Although we love generating truly breakthrough concepts, it’s not necessary to re-invent the wheel every time in order to do so. Some of the most innovative ideas are built upon similar solutions that have worked in the past, and looking to analogs helps businesses jump-start smart, scrappy thinking by leveraging models that have already proven to be successful.
One of our favorite inspiring analogs is Farmer’s Fridge, a company that saw a need for healthy, delicious and environmentally-friendly food that’s easily accessible while on the go. Farmer’s Fridge could have gone the traditional route of selling their products in a grocery store, gas station or brick-and-mortar fast food restaurant, but instead, they picked a totally unconventional distribution channel for their product: stand-alone vending machine kiosks. The company stocks refrigerated vending machines daily across the country with beautifully-layered jarred salads made with fresh, organic ingredients. (Bonus: The jars are made of #1 plastic, are BPA-free and can be reused or recycled, appealing to environmentally-conscious consumers along with health-conscious ones.)
Not only do we love how Farmer’s Fridge fulfilled the need for fast, healthy and environmentally-conscious food in an atypical way, but we also appreciate how this business model inherently challenges the perception of what a vending machine usually sells (unhealthy, stale, processed snacks) and presents a completely fresh perspective on this common and tired distribution method. By establishing a non-conventional distribution channel for their product and packaging it in a thoughtful way, Farmer’s Fridge was able to make themselves stand out from the rest of the “fast and healthy food” pack.
How to use this analog: Set aside your preconceived notions about the common distribution channels in your industry. How can you think bigger and sell your product in an unconventional way to make it stand out? Is there any way you can take a seemingly dissonant distribution channel/product match (i.e. vending machines for salads) and make it work for your business model?
The Garage Group helps corporates innovate and grow like startups. Our fresh approach brings external perspective into idea generation and development through analogs that stretch thinking and introduce new business model components.
Photo licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 via Flickr user: taz+belly