January 27, 2015
January 26, 2015
A frugal approach to innovation is moving from emerging to developed economies, reports The Economist (1/24/15). The idea of "stripping products of their fripperies and cutting costs dramatically" was hatched "to meet surging demand from new consumers in emerging economies." This didn’t always go as planned. For example, even after India’s Tata fixed problems with its $2,999 Nano automobile (it had "burst into flames"), "aspirational Indians made it clear they did not want to be seen driving ‘the world’s cheapest car’."
The approach still flies in developing countries, however. "It is also conquering a rich world in which a financial crisis and recession have been followed by a spell of stagnant household incomes, and, in parts, persistently high unemployment. Some of the West’s biggest multinationals are designing no-frills products in developing countries with the intention of selling them in developed ones, too. General Electric designs affordable medical devices in India and China. Renault-Nissan has a center for frugal engineering in India."
Of course, many notable frugal innovations, such as "low-cost airlines and discount supermarkets," have their roots in developed economies, which "also pioneered the use of digital technology to replace expensive physical plant and to help people share resources." The Khan Academy and Airbnb are frugal innovations, as is Kickstarter, which provides "a frugal source of financing for frugal innovators." And any number of apps are replacing "expensive industrial and medical instruments with something far cheaper."
January 22, 2015
First movers, over-innovators and isolationists stumble on innovation’s path. A Hub White Paper by Tyler Murray of TracyLocke. Innovation may be the hottest topic in marketing today — and for the foreseeable future. The topic is worth its hype. Peter Drucker famously declared, "Innovate or die." That sentiment is now widespread. Every company feels the pressure to stay ahead of the pace of change, or face a slow demise. The marketplace demands innovation, companies are in constant search of it, and employees long to be among the brilliant few to create it.
For all the excitement the topic inspires, however, the practice of innovation remains stubbornly elusive. According to Nielsen, only a miserable 15 percent of new packaged-goods products launched in the US will still be around in the ensuing two years. Innovation failure isn’t limited to packaged-goods, either. About 75 percent of venture-capital-backed start-ups fail to generate any financial return to their investors. That only a quarter of start-ups will be successful is staggering considering that these small businesses are fully dedicated to seeing their innovations succeed. Read The Rest of The White Paper.
January 22, 2015
What Netflix and Spotify did for movies and music, Magzter hopes to do for magazines, reports Joshua Brustein in Bloomberg Businessweek (1/19/15). So far, "the idea of paying a flat fee for unlimited access" to magazines "hasn’t caught on," however Next Issue Media has been attempting such a model since 2011, but to date has attracted only "hundreds of thousands" of subscribers willing to pay "$15 a month for access to about 140 magazines." Netflix, by comparison, has "50 million" subscribers and Spotify "12.5 million."
Magzter, meanwhile, is trying a different approach. Magzter’s plan is just $10 a month, and it "thinks it can gain traction where Next Issue hasn’t by offering a larger selection of more obscure titles and by selling subscriptions internationally." About 5,000 publishers are using Magzter to sell standalone issues, and 2,000 are participating in its "all-access subscription service." "It’s the last great white space in streaming media," says Magzter CEO Girish Ramdas. "Everyone else has made the jump."
The opportunity might seem ripe, especially since "drawing readers to single-title magazine apps that mimic the print experience" hasn’t caught on — "app subscribers make up less than 4 percent of overall magazine circulation." However, "it’s not clear that anyone but the most voracious readers will save money … If a Netflix for magazines ever does catch on, it would preserve one consistent aspect of the magazine industry: relying on readers to subscribe to far more material than they have time to read."
January 20, 2015
Only people can connect technologies with daily life. A Hub White Paper by Sharon Love of TPN. Because technology now defines how we communicate, engage and manage our lives, the word ‘innovation’ today usually evokes some form of digital technology, device or cyber-related evolution. Changes in technology present themselves daily. It is the primary driver of our connected experiences with family, friends and even brands. It is exciting to watch where the cutting edge of digital innovation is leading us, as brands explore emerging technology to serve their audiences better.
At the most recent Plug and Play — a retail conference where technological possibility meets creative ideas meets financial backing — upstarts who may be the next leverage point for marketers looking to connect with their targets were out in force. Partnerships are now forming at the intersection of brand and retail, the ‘Internet of Things,’ digital media and mobile. The result is innovation that takes virtual concepts and makes them physical, that transports cyber-chefs into your shopping and cooking experiences, for example, presenting augmented reality that challenges actual reality. For the vast majority of people, these advancements mean new and exciting experiences that marketers assume they also want and need. Read The Rest of The White Paper.
January 14, 2015
A group of investors hopes to do for nail salons what Starbucks did for coffee shops, reports Sarah Max in The New York Times (1/15/15). John Hamel and his partners at Cue Ball were seeking "a highly fragmented industry" where there was an opportunity to "use a combination of smart design, systems and company culture to create a following." John had to look no further than "the strip malls near his home north of Boston" where he found oodles of nail salons. The supply suggested demand, and a closer look revealed a big opening.
At most nail salons, it’s all "fluorescent lighting, smelly acrylics and questionable hygiene." Scheduling appointments is another weak spot. "Borrowing practices from the medical and dental industries, MiniLuxe uses single-use tools … ultrasonic debris removers and hospital-grade autoclave sterilizers." It also introduced "its own line of toxin-free polish." To reduce wait-times, it hired "a data scientist to predict which factors drove demand" and "24/7 online booking." A soon-to-be introduced app will "buzz users’ phones" when "it’s their turn. "
Most important, MiniLuxe provides employees with "health insurance, paid time off, profit sharing and a company 401K." "You can’t create affinity for consumers if you do not create affinity for employees," says Mats Lederhausen, another Cue Ball partner. To pick locations, John looked for clusters of nail salons near Starbucks shops. Like Starbucks, MiniLuxe also devised "its own language, their own product lines," says Joseph Michelli, a customer experience consultant. Now with eight Boston locations, MiniLuxe plans to expand nationally.
January 13, 2015
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk gets to what’s right by focusing on what’s wrong, reports Mike Ramsey in The Wall Street Journal (1/12/15). "I have OCD on product-related issues," Elon says. "When I see a car or a rocket or spacecraft, I only see what’s wrong. I never see what’s right. It’s not a recipe for happiness." He may not have been referring to his own happiness as much as that of certain "high-level managers" at Tesla, who "quit or were fired" because of Elon’s "insistence on doing things his way."
So intent is Elon Musk on what he calls "nano-management" that he "set up an office in the middle of the factory floor" during the Tesla S launch in 2012. "If you are fighting a battle, it’s way better if you are at the front lines," he says. "A general behind the lines is going to lose." Just three weeks ahead of the delivery of the first car, Elon "demanded that the sedans have larger rear tires because he felt they looked better." This was unrealistic for a number of reasons, but Elon insisted, and the "design change went through without a hitch."
This style doesn’t play well with everyone, but that’s fine with Elon. "He used to say that he only wanted ‘special forces’ working for him," says Ricardo Reyes, Tesla’s media relations head. "No normal people." Supporters say this "relentless perfectionism has steered Tesla to where it is today." His "unwavering determination" helps explain why "investors have flocked to Tesla and shrug off the fact that the auto maker has never made an annual profit." "You take Elon out of the company and the market cap would go down 80%," an analyst says.
January 9, 2015
Innovation is a process and failure its constant companion. A roundtable discussion featuring Sally Grimes of Tyson Foods, Ed Hoffman of NASA, Nadia Shouraboura of Hointer, Graham Milner of WD-40 and Frank Maher of The Integer Group.
Sally Grimes: We have a team at Tyson that unites the key growth enablers across the entire enterprise. From an organizational standpoint, this group touches every aspect of the enterprise. By having this central growth group, we reach out and connect with all the different functions in the organization. We are intentional about innovation by creating a structure for unstructured time. For example, we created monthly ‘Snow Days,’ when our teams come together to share insights and ideas. The name stands for Sharing New Opportunities to Win, but it also refers to those days when school was snowed out here in Chicago and kids had a fun day free to do new and different things.
Ed Hoffman: Freedom and resources always drive innovation. This is true whether it’s a project team, organization or a society. Freedom is really key. If people are afraid, they are not going to innovate. There is too much of a risk. So, you need to have an environment where people can share, talk to each other and argue, and where there is intellectual freedom in a safe environment. In terms of resources, it doesn’t have to be money. Where you have people looking to be creative and innovate, sometimes it may be office space they need. Sometimes it’s a tool or a technology. Sometimes it’s that they just need support to test an idea to see whether it produces enough growth. Read The Rest of the Roundtable.
January 8, 2015
A former Naval officer is bringing military discipline to the pizza business, reports Karsten Strauss in Forbes (1/19/15). Samit Varma, an Annapolis graduate who spent eight years as an officer on nuclear submarines, says his training was "crucial" in the launch of Pizza Studio, a 25-store chain, in 2012. His co-founder, Ron Biskin, meanwhile brought a history in food service via TGI Fridays, Baja Fresh and Wolfgang Puck. The concept, however, is Samit’s, who says he was inspired by childhood memories of making "fun pizzas" with his mom.
What makes Pizza Studio different is that its customers can "choose from different flavored crusts, several types of sauces, an assortment of cheeses and 25 toppings." Crusts come in "whole grain and flaxseed, rosemary and herb and more," for example. Sounds somewhat Chipotle-esque, but the innovation is in the execution: "The assembled pie moves on a conveyor belt through a convection oven that exhales 50 mph gusts of high heat and emerges two minutes later crisp and bubbling."
This compares to the relatively slow pace of most pizza parlors, where "a half hour can elapse between order and service to table or home — and they sure don’t offer full custom construction." So far, the concept appears to be catching on, with its revenues increasing from $2.5 million in 2013 to $11.5 million in 2014. Samit and Ron expect their 25-store enterprise to grow to "close to 100 locations" in 2015, helped along by some $6.5 million in venture capital backing. "Americans spend nearly $39 billion a year on pizza."
January 6, 2015
An Israeli startup is offering an app designed to deduce your emotional state, reports The Economist (1/3/15). The startup is called Beyond Verbal, and the app is called Moodies. It applies "emotions analytics" based on "hundreds of thousands of voice samples in more than 40 languages." Moodies "analyzes such things as the loudness and pitch of the speech, and then runs the results through an algorithm to match them with patterns from its database." The thought is such analysis "could be useful in phones, fitness gadgets and cars."
"For instance, a vehicle that senses a driver is in a heightened state, perhaps because he has been drinking, could flash up a warning before he takes to the road." However, "some experts in the voice-recognition field are skeptical that the technology touted is reliable enough for mass deployment. Then there is the thorny issue of privacy. People are bound to be repelled by the prospect of companies and devices tracking their emotions." Yuval Mor, CEO of Beyond Verbal, counters that "the upside … can more than compensate for the downside."
However, "signs of resistance to emotion-tracking software" is already evident: "The Samaritans, a British suicide-prevention group, recently disabled a free web app … that alerted people whenever someone they were following on Twitter used a phrase" suggesting "a fragile emotional state." Among other things, critics said the app could be used "to prey on vulnerable people." For now, Beyond Verbal has focused "on narrow areas such as market research and security rather than mass-market consumer electronics."
January 5, 2015
Providing variable rewards is the secret of habit-forming products, reports The Economist (1/3/15). "That is why the number of monsters one has to vanquish in order to reach the next level in a game often varies." This is nothing new: "BF Skinner, the father of ‘radical behaviorism‘ … found that training subjects by rewarding them in variable, unpredictable ways works best." However, the concept figures more prominently than ever in the digital age and the "intense competition … to monopolize people’s attention."
Variable rewards typically "come in three forms. The reward of the tribe: people who use Twitter or Pinterest are rewarded with social validation when their tweets are retweeted or their pictures are pinned. The reward of the hunt: users quickly scroll through their feeds in search of the latest gossip or funny cat pictures. And the reward of self-fulfillment: people are driven to achieve the next level on a video game." The goal for product marketers, then, is not just to create a customer, but rather an "uber user."
While it may be easy for some to get hooked, it may not be so easy to hook them. "There have been plenty of digital products, such as Farmville, that were crazes for a while but went out of fashion." There’s also a difference "between a habit and an addiction: only about one percent of people who regularly play slot machines … can reasonably be described as addicted." That said, "four-fifths of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up, and … the typical users does so 150 times a day."
January 5, 2015
Brand chief Richard McDonald on the past, present and future of the Fender experience (Hub cover story interview, Jan/Feb 2015). John Lennon once said that Shake, Rattle & Roll was the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song ever written, and that it could not be improved upon. The same could be said of another icon of the genre: the Fender electric guitar. In the early 1950s, a radio repairman named Leo Fender designed and built the first Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, and the Precision bass.
Sixty years later, Leo’s wildly innovative designs remain essentially unchanged, captives of their own excellence. His inventions by no means were the first electric guitars, but they set the standard Leo’s legacy of innovation is both a blessing and a curse to those who lead Fender today. On the one hand, the man is an inspiration. But how do you innovate when the product is perfect? It’s a question Richard McDonald, EVP Brand, a former touring musician himself, must answer every day. Fortunately, Richard gets a little help from the likes of U2’s Bono and The Edge, recently appointed to Fender’s Board of Directors.
Richard also has a mandate to leave behind the way Fender guitars were bought and sold in the past, bringing the brand ever closer to its customers. For the first time, Fender is now selling instruments directly to consumers, online. It has also banned the ‘Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price,’ bringing a whole new level of transparency to the brand relationship. The price is the price. Most important, Richard and his team take an expansive view of innovation and the brand experience that starts exactly where Leo Fender did. It’s not about the guitars. It’s about those who play them. Read The Interview with Richard McDonald of Fender.
December 30, 2014
Which of today’s most talked-about innovations are here to stay? The results of a Hub reader survey (Jan/Feb 2015). What’s that old saying: The future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed? True, to a point — but based on results of our latest reader survey, it is more widely distributed than maybe we realize. Sometimes it isn’t clear that a breakthrough is with us until it is old news. When the Internet first burst on the scene, some dismissed it as "the biggest thing since citizen band radio." Anyone old enough to remember CB radio? When Apple announced it was opening its own stores, many predicted that competing against its existing distribution channels would be fatal. It was, but not for Apple. It took a very long time for microwave ovens to catch on, too.
The question is, which of today’s most talked-about ‘disruptors’ have staying power and which are just passing through? The answer was largely good news for the disruptors. Of the 12 enterprises we tested, eight were deemed ‘a flash of the future,’ and most by a fairly wide margin. Leading the pack was Uber, the $18.2 billion app-driven, ride-sharing service launched in 2009 that is now available in 45 countries and 200 cities worldwide. Despite the objections of conventional taxi services, regulatory challenges and its own management controversies, it is hard to imagine Uber isn’t here to stay. Seventy-three percent of our respondents think it’s a keeper, compared to just 13 percent who think it’s a ‘flash in the pan.’
Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website founded in 2009, got a thumbs-up from 61 percent of respondents. According to Wikipedia, it has generated $1 billion in funding from 5.7 million donors backing 135,000 projects. Tesla, which dates back to 2003, and at this point needs no introduction, followed with 60 percent; this despite intense pressure from competitors over its disruption of the traditional automotive dealership model. Airbnb, which faces similar hostilities, also registered relatively strong approval, at 54 percent. The home-sharing service arrived in 2008, and is now in 192 countries and 33,000 cities. If there was a surprise in this survey, it was how poorly two bastions of innovation — Apple and Google — did. Read The Rest of the Survey Results.
December 29, 2014
An antique German brewery is now using robots to improve its profits, reports John Revill in The Wall Street Journal (12/27/14). Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus was "established in the 1790s" but found itself "struggling with production bottlenecks … Workers couldn’t package and crate the company’s beer quickly enough to stock bars and supermarkets, prompting customers to buy other brands." Nine years ago, the brewery began using an IRB 7600 robot, made by ABB Ltd., to do "the heavy lifting," allowing employees to focus on other tasks.
"The brewery, which hasn’t changed its recipe in more than two centuries," is one of a growing number of smaller businesses that are automating "dirty and repetitious tasks that were typically handled with good old-fashioned elbow grease." A bakery in Switzerland "is using robots to bag pretzels," for instance, and in the UK "a Yorkshire brickworks has robots removing fired blocks from the kiln. In a New York hotel, robots have begun serving as porters, delivering luggage to guest rooms."
To encourage the trend, "Zurich-based ABB is working on a robot that customers can program by moving the arms to perform a desired action, the same way a parent might guide a child assembling blocks. The company, which expects to bring the new robot to market in April 2015, wants to eventually build one that doesn’t require an instruction manual." "The vision is for us to make robots as simple to use as a smartphone," says Per Vegard Nerseth of ABB. Smaller companies, may have great craftspeople, he says, but "not lots of robot technicians."
December 17, 2014
Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton wants to "overhaul a culture of conference rooms," reports Paul Ziobro in The Wall Street Journal (12/23/14). "We need to push ourselves a little further, let ourselves be a little freer, a little less formulaic," he says. Too many meetings apparently have hampered creativity at the toymaker. For example, a "school crest for the fictional Monster High … was debated over at least eight meetings and went through nearly 30 iterations." A Mattel site re-design "involved nearly a year’s worth of monthly meetings."
Some Mattel executives say "they were so inundated with meetings that they would put fake appointments on their Outlook calendars so people would think they weren’t available and could get other work done." Accordingly, Bryan has instituted some new rules, including no meetings "without a specific purpose … no more than 10 people" in a meeting unless it "is for training purposes" and "no more than a total of three meetings to make any decision." The rules are intended to help Mattel "get back to thinking about toys."
Bryan also hopes to reignite Mattel’s magic with the return of Richard Dickson, who had left the company in 2010, as Chief Brands Officer. Before Richard could get started, he says he had to sort through "wheelbarrows of information" and, in the case of Barbie, "a hodgepodge of ideas." He settled on Superhero Barbie because, "Girls have a bit of princess fatigue." He also plans "to re-brand Fisher-Price as a child development company" and generally "reshape the company’s approach to toys" with a creative team housed in "a former airplane hangar."
December 17, 2014
A mom-and-pop bank in a tiny Kansas town plans to reshape banking, reports Nathaniel Popper in The New York Times (12/16/14). Suresh Ramamurthi and his wife, Suchitra Padmanabhan bought Citizens Bank of Weir — now known as CBW — "largely with their savings in 2009, just after the financial crisis." The bank plans to offer "instant payments to any bank in the United States, direct remittance transfers abroad and specialized debit cards," which are "not available at even the nation’s largest banks."
Weir, Kansas (population 686) is a long way from Silicon Valley, where Suresh worked on Google Checkout and observed "that even a tech colossus … was leashed" and "unable to try new things because it was not a bank, and did not have direct access to the basic networks for transferring money." Having grown up in India, Suresh was equally sensitive to cash flow issues. "You may be poor today, but when the harvest comes you will be richer in a few months," he says, noting that a bank "has the ability to alleviate and smooth those inequities."
Key to accelerating money transfers is "software that can judge the risk involved in any transaction in real time." CBW also plans to "make it possible send wire payments and create customized debit cards online." The cards can be "contextual" — set for "specific stores or at specific times. A parent, for example, could create a debit card for a child that could be used during lunch hours only in the ZIP code near the child’s school." Very cool, but CBW’s most popular innovation to date appears to be its "free cookies and cider on Friday afternoons."
December 8, 2014
Frustrated by the lack of a local bank, Bill Greiner plans to open his own, reports Saabira Chaudhuri in The Wall Street Journal (12/16/14). Bill is a real-estate developer and restaurant owner whose application for a new bank is the first that the FDIC has received in 2014. If approved, "it would be only the second new bank the FDIC has cleared in the US since 2010." Bill "has raised $3 million" to open Primary Bank near Manchester, New Hampshire, which he expects will "fill a void for smaller banks in his region."
Bill’s "dissatisfaction with larger banks has roots in the financial crisis, when he was trying to close a deal but couldn’t get suitable loan terms from Providence RI-based Citizens Financial Group Inc., with which he had done business for years. He started dealing more with locally owned banks that he found more receptive," but then those were sold to larger banks and they weren’t as responsive. "People here like going to see the bank president at his house on Saturday morning," says Bill. "They like to know things are going to be locally owned."
Glenn Perlow, a New Hampshire official who would have to approve the new bank agrees: "Banks have merged to the size where they may not be as interested in small-business lending," he says. "It’s important for us to have banks that are right sized for that." Bill has already started building the first of three planned branches in the area. "We’re not going to have the cheapest rates or offer every product," he says, "but we will offer local control, local decisions and a quick turnaround."
December 8, 2014
Beer runs are following in tracks of taxicab services, reports Tripp Mickle in The Wall Street Journal (12/5/14). Just as Uber app-ified hitching a ride, "a year-old company called Drizly," along with several competitors, is "reshaping the hidebound business of selling alcohol." This is particularly tricky because of America’s "arcane alcohol-distribution laws," dating back to Prohibition. "Those rules create a three-tier system in which alcohol producers sell to wholesalers, who, in turn, sell to retailers."
The workaround is that Drizly and others leave the actual sale of the alcohol to the local retailers who deliver it, charging a fee for use of its technology, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per month. To thwart minors, deliverymen are issued "iPhones with software that scans a person’s identification through the phones’ cameras, confirms that it is real, and verifies that it matches the name on the order." MillerCoors is the first major US brewer to use Drizly, starting with a promotion in Boston, New York, Seattle and Washington DC.
So far, some "250,000 users have ordered with Drizly through more than 150 stores," but Dilini Fernando of MillerCoors says the goal is less about selling more beer than "to engage young adults by bringing Miller Lite to their door." Plans are to place "buy now" buttons on sites like Thrillist. Drizly CEO Nick Rellas also envisions adding food-delivery services. "We have all these little distribution centers," he says. "All we’re doing is saying, ‘Hey, let’s connect you with the store and delivery you want.’"
December 5, 2014
A "two-year-old startup" is "making the shaving process easier on men," reports John Koblin in The New York Times (12/4/14). "Confronted with high prices and clunky designs from shaving titans like Gillette and Schick," Harry’s is "trying to do with razors what Warby Parker has done with glasses." It’s no coincidence that a Harry’s co-founder — Andy Katz-Mayfield — is also a Warby Parker co-founder. The idea is that its blades are much cheaper than those of national brands, are delivered to your door, and fit on a sleek, well-designed handle.
"Before we launched, there was limited choice," says Jeff Raider, Harry’s other co-founder. "There were a couple of brands that dominated the market." Adds Andy: "The speed at which customers are experimenting with new brands and willing to buy product online, that shift is happening so much faster than we ever would have anticipated … If you look at some of the analysts’ reports and information that’s come out that talks about the industry, it’s about how it’s down and hurting. But it’s not hurting, it’s moving … in a direction that’s great for us."
That’s not to say Harry’s is profitable, but the co-founders claim "they would have more than five times the revenue in 2014 than they did in 2013 … To date, they’ve raised $211.5 million in 28 months" from backers. The money has been used to buy a factory in Germany "where they make and manufacture their razors," and on "advertising campaigns, hiring a few new employees, brand awareness … Harry’s has also opened a barbershop in Manhattan," but has no plans "to open more brick-and-mortar shops."
December 5, 2014
A group of designers is applying its skills to solve "social, economic and environmental problems," reports Alice Rawsthorn in The New York Times (12/4/14). Known as the Fixperts, the group is part of an "international network of contemporary designers and makers" committed to the Japanese concept of "Tsukuroi, or the art of repair." They are pursuing their goals "by exchanging ideas on knowledge-sharing platforms, financing projects through crowdsourcing campaigns … and raising awareness via social media."
Some of their work is currently on exhibit called The Fab Mind, at a Tokyo gallery. (‘Fab’ is a play on both ‘fabulous’ and ‘fabrication.’) "Many of the exhibits embrace two important strands of design activism: conserving resources and helping those in need." For example, Alvaro Catalan de Ocon of Spain "developed a series of lamps with colorful shades woven by artisans in Colombia and Chile from shredded plastic bottles and other waste materials." (link) Perhaps the most dramatic design solution addresses "unexploded land mines."
Massoud Hassani, formerly of Afghanistan and now living in the Netherlands, "designed an inexpensive metal and bamboo device, the Mine Kafon, which is blown across the ground by the wind, like a tumbleweed, to set off mines." The Fixperts’ work meanwhile is symbolized by "an exquisite 17th-century Japanese bowl … not because of the finesse with which it was originally made but the skill with which it was repaired." The repaired bowl arguably is more beautiful than it was before it was broken.
Hong Kong hopes to build a culture of "innovation, branding and design," reports Danielle Belopotosky in The New York Times (11/24/14). This is quite an ambition, given the territory’s reputation for "its cargo ports and financial sector than for a vibrant cultural or creative scene." However, Stanley Chu of the Adsale Group, a trade show organizer, envisions an industry of creativity as "the next economic locomotive of Hong Kong." The government is on board with the idea, having established an office called CreateHK in 2009.
CreateHK is "dedicated to developing creative industries, which broadly include advertising, architecture, design, cultural heritage, the performing arts and film. The office has also worked with the local educational system … to develop curriculums for teaching film, animation and architecture." As a result, creative industries contributed 4.9 percent "to the territory’s gross domestic product" as of 2012, up from 3.9 percent in 2007. Private investors have also converted former police barracks into studios for "entrepreneurs in the creative industries."
American interior designer Candace Campos finds a ready market for Western design aesthetics in Hong Kong. Others, like Lindsey Hermes, founder of Unison Creative, a marketing company, finds that local businesses are more interested in quick fixes than long-term brand strategies. The Savannah (Georgia) College of Art and Design meanwhile now has an outpost in Hong Kong, and is turning out graduates. The goal, says the school’s vice president, is for the Hong Kong designer to be valued "as much as a banker."