It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond

Pedestrian delighter! by Nheeda Enriquez
September 22, 2009, 12:37 am
Filed under: Charlotte, delighters, sports | Tags: , , ,

crosswalkI drove by another interesting little delighter today on MLK Blvd.  With progress continuing on the new Nascar Hall of Fame, I was tickled by the crosswalk pattern surrounding the building.  It is one of those clever little ideas that really brings the whole concept together, and this simple design will definitely help future guests remember their visit.

Actually, this story from That’s Racin’ notes that the checkerboard pattern is not painted, but rather created from plastic tiles.  I’ll have to see how it compares to the rubber sidewalk in Plaza Midwood!

Reverse Engineering a Fantasy Football draft party by Nheeda Enriquez

In honor of the NFL season kicking off this week, I highlight Scott Graf’s amusing story on WFAE about local bars that host groups who conduct their fantasy football drafts.  Though I’m not an active fantasy sports fan myself, I know plenty of people who are, and I’ve always found this market and the tons of products that target them fascinating.

I do, however, like to fantasize about the conversations that marketing and development groups have when they’re trying to decide whether or not to try something a little more innovative and counter to what’s commonly done.  Can you imagine what that Jetblue meeting was like when they were deciding if they should try its “All-you-can-Jet ” unlimited travel pass?

It probably wasn’t quite as hard to convince the management of Midtown Sundries or Hickory Tavern to create special packages for fantasy football leagues, it’s still fun to reverse engineer what they might have been thinking, and then use that to inspire other ideas.


Boy, what would the package for a celebrity funeral at an amusement park look like?

A note to the Y: Please use my data for good, not evil by Nheeda Enriquez
June 4, 2009, 10:50 am
Filed under: community services, consumer behavior, sports

I’m eternally interested in the complex issues of online identity and the ongoing challenges that sites face.  There’s a tug-of-war between providing visitors with complete safety and complete convenience.  Lots of interesting work goes on in this space.  Fast Company named Facebook’s Dave Morin as one of their “100 most creative people” for his quest to solve this problem using Open ID.  Design researcher Sam Ladner reframes the conversation away from privacy towards allowing users greater control over their own (potentially stigmatizing) identities.   The NY Times Magazine showed us how credit card companies use detailed transaction data to build a picture of its customers to assess risk, but you can see how they might use this data in our favor as well.

photoPlenty of Charlotteans have keyrings like mine, with bar codes to get discounts at Harris Teeter and access to the YMCA.  How retailers use loyalty programs is well documented, but today I wondered about how the Y might use the two pieces of data I effortlessly give them:  who I am and when I go to the gym.

New features Find other people with a similar workout schedule as I do and create an exercise group, send me text/email alerts for classes I might be interested in that align with my preferred workout times, tell me who else I know is at the gym when I walk in so I can find them .

Alternative pricing models Incentivize me to use the gym during non-peak hours or use less-busy Y locations, charge by the visit instead of by the month, rewards programs (and parties!) for folks who reach the 100, 1000, 10,000 visit milestones.

New partnerships Share the data with my family, my doctor or employer/insurance provider to prove that I’m exercising, tie to my phone apps or NikePlus to track workouts, GoogleMaps mashup to show how many people are at the gym at any given time.

Speed Street and Lateral Thinking by Nheeda Enriquez
May 25, 2009, 8:40 pm
Filed under: branding, sports | Tags: ,

Last weekend was the annual marketing extravaganza known as Speed Street, the NASCAR-themed street fair in the heart of Uptown Charlotte.  For 3 days, racing sponsors offer their wares, live music and and autograph sessions for their spokesdrivers.  As a designer for Ingersoll Rand in a former life, the NASCAR promotions were natural…all the pit crews use IR’s tire tools.  But there are plenty of sponsors that require a little more lateral thinking when it comes to tying them to their brands to the racing theme.


I caught a glimpse of the General Mills display (primarily Cheerios and Hamburger Helper) who were giving away product samples and hosting a Chex “most popular driver” contest.  They start to make the connection of families and moms by promoting a blog (who isn’t even a mom, but at least follows the sport.)  But what other promotions could you tie in to relate to ‘moms on the go,’ beyond having Clint Bowyer wear the Hamburger Helper hand?  GoGurt go-karts?  A race to cook the fastest dinner with Hamburger Helper?   Forcing the two seemingly unrelated brands offer a topic for a fun brainstorm session.