Small Steps to Big Change

18 November 10

The Power of Incremental Innovation

Disruptive innovation is exciting. Big breakthroughs like Netflix, Zipcar, and the iPad, generate big headlines. However, it’s important to recognize that many of the most profitable innovations aren’t disruptive at all.

A classic example of non-disruptive innovation is the addition of wheels to suitcases. Many thousands of years after both the suitcase and wheels were invented, the two products were combined in 1970 to make life easier for travelers. This small, incremental change made a big difference and gave suitcase companies a way to differentiate themselves. Incremental innovation is defined as improving, reconfiguring, or building upon a form or technology that already exists. By focusing on incremental innovation, companies can align existing offerings with current trends, expand on what they already do well, and continuously create value.

Many companies practice incremental innovation. Let’s take a look at a few recent examples that demonstrate the value of this approach:

  • Google Instant — Just when you thought the browsing experience couldn’t get any better, Google launches their new search feature Google Instant. This new predictive feature displays results as soon as you start typing. Google estimates that this will save users approximately 2-5 seconds per search. The feature has been so popular that it has inspired programmers to create their own versions, including YouTube instant and Yahoo’s new Rich Search Assist. Read the rest of this entry »

Retail Revolution

27 September 10

The Future of Retail

At this fall’s New York Fashion Week, the most interesting trends were happening off the runway. While models were showing off new looks, designers and their retail partners were demonstrating innovative ways to connect with today’s shoppers.

High-end fashion houses including Gucci streamed their runway shows live online. Burberry took it a step further with a “retail theater” that allowed at-home shoppers to purchase runway outfits online as models were strutting down the catwalk. Diane Von Furstenberg’s partnership with HP further proved that fashion and technology are now highly integrated. At the DVF Lounge during fashion week, customers were invited to sip refreshing drinks while browsing new DVF looks on HP touchscreen panels. They were even able to conveniently print out their favorites on HP printers. Real-time tweets about the event were on display on another large HP display screen.

It is not only high-end designers who are on the cutting edge of retail innovation, leveraging technology to reinvent the shopping experience and connect with customers; the following are a few more examples of how retailers are reaching their customer in new and innovative ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Target-ting Barneys

2 May 08

futurethink target barneys rogan

To further up its Eco-cred, Target commissioned a 60-piece clothing line from designer Rogan Gregory. Mr. Gregory (who is behind the labels Rogan, Loomstate, Edun, A Litl Betr, and Rogan Objects) is known for using organic, sustainably produced materials in his collections, and most of his labels appear at high-end retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Barneys New York.

Gregory’s collection for Target is part of Target’s Go International program, which features a line of moderately priced clothing from cutting-edge designers. Each collection in the Go International program appears in stores for about six weeks at a time. From Target:

All cotton used in the Rogan for Target collection is 100% certified organic, highlighting Rogan’s design sensibility of unique construction and a devotion to environmentally sensitive materials. The exclusive women’s fashion collection will launch on and at most Target stores nationwide on May 18, 2008, and will be available through June 28. Read the rest of this entry »

Did You HWear The News?

24 April 08

futurethink CNN Headline T-Shirt

CNN recently launched an interesting new feature on its website. Visitors will notice a little t-shirt icon next to some of the news site’s headlines. Clicking that icon brings you to a page that allows you to purchase a t-shirt, in one of three colors, with that specific headline printed on it. Read the rest of this entry »

National Geographic: Now in Size 42R

29 March 08

futurethink national geographic travel jacket

National Geographic, the popular travel/environment/adventure publication and media network, is diving headfirst into the world of fashion with its new Global Travel Jacket. The jacket, which features a number of travel-friendly pockets, is actually just one of a number of apparel pieces the company offers. Other pieces in the collection include travel-centric vests and jackets, as well as a number of quasi-exotic cultural pieces from around the world.

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The Crowdsourced Business

23 January 08

While many companies are beginning to realize and trying to learn from the wisdom of crowds, others are using crowds as the business itself. First, we saw the crowd-written book We are Smarter than Me, which was published late last year. Now – the crowd-sourced company: nvohk (pronounced en-voke).


Simply stated: nvokh is a clothing company that’s “managed by the people who wear it.” The Los Angeles-based company aims to recruit between 20- and 40-thousand members to contribute $50.00 each per year to develop the brand and its line of clothing. Members will contribute to clothing design, web design, major business decisions, logo design, and advertising. Here’s the sticky part: members will get 35% of the companies profits paid out in the form of points. The points can be redeemed to purchase nvokh products at a 25% discount. Members will only have to pony up once the company has recruited 2000 people, and new members will receive an official nvokh t-shirt, a membership sticker, and a plant-a-tree seed pack to welcome them to the flock.

An interesting idea, for sure, and a welcome new spin on crowd-funding. Learn more at nvokh.

Fashion 2.0

14 January 08

The men’s shows wrapped up this past week in Florence at Pitti Uomo, and the press, buyers, and other fashion influencers are packing up and heading to Paris for the next round of shows. This season, Yves Saint Laurent will give the industry its Fall/Winter 2008 collection a little differently than in years past. Stefano Pilati, YSL’s creative director, will showcase his collection using no models and no runway. Rather, the designer has opted to showcase his wares using a seven-minute video clip with British actor Simon Woods as the official “hanger” for the latest YSL duds. According to a YSL spokesperson: “Stefano Pilati’s idea was to make the experience of seeing a collection more intimate, to reduce the distance between viewer and product. He wanted to change things up this season.”

Update 01.22.2008: View the video above – or visit the YSL website.

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