July 26, 2011

Consumers Take the Lead

As technology has greatly increased the speed of information of new ideas and products, companies are always on the hunt of reinventing themselves in new and exciting ways in order to stay relevant to their audience. More and more, brands are adapting to the needs of their customers, and the power of the consumer has increased tremendously thanks to various social media outlets and the rising popularity of user review/recommendation sites. The latest branding and marketing strategies today are more aware of consumers' interests, and furthermore, new business ideas have emerged, solely based on responding to consumers' needs.

Today, we highlight several of the latest trends in branding and marketing across various industries. While each company may offer completely different ideas, all have provided a truly unorthodox approach to growing their business. So in no particular order, let's have a look!

video via: Nike +1 from Kunal Kshirsagar on Vimeo

1. Nike +1
Since technology and social media are two of the biggest influencers today, it is no wonder Nike's latest concept, Nike +1, is a perfect example of what people are looking for. Designed to motivate your run while also finding you a running partner, Nike +1 uses a Bluetooth chip in your shoe to alert other runners nearby. With an option of either "Push" or "Steady", the program pairs you up with either faster or similar speed runners. If there is a match, you are alerted and can invite the person to join you on your run. If accepted, you can also sync your playlists so you both listen to the same music. To encourage their customers, the Nike+ program also offers discounts on Nike products and free +1 playlists. For the most part, social media has largely been feasible only through the Internet. Nike +1, however, takes things to the next level where you can get fit outdoors while also meeting new people.

photo via: Ecouterre

2. Ethical sneaker label Jojo uses Carrier Pigeons
We are all aware how much environmental responsibility has been on every company's mind lately. While many have adopted to using eco-friendly materials or changed their production systems, Brussel-based ethical sneaker label Jojo showcases a very different, and utterly unique, response in their way of being eco-conscious. As a way of reducing their carbon foot print, Jojo introduces their latest mode of transportation: carrier pigeons.

Recognizing that pigeons are known to have excellent memory, the two founders Christoph Nagel and Matthieu Vaxelaire, worked with a pigeon fancier to train a selected group of pigeons to practice carrying the shoe boxes and memorizing customers' homes to make their special delivery. While this may not be the typical delivery system, without a doubt, the pigeons offer an unforgettable experience to the customer that make shoe shopping that much more exciting. Furthermore, each purchase helps plant trees or access to clean water through their partnership with non-profit organizations, Tree-Nation and The Water Project.

photo via: Opening Ceremony

3. Kenzo Appoints Humberto Leon and Carol Lim as Creative Directors
These days, one doesn't have to follow the traditional design route to become the next big designer. Effective July 2011, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, founders of the fashion and retail concept Opening Ceremony, will be the Creative Directors of Paris-based brand Kenzo and debut their first collection this fall. While there have been many celebrity-come-designers, Leon and Lim are a pair that really know what the next generation is looking for. Having founded their retail shop in 2002, the two currently hold successful boutiques in New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo, as well as an e-commerce site. Always ready to embrace the new, they have been quick to adapt to the changing market and started fresh collaborative ideas way before many others with top brands including Rodarte, Maison Martin Margiela, and Chloe Sevigny. Knowing what customers want and aware of the best ways to communicate, Lim and Leon are strong candidates that may hold the secret to turning around and revitalizing this iconic brand.

photo via: NY Times

4. Opinion-based Customer Service
"Listen to your customers" is an old and true adage in the business world. However, how we listen has become entirely different. With the help of feedback-management companies like OpinionLab and Q.R. codes on product labels, companies have a whole new approach to hearing what their customers have to say. With the help of the Internet, companies are easily able to capture customer comments and digitally file them in order to be analyzed. With the ability to sort by types of complaints, customer name, or a period of time, small and large businesses alike are able to take the information, see their current problems, and identify the main issues that they need to work on at a fairly low price.

For example, Great Clips, a nationwide chain of hair salons, found that their number one reason of losing customers is due to the wait. Using the information collected from their customer responses, they introduced an online check-in option through their web site, allowing customers to check current wait times at nearby Great Clips outlets in order to find the fastest, and most convenient location. Lynn Milos, founder of Culinary Twist, also learned through her customer feedback, that most people were not familiar with some of the ingredients, such as  tamarind or dates. With this information, she decided to change how she described the flavor of the product so it was more easily understood to her customers.

video via: Quirky Manifesto from Quirky on Vimeo

5. Quirky.com
Self-described as a "social product development company," Quirky.com virtually allows anyone to propose a new product idea that can eventually be sold to the public. 23-year-old Ben Kaufman, the founder and brainchild of the site, recognized at an early age that anybody can come up with a great idea. Creator of Mophie, a popular brand of iPhone and iPod products, and Bevy, an iPod case that includes a keychain and bottle opener,  Kaufman learned the importance of collaboration and innovation, but envisioned a greater possibility through a technological platform.

Through Quirky, anyone can submit an idea and receive feedback from their site's existing community. Each week, the one with the most votes is nominated to go into further development for actual production. Allowing the community to continue influencing the product idea, the site's users help refine the product until it is complete. After there is a certain number of pre-orders, Quirky is fully responsible in manufacturing and selling the product. Once the sale begins, each person who played a role in its development earns a percentage of the profit for his or her contribution. Only six months old, Quirky holds 13,000 active members, and already produced 30 products, ranging from gadgets, computer accessories, housewares, and toys.


  1. Nimet DegirmenciogluJuly 27, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Thanks for sharing the article. I am not sure about carrier pigeons though !

  2. Wow, super-informative! I'm definitely going to check out OpinionLab, it's always good to connect with your market that emphasizes meeting their needs! Quirky.com sounds quite intriguing as well, I have a few gadget ideas I may need to post!
    Thx so much for the post:)


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