The Hub Cool News

Hollywood Capitalists

mickeyHollywood is setting examples that other industries should follow, reports the Economist (11/1/14). In some ways, "food and consumer-goods makers" already resemble the movie business, with its focus on "a narrower range of ‘blockbusters’" and endless pursuit of "buzz." Of course, any successful business requires creative people, and understand "how to harness their strengths for commercial gain without strangling their free-spiritedness." Hollywood does this well by hiring "a fresh creative team for each film," giving them control and credit.

Few other industries foster Hollywood’s brand of teamwork, notes Mark Young of USC, or temper it with a heavy dose of job insecurity. Indeed, people tend to "work hard and collaborate well in the movie business in part because" they are freelancers who know they "will not get hired for the next film unless they prove themselves on the current one." Hollywood also embraces "constant revisions," and encourages "constructive criticism" that improves the product. Failures "are tolerated because they are so common."

The movie business is remarkably good at "launching brands that achieve global prominence in a matter of days." It invests nearly as much on promoting its films as it does on the films themselves, and "manages to come up with new brands on a near-weekly basis. The key is to treat the marketing as a core part of the project, rather than as an afterthought." Ultimately, Hollywood fixates on profitability, and, like Silicon Valley, increasingly relies on outside financing, which "protects against crippling losses when a film flops."

Macy’s Block

macys-heraldMacy’s Herald Square "now encompasses nearly an entire city block," reports Natasha Singer in The New York Times (11/3/14). This means the store "occupies a singular place in American retailing," and the intent is to offer "a vast array of goods at prices so varied that everyone can afford to buy something." Tourists, especially: "Because of its location a block from the Empire State Building, the store attracts roughly six million tourists a year, several million of them from outside the United States."

Tourists from "Brazil, China and other emerging-market nations with growing middle and upper classes" are "hungry for luxury logos." This factored heavily into the four-year, $400 million overhaul of Macy’s flagship, spearheaded by CEO Terry Lundgren. Once completed, next year, the renovation will add "100,000 square feet of selling space" and will be poised to set a new standard relative to Selfridges in London, Isetan in Tokyo, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and El Corte Ingles in Madrid, for example.

In part this involves installing luxury boutiques from Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry, as well as a new upscale cafe serving Starbucks Reserve coffee. "It’s more of a European style for you to relax during the day," says Terry. The store will also be easier to navigate — the original layout actually was designed to cause people to lose their way, in hopes they would spend more time and money. Macy’s has also streamlined its logistics for timely merchandising, and armed associates with iPads to improve internal communications and customer service.

Kibbles & Chocolates

chocolate-labManufacturing chocolate bars and dog food are more similar than one might think, reports Annie Gasparro in The Wall Street Journal (10/30/14). Bret Spangler of Mars Inc. knows this because he’s run chocolate and dog-food factories — Mars makes both products. "Pet-food factories have to be just as clean — you could eat off the floor — and the kibbles have to have the right density and look," he says. Hank Izzo, also of Mars, "meets regularly with R&D leaders from" both pet food and candy segments.

"There’s a massive amount of collaboration," he says, noting that the two groups discuss "things like packaging materials, production processes, and mixing and pumping technology they can share." They don’t eat their own dog food, but they do sample the chocolate on a daily basis. Frank C. Mars founded the company as a candy-maker in his own kitchen in 1911. His son, Forrest, started his own company in the UK in 1932, "where he acquired a dog-food maker and came up with the idea for M&Ms."

The two companies merged in the 1960s and today "also owns the Wm. Wrigley Co. stable of gums and confections, and produces a pantry-full of other products from Uncle Ben’s rice to Palmesello grated cheese to Flavia coffee." Mars remains "owned by its founder’s descendants." Its recipes for nougat and caramel are closely guarded secrets and "M&M’s secret candy-shell-making station" is closed to the public. A single factory in Topeka, Kansas turns out "39 million peanut M&Ms every day."

Joy of Patagonia

patagoniaThe Patagonia brand experience emanates from those who experience it, says Joy Howard in a Hub Magazine interview (Nov/Dec 2014). If you haven’t watched Worn Wear, then Google it. You’ll meet Christo Grayling, an Australian surfer who replaced the backside of his ‘boardies’ with a scrap of beach umbrella. Kristin Gates, who has hiked about 10,000 miles, much of it in a particular wool cap. Steve Sprinkel, a farmer in love with what he does and the used, yard-sale jacket in which he does it. Each character seems a little crazier than the next, and at the heart of their endearing insanity is an intense, emotional connection to a brand. Patagonia. Joy Howard isn’t in the video, but she would fit right in. In 1992 — more than 20 years before she would join Patagonia as its head of marketing — she got rid of her car and rode a bicycle instead.

This wasn’t easy, especially after she had kids. When it rained, well, she just put on her Patagonia raincoat." It was a constant companion for me wherever I went," says Joy. "I had it in my bag and it definitely got me through many a rainy day-care dash." That degree of intensity likely only affects a small percentage of those who buy into the Patagonia brand and its marketing, which Joy suggests is more like anti-marketing. Where most brands use marketing to convert prospects into customers, Patagonia wants to turn customers into activists.

That’s why it famously runs ads urging people to avoid buying things, and produced a documentary film, DamNation, advocating the removal of dams that disrupt salmon populations. The purpose of this ‘marketing’ is less about making us buy and more about making us think. Yes, this does tend to have the reverse effect: Patagonia sells quite well. The difference is, its marketing is not an overlay wrapped around a soft, green promise. It’s not perfect, but it is true to the spirit of the days when founder Yvon Chouinard sold rock-climbing gear out of his car (perfection would have required a bicycle). "It’s not a brand experience that comes out of endless meetings debating what the brand experience should be," says Joy. "It’s just a reflection of our values and the way we work." Read The Hub Interview with Joy Howard of Patagonia.

Nobody’s Perfect

nobodys-perfectWhich brands do consumers love best, despite their flaws? ‘Responsibility’ is the weakest of the weak links in the brand experience across a plurality the 12 top brands offered for assessment in the latest reader survey from the Hub Magazine (Nov/Dec 2014). For some, this was defined as ‘social responsibility’ while for others it meant the brand’s responsibility to its consumers on measures like price/value and reliability. The survey presented a set of six attributes that shape the brand experience (quality, availability, personality, responsibility, usability and remarkability) and asked respondents to pick the weakest point of each of the brands. It also provided ‘perfect’ as an option for those who couldn’t find fault of any kind, as well as a comment box to provide the reasons behind their choices.

Of the 12 brands, ‘responsibility’ was the number-one flaw among five (Apple, Google, Disney, Coca-Cola, and Facebook). The word ‘responsibility’ certainly can mean different things. For example, while some cited Apple’s manufacturing practices, most of the criticism centered on the brand’s price/value proposition. Coke, not surprisingly, was knocked for the potentially adverse health consequences of its flagship product. With Google, ‘responsibility’ was tied to matters of privacy. The same issue surfaced with Amazon to a relatively lesser degree. Facebook, meanwhile, was in a league of its own, with 50 percent of readers citing ‘responsibility’ as its greatest weakness. No other brand scored higher than 33 percent on this measure (Coca-Cola).

Samsung was found lacking in the ‘personality’ department by 37 percent. Interestingly, both Amazon and Google scored poorly on personality, too — perhaps surprising for enterprises that tend to be widely admired. On the flip side, Mini Cooper oozes personality but ‘usability’ is its soft spot. ‘Quality’ is Ikea’s greatest handicap, mitigated for some by a strong sense of style. Starbucks and American Express were notable in that the criticisms were fairly evenly distributed across the various attributes. Neither led the pack as ‘perfect,’ however. That honor went to Nike, which was deemed flawless by 22 percent, compared to 19 percent for Starbucks and 15 percent for Amex. Ironically, the overall report on Nike was something less than perfect. Its lowest-scoring attribute is ‘remarkability’ — surprising for a brand associated with innovation. It also scored relatively low on ‘quality’ and ‘responsibility.’ Read The Complete Survey Results.

Uncontained Compensation

container-storeKip Tindell thinks paying store staffers "nearly $50,000 annually" is a key to success, reports Rachel Feintzeig in The Wall Street Journal (10/15/14). Kip is CEO of The Container Store and says the higher pay produces better productivity. "One of our foundational principles is one equals three: one great person can easily do the business productivity of three good people," he says. "If you really believe that they can do three times the productivity, then you can pay them 50% to 100% above industry average."

By the way, Kip’s college roommate was none other than Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. He also believes in keeping the most productive workers "tickled" by giving them sizeable annual pay increases commensurate with their contribution. The goal, for example, is to ensure that the "17th greatest contributor gets the 17th largest piece of the pie." This requires "a highly evolved review structure," says Kip — "a formal written review" that takes employees and their supervisors up to eight hours to complete.

The two parties "then take another four or five hours to go over it with each other," Kip says. "It’s really now getting to where you and the person who reports to you actually agree on their compensation." Meanwhile, Kip doesn’t believe in having a Human Resources department, and instead relies on employees to recruit new hires. This can include hiring family members. "People know which of their cousins are great and which aren’t," says Kip, adding: "It can be as simple as recruiting a waiter at a restaurant that you think is just the best you ever had."

Operations Innovations

jcpMore CEOs discover that strong operations trump flashy merchandising, as reported in The Wall Street Journal (10/14/14). Target CEO Brian Cornell, for example, and incoming Gap CEO Art Peck, "are valued more for their ability to run large organizations than for their gut instinct about the next hot trend." The same could be said of Marvin Ellison, who is slated to take over as CEO of JC Penney, in the aftermath of the Ron Johnson debacle, in which efforts to "make the chain more hip … ended up blowing a $4 billion hole in company sales."

This trend toward "detail-oriented operators over executives mainly lauded for brilliance in merchandising" comes "as the industry faces giant new challenges in managing its supply chains and keeping customers from defecting to the web." Penney is particularly vulnerable in "the discount-driven apparel business, the traffic-challenged world of shopping malls and the beleaguered middle-class consumer." Marvin sees beauty in stability: "The last 18 months have proven that turning the company upside down and shaking it … was not necessary."

Marvin joined Home Depot 12 years ago, running "areas including loss prevention and global logistics." As executive vice-president of stores, he "helped lead Home Depot’s transformation from a cluttered big-box store with antiquated operations and employees who spent the majority of their time unpacking boxes and restocking shelves, to a retailer that devoted nearly two-thirds of its labor hours to serving customers on the sales floor." He also "made sure items stayed in stock" and the stores were "easier to navigate."

Creative Construction

mojangMinecraft succeeded by running in the opposite direction of other game companies, reports Nick Wingfield in The New York Times (9/11/14). It’s a more than $2 billion success story, now that Microsoft has decided to buy Mojang, Minecraft’s parent company, in "an acknowledgement that gaming is central to people’s lives." But its real success is at least partly because it broke down the "generational and gender boundaries that usually carve the games business in to separate categories."

Indeed: "Girls are among the most avid players of Minecraft, and it is one of the few games that parents play with young children." Joel Levin discovered Minecraft’s charms in 2010 while playing it "with his daughter, who was then 5 years old. Although his family had no backyard of its own in the city, she constructed a tree house in Minecraft." He says she "even learned to spell her first word … HOME so that her avatar could teleport back to her treehouse." Joel, a second grade teacher, began using Minecraft "as a teaching tool."

"People were ready for a game like Minecraft whose purpose is creation instead of destruction," says Joel, who went on to found TeacherGaming, which makes Minecraft games for the classroom. The game’s creator, Markus Persson, says that’s exactly the kind of thing he had in mind: "No fake doors that don’t lead anywhere, no trees you can’t cut down, and no made-up story being told to the player to motivate them," he says. "Instead, the player would make up their own story, and … decide for themselves what they want to do.’

Mira Winery

aquiaior-miraJim Dyke is marketing bottles of wine like candidates for political office, reports Jennifer Steinhauer in The New York Times (8/27/14). Clearly, we haven’t come very far from the days when it was roughly the other way around. (image). Jim is a former Republican Party spokesman who maintains a consulting practice that included a winery. This led to a connection with Gustavo Gonzalez, "then the head red-winemaker at Robert Mondavi, and the two thought about building a winery."

The challenge wasn’t so much creating "a portfolio of distinguished wines," but rather making sure people knew about it. "Just because you have a fantastic candidate doesn’t mean you can win," says Jim, using a likely metaphor. "My misunderstanding was I believed the quality of the product alone would take care of itself and that there really wasn’t much to do but have people taste it," says Jim. "The reality is that distributors are already carrying products that are already well known."

To overcome this, Jim went to his inside-the-beltway connections, placing his wine at popular eateries like the Capital Grille. But his ultimate play was a stunt based on a report that wine ages differently when stored under the waves — something about the consistent, cold temperatures and gentle rocking. Supposedly this breaks down "tannins more quickly," producing a kinder, gentler wine. Whether that’s for real is a question, but it has gotten Jim’s wine — called Mira — some name recognition, and case shipments are headed up.

Well Told

roundtable62Stories are the stuff of great brands and their ardent enthusiasts. A HUB discussion Featuring: Joey Bergstein of Seventh Generation, Simon Bradley of Virgin Atlantic, John Cunningham of Black + Decker, Bob Stohrer of Yahoo! and Stanton Kawer of Blue Chip Marketing.

What is the essence of a compelling brand story?

Joey Bergstein: A story needs a great and interesting hero, some tension, with lots of different layers and chapters. The Seventh Generation story starts with two guys — whom you would never normally put in the room together. It’s rooted in their desire to do business in a completely different way from how it had been done in the past.

The tension in their story is building products that over time worked really well, yet are better for consumers, for families, and the world around them. It’s about a small business that takes on an industry in a David-versus-Goliath way and tries to make it better. Read The Rest of The Discussion.

Zippo Marks

Zippo is doing better than ever even though the number of US smokers is half what it was in the 1950s, reports Abram Brown in Forbes (9/8/14). Last year’s sales topped $200 million, a record. Zippo’s claim to fame is, of course, its innovative and iconic cigarette lighter — developed "with a windproof chimney and a distinctive hinged lid" — in 1932. "After soldiers received the lighters in WWII, Zippo successfully marketed itself with a utilitarian, made-in-America image for the following half century."

Each lighter came with a lifetime guarantee, "meaning Zippo would continue to fix the lighter as long as its owner sent it to the factory." This apparently worked for Frank Sinatra, who "was buried with his trusty Zippo in 1998." It hasn’t worked so well for younger consumers "who were children when Sinatra died." The key to Zippo’s renewed success is largely its positioning "as a maker of talismans, lucky charms — or something akin to customized belt buckles" — and the "30,880 unique designs" it produced last year.

That’s "up from 8.900 a decade ago … partly owing to a new feature where you can design your own lighter from scratch." Zippo has also expanded into China, opening 14 retail stores there, "riding the idea of Zippo as an all-American lifestyle brand. The stores carry a Zippo-designed clothing line." Zippo has two stores in Las Vegas, as well, and has further line-extended into camping gear. "This is just a metal box," says George Duke, Zippo’s third-generation owner, adding: "There’s a lot you can do with a metal box."

Hi-Ho D’Addario

D’Addario succeeds "by experimenting with a commodity good and refining it through small, but significant, innovations," reports Karsten Strauss in Forbes (9/8/14). The commodity is musical instrument strings, which it turns out at a rate of "some 700,000 per day." This "netted an estimated $12 million on $169 million," including other accessories, and growth at a rate averaging "6.2% a year during the past decade." It is a long way from the company’s roots in "17th-century" Italy, and its US entry in 1905.

As recently as the 1950s, Charles D’Addario worked out of his basement in Queens, New York, "where sour-smelling animal intestines stretched on racks were twisted into strings bound for violins, cellos and harps." He’d then sell his wares "out of his car to luthiers and players from Boston to Washington DC … It was Charles’ son, John … who recognized the benefits of synthetic materials, like DuPont’s new creation, nylon, invented in 1935." After Elvis happened, John split off to manufacture steel strings, for the electric guitar.

John’s chief innovation was to make the "string’s steel cores hexagon-shaped instead of cylindrical, which gave the wires wrapped around them something to hold onto, creating a stable string that rang true." John’s son Jim, the current CEO, says automated equipment is critical: "Whenever a major innovation was developed, we would retrofit the entire fleet of machinery," he says. The inherently disposable nature of the strings is another key, because "they wear out and need to be replaced frequently."

Unilever Behavior

To get a sense of Unilever’s ethos, its CEO slept al fresco in the founder’s rooftop bed, reports The Economist (8/9/14). "William Lever, founder of what is now Unilever," slept nightly in the open, atop his mansion. Paul Polman, the company’s current CEO, only spent one night there, but the experience "helped persuade him, a year later, to launch the Sustainable Living Plan … his attempt to make Unilever the pre-eminent example of how to do capitalism responsibly, just as it had once been under Lever."

Mr. Lever "had pioneered the Victorian model of paternalistic business. At a time when disease and malnutrition were widespread in Britain, his products were marketed for their health benefits. His employees were decently housed in a purpose-built company town. Lever campaigned for state pensions for the elderly and even provided schooling, health care and good wages at palm-oil plantations in the Congo." The 21st century version of this vision is different, however, in that it focuses on changing consumer behavior.

After measuring "the carbon footprint of some 2,000 products," Unilever "found that on average 68% of greenhouse gas emissions … occurred only after they got into the hands of consumers." So, its goals include "getting 200m consumers by 2015 to take shorter showers." It is also reprising the launch of Lifebuoy soap in 19th century America with a "handwashing campaign" to reduce illnesses in modern-day India. (video) "The challenge now is to do the same with brands that do not have such obvious benefits as Lifebuoy."

Swash Machine

Procter & Gamble hopes consumers will find a place in their closets for a new kind of laundry machine, reports Elizabeth Holmes in The Wall Street Journal (8/13/14). Developed in collaboration with Whirlpool, the machine is called Swash. It stands "more than four feet tall" and "uses gel-filled pods to help neutralize odors, remove wrinkles and restore a garment’s fit." Swash is not intended "to replace laundering or dry cleaning … just delay them." It is aimed at "a new laundry consumer: the re-wearer."

"Today, it’s smart," says Mike Grieff, P&G’s research and development director for new business creation and innovation. "Why would I wash something and go through the process if it’s really, really not that dirty?" Procter & Gamble has been developing against this insight for several years now, initially creating "a line of consumable products, including odor- and wrinkle-removing sprays." These were meant for "college students who didn’t want to do laundry."

The target now is "a higher-spending group of fashion-conscious people" — both men and women. Swash does not come cheap, retailing at $499, plus another $6.99 for the gel pods, each good for one use. Basically, the user hangs a garment inside, which is then sprayed"with a gel-like solution, hydrating the fibers to remove wrinkles and restore fit. Thermal heating technology dries the garment in 10 minutes," which consumers said was about how long it takes to shower. "It’s like a microwave for your clothes," says Mike.

Apple Seeds

apple-seedsAt the core of Apple’s organization is a school that teaches a culture of simplicity, reports Brian X. Chen in The New York Times (8/11/14). Called Apple University, Steve Jobs founded it in 2009 "as a way to inculcate employees into Apple’s business culture and educate them about its history, particularly as the company grew and the tech business changed." As with so many other aspects of Apple’s world, Apple University "is highly secretive and rarely written about."

Mr. Jobs chose "Joel Podolny, then the dean of Yale School of Management," to design Apple University. Courses include "case studies about important business decisions that Apple made," as well as the best way to share "ideas with peers." As one employee described the Apple communications ideal: "You go through more iterations until you can simply deliver your message in a very concise way, and that is true to the Apple brand and everything we do."

To communicate the concept, instructor Randy Nelson uses "a series of 11 lithographs … that Picasso created over about a month in late 1945," in which the artist began with a detailed sketch of a bull, and concluded with "a curvy stick figure that is still unmistakably a bull." (link) A course called "What Makes Apple, Apple" features a slide of Google’s 78-button remote control, and then the Apple TV remote (image), with just three — "a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu."

Patagonia Profits

patagonia-wetsuitPatagonia’s "unusual commitment to sustainability" sometimes comes "at the expense of its bottom line," reports Diane Cardwell in The New York Times (7/31/14). "Business that puts profit above people and the environment is not going to be a healthy and sustainable way for us to live and for the planet to survive," says Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. Rose adds that company founder Yvon Chouinard has "said that every time he made a decision that was right for the environment, it made the company money, though sometimes not for a while."

One of Patagonia’s newest products, a wetsuit that "is made not from conventional petroleum-based neoprene but from a natural rubber derived from a desert shrub," is a case in point. "Instead of holding the manufacturer of the rubber, Yulex, to a yearslong exclusive contract, Patagonia is encouraging its competitors to use the product, hoping to see its use grow and drive down the price." This is in the tradition of Patagonia’s introduction of "organically grown cotton products in the 1990s," which lost both customers and money.

However, the suit, "priced at $529 – $549 … will earn the company money and bolster its green credentials, an important part of how it tried to appeal to customers." Mitch Taylor, a surfer, is sold: "I was really stoked on it," he said. Another surfer, Walter Valesky, was less enthusiastic, noting that he could get a good used surfboard for that money. Yvon’s son, Fletcher Chouinard, remains optimistic: "People are starting to put their money where their mouth is, but it’s slow," he says.

Sephora Photos

coloriqSephora is using visual data to achieve an in-store experience that couldn’t happen online, reports Issie Lapowsky in Wired (8/1/04). Sephora’s "new flagship location in New York City … is filled with digital accents designed to bring the brick-and-mortar experience closer to the world of online retail, including everything from a touchscreen quiz for finding the best perfume to a skincare product finder that culls e-commerce data and serves up online reviews."

However, Sephora is also using technology in its stores that can "unlock some interesting data that brands could never collect online. The most obvious example of that … is a program called ColorIQ, which attempts to match shoppers’ skin tone with the appropriate shade of foundation. To do that, Sephora partnered with Pantone to identify every possible skin tone in the world. They then created a piece of hardware that filters out external light to photograph a shopper’s exact skin tone and match it to makeup that’s in stock."

Using ColorIQ revealed "that some of the 121 skin tones identified were more popular than others" but Sephora didn’t have products "for several of the most popular tones." The retailer has since "worked with brands to build out a more diverse range of shades." "Brands had never been able to see that data before says Sephora marketing chief Julie Bornstein, who adds: "I feel strongly that physical retail will never go away … It’s been a pastime since the beginning of mankind.”

Under Armour Pirhouettes

misty-copeland-uaUnder Armour hopes to connect with women by featuring a non-athlete in its advertising, reports Andrew Adam Newman in The New York Times (7/31/14). Of course, describing ballerina Misty Copeland as a "non-athlete" is debatable, as Misty herself observes. "A lot of people think of dance as a really sort of frivolous thing, that you just kind of get on the stage and twirl around," she says. However, she adds, "we are just as hardworking as any athlete." The Under Armour commercial in which she’s featured supports her point.

In the commercial (link), Misty "rises to the tips of her toes, the muscles in her calves as angular as bent elbows, and her bulging quadriceps resembling a soccer player’s." Under Armour’s Leanne Fremar says Misty "brings a modern athleticism to a very traditional art form, and she pushes the boundaries on the status quo of the word ‘athlete’ … There are a lot of sports, activities, hobbies and passions that women are engaging in that are athletic and physical and should be celebrated, whether it’s dance or soccer or kickboxing or spinning."

Under Armour’s other female athlete endorsers include skier Lindsey Vonn, tennis player Sloane Stephens and soccer player Kelley O’Hara. Advertising critic Barbara Lippert says the Misty commercial, which also communicates the obstacles she faced as an African-American ballet soloist, is effective because "it doesn’t feel forced and manipulated and the same old, ‘We can do it gals,’ sort of thing," adding that the spot is "very powerful because she has a very interesting story and is an inspirational figure."

Petite Creme

petite-cremeStonyfield hopes to stem the Greek yogurt juggernaut with a French twist, reports Sarah Nassauer in The Wall Street Journal (7/16/14). The appeal is to those "who find Greek yogurt too thick or bitter," with a recipe that "uses cheese, not yogurt bacterial cultures, giving it a smooth texture and mild taste." It is "similar to French fromage blanc," and offers "plenty of protein and a creamy texture even in low-fat varieties." Called Petite Creme, it will be offered in "seven, mostly fruit flavors."

Stonyfield, which "has struggled to grab a major foothold in the Greek yogurt market," plays up the French imagery in its packaging. The color of the cup "is slightly gray to mimic a French bistro menu chalkboard." Stonyfield had "hoped to make the outside labels … matte, not shiny, so they felt like a chalkboard," but that didn’t work out — although they hope to perfect a matte finish at a later date. They also used a "font and twirling flourishes" in an Art Nouveau style "associated with European architecture and furniture."

The dark color is also meant to stand out on "yogurt shelves filled with white and blue cups" and generally "convey sophistication." The design also features "an upright spoon" on the label, "to suggest the act of eating" and highlight the product’s "creamy texture." The overall design is premised on the insight that shoppers who "are attracted to new products want to feel they are discovering something unknown … As a result, Stonyfield’s logo is tiny and written in black on white, not the typical blue." Petite Creme will retail for about $1.89 a cup.

Bet The Ranch

ranch-dressingClorox now sells more salad dressing than it does its namesake brand of bleach, reports Lindsay Gellman in The Wall Street Journal (7/18/14). Driving that growth is the "buttermilk-and-herb" dressing otherwise known as Ranch, which "has been the most popular salad dressing flavor in the US since the early 1990s, when it overtook Italian, according to NPD Group." NPD "says the average American ate salad dressing 38 times last year, choosing Ranch on 14 to 15" occasions.

The dressing packs some 140 calories into a two-tablespoon serving, but many see it as the perfect accompaniment for fresh vegetables or, yeah, salad. "I would be miserable eating a salad otherwise," says Mike De Jesus who says he "tries to maintain a healthy diet." The health-food business sees opportunity in this, with Bolthouse Farms offering a lower calorie version "made with Greek yogurt … At Whole Foods Market, the number of ranch-flavored vegan and vegetarian options has nearly doubled over the past five years."

Clorox markets its dressings under the Hidden Valley brand, named for an actual California dude ranch where it was developed "in the 1950s … As it gained popularity, the owners started shipping a dry seasoning mix to customers via a mail-order business. Clorox acquired the dressing maker in 1972 and created a shelf-stable bottled version as well as dry seasoning packets." Today it "makes 24 varieties of ranch," including a version for hamburgers and fries.