Archive for the 'Collaboration' Category

KIND Snacks: Starting a healthy conversation

December 23, 2015

Daniel Lubetzky had the lofty goal of starting a company both economically sustainable and socially impactful. In 2004, after ten years as a social entrepreneur, he started KIND Snacks. Now valued at more than 700M USD, the company still follows his vision to build a community, a movement, and ultimately a company with the goal of doing the right thing.

It was early in his career, however, when Daniel Lubetzky learned the hard way that a mission does not sell a product, the product sells the product. Back in the early Nineties when he was starting PeaceWorks, Lubetzky methodically walked the streets of Manhattan selling dried tomato spreads. Peaceworks produced Mediterranean spreads and other goods, but Lubetzky’s pitch focused on the company’s model to try to promote peace in the Middle East by sourcing and partnering with companies from regions in conflict — Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesian, and Sri Lanka. He wouldn’t leave a store until they either bought his product or told him what he should do to improve it. Through these interactions with store buyers he realized Middle East peace wasn’t selling the spreads, the spreads were selling the spreads. So, he soon put quality first, even when it was more time consuming and expensive.

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As Lubetzky himself notes in his book Do the KIND Thing, “Yes, increasingly consumers are focused on ensuring that the companies they buy products or services from are genuine members of their communities, doing their part to make this a better world. But that is not a substitute for delivering on the functional merits. First and foremost, the product must stand on its own.”

After a decade of positive press with KIND snacks, it came as a surprise to Lubetzky when the FDA sent KIND a letter this year indicating that four of its bars were in violation of marketing labeling guidelines for the use of the word healthy and the plus sign.

Like many others would do, KIND responded immediately and adjusted its labels. Unlike others, they took the slap on the wrist as a way to start a conversation on what it means to eat healthy and how the FDA guidelines may be misleading. On December 1, 2015, KIND submitted a citizen petition to the FDA, asking the agency to update their requirements related to food labeling in order to reflect a shift in dietary guidelines that focus on whole foods that help achieve and maintain wellness, rather than on specific nutrient levels.

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This move, which if made by a different snack company could look like just another lobbying effort, has been embraced by KIND’s stakeholders as a way of doing something good for the community: aiming to help people recognize and understand distinctions between whole foods and processed, low-fat “healthy” foods. This permission is given because the snack company has built its brand with the hope of spreading kindness. One example of this is the #kindawesome initiative –part of the company’s KIND movement- that is“a little program we cooked up to celebrate kind acts everywhere, spot a kind act, give a KIND snack. On us!” Anyone can send KIND snacks to recognize an act of kindness via twitter, Facebook, or email to people they’ve spotted doing everyday kind things.

See Daniel Lubetzky at BRITE ’16 (March 7-8, NYC) to learn more about his story and KIND.

BY GABRIELA TORRES PATIÑO

New Opportunities for Brands in Africa

September 3, 2014

A PwC’s survey of Global CEOs found that despite 74 percent of respondents expecting to grow their operations in the next 12 months; only 13 percent currently have key operations in Africa. There is ample opportunity for brands to be pioneers in the market.

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP is estimated to reach 5.2 percent in 2014, while global growth is estimated to rise by 3.7 percent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that out of the 20 countries with the highest expected GDP growth in 2014, nine are from Sub-Saharan Africa, with Sierra Leon’s GDP projected to reach 13.04 percent by the end of the year.

Economic growth in the region is fueled by mobile tech: The Ericsson Consumer Lab forecasts that by the end of 2014, “there will be over 635 million [mobile] subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is predicted to rise to around 930 million by the end of 2019.”

Africans are using mobile technology to optimize markets, to improve health care, and to voice their opinions. It is not surprising that Africa’s top two most valued brands are MTN, a South African telecom service company, and Vodacom, South Africa’s largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers. In fact, MTN is the only African brand to make it to the top 100 list of MillwardBrown’s BrandZ tracker.

Big tech brands (like Google, Nokia, Samsung, IBM, Microsoft and Intel) are not wasting time, bringing more products to market and building research facilities in Africa. In a recent post for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Erik Hersman, co-founder of Ushahidi and founder of iHub -an Innovation hub and hacker space for the technology community in Nairobi-, explained that “big tech companies [are] viewing Africa as the last blue ocean of consumer demand for technology.”

African consumers are tired of being misrepresented and are using mobile technologies and social media to speak up about product performance, customer service, and advertising.

Take the example of Kenyans on Twitter (#KOT). During the 2013 attacks at Westgate Mall in Nairobi, #KOT denounced CNN with the hashtag #someoneTellCNN for reports showing Kenya as a nation in chaos while they were suffering a terrorist attack.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation reports that in 2013, “Sixty-eight percent of Twitter users in Africa relied on the platform as a primary source of information on national news.”

Strategy

When developing a strategy for Africa, it’s important to consider that: 1) word of mouth (empowered by mobile) is the predominant way of communication, and 2) market research in the continent is very limited, making it extremely important to learn about the aspirations of local communities when designing your strategy.

Since many common products are new for local markets, word of mouth — both in person and through mobile platforms — will help brands provide customers with stories to tell about their products, and will give these brands the opportunity to educate consumers on how to use those products.

Gerhard Fritz, Divisional Manager for the Shoprite Group of companies, told PwC : “What works in other parts of the world may not work in Africa. People in Africa have a proud heritage; they don’t take kindly to others coming and telling them what to do. Our perspective is to think of every business as local.”

Building trust is especially important in an environment where shoppers maintain a strong brand consciousness. A 2012 McKinsey survey shows that 59 percent of African grocery shoppers are loyal to their favorite brands, compared to 38 percent who chose the cheapest offer.

Educating customers about the use of new products will make or break your brand. In Nakumatt stores, for example, shoppers tried to put black mascara on their lips because they didn’t know what it was for. Now, according to the Financial Times, the chain is setting up “free nail bars and makeovers to spread the word and tempt new customers for more expensive western brands entering the market, including Revlon and L’Oréal’s Maybelline.”

Understanding how locals are using products will give you clues on how to market to them. Think about the contrasts that are part of the daily life of your customers: from fetching water for their households, to actively using mobile phones to get livestock price updates.

Brands entering or repositioning in Africa will need to pioneer market research efforts in the continent; understand how Africans use mobile technologies and embrace these technologies as part of their strategy; and earn the trust of African customers.

Their strategies should be both global yet hyper-local, and consider partnerships with established brands which will share knowledge of distribution channels and influencers, and how to participate in informal economies.

BY GABRIELA TORRES PATIÑO

Enhancing Consumer Performance in Idea Generation

April 28, 2014

Toubia_IdeaGenerationIt can be argued that there is a science to ideation and innovation; it’s not “strictly” about creative inspiration and throwing caution to the wind. More and more, companies in a variety of industries are looking to consumers for fresh ideas (i.e. My Starbucks Idea).

Columbia Business School’s Olivier Toubia and Marshall School of Business’ Lan Luo found that for effective consumer ideation, the research process cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. Their study, Fostering Consumer Performance in Idea Generation, offers research to help marketers and research and development teams to extract “better quality ideas from consumers and to identify their needs to inform new product and service development.”

Toubia and Luo write, “As firms… increasingly seek out consumers’ ideas in various domains, they will encounter individuals with different levels of domain-specific knowledge.” They segmented such individuals as low-knowledge and high-knowledge with regards to a particular area of interest. But with consumer segments at different ends of the knowledge spectrum come challenges in extracting insights. “The performance of low-knowledge consumers is likely to be hindered by their lack of relevant knowledge in the problem domain…,” note Toubia and Luo. “[High-knowledge] consumers often do not perform in accordance with their full potential (due to factors such as shallow processing and inattention).”

Despite the discrepancy in depth of knowledge, each segment provides valuable insights on said domain. The study examines the interplay and outlines a process for creating customized ways to mitigate such obstacles, so companies may experience enhanced consumer performance in idea generation. Further, their research explores ways to apply this customized task system to open innovation platforms conducted online, a practice many brands currently use.

Download Fostering Consumer Performance in Idea Generation to learn more about taking a strategic approach to consumer ideation.

BY ALLIE ABODEELY

CMO insights from IBM’s Global C-suite Study

April 28, 2014

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For more than a decade, IBM has built upon research to produce its C-suite Studies series, one of the largest collections of C-level executive insights. Its latest research Stepping Up to the Challenge: CMO Insights from the Global C-Suite Study focuses on how CMOs “are helping their enterprises become more ‘customer-activated.’”

IBM Institute for Business Value found that employing a revenue-generating, customer-centric strategy can stem from digital marketing capabilities. But despite digital being a current area of focus for CMOs, it’s a world many still struggle with. Specifically, less than 20% of CMOs interviewed for the study “have integrated their company’s interactions with customers across different channels, installed analytical programs to mine customer data and created digitally enabled supply changes to respond rapidly to changes in customer demand….” Such CMOs are segmented as “Digital Pacesetters” in the report.

The issue isn’t that the other +80% are fire-walling technology, but rather they grapple with maneuvering through the explosion of data, and tethering digital media to bottom line numbers. As one CMO (anon.) in the study explains, “We know what we want to do. Our biggest challenge is creating the data infrastructure.”

This translates into potential missed opportunities. IBM Institute for Business Value reports, “There’s a close link between the degree of digital acumen CMOs display and the financial performance of the enterprises for which they work.” The research revealed that many CMOs have de-prioritized monetizing social media. They are “presumably finding it too difficult or see social mainly as a tool for building awareness and forging connections.”

While CMOs are becoming a stronger force when it comes to influencing CEOs on strategy, second only to CFOs, it’s the CMOs’ relationships with Chief Innovation Officers that generate results. IBM Institute for Business Value reports that businesses are 76% more likely to outperform in terms of revenues and profitability when CMOs and CIOs effectively work together.

According to the study, analytics are top priority for CIOs. IBM Institute for Business Value suggests partnering with CIOs to create an infrastructure for scalable cognitive analytics that produce actionable customer insights. It cautions not to be “all things to all people,” but rather concentrate analytics on those customer lifecycle phases that will be of utmost importance to your business in the next few years.

IBM Analytics InvestmentDigital Pacesetters, notes IBM Institute for Business Value, are “actively investing in the later phases of the customer lifecycle, where digital channels make the biggest difference.” While traditional phases end with the transaction, Pacesetters look at the bigger picture – focusing resources on long-term relationships and cross-channel experiences to turn customers into loyalists and collaborators and encouraging them to share these experiences. Such companies, per the study, “are 59 percent more likely to be outperformers.”

Download the complete study to learn more about IBM’s findings and strategizing digital.

BY ALLIE ABODEELY

Retail as a Media Channel: Rachel Shechtman’s STORY

April 23, 2014

STORY_Color-STORYRachel Shechtman is redefining the way we measure success in brick and mortar retail. Her 2000 square foot store in New York City–STORY–has the point of view of a magazine, changes decor like an art gallery, and sells products like a store. Against the odds, Shechtman’s innovative concept and business model drove STORY to be profitable by the end of its first year–physical retailers usually break even by year three.

STORY is intended to create unique experiences meant for the physical world and offers the type of in-person interactions that stimulate emotional brand associations which lead to word-of-mouth publicity. Shechtman explained during the BRITE ’14 conference that while digital retail has considerably progressed in the past twenty years, stores have remained in many ways static and, “judged only by their sales per square foot.”

Shechtman is redefining how to build a successful retail store in two main ways: by using brands as sponsors that contribute to the store’s concept, content, and revenue, and by monitoring the impact of the store experience, as much as its sales per square foot.

Like a magazine, STORY has an editorial perspective, releasing a new “issue” every few weeks. It engages shoppers by partnering with brands to rotate its design and merchandise around carefully curated content and experiences. Like an art gallery, the team behind STORY creates immersive experiences that encourage participation from store visitors, transforming every aspect of the environment: from wall color and textures to merchandise and fixtures.

STORY’s model of innovation through brand sponsorship helps bring a different source of revenue and provides unique encounters that cannot be experienced anywhere else. The Making Things STORY edition –sponsored by GE– used 75% of the space for “pure experiences,” with laser cutters and injection molding machines available for customers to make plastic robots, jewelry, sunglasses, and customized MetroCard holders.

In 2012, STORY partnered with Benjamin Moore to create the Color STORY, where Benjamin Moore got to showcase its newest collection, Color Stories, and present a session, “The Power of Color & its De-Stressing Benefits,” led by a Benjamin Moore senior designer and a color marketing expert. They taught attendees how to use color in small living spaces with the purpose of detoxing and de-stressing. Shechtman pointed out that not only does this provide a second revenue stream for STORY, but it enables the brand to be their own storyteller. As she explains, “Benjamin Moore knows a lot more about color than Rachel Shechtman or the STORY team.”

The current issue, Good STORY, features a combination of brands including TOMS, Uncharted Play, ROMA boots, and Bombas socks, focusing on the stories behind the products, their missions and their vision for social change. As explained on STORY’s website, “each product tells a story that matters because it’s a story of people joining together to do something good.”

BY GABRIELA TORRES PATIÑO

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