that "trends are out" and he said something around 'modern women not buying into the idea of trends any longer since they rather focus on individuality and identifying their own style'. I don’t know how well these perspectives go down in the fashion industry, but his views somehow stayed with me over the last few weeks while I’ve had the opportunity to attend some trends seminars and read a few trend papers. Being updated on trends is part of the job of picking up 'new', fresh thoughts to guide and inspire innovation. And trends are also an important perspective to future-proof directions I already work on. But following Mathew W’s perspective and being fed all these 'trends' I'm trying to get my head around what I actually think about trends. So far I've come to the following conclusion: What we call trends are reflections of big shifts in human emotions linked to reality. And those emotions are in turn linked to shifts and changes in the world around us. In the higher steps of the hierarchy of needs our needs shifts little by little based on external stimulus. As needs shifts and people or companies witness this shift, we start to witness reactions. Some reactions are pure withdrawal ‘no it’s not happening’ or ‘no, it won’t affect my business’ or simply ‘it’s too frustrating to even think about it’. Others reactions are future focused and proactive. It’s those reactions that result in innovation – both breakthrough and incremental. So, to my view the so called trends that we so often refer to, are simply clusters of reflections of the innovations that are already occurring. And we are only able to create these clusters when the stream of innovation is so wide so it can actually be seen and synthesized. Which is actually when the trend and the change in people is already happening. Thus, my belief is that to fully understand trends and to understand how to capitalise on trends, one needs to start with mega shifts in the world and to start to extrapolate on those shifts to try to understand the impact they will have on human needs and human emotions both in the longer- and the shorter-term. Of course, it still makes a lot of sense to follow the ‘trend’ reflections synthesized in presenentations and power points, but be aware that they are ‘here and now’, already happening and soon in a store near you. So to be able to capitalize on them you need to act fast.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Nikon 'I am' - powerful and insightful communication

Today I am going to write something close to a tribute to the best advertising campaign on air at the moment. It is the Nikon 'I am' campaign I'm talking about. I think they TV ads are so strong so they almost make my heart burst with happiness for seeing such great creative and insightful work. And the print and digital is equally strong. I don't know the agency behind the campaign but I hope that the communication isn't just empty words but rather a portrayal of what the Nikon company and brand truly want to offer to the world. My understanding is a brand that is absolutely passionate about offering their customers the ability to express themselves and who they are freely. The whole idea is clearly based on a strong consumer insight: 'the need to feel free and be able to demonstrate your true self to the world'. On the site 'I am' Nikon express it this way: "No matter what I use my camera for I always say something about myself with my photos...whether I’m capturing holiday memories or snapping party shots, whether I’m just having a laugh or earn a living as a photographer. With my Nikon I can combine my personality and my dreams. With my Nikon I can show the world who I am".

Why is this campaign so strong? Well, at the heart of it lies great quality products. But to make those products truly desirable and worth paying an extra margin is the key to success. And in this case Nikon has identified how to truly connect to consumers through insight and human emotions. Watch the ad and see how they use copy, imagery and music to create a very strong, emotional connection with the viewer. It is powerful, isn't it? I love it anyway. And feel pretty keen to buy a Nikon now....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thank you Babybjörn - the honest, innovative, life-saver brand

Yesterday I had one of the toughest days for a while now. Both kids are ill with colds and fever, and my little boy is also teething... A recipe for total disaster zone. But whilst I have been feeling extremely deprived of sleep I have actually managed reasonably well. And the reason for that is mainly attributed to my long-term friend the Babybjörn baby carrier. What would I do without it? Whilst carrying around my little grizzly boy in my Babybjörn I started to think about the Babybjörn brand and an article I read just the other day about its founder Björn Jakobson. After having read the article I understood that one of the reasons that Babybjörn continues to produce such fantastic products is because the brand is staying true to Björn and his wife Lillemors founding principles and values. Babybjörn is truly a family owned brand where the founder hasn't been tempted to sell out to investors or the stock-market, but instead decided to grow organically, steadily year by year, by staying true to what they believe in most, the power of a caring, safe, and loving environment for small babies. And to support an environment that encourages strong attachment between baby and parent.

I took a look at the Babybjörn website and came across this fantastic clip with Björn and Lillemor. In this clip one can truly feel the power of the brand at its core. And the core I believe is not its fantastic products but rather the strong brand values acting as a foundation for anything the company does going forwards. Those values also ensure that the company continously search for new insights to innovate and new products or current products better for both baby and parents. I hope that the values of Björn and Lillemor will continue to remain at the heart of the Babybjörn brand for many years to come. What a great brand and what an inspiring brand story.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SC Johnson innovative launch with WC Duck Fresh Discs

My life has been upside down this year with the arrival of my baby boy. A very joyous arrival of course but also, with two little ones at home there are very few moments for myself by the computer. So it has unfortunately resulted in very few blog posts this year. Not because I haven't had anything on my mind to write about. But rather the opposite given how much time I spend in the supermarkets these days...

So, with a few seconds to spare I wanted to share with you my latest favourite of FMCG innovations. This time it may not appeal to all based on it being a solution for a rather dirty problem. It is the launch of WC Duck Fresh Discs by SC Johnson. I haven't tried this product myself yet but I am familiar with the problem that is being highlighted in what I view as an effective and well-executed TV commercial. This launch demonstrates that SC Johnson look for real insigts to develop new and innovative ways to provide consumer friendly solutions to common problems. I have been involved in similar research in the past and I can tell you from my own experience that it can quite an eye-opening experience to understand how other people clean their loos...

Hence I find this a great launch that I believe is based on consumer insight into the wonderful world of toilet cleaning... But I need to try the product before I'm convinced that it will be a lasting concept that will have an impact on the category. The TV-commercial can be seen here. The one on air in Sweden may be cut a bit different from this one.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The power of signature branded products

This last Friday I spent a luxurious afternoon with a good friend browsing through clothing shops in central Stockholm. Of course I had the little one with me as well but luckily for me he seemed to enjoy the browsing too happily sleeping away in the pram.

One thing that struck me as I browsed through some of the clothing stores is how powerful a few signature, classic products can be for the brand as a whole.

A perfect example for this is swedish clothing brand Polarn & Pyret with their classic line of striped childrens clothes. It might be difficult to spot the small P&P label on their garments but you will always recognise their signature stripes. And those stripes stand for everything that P&P stands for. And this I would probably summarise as: durable, comfortable and classic, everyday clothing for happy and healthy kids.

Other retail brands with signature products would be GANT with their classic light blue or white cotton shirts or Peak Performance with their hooded sweatshirts in extremely durable quality. These mid-range priced clothing brands have understood that owning a certain style, pattern or cut will add to creating lasting brand impact. Something that more expensively priced, luxury clothing brands have adopted for years - and I am just thinking of Mulberry as the perfect example now.

The advantage of owning a certain pattern, cut or look must be great. They would be the same as for Heinz with their classic ketchup, or for Coca-Cola with their coke. It is a line of products that you can trust, a constant cash-cow which you can utilise to support new ventures.

So why are they not all doing it? Why can you not find any signature brand products at e.g. H&M, Kappahl or Sisters? Or the brittish brand Next or Oasis? Why don't they create something lasting that people return to buy year after year, and always feel proud wearing? Well, one reason might be that they feel that their commitment to fashion is too strong. And that signature products may ruin their fashion credentials.

Would they? Personally I think there is a middle way, and that the Polarn & Pyret, GANT and Peak examples show the power of signature products in the fashion industry. If signature branded products fit the brand, and offer something special and a sense of pride for the owner, they create strong brand impact through the thousands of people wearing them with pride, year after year.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Electrolux - commitment to 'Thinking of You'

Yesterday I spotted a great ad by Electrolux in the newspaper - it was highlighting one of their vacuum cleaners. But instead of focusing on the vacuum cleaner message I spotted the Electrolux brand tagline 'Thinking of you'.

I had not seen that tagline before. Is it maybe new? But when I saw it I was so pleased to see that Electrolux has such a strong commitment to consumers. Based on news in the marketplace, hirings and their recent, successful launches I have already understood that something is happening at Electrolux. During the last few years they have moved from a technically driven appliances manufacturer to a consumer insight centric solution provider. Electrolux is deeply committed to consumer centric and insight driven innovation, and it was fantastic to see that this commitment has also translated to their brand communication. I think the total change to a consumer centric company will continue but whilst their at it and beyond I believe we will see great things from Electrolux. I'm not only looking to buy a sexy Ergorapido vacuum cleaner asap (how did they manage to make a vacuum cleaner sexy and desirable?) but will also look into buying some shares...  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tesco unveils upgraded value range

Gosh - it certainly isn't easy to find some space to write anything these days. I am on maternity leave - now with two little kids in the house. It is magical but it has also been quite a change to handle the switch from one to two. And the change has certainly resulted in very few moments for myself so far.
But I do want to share an interesting newsflash that I read today. This time about Tesco, one of the worlds largest and most innovative retailers. Tesco is the king of private label branding and now they've upgraded and rebranded their low cost, low frills Tesco Value range. The Value range has been part of the Tesco offer for a very long time. This portfolio of blue and white striped products was launched more than twenty years ago and includes products across all categories and grocery aisles.

Now the Value range that we have seen so far is history. During these years of recession and European economic turmoil Tesco has decided to update and upgrade the Value portfolio. Its revamped look and feel is developed to add higher quality associations. And the new brand name of ' Everyday Value' should demonstrate that this is more than a design upgrade. Tesco has reviewed the entire portfolio and upgraded the range of products with more modern, desirable food whilst getting rid of nasties such as MSG across the whole range.

It may seem a bit surprising that Tesco has decided to do this change now - at a time when one would assume that many Brits would be bargain hunters and rather interested in the 'old' Value range. But I think that Tesco is right on track with this change - and maybe it should have happened sooner. I assume that this move is based on a long-term decline in sales of the Value range and that the 'old' Value range wasn't seen to reflect positively on Tesco as a quality brand and grocery chain.

Behind this I also believe that this move represents a longer-term change in western society. Consumers have become more quality and health aware. And to only focus on 'cheap' and 'bargain' isn't enough anymore. Fewer are prepared to make the trade-off between cheap, empty calories and nutritious food.  When producers or grocery chains focus on this single-minded message of 'cheap' it comes with negative associations to 'bad quality and bad for me', resulting in declining sales of the cheapest products in store... 

So it is interesting to see that the largest Swedish grocery chain ICA just launched their 'Basic' range concept. A range that is... well, basic... It's red and white clinical exterior doesn't appeal to anyone with an interest in food or nutrition, but is solely focused on the cash stripped bargain hunters. I would not be surprised if ICA looked west when developing this range, inspired by the 'old' Tesco Value look and feel. So, given the Tesco move away from this focus it will certainly be interesting to see how well this line of products is being received in Sweden.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Philadelphia cream cheese with Cadbury chocolate - a launch with potential?

Today I heard about this interesting co-branding launch by Kraft Foods. It has been two years since Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury, and now Kraft Foods is joining two of its most famous brands together by marrying Britain’s most famous chocolate brand with Philadelpia cream cheese. And Kraft has high hopes for the new launch targeting £10m in sales in the first year alone.

In the UK this product will be launched in February 2012. And it will be merchandised next to the other chilled cheese spreads and the plain Philadelphia. It will be sold in a 160g tub and a 120g four-pack of mini tubs (both rsp: £1.62). The launch will be supported with a £3.2m marketing budget.

In Germany and Italy Kraft already offers chocolate variants of Philadelphia through the Milka chocolate brand. And in those markets they focus on the breakfast occasion. The interesting thing here is that in these markets consumers are already used to using chocolate spread - Nutella is very popular in both Germany and Italy. I now look forward to see how the Brits and the country of Marmite respond to the idea of sweet rather than savoury on their toasts..

And in the UK Kraft has understood that they cannot position the Philadelphia Cadbury spread against the same occasion as in those markets. Instead consumer research has identified Philadelphia with Cadbury as a snack, rather than as a breakfast spread. The question is if the 'snack' occasion will be big and interesting enough to pursue in the longer term... Time will tell...