Smart and Effective Ideas Making Way Into People’s Lives
By Han Sang-hee
International trend-watching firm, trendwatching.com, once again underlines the importance of innovation in their new report titled ``Innovation Jubilation.'' The economy is still gloomy as ever, and the only way for both consumers and businesses to survive is to come up with bright ideas.
The economic forecast is still gloomy and so it seems the Free Love (not to be confused with the social movement of the '60s and '70s) trend will continue. With innovative ideas, this trend will get consumers coming for more, even after the gloomy days are over.
Univera is a natural product company and one of the many Mecenat companies here. In order to pay back the community for their support, Univera offers a free concert every Wednesday at the Univera Eco-net Center in southern Seoul. The event offers a range of music genres and artists, including violinist Eugene Park, singer songwriter Ahn Chi-hwan and pop group Sweet Sorrow.
``The concert was organized as we wanted to realize our company's vision, which is Serve First. The event will always be free, and we will continue to bring high quality performances for our consumers,'' an executive from Univera said.
Meanwhile, American band No Doubt also gave away free downloads of its entire digital audio catalogue, which comprised more than 80 songs from the band's studio albums, to fans who bought tickets for the group's tour. Free love for the best customers can inspire brand love and also keep them listening.
``If saving is the new spending, then selling is the new saving.'' Whether its selling ideas to corporations or renting out unused property, consumers will do anything to make money by being a bit smarter than everyone else.
Parking is a big deal, especially at places where space is scarce, and bright businesses are offering parking spaces for busy drivers.
Parkingspots.com (www.parkingspots.com) connects those who have parking spaces to rent out on a monthly basis, while at www.parkatmyhouse.com, drivers can even pre-book a spot daily. UK-based Spareground (www.spareground.com) is a marketplace for any kind of unused space. Space owners simply create a listing with the space's description, location and price, and customers can search by category or keyword, contact the owner directly and arranged terms.
Hollrr (www.hollrr.com) encourages fans of specific products to spread the word to their friends via email, online networking site Facebook and blogging service Twitter and then rewards them with deposits into Amazon Flexible Payment Accounts. This way, customers become salespeople, saving personnel but still spreading the word to the public.
Kids, Teens & Moms
Many companies wish to attract everyone in the market, especially the moneymakers, but it's important to realize that they are not the only target audience. Trendwatching.com points out that if many businesses don't come up with smart products for babies, mothers, teens and even gays, they will not be able to survive in the industry, let alone become a trend innovator.
Beverage companies Lotte Chilsung with Delmont Koal Koal Koala, and Haitai Beverage with its Zoo Zoo Club, and Sunkist Kids have geared up to attract young customers,.
Outdoor wear company North Face and Kolon Sport now have a clothing line for kids, from colorful socks, jackets, shoes, caps and other accessories.
Although not a product, Seongdong and Dongdaemun in Seoul offer women-only parking spaces designed to help female drivers. The parking spaces are a bit larger than ordinary, giving consideration to children and baby carriages, and are also arranged in bright and open places.
The Brand Butler trend enables companies to realize the importance of innovative campaigns that will successfully imprint the brand into the customers' minds.
Beer company Heineken teamed up with design agency UXUS to create a distinctive airport lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. The Heineken Lounge offers travelers various luxurious goods and services, including private conversation booths, comfortable seats and a variety of beer served on tap.
Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics will board one of the most luxurious cruise ships, the MSC Splendida. The electronics giant will provide some of its best products such as television sets and monitors. Some companies team up with popular television dramas to promote their products, like flooring material company Donghwamaru and Haengnam Chinaware. By appearing on television in a more subtle way, these companies also saw a subtle jump in interest and sales.
Off and On
Going online is now one of the fastest and most effective ways to stay alert to any innovative and new ideas, and some companies are going further into the digital world.
For bread and cookie lovers, Baker Tweet offers technology that alerts customers via Twitter, any time a fresh batch of baked goods emerges from a participating bakery's oven. The service is still in its prototype form in London, but the idea is fast, innovative, digital and also tasty.
In Korea's case, this ``Off and On'' trend is used in numerous examples, from alerting the water temperature to fishermen and those related in the fishery industry to real-time news being sent to subscribed users through email and cell phones.
Environment-friendly ideas are never out of style and more businesses, and even countries, are gearing up for more creative and effective ideas.
Commuting with bicycles is now nothing new, and various companies are starting to come up with related ideas and services.
Cycle2City is the first full-service facility for bike commuters in Australia, providing not only space to store and repair bikes, but also a space where cyclists can take a shower and change into business attire. Members can use the facilities from bike parking, air conditioned locker rooms, showers, laundry services at a certain cost. For more information, visit www.cycle2city.com.au.
Although in its initial stage, Korea has also showed interest in bike commuting, and so many areas have already revamped sidewalks and roads for bike riders. Changwon city will support commuters who travel on more than 15 days with their bikes with 30,000 won, while steel maker POSCO purchased 1,400 bikes for workers at its Pohang steel mill. The government is also looking into cooperating with local car manufacturers to develop more advanced bikes, such as hybrid bikes that use batteries and lightweight bikes equipped with some of the latest technology
Map Mania is one way to explain the complex, yet convenient way of living today. From cars to cell phones, people can find maps everywhere, and with businesses coming up with innovative ideas regarding maps, life will probably become much easier, informative, and even more fun, than before.
While UK-based sound system manufacturer Harman Kardon offers a site called Amplified Journeys (www.amplifiedjourneys.hk) that gives users driving directions and matching play lists of location inspired music, Louis Vuitton Soundwalk takes users on a digital audio tour around cities such as Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.
Yahoo Korea offers users a map service for real estate (http://realestate.yahoo.co.kr). People can find everything they need to know about the area, from prices, market conditions, schools, transportation and even the amount of time from the location to the workplace.
``The map offers everything they need when looking into real estate and we believe this will help them save time and also effort,'' a Yahoo Korea official said.
Gyeonggi Tourism Organization also offers its ``Thankyou Map,'' where visitors can choose from a total of 44 tour routes and even experience the route before the trip by taking a digital tour through the Web site. For more information, visit www.ethankyou.co.kr.
Localizing is another easy way to attract customers suffering from the recession. While this trend flourished in the offline world in previous years, now localizing is happening in the online world as well, targeting a much larger crowd than before.
As the newspaper industry struggles, the New York Times is backing ``The Local,'' a community of news and information Web sites, catering to residents living in New York and New Jersey. With the help of both professional and citizen journalism and targeting stories happening in the five areas, the Local is attracting residents with news straight from their everyday lives.
Microsoft's Windows 7 is also looking into localizing with special features for the Korean public. The company hired a Korean language expert to translate English words into flawless Korean, and also prepared special Korean themes in sounds, screen savers and wallpapers.
Less and Longing
Despite some rosy forecasts of the economy, customers are not willing to splurge as they used to. Consumers are cutting down on goods and services, with the exception of just a few comforting and useful indulgences.
Cell phones are now a must, and New Jersey-based Rentobile (www.rentobile.com) provides a selection of the latest cell phones for rent on a monthly basis. Consumers don't have to be burdened with a long-term contract, and they can also try out various devices for a short time and quickly switch to another one.
Graduation is one of those days when you have to look your best, as the photos taken that day will last forever. Taking graduation photos can sometimes be a huge splurge, as finding the right outfit may cost you. For those who don't want to spend a lot of money for an outfit they will probably never wear again but still want to look their best, Hyundai Department store offers more than 200 outfits for graduate students to rent during their graduation week. The outfits can be rented for three days for 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2117-1403. The service continues through May 31.