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tech innovation

Pressed to Improve Results, P&G Turns to Its 'New-Age Plastic'

Posted by Dale Buss on October 21, 2013 03:39 PM

Procter & Gamble long has relied on innovation to shake things up with new products and features that gain sales and market share and even create new brands, like Pampers disposable diapers, Swiffer, and Crest White Strips. During his first tenure as CEO, many of those innovations came from A.G. Lafley.

Now, in his second turn at the top, Lafley reportedly is pushing acceleration of a "new-age plastic" developed internally by P&G with a "high-velocity injection molding" system that could save the CPG giant alone $1 billion in cost savings—and result in the establishment of a colossal B2B business selling the revolutionary material to non-competitive customers.

"P&G's patent applications say its manufacturing system can make packages with material as much as 75 percent thinner than existing ones," Advertising Age said about the new material. "The technology also makes it easier to use recycled resins or plant-based alternatives to petrochemicals and will help P&G make packages more recyclable because it allows caps and closures to be made from the same material as the rest of the package."Continue reading...

retail watch

Will Mondelez's 'Smart Shelves' Change Retail or Just Add to Privacy Woes?

Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 16, 2013 03:02 PM

In little more than a year, some retail shelves may actually be able to identify consumers who are most likely to purchase certain snacks, thanks to Mondelez International. The $35 billion global foods giant, which spun off from Kraft Foods just over a year ago with a name intended to evoke "delicious world," markets such snack brands as Cadbury, Certs, Oreo, and Trident.

In 2015, the company plans to introduce "smart shelves" with sensors designed to detect the age and sex of consumers. Then, advanced analytics will associate the right type of snack product with each consumer, and a video display will target consumers with appropriate ads and promotions. 

Mondelez wants to place its smart shelves as close as possible to the point of sale—right near the checkout aisles to track and possibly encourage last-minute impulse buys. Mark Dajani, the CIO of Mondelez, told the Wall Street Journal, "When people walk by, it's a missed opportunity. We must know how the consumer behaves in the store. ...Knowing that a consumer is showing interest in the product gives us the opportunity to engage with them in real-time."Continue reading...

tech innovation

Ford, University of Michigan Open R&D Lab for Electric Car Batteries

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 14, 2013 12:37 PM

Ford is just the latest in a long line of global companies that are taking advantage of enterprising startups and universities to help drive innovation. Ford has teamed up with the University of Michigan to create a battery lab that will focus on research and development of a cheaper, more efficient battery that will make electric cars more affordable—a major hurdle facing the car industry as it tries to turn the technology mainstream. 

The $8 million lab is one that will uniquely cater to the auto industry, as most battery labs often don't relay their findings to the industry until late in the production process, essentially stifling innovation, according to the Detroit Free Press.  

“There is nothing like it in the industry,” said Anand Sankaran, chief engineer for energy storage and hybrid systems for Ford, which contributed $2.1 million, adding to $5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and about $900,000 from the Univ. of Michigan College of Engineering.Continue reading...

tech innovation

New York's Major Media Players Seek Startups Through SwitchPitch Event

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 2, 2013 04:45 PM

Goliaths aren’t generally looking for help from Davids, but the New York Daily News, HBO, Time Inc., TiVo, Meredith, and nine other major media companies turned things upside down Tuesday when they asked more than 200 startups for help. 

The SwitchPitch event, which specializes in pairing startups with in-need companies, allows such companies to pitch funded innovation projects to startups looking for partners. After a bidding process, the selected startups will begin working with their supporting companies.

In this case, the Daily News will provide its startup of choice with a six-month stay in the paper's offices and a large testing ground for their concepts on NYDailyNews.com and the rest of the paper’s digital properties, which reach 17 million people monthly.Continue reading...

wisdom of the crowd

Ahead of UN Assembly, Global Leaders Convene to Promote Social Change

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 24, 2013 04:41 PM

It's UN Week in New York City, as global leaders descend to discuss challenges facing the world population. But before the members of the United Nations sit, several other initiatives and events are poised to take advantage of the influx of global leadership. 

Running through Thursday, Mashable's Social Good Summit brings together a broad group of societal and business leaders to tackle social problems with technology, including Richard Branson, co-founder of Warby Parker Neil Blumenthal, the CEO of Water For People, executives from Johnson & Johnson and dozens more. 

Former Vice President Al Gore, a featured speaker at the event, announced the launch of his latest environmental initiative, "What I Love," at the event. 

The experiential site asks visitors what they love to do, eat, wear and more, and then serves up a “personalized canvas of the immediate effect of carbon pollution on what they love, be it chocolate, beer, skiing, or shoes.” The site utilizes a partnership with the Climate Reality Project, an NGO that provides the scientific data behind the questionnaire results.Continue reading...

retail watch

With Focus Back on its Home Turf, Tesco Looks to Build the Store of the Future

Posted by Barry Silverstein on September 11, 2013 02:49 PM

Times are changing for UK-based Tesco, but the brand is working to stay ahead of the curve.

The world's third-largest retailer has waved the white flag in the US, selling over 150 Fresh & Easy stores to a US investment company after a six-year failed experiment. The move is part of an international retreat by Tesco that includes last year's exit from Japan and last month's merger of its Chinese operations with a state-owned company, leaving Tesco with just 20 percent of the new venture.

Tesco's broad failure to successfully penetrate global markets leaves the company with one clear direction: concentrate resources on its home turf. The newly launched Tesco Extra, a state-of-the-art "hypermarket" in Hertfordshire, is a way for Tesco to prove it is still very much in the game. 

One of Tesco's largest UK stores, the Watford Tesco Extra is being positioned as a "leisure destination" in an effort to get consumers excited again about visiting a traditional retail store. Far more than a grocery, Tesco Extra is a kind of shopping extravaganza that broadens the food category to include a Harris + Hoole coffee shop, a Euphorium bakery, and Giraffe, a Tesco-owned restaurant chain.

Beyond food, shoppers will find wine and spirits, fashion (Tesco's own private-label F&F brand), cosmetics (including manicures), and such services as a pharmacy, an optician, and a nutritional center. Tesco will also offer a community room that could be used for anything from children's birthday parties to yoga classes.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Target Diversifies its Brand with Innovations in Tech, Healthcare

Posted by Dale Buss on September 11, 2013 12:27 PM

Target keeps stretching the footprint of its brand, which now includes efforts to fuel innovation in health care—and a new digital-movie and -TV service.

Joining the growing ranks of big companies that are attempting to spark new enterprises—and re-stock the corporate cupboard of new ideas—by incentivizing and nurturing startups, Target launched the Target Simplicity Challenge to foster ideas for helping Americans make helpful lifestyle choices and to assist in living with chronic conditions. In 2012, Walmart launched a similar effort with its "Get On The Shelf" competition, and has continued to invest in startups for its @WalmartLabs project. Nike has an accelerator to develop mobile and green technologies, and Target already has a retail accelerator

The healthcare initiative will help further the already existing retail medical clinics, pharmacies and optical departments in many Target stores. "The growing dialogue about the need to transform health care is near and dear to our hearts," Jose Barra, Target's senior vice president for health and beauty, said in a press release. "We believe there is value in surfacing simple, intuitive ideas to drive a lot of impact.Continue reading...

mobile brands

Apple Eyes Emerging Markets with Colorful 5C, but 'Forward Thinking' 5S May Fall to Competitors

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 10, 2013 05:11 PM

The mobile industry's most highly anticipated event of the year has come and gone, leaving some innovation in its wake—but very little surprise. 

Today's iPhone event at Apple's Cupertino, Calif. headquarters confirmed a handful of rumors that have been circulating for weeks: two iPhones, the upgraded 5S and the more affordable, plastic 5C. The colorful 5C, which is essentially the iPhone 5 in a plastic shell, is the company's first foray into a value-centric device—a metric that will lend itself well in important mobile markets like China and India.

Available globally on Sept. 20, the two new devices will grant the company access into markets where it has previously encountered obstacles, though Cook and his colleagues did not mention any specific deal with China Mobile, the country's largest mobile provider. They did, however, highlight several providers in Japan that will offer the new iPhones

While more was revealed—additional details of iOS 7, updated camera functions, a new, faster processor chip—there was no mention of wearables, including Apple's eventual release of its rumored iWatch, leaving it more difficult to declare a winner in the latest mobile wars, especially between Apple and rival Samsung, which debuted its Galaxy Gear smartwatch and new Galaxy Note phablet last week.Continue reading...

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