6 new innovations in customer experience

I have been working on innovation dimensions for a few clients recently, and want to share some of the more interesting things that I’ve stumbled across throughout my journey.

Have you seen the “world’s first multi-sensory bar”?  Diageo launched the ‘sensorium’, an experiment in London’s SOHO district to prove the role of senses in enjoying a product or service.

You may or may not know that the leading virtual reality headset maker, Oculus Rift, has been purchased by Facebook for $2b – however will these new headsets finally transform the retail shopper experience?

Retailers have also struggled to integrate loyalty marketing strategies into their store environment without having to rely on POS technology (ie: the shopper at the check-out). Whilst various technologies have been tested, what do you think of Apple’s iBeacons?

They’re location based transmitters that use Bluetooth signals to deliver customized and personalised communication and offers to shoppers via their mobile as they browse around a store. Are they creating a truly enriched customer experience or will they fall by the tech wayside?

Here’s an innovative use of iBeacon technology in the Antwerp Museum

Have you experienced surface technology yet? Check out the adiVerse Virtual Footwear Wall.

And here’s an interesting test of  an electromagnetic dot display

And to finish off, how could I ignore wearable tech. The enterprise tech juggernaut, Salesforce.com, has entered the wearable tech market from a workforce productivity perspective – check out Salesforce Wear

Well there you have it. Just some of the innovations that I’ve stumbled across.

I wonder what innovations you’ve seen recently? Care to share?

Want to become a more effective Content Marketer?

Join me in Melbourne as TrinityP3, WARC and King Content present a half day seminar on “How to become an effective content marketer”.

Content Marketing

1 – 5 pm, Friday 23 May, ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne

Booking essential. Only $25. Details here: trinityp3.com/business-events

Case studies from innovative leaders at the AANA & WFA Global Marketers Conference 2014

I attended the AANA & WFA Global Marketers Conference 2014 (aana.com.au/gmc2014) with Darren Wolley and fellow Senior Consultants at TrinityP3.

There were some great speakers including Martin Riley, CMO, Pernod Ricard; Marc Mathieu, Senior VP Marketing, Unilever; Michelle Froah, APAC Senior Regional Marketing Director, Kimberly-Clark; Ed Sanders, Director of Marketing, Glass Google; and the legendary Sir John Hegarty, Founder and Creative Partner, Bartle Bogarty Hegarty to name drop a few.

Like most events I go to these days, I tend to feel that we’re all talking about the same topics as we pave our way through this new era of business and marketing.

Brand advertisers have woken up to realising that they’re “not just digital marketers, but marketers in a digital world.” And people-centric, purpose-driven marketing is finally taking centre stage from product features and an all out focus on profit.

In addition to the networking opportunities, I also tend to pick up some great new case studies. I’d love to  share TEN of them with you.

So… in no particular order:

1) Durex creates Funadaware – vibrating underwear controlled by an iPhone App

Read more here: durexperiment.com

2) Huggies Giggle Factory – the first ever delivery of baby giggles

 3) Axe Apollo Space Academy – sending people into space

Read more here: space.com/19199-axe-apollo-space-launch-contest

4) Project Sunlight from Unliver – creating a brighter future

Read more here: youtube.com/user/ulprojectsunlight

5) Hudson Urban Bicycles, 365 life-cycle experiment

6) The Most Interesting Man In The World

Stay thirsty here my friends: dosequis.com/Videos/dos-equis-commercials

7) Johnnie Walker and Sons’ Epic Voyage of Discovery

Follow the story here: jwsvoyager-odyssey.com

8) Desire – a film collaboration between Jaguar and Ridley Scott



9) YouTube Symphony Orchestra – Play Your Part – a crowd sourced orchestra!


10) A retail space called STORY – a retailer that regularly revamps its store offering based on customer themes/narratives

Story Retailer


Are digital marketers getting off their Face….


No, this post is not about alcohol-fueled violence and the one-punch legislation. It’s about the trend towards people getting tired of social media, in particular the juggernaut that is Facebook.

Off Facebook

For marketers, it has been a wild, roller-coaster ride over the past 6 or so years as they’ve tried to determine how to leverage social media for business.

Some brands have passed with flying colours (eg: National Geographic with over 21M Facebook friends; Lorna Jane with almost 1M fans, and of course Red Bull and Coke to name a few).

However there have also been some epic #fails (eg: BP Oil Spill, HMV firing staff, Cheerio’s getting involved in foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and the list trails on with a long tail).

Digital detox

I’ve recently had a two week break from all social media. A digital detox of sorts. Have I missed it? No. Did I have the urge to check it? Yes.

It’s funny how social media has become ingrained in our life. And like any drug, it’s hard to quit.

Let’s look at some of the Facebook stats:

There are currently over 1.23b active users on Facebook globally

In late 2012 and early 2013, we read a lot about Teens dropping off Facebook. In the US Facebook endured a 29% fall in active users among U.S. Teens from Q4 in 2012. That’s big when you consider that 79% of US Teens were on FB!

And from 2011 to 2014, approximately 3,000,000 Teens left Facebook representing a 25.3% decline in Teen usage.

Teens leaving Facebook

Boomers boom on Facebook with 80% growth

Although lets look at the other end of the age spectrum – Boomers or Grey Power. In the US Boomers have boomed on Facebook big time. To the tune of 80% growth over the last 3 years.

And in Australia Women 55+ are the fastest group taking up social media.

So why are Teens leaving?

Well it’s pretty obvious. If Mum and Nan are on there, then “I’m outta here”

Well maybe it’s uncool for Teens to see their parents so actively involved in Facebook. However maybe it’s also to do with Facebook simply being an application that people get tired of. And fickle Teens who have been on there the longest are leading the way.

When you think about it, Facebook isn’t life or death. It’s not a vital service like water, electricity and gas. Although it does provide an amazing global sharing service to help keep people in touch with their friends across borders and intercity. It’s not a fundamental operating system like iOS or Windows and it’s not infrastructure.

At the end of the day, it’s simply a place where people can go to vent, rant, read, or play with each other. Sort of like a virtual soap box.

And after a while we all get sick of people on their soap-box.

OK I better wrap this post up quickly ;)

Trend away from mobile phone usage

As mobility takes over the world, saturation point is not far away. And as people stare into their mobile device as they walk, talk, eat and even go to the loo, it’s no wonder that human nature is fighting back.

Rogue24 restaurant has banned the use of phones. “It’s just polite”, the head chef says.

Jawdat Ibrahim, owner of the Abu Ghosh restaurant in an Arab village outside Jerusalem, offering a 50% discount late last year if everyone turned off their phone.

Even some hotels are getting in on the act banning phone use during your stay.

And whilst I was in Japan this month, I noticed how people are politely asked to go to the end of the train carriage to use their phones rather than talk in the carriage.

SO……. my hit prediction

future of marketing

Looking into my crystal ball (which is always dangerous), I see people and marketers ultimately moving away from Facebook.

Obviously it has massive scale, so Facebook isn’t going to die. Just as email never died!

However as marketers fail to develop real social media strategies, that are targeted to engage a specific audience based on relevance, value and lifecycle understanding, then it won’t be sustainable.

Short term mentality will prevail in Facebook for a few years to come, however by 2016 we will have witnessed a dramatic shift away.

My hit prediction, is that this will be fueled by small businesses which are already walking away from Facebook due to the need to promote posts in order to gain visibility in their fan’s status stream.

While one goes down, another will go up. Get into LinkedIn!

Or will social media fatigue finally kick in and drive us all back to a non-digital, earthy existence?

5 brands successfully reinventing in the digital age

Many brands have been impacted by the digital revolution and the speed with which consumers can now create a backlash. If a brand doesn’t live up to its promise, then consumers can create an honest and open discussion of their negative feelings in an instant. Think of Lance Armstrong, Vegemite’s iSnack 2.0, and the BP oil spill to name a few.

However some brands are working their way through reinvention to transform their offering. From my point of view, successful brands are the ones that can continue to connect to customers, shareholders and employees.

So for this post, I thought I’d look at 5 brands that are successfully tackling their transformation in the digital age.

National Geographic

National Geographic

As a child, I remember thumbing through Mum and Dads’ yellow bordered, National Geographic Magazines and being transported to exotic lands with strange people, animals, colours and textures.

National Geographic Society (NGS) is a great example of a powerful brand that is moving with the times and transforming itself in the digital age – albeit a massive undertaking that they’re still experimenting and working out how to best promote cross-functional and cross-divisional collaboration.

Under the helm of CEO John Fahey, rather than die a natural print death with revenues declining, NGS embarked on a restructure, breaking down of silos, and made large bets on various forms of digital media including internet, movies, TV and cable programming including striking a $100M deal with Fox in 2012.

Fahey also appointed Amy Maniatis, the Society’s first CMO since the organization was founded 126 years ago. Maniatis has been integral in successfully harnessing the power of social media – driving over 20,646,799 Facebook Fans, and 4,091,738 Instagram followers to widen National Geographic’s reach and engagement through its stunning photography, amazing stories and rich video content.

Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat

A Californian-based start-up, Beyond Meat, is disrupting the chicken production market with a plant-based product to make chicken-free strips. It’s a higher quality chicken substitute at a lower cost, and according to Bill Gates who is an investor, he couldn’t tell the difference when compared to real chicken. The Beyond Meat factory produces the equivalent of approximately 18M chickens a year (compared to about 8.6b total chickens slaughtered nationally in the US per annum).

And they’re currently working on a ground beef substitute that can be used for Tacos, lasagna, spaghetti bolognese etc.

Will they succeed on their vision? To reduce the world’s consumption of animal meat by 25% by 2020. Beyond Meat has been picked by CNN to have a major impact on digital culture and as a start-up to watch. And with financial support from Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone, I can see a digital conversation groundswell coming soon.

American Express

American Express

American Express is taking digital change seriously. Their Chairman and CEO, Kenneth Chenault, says, “Successful transformation involves two things: ongoing reinvention and constant values, or unchanging change. One of the most important elements is that you must also be willing to break down your own business model to cannibalize your own products, because if you do not, someone else will.”

American Express is moving beyond a piece of plastic and expanding into mobile payments. It has moved past traditional marketing to partnering closely with Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook. It has launched a major play for small businesses – American Express Open – with Shop Small ideas such as Small Business Saturday and Open Forum (insights from experts for business owners).

Recently American Express has also linked many different media strands together, including live music, social video, online streaming, and social media, to launch American Express Unstaged, a YouTube channel that caters for an online, music hungry audience with story-telling content capturing journeys to events.

Equally as important, American Express realised it had to reengineer its call centre strategy to fully transform with the times. They changed their recruitment policy from seasoned call centre reps to employees of service companies: top-tier hotels, cruise lines, and customer-centred stores resulting in improved customer satisfaction scores and an approximate 10% increase in service margins.



In 2003, global media headlines were citing “hamburger hell” as a way of condemning the fast food giants. Customer needs were changing with the rise of obesity, negativity over fast, cheap food, and the ethical dilemma of sourcing food from extreme distances. Anti-Maccas sentiment was finally setting in after decades of growth.

McDonald’s knew it had to transform to become ‘demand driven’ rather than ‘supply driven’. People were looking for healthier solutions and McDonald’s acted by launching new ranges including premium food menu items such as Premium Salads in 2003, healthier gourmet wraps and sandwiches in 2008, and lower cholesterol options, experimenting with healthier cooking techniques to sell meat that is oven-baked rather than fried.

Also, McDonald’s started changing its polystyrene beverage cups with paper cups as a result of a 2011 shareholder resolution.

Has it all been successful? McDonald’s Australia has almost doubled its profits over the last 10 years. In 2012 McDonald’s Canada has undertaken an unprecedented $1b investment to transform restaurant design, functionality and the customer experience including the highly successful “Our Food. Your Questions” digital platform. You’d have to say that they’re getting it right for their target market – having moved well beyond a burger, fries and Coke company.

Although McDonald’s still faces it’s fare share of negativity - especially around the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics where the general public was still fairly cynical as to why it was sponsoring the sporting event.



Have you tried a Dominos Pizza lately? If you have, then you’ll appreciate how they’ve changed and why they’re posting great company stock and profit growth figures.

In 2008 Dominos had a problem. People were saying that their pizzas ”tasted like cardboard” and, as a result, sales were in decline. They had fallen to last amongst the national pizza chains.

Rather than abandoning their product because it wasn’t selling, Dominos focussed on admitting that it wasn’t good enough and offered customers a promise to change it. They undertook extensive customer research and finally unveiled a new recipe involving healthier and better quality ingredients.

However unlike the New Coke example, Dominos took an open and honest approach to the marketplace that resonated. Dominos revamped its digital presence with Domino’s Australia estimated to now take over 50% of all orders now through digital means, including online and via mobile phone apps.

Dominos appointed Splunk to manage its ecommerce service and deliver actionable data insights on stores, coupons, and other real time activity to further drive sales. Also, only Domino’s has pizza tracker, so that customers can track where their pizza order is.


From my point of view it always comes back to delivering a product or service that is customer focused. The 5 brands outlined above have faced their fare share of challenges, obstacles and negativity. And as mentioned, some are still working out how best to adapt. However rather than sitting still and ignoring the negative sentiment, they have listened to their target market and most importantly are acting on the feedback. The outcome? A more relevant and improved product.

I wonder which brands would be on your list? And more importantly what can we learn from their reinvention?

Will Australian retail service smiles remain skin deep?

I read a recent Customer Centricity Index (CCI) report by dunnhumby that measures customer’s perceptions of how well retailers meet their needs.

The report measures and ranks retailers on “7 pillars of customer centricity”:

  1. experience
  2. loyalty
  3. communications
  4. assortment
  5. promotions
  6. price
  7. feedback

In short, companies with high Customer-Centric scores have higher sales growth over a 2-year period.

In the report I read, the US Food Service Retailers, the top performer was Outback Steakhouse. They truly stood out for customer experience.

customer centricity scores

Outback Steakhouse

Service staff are called ‘Outbackers’ and they’re apparently trained to treat customers like they would in “their own home”. They also excel in making them feel a part of the brand atmosphere when customers enter a location. And their marketing also dials up the fun and family focus to create a uniquely Aussie experience.

Now to Australians this may sound naf, however to the American target market it has great appeal.

The point is, they truly have a customer centric focus.

Australian retail seems to have forgotten this basic premise. AlthoughI was heartened to read in a Deloitte report into the Australian retail sector, that David Jones, Myer and other Australian retailers are finally focussing back on customer service in 2014.

Service beyond the smile?

Service beyond the smile?

Lets hope it goes well beyond a smile, and truly creates a memorable experience that will make customers want to share stories through their social networks.

Do you believe the retailers’ hype in going the extra mile or do you, like me, see Australian retail falling flat this year (again)?

2014 feels like the old cartoon Biiiiiiiiiiiiiirdman. Why?

Welcome to 2014.

Some of you may still be enjoying a holiday. Others may be easing back into the swing of things. And others may feel like 2013 was a very distant memory.

It dawned on me this morning – as I was walking my dogs – that 2014 already feels like a particular cartoon from my childhood – Birdman.

Now if you never watched Birdman, or Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, then take a quick peak at this clip.

Why? I hear you ask. Well Birdman was a character that was powered by the sun god Ra. And from time to time he needed a recharge from the sun’s rays.

Did you feel a little superhuman at the start of this year? Yet as you progress into the structure and day to day challenges of your business life things are starting to feel a little heavy? And as they continue you know you’re going to get bogged down in politics and process again.

Well that’s not unique to 2014, it’s the same after any break or holiday. However from my point of view, you should take a leaf out of Birdman’s approach and take regular recharges when running your business.

Do this by creating habitual change

Don’t just set your goals and objectives and then slip back into the normal way of doing things. If things start to become a habit, then recharge yourself and your approach to business.

I talk with business leaders about behavioural psychology when asked for direct to customer and strategic marketing advice.

Why? Because ultimately they’re wanting to change ingrained human behaviour. Switching customers, nurturing leads through to a sale, onboarding into a brand world, or managing customers through to repeat purchase and advocacy is all about changing behaviour. And in a supercharged social media and smart digital marketing landscape, behavioural loyalty is declining at a rapid rate as consumers are becoming more and more fickle. However on the positive side, consumers are becoming more and more open to trying new ways of engaging with brands.

In approaching habitual change I refer to the 3 Rs – a common framework used by behavioural psychologists.


Graphic based on Charles Duhigg’s “Habit Loop” in The Power of Habit. Created by James Clear

1) Reminder – a reminder is a trigger for a behaviour, not the ultimate objective you want to achieve. For example, if you want to get a little fitter you may be thinking that the reminder is to say to yourself “I’m going to get fit this year”. Actually that’s your goal or outcome you want to achieve. The reminder would be things to help you mentally start approaching your new fitness regime. It may be leaving your running shoes at the front door so that each morning they remind you to go running. Or it may be to leave a sweat towel in your bathroom to remind yourself to go for a run and then use the towel when you come back. Making sense?

2) Routine – the routine is in itself making the habit regular. Most psychologists agree that you should start with something small and then increase to ultimately achieve your goal. Small steps! So to carry on with the fitness analogy. Run for 1km every second day for the first week until you feel slightly fitter and less sore. Do lots of stretching – even though you may not have exerted yourself. You’re preparing your body for a journey. Then set a new goal to run 2 km every second day in the second week, and then 3km every second day in the third week and so on. Until you feel you have reached your ultimate goal of “getting a little fitter”.

3) Reward – most importantly reward yourself along the journey. Most marketing managers I come across set themselves goals, slip into the one habit and process and then never achieve their goals. They fail  to celebrate success and get frustrated with teams around them. By setting small steps as routines then you can celebrate reaching each point. World’s best managers realise that by celebrating milestomes their teams not only stay motivated, but they feel truly recognised and valued. And success is measured by achieving the milestones. Make sense?

So armed with the knowledge of how to form a habit and how to continually create new habits to achieve success, lets get back to Biiiiiiiiiiiiiirdman.

When you feel a little enclosed, swamped or drained of energy, take a break. It’s OK to be seen away from your desk. It’s OK to actually take an hour off for lunch and walk through a park. It’s OK to actually wander around the office and talk to colleagues as long as you’re not interrupting them. And it’s OK to talk to the boss about ideas you have been pondering.

Will 2014 be different for you or same same?

I know it feels different for me already. I am celebrating my first milestone. My first post of the year. I hope you found it a little energising too.