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Capturing the Cool Factor


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With a look at how top brands are leveraging cool trends, this white paper discusses which cool factors will grab the attention of the most discerning and fastidious consumer group – Generation Y.
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Capturing the Cool Factor

  1. 1. White paper | December 2012
  2. 2. Shikatani Lacroix is a leading branding and design firmlocated in Toronto, Canada. The company winscommissions from all around the world, across CPG, retailand service industries, helping clients achieve successwithin their operating markets. It does this by enabling itsclients’ brands to better connect with consumers through avariety of core services including corporate identity,naming and communication, brand experience, packaging,retail, wayfinding and product design.About the AuthorSydney Loo, Project Manager at Shikatani LacroixSydney has twenty years of packaging experience as aproject and design manager for top CPG brands on boththe client and agency side of the business.Specializing in strategic brand development and packaginggraphics management, Sydney has overseen a number ofsuccessful packaging redesigns and private label programsfor top brands including Cott Beverages, Kraft, andShoppers Drug Mart’s Life Brand.White paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 1
  3. 3. Chasing coolConsumers living in today’s post-industrial society oftensend manufacturing companies on a goose chase.Samsung Galaxy S3 is known as the best smartphoneleading most of the top smartphone lists in terms of specsand features. However, being the “best product”doesn’t always equal a “bestseller”.In today’s cyber-socialization age, you can doproduct comparisons on specs, price and productreviews in numerous ways for any product thatexists on earth. But, at the end of the day, it is notalways the best product that wins. Why?What makes people line up for 10-plus hours tobuy an iPhone when it’s not even the bestsmartphone in the market? I believe consumersare aware there are better products that areworth their money. But there is an unknownemotional factor that outweighs their rationalthinking. Let’s call this X factor the “cool factor.”Cool factor #1: Simple, clever and easyNorth America faces an aging workforce as thelast of the baby boomers are now reaching theage of retirement. Meanwhile, Generation Y hasarrived in the workforce with a new attitude. Theyare the group who defines the cool factor formost of today’s consumer products.White paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 2
  4. 4. So, what are the characteristics of Generation Y? Gen Yersin general don’t respond well to the traditional “commandand control” management style in the workplace. Theygrew up in an environment where they were encouraged tospeak their mind. They are tech savvy. Technology to themis more than a tool for increasing productivity. It hasbecome inseparable to their personal lives as a means ofentertainment and as an extension of their social network.In addition, environmental and fair-trade issues are not justbuzzwords. Gen Yers really believe every global citizen hasan equal share of responsibility to preserve ourenvironment so it can be sustainable for future generations.They also have a low tolerance for any social injustice; theyare quick to exercise their consumer power to boycottcompanies that are profiting from any form of exploitation.Knowing where Generation Y comes from will give us abetter understanding of what they would consider to be acool factor.Back to the iPhone vs. Samsung Galaxy smartphoneexample. The iPhone’s cool factor is that it is an Appleproduct. The late Steve Jobs, who was the founder of thecompany, became a legendary icon of design andinnovation. Simplicity (simple and easy to use) had alwaysbeen his key design principle. All Apple products areintuitive; they are designed based on things people alreadyunderstand. Hence, there isn’t a need to accompany theirproduct with any operation manual.White paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 3Cool factor #1is all aboutwhat’s simple,clever andeasy to use
  5. 5. Generation Y embraces technology like noother generation before it; they are thegeneration that grew up with homecomputers and cell phones. Technology tothem is a necessity, not a luxury. It is theintuitive interface and logic that sets Appleapart from its competition. Exceeding everylevel of the iPhone’s technical specs doesn’tnecessarily impress Gen Yers if it requiresspending hours to learn all of the featuresfrom a user manual. The moretechnologically advanced phones may beperceived as awkward and non-user friendly.After all, the smartphone is meant to makeyou feel smarter not the other way around.Cool factor #1 is all about what’s simple,clever and easy to use.Cool factor #2: CustomizationAnother example of a product perceived bythe Generation Y group as “cool” is thesingle-serve coffee brewers.This product is all about individualism. Thetaste palette of the Gen Y group is verydiverse and this technology makes itpossible to brew a single cup of yourfavourite coffee in a second, without theguilt of wasting a whole pot.White paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 4
  6. 6. Not long ago, consumers used to stay loyal to productsthat they grew up with (and still do for some comfort foodproducts). However, today’s consumer is exposed tonumerous varieties and choices not only in retail, but alsoon the internet. The demand for the single-serve product isgrowing in almost every category as it caters to theuncompromising “on demand” or “customization” needs oftoday’s consumer. You can choose anything from colour,flavour, and size to the variety pack for consumers whosimply want to try them all.This generational shift helps explain why single-servecoffee is the fastest-growing sector of the home market.According to a study from the National Coffee Association,single-serve coffee is now the second most popularmethod of preparation after conventional drip brewers, byfar the dominant method. In 2011, seven percent of the cupsof coffee consumed in the United States were made with asingle-serve brewer, up from four percent in 2010. Coolfactor #2 is about providing instant, customizable solutions.Cool factor #3: Social responsibilityA third example of a brand’s cool factor is fulfilling theneeds of its consumers by sharing certain socialresponsibilities and conserving the endangered naturalenvironment. Starbucks is one of the forerunningcompanies that has a holistic approach to ethical sourcingand responsible purchasing practices, and is heavilyinvolved in farmer support and forest conservationprograms.White paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 5Cool factor #2is aboutprovidinginstant,customizablesolutions
  7. 7. Starbucks’ commitment tosourcing responsibly grownand ethically traded coffeeis grounded in its Coffeeand Farmer Equity(C.A.F.E.) Practices, acomprehensive set of social,economic andenvironmental measurablestandards focused on thefollowing areas:Social ResponsibilityTo ensure safe, fair andhumane working conditions,including protecting therights of workers andproviding adequate livingconditions. Compliance withminimum wage, child laborand forced laborrequirements is mandatory.Environmental LeadershipTo manage waste, protectwater quality, conservewater and energy, preservebiodiversity and reduceagrochemical use.White paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 6
  8. 8. The performance of farmers participating in C.A.F.E.Practices shows that, over time, farmers continue to ensuretheir children are attending school and that the remainingforest on their land is conserved, while suppliers areachieving higher performance and improving practices. Thereach of the program is vast, spanning 20 countries,affecting over one million workers, and encouragingresponsible practices on 102,000 hectares each year.Starbucks successfully established a responsible globalcitizen image, and it reinforces this message through itswebsite and in-store literatures. It has created a halo effectamongst its patrons; the mermaid branded coffee cup hasbecame a symbolic beacon of social justice and theenvironmental conservation movement. Cool factor #3goes to those in support of creating a better world.There will always be consumers who single-mindedlysearch for the best valued products in terms of price,product features and durability. In order to win theseconsumers over, companies often have to cut cost, reducetheir work force or import products from developingcountries. By doing so, products designed for the massmarket often lack imagination, cleverness and personaltouch due to this thrifty approach. Going down this routemeans joining numerous look-a-like products that arelowering their profit margins in hopes of gettingconsumers’ attention and that doesn’t sound very cool,does it? Give some of these “cool factors” a chance on yournext new product launch and grab the attention of adiscerning and fastidious consumer group – Generation Y.White paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 7Cool factor #3goes to thosein support ofcreating abetter world
  9. 9. Reference materialsNew York Times — With Coffee, the Price of IndividualismCan Be High Today — Generation Y: They’ve Arrived at Work With aNew Attitude Company — The 6 Pillars of Steve Job’s DesignPhilosophy — Responsibly Grown and Fair Trade Coffee paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 8
  10. 10. For more information, contact:Jean-Pierre Lacroix, PresidentShikatani Lacroix387 Richmond Street EastToronto, OntarioM5A 1P6Telephone: 416-367-1999Email: jplacroix@sld.comWhite paper | December 2012 | Capturing the Cool Factor | 9