It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond


2-minute mindmap – My love/hate relationship with Starbucks by Nheeda Enriquez
October 13, 2009, 1:03 am
Filed under: 2 min mindmap, branding, retail and restaurants | Tags: , ,

It’s been a while since I posted a mindmap, and although this doesn’t really count as one, I did take a little coffee break today and documented it.  Starbucks is one of those places we all love to hate, yet hate to admit we love.

sb_sm

click for larger version



A quick visit to a recent past: Part 2 by Nheeda Enriquez

I’m off traveling for a week, so I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit three “timeless” posts on broader innovation topics.  The second is about recognizing clever “delighters” and why something so little can actually mean quite a lot.

Enjoy!
Nheeda

_______________________________________

Lunchtime delighter!
May 29, 2009

I’m always on the lookout for delighters, which are unexpected little features you find in products and service that can really make your day.  They’re generally not widely advertised (ie “fastest processor in this price range of laptops!”) but are left to be discovered by a user who then goes on to spread the love and create buzz around the product (hence this blog post.)

lowesbag

I visited Lowes Foods for the first time to grab a quick sandwich, and I was delightfully surprised to find this handy bag, saving the typical deciphering of a deli counter that’s new to you: understanding the protocols, what’s available and at what price.  I checked off the boxes for the different ingredients I wanted.  Contrast this with the self-serve touchscreen at Jason’s Deli (or Wawa, for those from the northern part of the country.)  It reminds us that sometimes a good solution for 80% of the population can be simple, low-tech, and inexpensive.  AND it can help you carry your lunch.



Reverse Engineering a Fantasy Football draft party by Nheeda Enriquez

In honor of the NFL season kicking off this week, I highlight Scott Graf’s amusing story on WFAE about local bars that host groups who conduct their fantasy football drafts.  Though I’m not an active fantasy sports fan myself, I know plenty of people who are, and I’ve always found this market and the tons of products that target them fascinating.

I do, however, like to fantasize about the conversations that marketing and development groups have when they’re trying to decide whether or not to try something a little more innovative and counter to what’s commonly done.  Can you imagine what that Jetblue meeting was like when they were deciding if they should try its “All-you-can-Jet ” unlimited travel pass?

It probably wasn’t quite as hard to convince the management of Midtown Sundries or Hickory Tavern to create special packages for fantasy football leagues, it’s still fun to reverse engineer what they might have been thinking, and then use that to inspire other ideas.

ff

Boy, what would the package for a celebrity funeral at an amusement park look like?



Microsoft Surface, but for food. by Nheeda Enriquez

The other day I had lunch at T1 Tapas, the restaurant affiliate of Charlotte-based T1 Visions, a runner-up of UNCC’s Five Ventures Competition earlier this year.  The company uses the restaurant as a showcase for their display technology, which lives on a dining table in a booth and allows patrons to browse the menu, share images, listen to music, and watch TV, among other things.

screenIn an era of the iPhone’s rich graphics and content, the simplified interface leaves a bit to be desired, but the display itself and its application in a restaurant are still pretty neat.  You can spill a whole pitcher of iced tea on the glass surface and not feel too bad.  Perhaps the next generation will look to ways that more strongly engage users with the technology, beyond the lounge atmosphere…I see extended applications with sports bars, kids birthdays, or scrapbooking parties.



Renting as a business model by Nheeda Enriquez
June 8, 2009, 8:59 pm
Filed under: 2 min mindmap, retail and restaurants | Tags: ,

As a relatively new homeowner, I’ve spent some time thinking about the personal economics of renting vs. buying.  Yesterday, during one of our weekly pilgrimages to Home Depot or Lowes, we were in the market for a 20′ ladder, but not so much the $250 price tag.  I briefly considered alternative solutions, including renting.  Here’s a Monday 2-Minute-Mindmap capturing the mental scan at the time.  Lots of companies may be having a go at the rental business model, especially in a tough economy.

2mmm_ladder_thumb

My favorite idea from this: a neighborhoood Spring Cleaning Olympics!



Lunchtime delighter! by Nheeda Enriquez

I’m always on the lookout for delighters, which are unexpected little features you find in products and service that can really make your day.  They’re generally not widely advertised (ie “fastest processor in this price range of laptops!”) but are left to be discovered by a user who then goes on to spread the love and create buzz around the product (hence this blog post.)

lowesbag

I visited Lowes Foods for the first time to grab a quick sandwich, and I was delightfully surprised to find this handy bag, saving the typical deciphering of a deli counter that’s new to you: understanding the protocols, what’s available and at what price.  I checked off the boxes for the different ingredients I wanted.  Contrast this with the self-serve touchscreen at Jason’s Deli (or Wawa, for those from the northern part of the country.)  It reminds us that sometimes a good solution for 80% of the population can be simple, low-tech, and inexpensive.  AND it can help you carry your lunch.



New needs in the air: Charlotte’s smoking ban by Nheeda Enriquez
May 21, 2009, 12:35 am
Filed under: empathy, retail and restaurants | Tags:

To the delight of many and the chagrin of others, the state approved a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants yesterday.  In January of 2010, I’ll have witnessed the ban go into effect into 3 different cities, including New York and Chicago.  At a high level, establishments worry about losing smoking patrons (or for some, winning back their non-smoking ones.)  On a more detailed level, new needs will arise when smokers must step outside to have a cigarette.  I went ahead and defined a few of those needs from prior observations and discussions with bartenders and their regulars.  Breaking it down into pieces helps answer the bar owner’s larger question: “How do I keep customers happy?”

smoker3One amusing solution comes from a friend from NYC, who places this sign on his glass when he steps out.  And for those who think the market should determine how much smoking should be allowed, here’s a proposal for a pollution cap and trade plan per bar.




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