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tech innovation

From Star Trek to Silicon Valley, Nestle Presses for Nutritional Edge

Posted by Dale Buss on June 27, 2014 03:15 PM

Nestle is pressing the envelope of nutrition and health with new research efforts on at least two continents that could transform the company from a provider of commoditized, mainstream CPG foods and beverages to a cutting-edge purveyor of medicalized nutrition delivered through entirely new forms of products and services.

Broadly, those are the aims both of new programs at Nestle’s Institute of Health Sciences in Switzerland that promise personalized nutrition with a Star Trek sheen as well as advances being sought by its Silicon Valley outpost, which has been open about a year now.

Nestle is one of the major CPG players that has established a presence in Silicon Valley and is skewing its efforts there toward better-for-you products and services. “It’s helping us chase the next big thing as it relates to solving specific pain points in our business and to get an edge in areas of strategic importance,” Mark Brodeur, global head of digital marketing innovation for Nestle, told brandchannel.Continue reading...

tech innovation

The Silicon Valley Gold Rush: Marketers Putting the R&D in Branding

Posted by Dale Buss on June 19, 2014 03:11 PM

Kraft is the latest non-tech brand to aspire to greater digital currency by tapping into Silicon Valley. The CPG marketer has been meeting with Twitter, Google, Facebook and other tech leaders in Silicon Valley to figure out how to inject a more digitally-savvy, tech startup vibe into Kraft’s own operations.

Rival CPG companies along with automotive, retail and fast-food restaurant brands are not only visiting, but moving into the neighborhood and establishing their own outposts in Silicon Valley. They include Nestle, McDonald’s , Target, Walmart (which this week made its 13th acquisition, the Stylr mobile app), Ford, Honda, and Nissan.

“We want a presence in the heart of the tech community enabling us to attract world-class talent,” a spokesperson for McDonald’s told TechCrunch. “Being in this epicenter will also help us establish key relationships in the digital space.”

It’s not that any of these CPG, QSR, retail or automotive brands are going to out-smartphone Apple or out-algorithm Google; they’re not setting up physically in Silicon Valley to do business at the cutting edge of high technology. But they do believe they can connect with smart startups, acquire the talent to help them with the digital demands and opportunities in their vertical, and in general benefit from the pace and expectations of innovation in that area.Continue reading...

branding together

Brand Disruptors: Amazon Changes the Game, Turns Twitter Into a Shopping Mall

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 5, 2014 05:41 PM

Tweeting just got sweeter—or shopping just got Tweeter—for Amazon customers thanks to a new social integration that lets users add items to their shopping cart by responding to links on Twitter with the hashtag #AmazonCart (in the U.S) or #AmazonBasket (in the U.K.), a move that makes social shopping easier and—dare we say—fun.

“Add it now, buy it later” is the slogan, and it seems to be as simple to use as that tagline. Once an Amazon account is linked to a Twitter account, responding to a link with the requisite hashtag puts the item in your cart along with a reply tweet from @MyAmazon.

While hashtags make the process simple, it’s simultaneously a public broadcast of what one is buying—as well as user-generated marketing for Amazon and the latest step in making shopping more social and seamless.Continue reading...

retail watch

Walmart's Latest Digital Innovation: Savings Catcher

Posted by Dale Buss on May 2, 2014 04:24 PM

Walmart under new CEO Doug McMillion has much to accomplish if it wants to reclaim the mojo that made it the most formidable retailer in the world for the past few decades. And McMillion plans to leverage digital technology to achieve huge parts of that overall strategic objective, especially rebuilding same-store sales growth in the United States.

Already, one of McMillion's closest-watched initiatives is an online tool called Savings Catcher, which allows shoppers to compare its prices on 80,000 food and household products to those of its competitors. The initiative, now being tested in seven markets, could help the giant chain regain traction in a digital-retailing realm that, overall, has undermined Walmart, Target, and other traditional brick-and-mortar chains.

Walmart also plans under McMillion to attack more aggressively its problem with out-of-stock merchandise in its stores. The company long has noted this as a weakness, and its chief merchandising officer recently said that Walmart loses $3 billion a year in sales because of it, according to TheCityWire.com.

The chain will lead with digital technology on a wide scale in attacking these challenges, experts say, putting to use the vast new roster of digital talent that Walmart has hired over the last 18 months through its @WalmartLabs R&D arm.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Smarter (and Sexier) Wearable Tech Looks Beyond Early Adopters

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 1, 2014 10:45 AM

The world's biggest e-tailer is now in the wearable tech business. That's right: Amazon, that bellwether of all things retail/e-tail, just opened a Wearable Technology store this week, devoted exclusively to selling smartwatches, activity trackers, healthcare devices, wearable cameras—even trackers for your pet.

From top brands like Samsung, Jawbone, LeapFrog (yes, there are kid wearables) and GoPro, to brands-to-watch like Basis and Misfit, "Wearable technology is an exciting category with rapid innovation and our customers are increasingly coming to Amazon to shop and learn about these devices," says John Nemeth, Amazon's director of Wireless and Mobile Electronics.

Facebook just paid a staggering two billion dollars to acquire Oculus VR, the virtual reality startup whose Oculus Rift gaming headset resembles a scuba mask with a metal plate on the front, while Intel acquired smartwatch-maker Basis Science for $100 million and insiders say that Apple will bring its highly anticipated iWatch to market this year.

As the New Yorker observes, “Companies love the idea of wearable technology because that constant data stream would be a bonanza for marketers, measuring what people are doing every second, even while they’re asleep.” Consumers, however, are not flocking to bulky, strap-on devices as proven by hundreds of Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatches that popped up on eBay a mere six months after launch.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Rolls-Royce Shows Off Cargo Ships to Sail the High Seas—Without Any Sailors

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 11, 2014 10:52 AM

First came Google's driverless cars, and then Amazon’s drone-delivery experiment. Now Rolls-Royce is going much, much bigger on the unmanned front with the design of remote-controlled cargo ships.

Via a $4.8 million grant from the European Union to the Maritime Unmanned Navigation project, Rolls-Royce's Blue Ocean development team designed a remote-controlled cargo ship to help “solve some of the problems of crowded European waters and increasing environmental requirements,” Mashable reports. The unmanned ships are also a big cost-saver for obvious reasons—no staff to be paid, and no creature comforts like air conditioning and sewage needed, which can cost up to $3,000 a day.Continue reading...

get creative

SXSW '14 Preview: Snowden, Gaga and Nye, Oh My!

Posted by Barry Silverstein on March 6, 2014 06:20 PM

Each year, it seems SXSW (South By South West) gets more and more curious—and this year is no exception. Once dedicated to music, the 2014 SXSW festival, running from March 7 through 16 in Austin, Texas, now defines itself as "Music, Film, Interactive." Indeed, the festival has served as the launch pad for some of the market's most high-profile startups, including Foursquare. 

Beyond that, SXSW is a potpourri of personalities, popular trends and brands vying for attention. Indeed, last year's extravaganza was a "feeding ground for viral campaigns and unique marketing stunts." This year? Well, you can expect more of the same—just amped up a few notches.

In fact, SXSW 2014 may end up being known for notoriety. None other than the world's most infamous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, will speak on March 10 via teleconference. He'll be conversing with Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "on the impact of the NSA's spying efforts on the technology community, and the ways in which technology can help to protect us from mass surveillance," according to the festival's site.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Microsoft's Nadella Gets Down to Business with Marketing Shake-Up

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 4, 2014 02:07 PM

Satya Nadella has been the CEO of Microsoft for exactly one month and he's already shaking up the ranks at the venerable tech brand. 

The company announced Monday that executive Tony Bates, who had been passed over for the CEO role, and Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief marketing officer, would be leaving the company. While Reller's departure means the loss of one of Microsoft's top female executives, it signals a change in the company's marketing and brand strategy.

That new outlook will be ushered in by Chris Capossela, an executive on the company's marketing team who Nadella has promoted to EVP and CMO to oversee all marketing, and Mark Penn, the creator of Microsoft's "Honestly" campaign (including the Google-tweaking "Scroogled" campaign), who was named Chief Strategy Officer. 

“He’s aggressive,” Mark Moerdler, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said of Penn, according to Bloomberg. “Maybe this will add a little testosterone to the organization to counter the fact that Satya is more of a deep thinker.”Continue reading...

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