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It’s ok to have more than one innovation at a time

Organizations seem so often to have trouble innovating at all, and if they do change, they often just make one change at a time. More rare is a comprehensive rethinking of a product, or system, or business model. But there may be great opportunities for those who can take on a whole system, rethink it, and make something new happen. 

94 winesThe Dutch company 94wines combines a sweep of innovations in its packaging and products. Many of these are innovations that we’ve been keeping an eye on for our Future of Packaging programs, so it's great to see real product introductions that put them to use.
The French variety wines 94wines sells are offered in a broad array of varieties, tapping niche taste interests. Consumers on their site answer six questions to get at their wine taste preferences. That comes in the form of a WineID, which the 94wines site will remember for you.
My “Wine ID” (can we assume there’s a play on words: ID as in identification and id, as in the unconscious psyche?) includes three varieties 5—Fresh, 22—Spicy, and 24—Oaky. That may not be quite right, but I rushed the questions a little.
The bottles are colored and numbered to indicate each variety, rather than being labeled with appellation and vintner, giving consumers two visual identifiers to help them get the right one. This, I suppose, is a “dumbing down” to suit harried consumers who aren’t and don’t want to be, wine experts.
94winesThe wines also allow custom content, not on their standard labels, but as digital content accessible by a QR code (2D barcode) on the bottle. iPhone users, and presumably others with a phone camera with a QR code app, can access the product information on their mobiles. People can also key in a number that is with the QR code on the 94wines website, and get the same information. But customers placing an order can customize the product by uploading their thoughts, images, etc., so that anyone they give the wine to will see that information. Thus, a custom label of a sort.
The 94wines system includes these innovations: 
  • “Long tail” niche/variety marketing play
  • Customization via custom label information
  • Mass customization via assessment of a consumer’s taste preferences in their “WineID”
  • Information accessible online, using the package as a point of access, with minimal labeling
  • Interaction of package with handheld device: 2D barcodes, readable by iPhone, etc.
  • Visual/intuitive cues in package design
What a great package! It’s terrific to see more than just incremental innovation, but rather a cocktail of innovations. Let’s hope it makes them some money. By the way, for now, they deliver mainly in the Netherlands.
Images: www.94wines.com 
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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Lee Clark November 23, 2009, 4:31 pm

    After nearly a decade of (as Stephen Covey would say) being trapped in the “Thick of thin things”, I’ve been freed to once again think about the future. Your posting reminded me of something I had read/heard back in the last century 😉 about “a mass market of one”. I did a little poking around and came upon the article at the link below.


    Appears there truly is nothing new under the sun.

    I’m guessing that technology has finally enabled (or at least made much easier) the wine blending that takes place in the small, local wine merchants. 94wines seems to be the iphone generation’s response to vino100 (http://www.vino100.com/concept.html…, but with none of the old-world atmosphere.

    Now, if they just delivered… Chinese take-out, a nice white wine, download a movie from NetFlix and my cocooning experience would be complete.

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