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Wall Street Journal: P&G Bets People Will ‘Swash’ Clothes

Procter &Gamble is betting shoppers will spend nearly $500 and find a spot in their homes for a machine more than 4 feet tall, all in the name of avoiding laundering or dry cleaning their favorite blouses and slacks.

Swash is a new release from the consumer-products giant, maker of Tide and Febreze, in partnership with Whirlpool. The tall and thin device, which is large enough to hold one men’s extra-large suit jacket, uses gel-filled pods to help neutralize odors, remove wrinkles and restore a garment’s fit.

It isn’t meant to replace laundering or dry cleaning, the companies say, just delay them. That convenience comes with a hefty price tag: $499 for the machine, plus $6.99 for a 12-pack of pods, each good for one use only. The machine is sold at Bloomingdale’s and will be available next month at other retailers.

Swash’s pods come in three scents: Awaken, Recharge and Unwind. Proctor & Gamble

The goal is to snag what P&G sees as a new laundry consumer: the re-wearer, says Mike Grieff, P&G’s research and development director for new business creation and innovation. Two decades ago, the idea of wearing clothes several times before washing them had a negative stigma, he says.

“Today, it’s smart. Why would I wash something and go through the process if it’s really, really not that dirty?”

It’s a new brand at a time when P&G has said it would be cutting half of its brands to focus on its biggest businesses. P&G declined to comment on the future of individual brands, including Swash.

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TechCrunch: Flat Club Launches ‘Priceline For P2P Rental’, Allows Guests To Post Requests

Apartment rentals and sharing startup Flat Club has launched a radically new function which we think is pretty cool. It’s created a sort of ‘Priceline for peer to peer rentals’ called LiveDemand. Instead of hosts posting listings, guests post requests for accommodation and hosts then can pick and choose which guests to make offers to. Peer to peer marketplaces like AirBnB typically run in the reverse direction.

Flat Club started in the university space and landed $1.5M investment last year, but is gradually expanding its model into others area.

Prior to launching LiveDemand, FlatClub says it trialled the feature with 400 selected hosts, found that inside the first four weeks more than 1000 requests were posted by guests looking for accommodation for an average of 61 nights. Cities with the highest demand were London, New York and Munich.

It also says that hosts who used the LiveDemand feature received 30% more bookings than average. First time hosts are twice as active in making offers rather than having to wait for guests to come to them.

FlatClub says it now has has 75,000 members, 50 university partnerships, 15,000 listings, and an average stay of 30 nights (comparing to 4 nights on Airbnb)

Watch this business model get copied by others. We think it’s very interesting, especially if it was transferred to a mobile, location-based environment, which could put it into the HotelTonight space.

BrandJourney’s Work for VF Corporation Featured in SharePoint 2014 Conference Keynote

Business Situation:
In late 2012, VF Corporation was looking for answers. They had just spent significant time and money redesigning their outdated corporate intranet using SharePoint, but ultimately decided not to deploy it because they were unhappy with the user experience and technical implementation, and felt uneasy about introducing it to Associates. Eager to understand what had gone wrong and how to fix it, VF engaged BrandJourney to conduct a detailed assessment and to provide strategic recommendations on how to move forward. After reviewing 60+ project artifacts, thousands of lines of code and interviewing numerous project stakeholders, BrandJourney’s recommendations included a re-working of the user experience, infrastructure and video player upgrades, with a move to Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 for Enterprise. Confident in BrandJourney’s ability to execute on their recommendations, VF Corporation engaged them to redesign, rebuild and re-launch the intranet, a critical project that had visibility at the highest levels.

“We knew, given the history of the project, that we had to deliver an exceptional product and that failure simply wasn’t an option.” – Matt Hayes, BrandJourney Director, Client Services


BrandJourney overcame several challenges in order to build VF a world-class intranet:

Business Challenges:

  • Fostering connections, communication and collaboration among VF’s many brands and departments
  • Delivering personalized content to Associates across 30+ VF brands
  • Change management, adoption and training of content managers
  • Crafting a consumer-grade user experience that Associates would love

Technical Challenges:

  • Curating, editing and migrating 850+ pages from the existing intranet
  • Building a site that worked on all browsers and devices, including tablets and smartphones
  • Creating an easy-to-navigate information architecture that cohesively melded VF’s many brands and business units
  • Providing Associates with robust search capability that worked flawlessly
  • Organizing information and tools for content providers on the backend

BrandJourney and VF Corporation chose to deploy VF’s new intranet portal, dubbed the Loop, on the cloud-based Office365 and SharePoint 2013 infrastructure to satisfy both immediate functional requirements and long-term business goals. Leveraging the power of SharePoint 2013 gave VF several advantages, including cross device availability, enterprise search, content management, e-discovery, ACM, compliance, easy to manage and enterprise grade reliability and standards.

Over the course of nine months, BrandJourney worked hand-in-hand with stakeholders from VF Corporation, including Tyler Kerr (Senior Manager, Digital Communications) and Butch Cloninger (Senior Manager, Global Business & Technology), crafting innovative solutions to VF’s challenges.

The team accomplished all the goals for which they set out, many of which are highlighted below:

  • Access from anywhere: the Loop, is built with SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 allowing Associates to login from anywhere without VPN
  • Brand-specific pages & content: All 32 VF brands have dedicated sections on the Loop with brand-specific news, information and social content
  • Modern, Responsive Design: the Loop’s responsive design utilizes the latest programming languages, HTML5 and CSS3, and is optimized for all modern devices and browsers, including support for legacy browsers including Internet Explorer 7
  • Optimized for mobile : the Loop works great on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone mobile browsers
  • Custom admin dashboards: Brand and departmental content providers have custom administrative dashboards so they only see what’s relevant to their specific business area
  • Deep social integration: Common Threads, VF Corporation’s Socialcast enterprise social networking tool, is seamlessly integrated throughout the Loop
  • Personalized brand toolbars: Customized drop-down toolbars for brand employees provide quick access to frequently used links and information
  • Real-time stock quotes: Integration with NASDAQ provides real-time stock quotes for VF and its competitors

the Loop launched in January, 2014 and immediately received praise from Associates across the organization:

  • “I love The Loop…I find it more user friendly and pleasing to the eye vs. what we used in the past.” (Nautica associate)
  • “WOW!! I absolutely love the ease and flow of our intranet – GREAT JOB!!” (Vans associate)
  • “Wow! The site is fantastic, very impressed with the layout and effectiveness of the tool. Congratulations as you can tell a LOT of long hours by the team went into the design.” (TNF associate)
  • “The Loop looks great! Hats off to you and your team!!” (Timberland associate)

VF Corporation and BrandJourney are already receiving praise for the exceptional work in making the Loop vision a reality. Microsoft has selected the Loop to be showcased as an intranet best practice at its 2014 SharePoint Conference, which will be keynoted by former President Bill Clinton.


TechCrunch: FlatClub, An Airbnb For Elite Universities, Lands $1.5M Investment To Scale Up

Last year FlatClub, a sort of Airbnb for top university students and their alumni,launched across 30 U.S. and UK universities (such as Columbia Business School, INSEAD, King’s College). It’s now raised $1.5million from a network of Angels including Jeremy Coller of Coller Capital, Professor Eli Talmor of London Business School and David Wolfe of BrandJourney and InterCapital.

Flat-Club takes a 6-15 percent charge but doesn’t charge the host. The average stay is almost a month, whereas Airbnb is a few nights. After launching first in London it now has now has 50,000 verified members (members have to have a university email address), and features properties from alumni of more than 50 of the world’s top universities, including London School of Economics, London Business School, University College London, King’s College and New York University.

Hosts on Flat-Club can choose who see their postings – for instance, only alumni of specific universities – allowing for a more trusted experience. Trust is important when you are renting out an apartment. Research by UCL found that only 10 percent of private people will become hosts under the Airbnb model. FlatClub says it can double this rate to 20%.

The largest club is the London Business School Club with 2,000 members (10% of the entire university community – alumni & students). FlatClub says that last year members of the community made $250K in renting out their place to trusted guests.

The investment will enable FlatClub, which was established by former London Business School graduates Nitzan Yudan and Tomer Kalish, to increase the number of listings from 10,000 to 30,000 rooms and apartments available for short stays within 12 months, launching a new technology platform to further expand its presence across Europe and the USA.

Socialization Turns the Marketing Funnel on Its Head

Socialization is delivering the first improvements in marketing productivity in decades.

The disaggregation of mass media has rendered the old “marketing funnel” model more and more difficult to drive adequate returns on marketing dollars. However, the explosion of social media has created an entirely new model that multiplies expensively acquired primary customers into masses of followers.

“To achieve the scale and influence benefits of socialization, you must build virality into your marketing, enable consumers to connect and use crowdsourced content to proliferate your brand.”

Digital Fight for Consumer Share of Mind

Consumers are developing virtual homescreens.

With the widespread use of smartphones and the onset of app-based desktops and tablets, people are developing virtual homescreens in their minds that reflect the homescreens on their devices of choice. These homescreens only have room for around 12 apps, and 9 of the spots are already taken.

“With over a million Apps already available, yours needs to meet a real need or desire in a unique, easy-to-use way.”

The Relationship between Scale and Influence: A New Paradigm

Until around 2010, brand scale led to brand influence. Then, social networks turned the marketing world upside down.

Mass marketing was an efficient way to generate brand awareness for years. The Internet fragmented mass media, rendering it less efficient. But it was social networks that changed everything. Early adopters and key influencers can be the lightning fuse for socializing your brand growth. But beware – they can destroy your brand in 140 characters.

“Key influencers talking about your product gives consumers the confidence they need to buy something new.” BrandJourney Venturing to launch online pet owner’s community

Cats and their pet parents are taking over the Internet and professionals and companies who wish to interact with them are responding to the growing demand for reliable information and useful products. Victoria Simpson, Marketing Coordinator at BrandJourney Venturing states,

BrandJourney Venturing is an innovation company that works with global companies to bring innovative ideas to life… [They] recognized the need for pet owners to have a community where they can connect with pet owners like themselves and have a trusted community of pet professionals.

With this in mind, BrandJourney Venturing is launching Petocracy, a new pet-related online community, on Saturday, February 23, 2013, with the goal of being, “THE one-stop community for cat and dog owners.”

Petocracy will provide helpful tools and answers to cat questions (both cat and dog, but this article is about cats) from veterinary professionals and pet industry experts, as well as a platform for pet parents and Petocracy’s professionals to interact with each other. They plan on focusing on health and wellness issues and training and grooming tips. Resident experts, “every day pet professionals,” like Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM, owner of Manhattan Cat Specialists and the veterinarian of Cat Fancy’s Ask The Veterinarian, will offer advice and answer pet-related questions. Because Petocracy will grow in order to meet pet parents’ needs, Simpson says they’re, “currently implementing a plan to allow pet professionals to submit their credentials for our team to review.”

The benefits of joining Petocracy are:

  • Belonging to a community online where pet parents may meet pet professionals.
  • The ability to ask questions and receive well-informed answers.
  • Opportunities to connect with fellow pet parents.
  • It’s free.

Petocracy will be organized so those who join will receive personalized content based upon the their cats’ issues and the questions they ask. This will be accomplished by utilitizing information pet parents provide in their profiles that will include details about their cats. In addition, the more cat-related questions Petocracy members ask, the more cat-related content Petocracy will offer. Plus, there are links and areas to start a conversation in various places so users may interact with fellow pet parents and resident professionals. An example of tailored content is if a pet parent has an overweight cat, her pet parent will receive information to help learn about weight loss and become a better pet parent.

New York Times: Should We All Go Gluten-Free?

The singer was a no-show. The Gluten Free Expo in Sandy, Utah — one of the nation’s largest events dedicated to foods untainted by wheat — was going to have to start without the national anthem. But Debbie Deaver, the expo’s founder, didn’t have time to worry about that. The song, to be honest, was the least of her problems.

Deaver had slept four hours in the last three days. The 34-year-old woman — who has celiac disease and therefore must avoid eating gluten, a key protein in wheat — was running on prayer and Diet Dr Pepper. She needed sleep, and syrup.

A day earlier, a shipment of maple syrup failed to arrive, forcing her to scramble to find a topping suitable for the expo’s enormous gluten-free pancake breakfast. A last-minute donation of 35 cases of marionberry syrup would have to do. And then there was the issue of actual attendees. With the sky spitting rain outside and temperatures hovering around 40 degrees on a dark October morning, Deaver was becoming convinced that no one was coming to her expo in suburban Salt Lake City. “I’m getting nervous,” she admitted as she scanned the empty concourse of the sprawling, glass-walled South Towne Exposition Center just 30 minutes before the show started. “People aren’t showing up.”

But seemingly all at once, they did. When Deaver opened the front doors at 9 a.m., she was stunned by the huge crowd waiting to get inside. At the sight of these people — her people — Deaver stopped cold in her Puma sneakers and began to cry.

“I’m just so excited about those gluten-free pancakes,” she announced to the crowd. “Is everybody ready to eat some pancakes?”

Four hundred people surged into the expo hall in the first 10 minutes, 1,200 in the first hour and nearly 6,000 by the end of the single-day event. They came from as far away as Arizona and Nebraska, like pilgrims to a sort of gluten-free Mecca. Once inside, many were soon listening to one man: Dom Alcocer, a 33-year-old marketing manager, who stood on a chair in an expo booth, barking at the attendees and throwing gluten-free granola bars into the crowd.

“Ohhhhh! Dropped pass!” Alcocer shouted to one person. And then, to another: “Nice catch!”

The crest on Alcocer’s golf shirt said Gluten Freely, as did the sign above the booth promoting a Web site of the same name. But Alcocer wasn’t here representing some Internet start-up. He was from General Mills, the Minnesota-based food-manufacturing giant, which perhaps more than any other mainstream corporation has begun focusing on gluten-free consumers. In the last three years, General Mills — best known for Cheerios, Betty Crocker and that wheat-filled Pillsbury Doughboy — has put gluten-free labels on more than 300 products already made without gluten, reformulated the recipes of five Chex cereals, introduced gluten-free dessert and pancake mixes and, most recently, asked Alcocer to make America’s go-to Web site for the gluten-free life.

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