IGD assessment: top 20 innovations

Date : 11 February 2013

At IGD we keep a close eye on innovation and developments in our  industry.  Here are our latest top picks from around the world. 

McCain multi-sensory bus stop ads

When McCain launched its new Ready Baked Jackets, it created 3D bus stop adverts containing heating elements. As people activated them, they released  the smell of slow-baked jacket potatoes. The posters were located at bus  shelters in York, Manchester, London, Nottingham and Glasgow. The shelters also  dispensed money-off coupons. A novel way to encourage product trial, this  multi-sensory campaign was a fun and interesting way to attract attention to the  new addition to the McCain range.

Zeebox TV app

Zeebox is an app that enables consumers in Australia, the US and UK to interact and engage about TV shows while they watch, by chatting, sharing, tweeting or buying direct from TV adverts. The service contains links to more information on TV programmes and adverts with "click to buy" functionality, so users can buy goods directly, linked to what is on TV. As well as brand linkage with TV shows, this presents broader opportunities for advertising strategy. In an omni-channel world of co-ordinating retail channels to provide a seamless shopper experience, this innovation develops another way to buy things and a fantastic way to increase product and brand visibility.

LG unveiled its 'smart' fridge

This 'connected' fridge allows US consumers to check the items in their fridge, review their expiry date and even shop for groceries via the fridge by scanning items or till receipt on putting the goods in there. Other home appliances, including the oven, can be accessed via an LCD panel on the fridge or via smartphones. The technology can also send recipe recommendations or communicate with a smart oven based on what's in the fridge, while also supporting particular diets. This is a great step forward for in-home connectivity and the possibilities are very exciting.

3D QR codes in Korea

Korean retailer Emart created 3D QR codes that can only be scanned at lunchtime. Dubbed the 'sunny sale', the promotion was designed to improve sales at this typically quiet time of the day. The 3D sculptures work like sundials, and the shadow cast on them by the sun makes them complete for scanning only between noon and 1pm. Upon scanning the code, customers are directed to the company's website where they can find shopping coupons and special promotions. This was a completely new way to execute a time of day promotion, and give shoppers a unique experience.

Grolsch personalised beer promotion

Dutch beer producer Grolsch recently unveiled a fascinating promotion in the Netherlands and UK that allows customers to interact with a digital character in real time. Consumers could interact with a fictional police detective by texting him their name, which then appeared on his phone on Grolsch's website and a personalised reply was sent to their phone. Those who received a message to say the character knew them were sent a link to an e-coupon for a free pack of beer. This interactive promotion was highly engaging and took personalisation to a whole new level.

Kit Kat GPS promotion

Global manufacturer Nestlé recently ran a location-based competition in the UK by fitting its chocolate bars with GPS-enabled tracking devices. GPS devices were hidden in Kit Kat and other Nestlé chocolate bar wrappers, with a tab for consumers to pull when opening the pack. Once the tab was pulled, the Nestlé delivery team claimed to locate the consumer within 24 hours to give them a cheque for £10,000. There were six prizes to be won, and shoppers could check online how many had been claimed. The aptly titled 'We Will Find You' campaign was the first of its kind, and gave a 'Willy Wonka' style feel to the competition.

Blipp to Buy

Blippar is a free smartphone app that brings advertising to life using image-recognition and augmented reality. Users scan or "blipp" products to access an advert with virtual content. This year it announced the launch of a new service, called Blipp to Buy, for brands and media owners that want to use its image recognition platform. This enables shoppers using the Blippar app to scan media (e.g. posters, magazines, etc) and instantly buy products as and when they see them advertised. 'Blipp to Buy' creates an additional sales channel to target consumers for both brands and media agencies, and has the potential to transform the role and value of advertising.

Kinect shopping trolley

Developed to trial at Whole Foods, this innovative new shopping trolley contains a Microsoft Kinect with a screen that watches the way you shop. Before visiting a grocery store, shoppers can create a profile with their loyalty cards and pre-programme their shopping lists, dietary requirements and preferences. When they arrive at Whole Foods, the shopping trolley follows them around store as they shop. It scans products as shoppers place them into the trolley, and will alert them if it recognises a product doesn't fit with their diet. When shopping is complete, the trolley totals up the items and automatically takes payment from the user's account. Still in the early stages of development, this innovative 'smart trolley' is likely to appeal to shoppers who want automated help while in-store and to speed up the payment process.

Philadelphia holographic packaging

Kraft's Philadelphia cheese brand gave an interesting twist to its packaging visually enhancing pack lids to highlight distinct product uses. When shoppers turned the angle of the pack away from their eyes, the brand name changed to a recipe suggestion such as meatball pasta or macaroni cheese. This helped shoppers link the brand with new potential uses, while creating stand out visual appeal at the point of sale.

Hellmann's recipe receipts

In Brazil, Hellmann's mayonnaise designed a novel way to encourage consumers to use mayonnaise for more than just sandwiches. Teaming up with supermarket chain St Marche, it installed special software in 100 of its till points as part of a three month experiment. The software recognised when shoppers bought Hellmann's mayonnaise and the other grocery products they were buying. It used this information to generate recipes that combined several ingredients from shoppers' baskets, and print them out on the till receipt. In the first month alone, sales increased by 44%. This is a great way to tailor a message and inspire shoppers to find new potential uses for a product.

AH to Go's digitally optimised store

Ahold's latest convenience concept, AH to Go in the Netherlands, is one of the most innovative new stores we saw last year – it successfully integrates mobile and social initiatives in-store. The store features digital signage, free customer wi-fi, QR codes for product information, and has two 'Scan and go' checkouts allowing mobile payment. It also has its own local Facebook page and mobile website. The 'food for now' offer changes three times a day, with lighting in store and music changing to reflect the different meal deals. Changes occur in the morning for breakfast trade, at lunch time, and finally for the afternoon and supper trade. As the day goes on the music gets livelier to match shoppers' moods.

Evian automated re-ordering

Evianchezvous.com enables shoppers to re-order its bottled water direct from the home by pushing a fridge magnet shaped as a water drop. This is connected to the website via wi-fi, and places water orders and delivery preferences. Developing new ways for shoppers to order groceries is emerging as a major trend as retailing becomes an "anytime, anywhere" service.

Mashed potato vending machine

Some of the more interesting innovations we saw last year included the latest developments in products being dispensed through vending machines. One of the more wacky examples is in Singapore, where Maggi is selling mash and gravy via vending machines in 7-Eleven stores. We've also seen cupcakes, freshly made pizzas, and even jewellery being dispensed via vending machines.

Sobeys 'Localize' stickers

Canadian grocery retailer Sobeys has developed a new way to help shoppers identify local foods. The 'Localize' shelf sticker is being used to rate products locality and has a QR code that customers can scan to find out more. Products are rated on four criteria: location of production (45 per cent); location of ownership (35 per cent); source of ingredients (20 per cent) and bonus points for local sustainability. The higher the number, the closer to home the product is deemed. This is a really innovative way to boost the provenance information available in-store.

Hope - a new approach to charitable giving

UK convenience operator Budgens launched an innovative new initiative called Hope to encourage charitable donations in its stores.. Blocks of wood engraved with the word 'HOPE' were placed in stores alongside other products. Shoppers can pick them up and take them to the check-out, where they are scanned and charged £1, which instantly goes to the local Alzheimer's Society. The blocks then simply go back on the shelf to be sold again. If successful, we could see similar schemes popping up in stores around the world as an innovative new way to encourage local philanthropy.

ICA NFC loyalty drive

Swedish retailer ICA tested a near field communication (NFC) loyalty programme at an ICA to Go store in Stockholm. Customers were able to collect a 'stamp' on their phone via NFC every time they purchased a lunch, and after collecting six stamps the seventh lunch was free. The loyalty programme also worked on non-NFC phones via a tag purchased in-store and attached to the back of the handset. This was a great new way to drive loyalty and secure competitive advantage through new technology and eliminating the need to carry loyalty cards.

Tesco hydroponics in Thailand

During one of our research trips to Thailand last year we spotted Tesco using hydroponics as part of its produce displays. This was a particular feature in lettuces, which are grown in nutrient-enriched water without using soil. This means they are still growing while they are in-store, and is an innovative merchandising technique to reassure shoppers of Tesco's fresh credentials.

Albert Heijn impulse merchandising

We spotted another great example of innovation in store merchandising whilst visiting Albert Heijn in Belgium. Here the retailer has developed a compact transparent chiller cabinet placed alongside impulse ranges. This merchandising initiative allows drinks to be displayed on an aisle end with confectionery and other snacking products, combining dry and chilled ranges to create a one-stop impulse solution.

Kellogg's tweet shop

Kellogg's set up the world's first high street Tweet Shop in London, which was designed to promote its new crisp products using the power of social media. Shoppers who visited the Tweet Shop were able to pick up a bag of the new crisps and all they had to do to pay was to recommend them on Twitter. Tweets could be sent from shoppers' smartphones or iPads provided in the store. By linking the worlds of online and offline in this way, and using social media to promote new products, Kellogg's effectively turned social media into currency.

Carrefour temporary private label store

At the end of the year, Carrefour Italy opened a temporary store in Milan dedicated to its premium artisan private label brand 'Terre D'Italia'. Located in Milan's main train station, a high footfall location, the opening of the pop-up store was well-timed to appeal to customers seeking a special treat or a gift for Christmas. This is a great way to draw timely attention to a product range for a limited period of time, and we expect to see similar initiatives from other retailers.

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