Tag Archives: #Innovation

Top Tweets Of June 2014 Innovation Marketing Tech Fun #MG119


Continue reading Top Tweets Of June 2014 Innovation Marketing Tech Fun #MG119


Disruptive Innovation Is Challenging The Old European Banking Model

Disruptive Innovation Is Challenging The Old European Banking Model

These days, ensuring your old fashioned bank is well capitalized enough to deal with more realistic, but still moderate stress tests is a major priority. But just when you think you have put out the fire, the entire structure of the banking model becomes disrupted and structurally unsound.

Lower barriers to entry in terms of financing, securing  banking licenses,  cheaper to source banking software and cheap human resources means it’s never been easier to cherry pick the most lucrative products banks are offering to customers today. The net result? It leaves the unprofitable products to the old dogs to chew on.

And therein lies the problem. How the existing banking industry responds to these disruptive threats will decide their fate. Perhaps they will seek to aggressively promote the concept of a cashless society (yet again), so that the public will once more feel tied into using their services. Deloitte UK produced a nice SlideShare (see below) to illustrate the pressures the traditional banking model now is under.



What next for the establishment banks of Europe?

Former Midland Bank, 100 King Street
Former Midland Bank Banking Hall, King Street (David Dixon) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Avoca – And Now the End is Near and so I face the final Question


We will consider Avoca in the context of building an effective marketing plan using the six elements of the PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning System.  Each stage of SOSTAC® is interlinked and according to Chaffey and Smith[2] (E-Marketing Excellence 2013 Pg. 3) each stage is not discrete but there may be some overlap during each stage of planning and previous stages may be revisited and refined.  The acronym SOSTAC® stands for Situation Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action and Control.

Situation – where are we now?

Avoca redesigned its website less than a year ago and has further enhanced its e-commerce capability focusing on its large online sales from an international customer base, indeed it has been to the forefront of its competitors in embracing the e-commerce possibilities. The website itself links to a Facebook account, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+. The LinkedIn page is used to advise of changes in-store or online (as an example it announced 9 months ago that it had just revamped its website and online store with a new responsive design framework to optimise its performance across desktop and mobile devices, recognising that more of their customers are interacting with Avoca on their smartphones and tablets). There was no easy access to subscribe to an online Newsletter which may be an opportunity missed by Avoca, but a solution to which is provided for in our two suggested business innovations.


Objectives – where do we want to get to?

As a brand, Avoca is uniquely positioned in the Irish market to target its key customer, females in the 25-70 age range, with its outlets in key areas, however, the Company should consider other sites that open up the Avoca experience to other parts of Ireland and to consider extending the customer experience for its keycustomer to grow its sales. Avoca will also need to consider other customer segments to grow its business in Ireland.  Internationally, Avoca will need to continue to scan its international environment to assess its competitors and respond quickly to changes that will surely be demanded by the growing internet marketing arena.

Strategy – how are we going to get there – overview?

Avoca is a sector leader in Ireland and is one of many internationally.  The focus will be on growing the company in Ireland, through new sites whilst staying ahead of its international competitors. Additionally, if Avoca becomes synonymous with Artisan foods and services both in Ireland and internationally, it will see exponential growth in the coming years.

Tactics – how are we going to get there – detail?

Avoca has the opportunity to put its name to a larger range of Artisan products. In addition Avoca should consider sponsoring some local charities or causes focused on environmental issues.  Implementing the proposed business innovations of a Magalogue and Consultancy service for Artisans would significantly raise the profile of Avoca to those currently unaware of the brand, after which the Hierarchy of Effects Model[3] could translate that awareness into knowledge of the brand, liking and preference for the products offered by Avoca and translate this into an intention to buy and ultimately a purchase by new customers.

Action – who is going to do what and when?

Avoca may need to identify a specific budget to target its online market, to have this manned permanently, for ready replies to Twitter content and to other online marketing methods of communication of its brand. A larger budget may need to be considered to develop the Artisan consultancy concept, after detailed market research.

Control – how can we control, measure and develop the process?

Measurement of the success of the strategies can be measured by an increase in sales, by using daily or weekly website analytics to see trends from its website, to see click through rates and rate of impressions and other metrics to extend the customer experience on the Avoca website and once information is garnered from this source to monitor this weekly or monthly thereafter.



Smith, PR (2011) SOSTAC® Guide To Writing The Perfect Plan (eBook) published by www.prsmith.org

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith

[1]Smith P. R. The SOSTAC® Guide – to writing the perfect marketing plan [Online]. Available from: http://prsmith.org/sostac/ [Accessed 19 May 2014].

[2]Chaffey. D, Smith, P.R. 2013. Emarketing Excellence. 4th ed. Pg. 3. London & New York: Routledge

[3] The Hierarchy of Effects Model was created in 1961 by Robert J Lavidge and Gary A Steiner. This marketing communication model, suggests that there are six steps from viewing a product advertisement (advert) to product purchase. The job of the advertiser is to encourage the customer to go through the six steps and purchase the product.





Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo – who knows which way we’ll go !

How to apply Stanford D process to our newest assignment? to come up with two innovative products or services that may have some commercial application, using the Stanford D Bootcamp Bootleg{1}, coming up with some ideas, regardless of how ridiculous they may be (blue sky thinking).
Given the comings and goings of the group in the brainstorm week, the time was limited and so sometimes was done with a brief 5 or 10 minute quick meeting. Sometimes with one or two of the team, or other times with 2 or 3 of the team and then discussing with other members of the team over the phone and taking some of the ideas further at that point, it was a bit fractured to be sure, maybe even a bit like real life brainstorming might be in the corporate world… And then we welcomed a new member to the team.
Applying the Steps in a Design Thinking Process{2}, we had already undertaken the secondary research of the retail sector and of Avoca itself in order to understand the area, we had also undertaken some primary research in-store at Rathcoole to observe the business in action. In typical Stanford D, we defined some problems facing Avoca and then we were armed with the core skills to apply the Stanford D method.
We ideated several possible ideas including An Artisan Retail Consultancy, Catalogue Concept, Merger and Acquisitions, Website Localization and Retargeting, Expansion into Events and Leisure, Domestic and International Expansion, Artisan Foods Partnerships, Expanding In-Store Licensing, Shared Space Community Projects, Franchising Expansion Opportunity, Fine Dining Experience, Brand Licensing.
We took on board each team members point of view on each of the suggestions and they were all put the Stanford D process and it was good to see the dynamics of the group work well, expanding on each other’s ideas, until we had fleshed out several of the suggestions to a fair degree and then looked at the realistic viability of these to eventually whittle it down to two ideas.
Founders Syndrome really was not an issue as the basic idea was built upon by other members of the team to the point that who had the first idea and who built on it was never important, only enjoying the process and having a laugh about some of the ideas as they were described in vivid colour, with large demonstrative arms, outstretched to make a point about some esoteric layout, it was a bit like being a kid let loose in a Sweet Shop.
With the decision made on the two winners, we got down to work on building prototypes for these, dividing up the tasks most democratically, with strict deadlines (for this read, advisory deadlines!!) and we thought we may even put our two prototypes through several steps in the StageGate process{3} to develop further .
On the next stage, more to come later, meanwhile I am off to lubricate my creative juices with some fermentedgrapes…

1. Bootcamp Bootleg 2011. [ONLINE]. Available from: http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/BootcampBootleg2010v2SLIM.pdf [Accessed 8 May 2014].

2. Steps in a Design Thinking Process. 2014. Steps in a Design Thinking Process. [ONLINE] Available at:https://dschool.stanford.edu/groups/k12/wiki/17cff/Design_Process_Steps.html. [Accessed 8 May 2014]

3. Cooper, R.G. (3 May 2008). “The Stage-Gate Idea-to-Launch Process–Update, What’s New and NexGen Systems,”. Journal of Product Innovation Management. 25 (3), 213-232.

Avoca Experience

Our team visited the Avoca store to get a feel for the type of products on sale and for the “experience”. The Rathcoole store, on the edge of the N7 has a very large footfall, in particular, to its Cafe, from the early morning coffee takeout, coffee morning meeting or large lunch time contingent. Although the temperature of the coffee is far too tepid for me! The size of the slices of cream-filled roulades, heart-stopping cheesecake to the home baked cookies are a sight to behold.
I met with the pasty and cake chef replenishing the products and could not resist asking about the large portions and if there was a lot of waste in this area, it appears not.
I could not help but notice that the pricing of products was a tad vague (a bugbear of mine on the lines of “how can I make a fully informed choice, if I am not privy to the full information at the point of purchase”) again, when I asked about that, I got a “I know, I have mentioned that too but thems is not listening, shucks” (SIC) response.
The paint colours on the wall, reminiscent of an Anita Schreve book based in a coastal town in the Hamptons, USA, the elaborate light decoration made from cups and saucers of various size and design, reminiscent of a visit from the relatives and the cup of the in the good china, sometimes of varying designs, indeed a similar evocation as that offered when viewing the reasonably new business of prettyplates.ie (http://prettyplates.ie/)
In the food emporium, with well stacked shelves of fresh, organic or carefully chosen products, I met with a supplier of Apple sauces (Julie Calder-Potts of Highbank Orchards, Kilkenny) and she mentioned that they had ad forum (Bia Beag) for artisans to meet and hear stories from other artisans (one is actually on tomorrow Sat 5th April at 6pm in their Orchard (http://biabeag.com/). They meet on a quarterly basis to promote other artisans foods. An idea forms….[1]

[1] Bootcamp Bootleg 2011. [Online]. Available from: http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/BootcampBootleg2010v2SLIM.pdf [Accessed 6 April 2014].

Avoca now and looking forward

Avoca will need to continuously scan their external environment and to be aware of external forces which may impact on the business and a brief overview of the PESTLE analysis addresses some of these issues. In particular, from a political perspective, the tax rates as low as 9% for services remains low in order to encourage greater spending by Irish consumers and tourists, according to Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar[1]. Socially, there has been a growth in interest in artisan foods and Irish brands and this has impacted positively for Avoca, with potential for exponential growth in this area. The economic landscape suggests evidence of positive domestic consumer sentiment whilst technologically, there has been considerable growth of online sales across the sector, online shopping for food and groceries has grown from 3% in 2008 to 6% in 2012[2]. However, there are legal challenges for the company regarding upward only rent reviews and environmentally, changing weather may impact the sale of goods in certain areas of the business.


Looking briefly at the Porters 5 forces, and taking cognisance of the fact that Avoca is a market leader in the sector, with strong profitability and strong brand identity.  New entrants to the market would likely be hampered by high capital requirements and with challenges to brand recognition and a long lead in time to build an alternative brand.   Purchasers from Avoca, in the ABC1 group, are a limited group and the Company will need to extend their marketing pull to other age groups or to the male population, which are not generally a focus for the Company.  With regard to suppliers, the Company will need to keep a close eye on suppliers scalability and on supply chain consistency.  There would appear to be only a slight impact on product alternatives from cheaper sources and indeed from recent surveys carried out in regard to the Avoca brand, its key demographic customer has indicated that quality over cost is their main driver.













[1] Maintaining 9% tax rate could create 5,000 jobs in restaurant sector | Irish Examiner. 2014. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.irishexaminer.com/archives/2013/0501/business/maintaining-9-tax-rate-aposcould-create-5000-jobs-in-restaurant-sectorapos-230009.html [Accessed 8 March 2014]


[2] Eurostat [ONLINE] available at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/4-15102013-AP/EN/4-15102013-AP-EN.PDF [Accesses 6 March 2014]

What, SWOT and Fancy Pots

What, SWOT and Fancy Pots
The sectoral analysis of Avoca was conducted using the tools of SWOT, PESTLE and Porters 5 Forces.

Avoca’s strengths include being a market segment leader with strong brand awareness, offering a good product mix through a superior customer experience from strategically strong retail locations resulting in strong sales performance through positive familial synergy.
Its weaknesses lie in its limited target market, with potential threat to their own margins by adding non-Avoca product lines and its ability to keep its image and brand clear and consistent within the family dynamic.
It has several opportunities it could consider to extend the brand and product and service offerings including artisan food partnerships, franchise opportunities, expansion into the events and leisure area, fine dining, catalogue to extend the customer experience or domestic and international expansion.
Threats to Avoca include competition domestically and internationally and the limited nature of its target market and possible limitations to expansions from its high end niche.
PESTLE and 5 Forces to follow.

Cupcakes and all that…

12 April
Avoca operates as a clothing manufacturing, retail and food business in Ireland and the UK. The secondary research carried out by the Team involved looking more closely at Avoca within the retail sector. Avoca has always adopted innovative ideas to develop their product offering and have continued to perform ahead competitors despite the recession of the last number of years.

There are a number of reasons for this continued performance which includes product innovation and the ability of the company to focus on its target client and to react quickly to changing market trends when observed.

The overall retail market size is equivalent to 10% of GDP or €16 billion, although the growth rate has remained flat in 2013(footnote 1). Online shopping for food and groceries by internet users jumped from 3% in 2008 to 6% in 2012 (footnote 2).

Avoca have multiple offerings in different sub sectors of their business and they have successfully built an aspirational lifestyle brand based on ABC1 women aged from 25 – 70, although there is some evidence that the bulk of customers are in the 40-60 range and innovation with this in mind, may need to be considered in the future. My next post will deal with the tools used to analyse the sector, such as SWOT Analysis, PESTLE and Porters 5 forces. Till then, I’m off to make some cupcakes maybe worthy of Avoca (see picture).

1. Retail Ireland | Ibec – Business sectors. 2014. Retail Ireland | {ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ibec.ie/IBEC/IBEC.nsf/vPages/About_Us~business-sectors?OpenDocument.
2. Ibid