Innovations We Love: August Edition

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  • by Courtney PeGan Stevens

As 2020 rages on, the truly innovative have been hard at work to help solve real problems that their consumers are facing during this pandemic. This month, our Senior Vice President of Operations, Courtney PeGan Stevens, shares how her favorite “Pandemic Innovations” are meeting consumers where they are … mostly at home.

INNOVATION: IKEA Sells “Vacation In A Box”

Why We Love It:

I believe some of the best innovations are simple, elegant, and make the user say, “huh. Why didn’t I think of that?”  Enter IKEA’s “Vacation In A Box,” leveraging existing SKUs in a simple way, to create a travel experience without ever leaving your home. This commercial innovation grabbed my attention immediately for two reasons:  

1) It is absolutely a true insight for me that staycation feels different (i.e. harder) when you are also working from home; it takes a lot more effort and imagination to get into a vacation mindset.

I may or may not have set up an inflatable baby pool and a popup tailgating tent in my backyard last month and called it “Club Chill at the Baby Pool Paradis.”  While I am stir crazy at home, I also feel strongly that I shouldn’t be traveling right now for my or my family’s health. So, this IKEA innovation feels like it was tailor-made for me. 

2) These boxes are more than just re-packaged merchandise; they are also multi-sensorial instruction kits that offer added entertainment value at no additional cost. There is no purchase necessary to download the “Vacation In A Box” instruction manual with songs to set the mood, recipes to give you a taste of another culture, movies that highlight your intended destination, and instructions to learn traditional dance moves that can connect you to the local history. So, while these boxes are technically only available for purchase in the UAE at this time, we can all download these “staycation” guides for a more creative, multi-sensorial at-home experience. I hope they offer these worldwide soon, but in the meantime, I have already downloaded “Tea Time in Tokyo” and “Sunrise in Cappadocia” to begin planning my next staycation. 

INNOVATION: Bumble and Babe Wine Help Alleviate the Stress of Pandemic Breakups

Why We Love It:

I’ve been reading predictions about the dreaded influx of “pandemic breakups” headed towards society since March. Breakups are incredibly destabilizing experiences, particularly when you live with your partner. Throw in the added complication of breaking up with a live-in partner during a pandemic, and WHOA! That’s a really tough spot to be in. 

Thankfully, Bumble and Babe Wine are ready to help. The two brands saw a human problem, and teamed up to offer an empathically elegant solution: covering moving costs, including free wine, for people facing a breakup. Beyond the move, Bumble also promises to “hand tailor” the perfect dating profile for the newly single mover. Aside from the cost of branding a few moving trucks (brilliant!), this is a relatively simple marketing execution that allows two brands to connect with their consumers during a sensitive, but real, market entry point.

INNOVATION: Window Swap Literally Offers You A Different Point of View 

Why We Love It:

The intersection between innovation and entrepreneurship has always inspired me personally. I love that the creators of Window Swap, Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam, are a husband-and-wife team of creatives who developed this beautiful website/service as a “quarantine project.” 

"My husband Vaishnav and I created this little project to help beat our lockdown blues," explains Ranjit. "Because, let's face it, it's going to be a while before we travel again, and wake up to a new view outside our windows. So until then, why not voyeuristically travel by looking out of somebody else's window for a while?"

In just a few clicks, users can be transported to some of the most beautiful views in the world without having to leave the safety of home. The user interface is beautiful and simple to enjoy. Anyone may also submit their own 10-minute videos highlighting their view from a window or balcony, like a virtual Airbnb. We can all sip our morning coffee with a waterfront view in Lucerne, Switzerland, toast a glass of wine with a sleeping puppy on our balcony in San Francisco, California, or just airplay a view from Como, Italy onto our TV while we work from home. This is still a free (& ad-free) service … for now. 

What are some simple ways that your brand or company can solve a real consumer need right now?  Let’s keep the conversation going. Join us on LinkedIn or email me directly: