Tag Archives: Product Development

With well-represented brands like Axe, Dove, and Ben and Jerry’s, each of which has a strong online following, Unilever has proven itself to be a social media veteran. With so many strong sub-brands residing under the Unilever umbrella, a certain level of consistency and organization is necessary to maintain order, eliminate waste, and create a cohesive vision. Unilever uses social media for a variety of purposes across the entire organization to support several important functions.  

From minor alterations, to complete start-to-finish designs, as many as 30% of online shoppers see value in being able to customize products to their liking (Bain Insights, 2013). Co-creation is not a new concept, but with the growth of social media platforms, companies are now more connected than ever to their customers.

Xero is beautiful accounting software. Founded in 2006 by Rod Drury, Xero is a leading international cloud based accounting software company focused on the needs of small businesses. “It always upset me that big, financial software was so hard to actually extract information from,” he said. “We began to see what was happening in the consumer web—that you could start to build these really neat, engaging web applications and not have to install software. Yet we weren’t seeing that innovation happen in small business. So to me, there was a very obvious opportunity.” Rod Drury, Founder & CEO at Xero, quoted in “How Rod Drury Built Xero From A ‘Small Set Of Rocks In The South Pacific’ Into A Global Player” With a passion for accounting and technology, what product could be developed to help small business owners with accounting? In order to answer this question, according to an article on forbes.com, Drury followed a few hundred small business owners around. “We realized they would all kind of do the same thing: go to the office in the morning and click on the Windows XP computer,” he said. “They knew it would take five minutes to boot up, so they go and pour themselves a coffee. Then they’d get back to their desk, start drinking coffee, read the sports scores, and the first business thing they did in the morning was to go to the Internet banking. And we asked, ‘Well, why do you do that?’ Because they wanna see who paid them overnight so they could see what cash they had and what bills they can pay. And cash is the lifeblood of small business.” Rod Drury, Founder & CEO at Xero, quoted in “How Rod Drury Built Xero From A ‘Small Set Of Rocks In The South Pacific’ Into A Global Player”

Traditional marketing has given way to a new era of digital marketing where social media and customer input are king. Gone are the days of sending direct mail pieces and emails to massive lists of customers and crossing your fingers that you hear back from at least a few of them. Now, with the help of social platforms like Influitive, creating partnerships and relationships with customers is not only possible, but is actually the key to building new campaigns, content and product development.

Ice cream is a perennial favourite dessert or sneaky late night treat for most of us. Four All Ice Cream in Kitchener, Ontario, has taken the universal appeal of ice cream to heart. When Ajoa Mintah decided to pursue her dream of starting an ice cream company, she did this with an awareness of the importance of community. Four All is committed to using locally sourced ingredients which keeps Four All inextricably connected to local farmers and producers. This sense of connectivity plays out in the categories of frozen treats that they produce because there is something for everyone: Childhood, Vegan, Foodie (creative flavours), and Classic.

In a command centre in General Motor’s Detroit headquarters, the employees scanning a bank of monitors are making a vital contribution to GM’s product lifecycle management.  But they’re not designing new models or developing the next product launch. They’re listening.  The command centre is part of GM’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) and the employees are members of a team of 30 “social media customer care advisers”. These individuals use social listening tools to follow customer conversations on 150+ brand social channels for GM, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac as well as 85 forums where car buffs congregate.  But the team are more than electronic eavesdroppers and they’re doing much more than just monitoring tweets and likes and collecting data. These social listeners actively engage with potential and current customers, helping to amplify positive feedback and rectify negative customer experiences. In a post on Hootsuite, Christina Newberry notes that while social monitoring “is focused more on metrics, like engagement rate, number of mentions, and so on, … social listening looks beyond the numbers at the overall mood behind the social media posts—how people actually feel about you, your competitors, and your industry. [It can] help you see trends over time that can keep your future marketing and product development efforts on track.“  Here are three ways GM is using social listening in the launch, post-launch and support phases of product development. 

It’s one of Canada’s largest – and oldest – retailers. And for nearly a century, Canadian Tire used good old fashioned advertising methods to reach millions of loyal customers – weekly newspaper flyers, TV ads and the annual catalog were promotional staples for the retail giant. Today, the company still pushes its products through these time-tested methods. But through a multi-million dollar investment in technology, it is augmenting the way it develops, promotes and sells everything from snowshoes to truck tires to pet food.  Social media is playing an increasingly bigger role in the company’s product development reboot. Take its Tested for Life in Canada program. Canadian Tire has put the product development process online and in the hands of close to 15,000 Canadians who have signed up to put the retailer’s merchandise through the ringer. The reviewers test products at home and openly share their reviews and experiences with Canadian Tire, customers, and with other testers, through various social media channels. By developing a unique social media component to its bread-and-butter product development process, Canadian Tire is putting the fate of dozens of popular products – and perhaps its reputation – directly into the hands of everyday Canadians.

Goal or No Goal! One of the most prominent incidents in 2010 World Cup that precipitated the need for goal-line technology was a goal incident that happened between England and Germany match. When England and Germany were part of the second round match, Frank Lampard the English mid-fielder, kicked the ball towards the goal, and the ball bounced off the crossbar and bounced back out to the field of play. Video replay was the only means to check whether the ball crossed the goal line back in 2010. Video replay was only used by media, sports commentators and not used as a tool by referees to decide “on goal or no goal”. Sepp Blatter FIFA President, after watching the game and replay from the stands he agreed that when the stakes are this high, justice outweighs tradition, germinating the idea of the need for Goal-Line Technology (GLT) especially for soccer World Cup events. Goal-Line Technology would remove any doubt about whether a goal has been scored. Why do we need Goal-Line Technology (GLT)? GLT is to support match officials in their decision making during a soccer match as the speed of the game and their position on the field of play may not allow them to make the proper call during games. The human eye can only handle approximately 16 images per second, so the ball will need to be behind the line for at least 60 milliseconds. In some cases the ball is only behind the line for a few milliseconds before a player kicks it back or it rebounds back into the field of play. When this happens the human eye cannot see whether the ball has crossed the line. The human eye can detect balls with a speed of 12km/h or less. Players these days are able to kick a ball with the speed over 120km/h – this would be undetected by the match officials.  Goal-Line Technology was Approved Goal-Line Technology (GLT) was approved for use in football by The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) in 2012. Referees no longer have to decide themselves whether the ball has crossed the line or not without technical assistance. After 9 months of testing in England, Germany, Hungary and Italy, at a meeting in Zurich on 5 July, 2012 decided to introduce Goal-Line Technology into football. Of the 8 companies that participated in the first round of tests, only… Read more »

“The future is always virtual and some things that may seem imminent or inevitable never actually happen. Fortunately, our ability to survive the future is not predicated on our capacity for prediction, although, and on those much more rare occasions, something remarkable does come staring the future deep in the eyes and challenging everything that it seems to promise.”     Luke Robert Mason, Ethereal Summit, May 19, 2017, Brooklin, NY The purpose of this case study is to look at the future impact of social media on organizations. The premise is an expected progression of social media use integration with other integrated information technology–based systems will increase organizational performance. It is a popular opinion that despite enormous potential, most organizations have failed to capitalize on inter-stakeholder collaboration because the elusive but profound emotional factor, being able to trust partners without fear of exploitation, is an almost impossible obstacle to overcome in most existing business-to-business transactions today. The premise then is that the trust factor is likely to continue to be a hurdle in the future. The premise is that through social media integration, collaboration on improvements to product and process performance are possible at all levels and offer the opportunity for substantial benefits. The above are the premises behind the examination of the future impact of social media on organizations. Let’s first be clear: what social media integration platforms are being put forth to change the nature of knowledge work and management inside organizations? In 2016, products like Jive, IBM Connections, Salesforce Chatter, Cisco Quad, Microsoft Yammer, Google Apps for Work, Facebook at Work, Facebook Messenger, etc. were indeed being used to improve performance and foster innovation. In 2017, Slack for chat, JIRA for task and issue tracking, CONFLUENCE for wiki, and GOOGLE DOCS for document editing and management are being integrated rapidly in transformative technology businesses. Social software integration will become a vital tool for transforming virtually every part of business operations, from product development to human resources, marketing, customer service and sales – in a sense becoming the new intra-operating system for the twenty-first century organization. But what if it is already recognized there are clear limitations on today’s suite of tools? And what about that small matter of trust – just what are the economic issues (apart from the ethical ones) about the importance of trust in business? Let’s define trust as the expectation the other party will… Read more »

Markets are conversations. Trade routes pave the storylines. Across the millennia in between, the human voice is the music we have always listened for, and still best understand. — The Cluetrain Manifesto, 1999 In 2014, Sephora, a world leader in beauty retail, joined the 6 percent of brands on SnapChat, blasting their followers with special deals on new beauty products. In 2015, the beauty powerhouse teamed up with women’s lifestyle publisher, POPSUGAR, to do what no makeup brand had done before: attach a mobile shopping function to customers viewing fleeting photos in Emoticode, an app similar to Snapchat. On June 6, 2016, Sephora was the big winner for small-screen commerce on mobile devices at the Internet Retailer Excellence Awards, dubbed “Digital Innovation”. In M. Penn’s University of Waterloo SMBP case study, Sephora – A Pretty Digital Face,  the author explained the essence of digital innovation behind Sephora’s award: how smartphones and tablets contributed half of Sephora’s digital traffic, and how Sephora was one of the first to launch Apple’s expedited mobile checkout platform, Apple Pay, as a payment option in Sephora’s apps and in-store. For years, the retailer had tested beacons, small sensors that track consumers’ smartphones and send personalized messages in its stores A year later, on June 6, 2017, Sephora’s Senior VP of Digital Marketing, Mary Beth Laughton, gave the keynote address at the same Internet Retailer Excellence Awards. Laughton offered insights as to how Sephora, by partnering first with Kik Messenger in Spring 2016, and then Facebook Messenger six months later, introduced its chatbot messaging apps to leverage the power of smartphone mobile by delivering an immersive retail experience that goes beyond mobile commerce and empowers shoppers to learn, be inspired and play through the power of chat. Why the move to chatbots? According to Brian Honigman, a content marketing consultant and the CEO of Honigman Media, a consultancy focused on helping marketers and entrepreneurs see results with content marketing and social media, chatbot apps are mobile’s sleeping giant because they also embrace the power of platforms. That is why the original iPhone succeeded. It was not based on product alone but also leveraged the power of the app-store ecosystem. Messaging apps provide the perfect ecosystem for the next generation of applications. It only makes sense that a chatbot, whose ancestor was exclusively used for communication, and which was dubbed by Steve Jobs in the iPhone keynote as an “internet communicator,” would… Read more »

Climate change is one of the hottest topics in the news these days (no pun intended); and it is wreaking havoc on our oceans. They are now in a state of peril, from issues such as rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, leading to massive concerns like coral bleaching and massive marine life die off. Scientists are working to gain an understanding of what is happening in our oceans; the shoreline presents itself as one challenging zone to gather information on. “Researchers and scientists have been scrambling to obtain baseline information about changing ocean chemistry for the past several years, but collecting data in a nearshore environment like the surf zone with high-energy dynamics is not easy.” (Surfrider) “Science knows alot about the deep ocean, but the coast is a different story. Getting data in this surf zone is tough. Researchers call it a hostile environment, where sensors get tossed by crashing waves and buried in ever shifting sands.” (Today, 2016) Fast forward to today – three years and 30 scientists later … we have the Smartfin.  

The company I work for, FlashStock, exists today because brands are trying to connect with consumers and personalize their connection. This brand to consumer connection is driving the ever-growing demand for visual content across digital channels including social media. Reflecting upon the biology of the human brain and how its magnitude processes images 60,000 times faster than written text, it has been proven that major food brands such as McDonald’s, Nestle, and Blaze Pizza are turning to social media to promote their food on photo specific channels like Instagram and Facebook. The aforementioned brands, as well as many other large-scale global brands, are using social media to test and create new products that social media provides to a large community of consumers. These brands can test to the visual appeal of their products and the hype often surrounding these images has been referred to as “food porn”. Representing the necessity of food, for visual and sensual qualities in these images connects consumers as addicts for viewing it. This new concept of “food porn” is what excites and compels consumers to invest in the products being advertised. When the image represents the qualities desired by consumers and an individual’s network comments about it on social media, there is a higher likelihood that others will buy into its appeal. Many global organizations also use social media to easily learn and listen to the reaction of consumers regardless if the audience is reacting positive or negative sentiment towards their products. In 2017 McDonald’s Canada rolled out its “All Day Breakfast” however, consumers took to social media to attack the to be released Skor McFlurry which goes against an allergy free safe haven that McDonald’s is said to be known for. While McDonald’s learned more about what the public perceives them to be, it wasn’t the launch a new product they were hoping for. One other benefit to using social media for product development and research is the ability to test marketing with minimal cost and be able to pivot quickly to make changes. These types of negative events can cost a company revenue, but when done successfully, can present opportunities for dramatic growth. Overall, companies that are leveraging social media for product development and research are being able to bring products to market for appeal and interest much faster. Therefore, companies are realizing higher business performance or return on investment (ROI).

If you’re using social media, chances are you’ve heard of Hootsuite. Founded in 2008, they have quickly grown to become the worlds most widely used Social relationship platform with over 15 million users. The dashboard interface makes easy work of social media integration. Plus, Hootsuite has a ton of blog posts with helpful tips and advice on how to make social media work for you and your company’s product development. How do they know it works? They use it themselves, and are extremely successful at it.

As an International Product Development Specialist with Dempsey Corporation, I know firsthand all of the tiny, painstaking, and highly particular details that go into bringing a product from ideation, to fruition, to the retailer.  From the initial RFP (Request for Proposal) to the actual proposals, to working with manufacturers, buyers and marketing teams, developing a single product can take MONTHS.  In a world of infinite ideas, how does anyone know what will sell?  A buyer’s worst nightmare is backing and investing in a product that flops – wasting value time, effort and resources that didn’t ultimately turn a profit.  And, as a product developer, a buyer’s worst nightmare is also my own.  If I don’t propose and develop products that stand half a chance of doing well for a particular client, my value as a developer plummets.  So how can I (and other product developers) help mitigate some of that seemingly impossible-to-predict burden?    Well, before the internet, we had to rely solely on visiting the brick and mortar stores, attending trade shows, setting up brainstorming meetings, and networking with businesses and people who were doing what we ourselves were trying to do – source, develop and buy products that will ultimately mean success for our enterprise.  Unfortunately for us, what is currently in the stores won’t necessarily be on trend next year, and word of mouth can only take you so far.  However, with the advent of the internet and the introduction of social media, my job just got a whole lot more interesting.  Let me tell you some of the ways I use Social Media in my day to day work as a product developer.

Nowadays it’s hard to believe that there was time when the most popular webmail service – Google mail, i.e. Gmail, was available to the private “invitation-only” audience. Gmail – free, advertising-supported email service is a product from Google. Users may access Gmail services on the web or via apps on Android and iOS mobile devices. As of February 2016, Gmail has 1 billion active users worldwide. It is also the first app in Google Play Store to hit 1 billion installations on Android devices. In 2014 it was reported that 60% of US mid-sized companies and 92% of US start-up companies were using Gmail.

Dubai Autodrome circuit is one of the most modern in the world; it is also one of the most challenging, as it has a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners. The venue is part of the Union Properties Motor city development in the greater Dubai and area. Track experiences give the chance to sample race cars and super-cars through the Race & Drive Center – a perfect place to hone skills and develop better driving abilities.

  Everybody knows of their community newspapers, but few know that these community newspapers are owned, operated and published in Ontario by Metroland Media. It’s a surprise that Metroland Media is not a common household name, having most of Ontario’s community media market share. In fact many people refer to their community newspapers by the name on the front page, but behind it all, is Metroland Media. Metroland Media Group has gone through many stages of ownership and various titles, but has since been remained Metroland Media Group after the 2006 merge of Metroland Publishing and City Media Group. Torstar, originally The Toronto Star, owns and operates Metroland Media Group, Star Media Group and has a diverse and developing portfolio of operations mainly across Canada, as well as other sectors around the world.

On-line retailers have been commanding a higher share of Canadian retail spending every year. The trend is largely driven by convenience (e.g., home delivery), wider assortment (due to absence of physical shelf space) and opportunities for consumers to use social media to share their opinions about their experiences with the product. Amazon.com and its Canadian web-site, Amazon.ca,  are  great examples of successfully capitalizing on the above trends to provide the best in class on-line shopping experience. Amazon has become the largest on-line retailer in North America, selling over 480 million products in the USA and 133 million in Canada.

Victoria’s Secret is a brand known around the world for it’s glamours images of it’s elusive Angels creating a goal that many aspire to.  In the fast paced world of today the excitement of receiving their catalogue in the mail has been replaced by a few easy clicks to  order a little piece of the magic.  Though this provides quick and easy access to the customer,  the company has been faced with the question of how to reinvent that same excitement in today’s world?  Enter social media.    

Role of Innovation in Consumer Packaged Goods Developing innovative products for consumers is considered as one of essential marketing functions at Parmalat.  Product innovation usually plays an important role in life cycle of any consumer packaged goods company. Innovation is tasked to drive incremental volume for the company, keep consumer delighted with its products and provide retailers with increased profits opportunities. In Food Industry, major players, such as Parmalat, are literally expected to come up with new products every year to inject news and dynamics to the category and “protect” their shelf space at retail.

PowToon is web-based software that enables users to create animated videos, According to the PowToon website, “anyone – even if you don’t know a pixel from a proxy server – can create engaging, animated videos with a professional look and feel.” Four years after its launch in 2012, PowToon boasts over 10 million users worldwide who have created and shared more than 30 million PowToons. Product development is ongoing; company co-founder and CEO Ilya Spitalnik recently posted PowToon 2016 Year-in-Review: New Features & 2017 Spoilers on the company blog and social media channels. The product enhancements celebrated in this post were, of course, presented in a PowToon video.

Thirteen years ago Steve Brooks was a husband, and a new father, married to a synchronized swimming coach.  As a graduate of Sheridan College’s Graphic Design diploma program, Steve had taken many photography elective courses and was now a camera and photography hobbyist.  Steve enthusiastically took photos of his wife’s synchronized swimming teams to help with the local club’s promotional material.  This is how Brooks Photography began. Recognizing that parents enjoyed seeing action photos of their athletes, then Markham Synchro president, Nancy Chan, suggested Steve take pictures of all competitors at the upcoming Central & Northern Ontario regional championships.  The photos were a great hit, and soon Steve was at all Synchro Ontario competitions as the official photographer of Synchro Swim Ontario. Taking action shots at synchronized swimming events began to make Brooks Photography a household name in synchronized swimming households.  Parents and athletes alike followed Brooks Photography on Facebook.  Wanting to take the business further, Steve started as second shooter at weddings.   Once he started sharing those photos on Facebook, he began getting phone calls requesting him to be the main photographer for weddings.

IBM is an American technology company with its headquarters in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware, middleware and software, and offers hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. IBM is also a major research hub that holds the record for most patents generated by a business enterprise for 24 years in a row. In 2001, IBM introduced the Jam concept in the form of a social computing experiment to engage its workforce. This was completed via a web-based, moderated brainstorming session. Starting in 2007, IBM opened the sessions to external organizations similarly intent on fostering innovation through online cooperation. IBM’s Innovation Jams have been used by governments, academic institutions, businesses and other organizations to address proposals ranging from employee involvement, urban development, to global community engagement through public service. “Jams drive IBM’s research mandate forward. IBM uses the most cutting edge technology to glean information from the data collected. Jams bolster organizational value as specific recommendations are provided to the participants upon completion. Jams are the most effective style of crowdsourcing as they target groups of people with common goals.” Christopher Murray, Technician in Development, IBM

Want a personalized home?  Too many that would sound like a dream, but now it is a reality.  With the tools available through social technology consumers are looking for opportunities to be more involved in the production of the goods and services they receive. In the paper A New Consumerism:  The Influence of Social Technologies on Product Design  Ian de Verve argues that “Social technologies have led to the imminent promise of unprecedented user participation and collective content generation, sharing and personalization.”  It is noted that historically it was not economical to personalize each product in a large scale production environment given constraints in the production process, and in the efficiency of getting  individual consumer input.  Given advances in social technology the opportunity has emerged to personalize the final product through consumer input.  This new method of development provides a more emotional connection to the final product as an individual’s tastes are ultimately considered.

When it comes to credit cards, it’s no longer just a choice between Visa, Mastercard or Amex. Consumers are now tasked with selecting the reward program they want partnered with their cards ( Air Miles, Scene, WestJet, etc.). While the reward programs may be a nice addition, if you’re like me, you aren’t concerned with reward programs and you certainly aren’t willing to pay a yearly fee in order to receive them. You just want a credit card with a low interest rate and no bells and whistles. And this is how Barclaycard Ring Mastercard was created.