Wednesday, November 08, 2006

FutureTrends Conference - 11-07-06

8:00 Chairperson’s Welcome & Opening Remarks
Despite the fact that most companies won’t say in detail what they’ve found regarding trends, the real skill is in being able to relate the data back to your company’s brand.

1. Brand Collaboration
2. Green is the new black – Hybrid cars, e.g.
3. The power of people – Utube, etc.
4. Cause Marketing – e.g. Red Campaign for Africa from Gap, Apple, etc.
5. Experiential – It’s not just about product features but about engaging all their senses
6. Contextual computing – E.g. GE’s demo smart kitchen
7. Connectivity
8. Long tail – You don’t have to be a global brand, you can make $ in niches

8:30 Lifestyle Trends: How People Live (Colin Cowie)
Look for inspiration broadly. He spends half his time seeking inspiration and half giving inspiration.

There’s a trend in affordable luxury.

I think the types of goods Colin Cowie provides to consumers contribute value by simply being new. It’s the contrast principle maybe. The benefit of something new is that it provides a contrast in appearance, texture, etc. It breaks up monotony. Maybe occasionally something new also provides a new intrinsic benefit, but I’m wondering if it’s mostly the element of newness. How else can fashion from one decade come back into vogue thirty years later? It doesn’t stop providing intrinsic benefits, it just stops looking new, goes away, and then looks new again decades later.

9:30 Understanding the Mind: Why the current marketing model will collapse the market
You have to understand some basics about people to understand trends.

A majority in the room works more than 1000 miles from where they were born. The US is a migrant population. It’s as much of a genetic experiment as a social and political one.

The US is the only country based on the pursuit of dreams.

The American business model is based on self interest, individualism, let the market do as it will (it’s self-regulating). It works.

11:30 Tapping into the power of the Internet to advance new trends (HP)
How to analyze industry implications for technologies?

- Assess how the digital transformation will play out in your industry.
- Develop a model that connects the implications of the Internet to your industry’s digital transformation.
- Build products and solutions to take advantage of the new economic model

Case Study: Printing
Implications of the digital transformation and the Internet on printing.

The evolution of printing…what’s the history of the technology and the pace of change in the industry. First inkjet printing happened 30K years ago by mixing saliva and pigments and spitting it on a cave wall. 25K years later, the Gutenberg Press was invented. It was the first time we were able to mass produce print. It led to an information explosion and the Europe becoming the “center of the world”. In the 1900’s the Offset Press was invented to allow a new scale of mass printing, this remains the primary mode of printing even today. Then Silver Halide came along, allowing photography, and the user to be involved in the creation of the image. We then saw Laser Jet and inkjet printing which allowed the user to have their own print factory.

There are 5 reasons people print:

1. Permanent
2. Portable
3. Personal
4. Price effective
5. Scalable

Two key models they use:

1. Supply Chain Model (create => distribute => consume)
2. 2 x 2: who generates the content (users vs. professional) x run length, ability to cost effectively produce something (short vs. long)

Traditionally movies were professional content with a long run length, but now with sites like you get user content with a short run length, not to mention you get more feedback.

1:45 Trending Process from Start to Finish: Getting Trends through the system (General Mills)

Trend Monitoring:
8 cross functional divisions:

1. Cereal
2. Pillsbury
3. Baking
4. Meals
5. Yoplait
6. Small Planet Foods
7. Snacks
8. Food Service

Cross functional teams involves not only R&D and Marketing but also functions such as finance.

Three audiences to speak to:

1. Company at Large
2. Established Products Brand Teams
3. New Product Brand Teams

They have to communicate to the whole company.

Consumer Insights is the name for consumer research at General Mills

There are a lot of internal definitions of trends, so they’ve developed a Trend Framework:

Macro Forces => Consumer values => Consumer behavior => Application for GMI

Macro Forces:
Natural Disaster
Tech Advances

Consumer Values:
Safety Security

Consumer Behavior:
Purchase of premium goods
Re-centering, time at home
Engagement in public service

The group has 8 people, which is part of a larger 180-person organization.

The 8 people are broken down by Growth Targets, Health

Four offerings from the group:

1. Companywide identification and communication of 4-6 trends
2. Deep content dives & divisional knowledge transfer
3. Trends speaker series & subscriptions
4. Agency outreach

Companywide identification and communication of 4-6 trends:
August 2005 presentation covered 5 trends: retail power, moms of today, wellness mindset, Hispanics, co-creation

With retail power they were looking at mindset. They were trying to point out the conundrum of where General Mills was focusing.

With moms of today, they were looking at a new way to think about moms. It’s easy to think “there’s mom, she’s making food, she’s giving it to her kids, she’s nurturing”. But their roles in the kitchen have changed. They’re delegating more: take-out, or having kids and dads help. How have the events of the last few decades changed how moms have approached nurturing.

With wellness, they were looking at products. How can you achieve indulgence with wellness? Consumers are learning that dark chocolate have beneficial antioxidants, for instance.

With Hispanics they were talking to the strategy group. The point was to “scare” senior management to commit to spending against Hispanics. So they showed demographic information to show how big the segment was. They were able to get senior management to commit to “use-it-or-lose-it” funding, meaning the BU had to use the funding on Hispanics or lose it at the end of the year.

With co-creation, we were looking at an innovation process change. We wanted consumers to become a part of the team.

Company Wide identify & communication of 4-6 key trends. They’d see the presentations, like it, do some brainstorming, applaud. So this year they did a trends exhibit. They had 1000 people from the company walk through. Each took an “ideation” pad. You’d walk through the exhibits and make notes, putting the notes on a wall at the end. Each exhibit had 2 monitors to show some ethnographic data, and a handout. Of the 6 stations, 3 were done by different groups. The organizer did the three others. For the audio tour component, they used their own A/V equipment and chose walkmen. They chose walkmen over DVD because they were afraid that the executives would accidentally press skip. They had 60 walkmen and were able to pull it off on the cheap.

For deep content dives, they offer Immersion Days. For 12-100 people, they give a presentation (either internal or external or a consumer panel). A ton of ideation exercises are offered to get the ideas flowing. In addition to Immersion Days, they’ll offer presentations, which include a discussion. Finally, they offer facilitated workshops to develop concepts. It’s one-time, lasting one-day.

They also offer trends speaker series. They have subscriptions to NPD, Yankelovich, GC Roper Reports, Mintel, iconoculture, etc.

Internal Innovation Consulting
The trends / insights team generates a lot of insights. The internal consulting group turns it into a business opportunity over 3-4 months.

The phases: Immersion > Integration > Synthesis

For their snacks division, the objective was to build a pipeline of healthy snacks.

* consumer interpretation of health trends
* Health mindset translated outside of food categories
* New healthy snack product & position ideas

For the Immersion phase, they leveraged existing knowledge both external and internal. It was leveraged through people, products, and printed material.

For external/internal data, the looked at newspapers, magazines, Gallup, Hartman, Mintel, Nielsen purchased reports, etc. They assigned 2 people for different sections (literally binders). They were given 1 week to read it and then get back together to synthesize the data.

They then used the Global New Products Database (GNPD). It consists of new products from all over the world. This uncovered global new snack search & examples and individual reviews.

For cutting edge, cross-category wellness products, they conducted competitive product review.

After Immersion came the Interact phase. In this phase, it’s important to do experiential learning. They look at extreme customers, such as Whole Foods (as opposed to like a Kroeger). One activity was to do the circle of friends activity. Each participant would do at-home circle of friends. They also conducted customer ethnography (in-store and in-home). Suddenly the seeds planted in the Immersion phase starts to sprout. They also conducted netnography, looking at blogs.

For the Synthesis phase, they conducted improvisation instruction. They used an improve instructor to help them get into the heads and bodies of the consumer. They then conducted some creative writing (hiring a Duke University Professor) exercise. The synthesis tools were designed to develop deeper empathy.

They put everything onto an opportunity map. Opportunities consist of short vignettes describing the problem from the consumer standpoint. They shared an example on heart health.

They come up with a pipeline of opportunities that will keep the division busy for the next 3 years.

2:35 Translating Trends into Actionable Business Opportunities

They were interested in the popularization of wine. It has traditionally represented aristocracy. But in the last 20 years it has become more commonplace.

Their approach was to get to know the category and identify the driving forces behind this trend. Their approach was to talk to a number of different people. They spread their net pretty wide to begin with.

Consumer drivers seemed to be home entertaining, life stresses, and wine education that is increasing. On the retail side, Wal-Mart introduced its own wine label in 2000 and the “2 buck chuck” from Trader Joe’s.

Industry drivers seemed to be the internationalization of wine. There’s Australia desire to dominate the US with Shiraz.

Other drivers included a recent supreme court rule being over turned and the movie Sideways.

This research gave them more confidence that this was an actual trend going on.

How could this leaning be turned into a business opportunity? It’s really about understanding the drivers of the trend and how the company’s capabilities can be leveraged.

They took a stab at segmentation. There’s the box-wine drinkers, the chardonnay drinkers, the label-buyers, the entertainer enthusiast, the wine lover, and the trophy collector.

They began to look then at products that existed out there. A lot of them looked very gadgety. There’s an electronic wine guide, telling them that consumers did want to learn more about wine. Consumers also wanted to learn more about the proper temperature for serving wine. They looked at problems with existing products. Consumers were are also looking to enhance the flavor of wine. Protecting opened bottles of wine was important too. But these preservation tools didn’t seem very sophisticated.

They then turned to the commercial environment. There were some devices that could perform more sophisticated functions, things that consumers wanted such as chilling, temperature monitoring, and preservation.

So how to address the needs of consumers in the home? Could the commercial equipment be housed in such a way as to be useful and non-gadgety for the home? So they invented a device for home use.

But that wasn’t considered a business, just a product, so they looked beyond wine. They learned that people were drinking for different reasons: stress relief, contentment, celebration, etc. Did the wine insights translate into other businesses? The real growth was in the high-end spirits (e.g. Kettle One).

They went out to confirm the consumer need through immersion. I bet that was fun.

They wrote a “business opportunity” consisting of a short business plan.

This process took 1.5 years ago and the product should be in the market next year.

3:50 Ethnography in Action (Pitney Bowes)
Pitney Bowes spent time watching people opening the mail. He noticed that managers would get interrupted all the time. Carry away: there are things to be learned by looking carefully.

Overview of talk:
- The innovation pipeline
- Ethnography
- Role of the ethnographer

They’re looking for business opportunities that:

1 – Fulfills customer needs
2 – Technically possible
3 – Financially worthwhile
4 – Fits the strategy and capabilities of Pitney Bowes

His group takes the lead on 1 and 2. The lines of business take the lead on 3 and 4. But there’s partnership at every step.

The Innovation Pipeline:
Business Unit frames a strategic question. For example a change occurs in the fed regulations or an unmet need is identified and the customer. They put 2 people on the project and it’s ready to test. Their Concept Studios of generate an idea. They then produce customer prototypes. A lot of ideas get put on the shelf along the way.

For example, there’s a problem with undeliverable mail. They’ve come up with a concepts to address this problem.

Customer-centered innovation – how we work:

1. Ethnography to understand needs.
2. Ideation centered on customer needs.
3. Prototype as the language of innovation
4. Iterates like mad

Ethnography: Making the strange familiar and the familiar strange.

Systematic Data collection:

Mix Techniques
* Interviewing
* Observation
* Collecting artifacts
* Use a framework (POSTA)* Person (ethnographer)
* Object
* Setting
* Time
* Activity

* Define elements (roles, knowledge)
* Sample across the system

Data => Patterns => Insights => Ideation

More effective than sending an ethnographer out to the customer is to send the whole team out to do the ethnography. The ethnographer’s role is to help keep the team observing.


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