Rising cost of living in Saudi Arabia spurs innovative charitable act

Hail - Refrigerator

In Saudi culture, charity is a duty. It’s part of everyone’s life, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. And with the rising cost of living in the kingdom, more citizens are aware of the need to help one another. But not often do we find them approaching the subject with an activation worthy of global brands.

Recently, a Saudi citizen in the city of Hail placed a refrigerator in front of his house and encouraged residents of the area to donate leftover food to help the needy, sparing them the shame of asking for food. A Saudi cleric, Sheikh Mohammed al-Arefe, confirmed this in a tweet, saying: “I’ve always said the people of Hail are generous. A man puts a refrigerator in front of his house for leftover food; an indirect act of charity for the needy. Oh how I love you Hail!”

The tweet received an overwhelming response from al-Arefe’s followers, who re-tweeted it more than 7,000 times. More people are now encouraging this idea with the month of Ramadan approaching.

Photo Credit: MohamadAlarefe

Coca-Cola app aims to help Romanians do good

In today’s socially conscious world, the urge to make a difference is steadily increasing. Yet many people don’t know how to get started making the world a better place, or where to help. And charities face their own organizational problems connecting those who want to help with those who need it. Recently launched in Romania, Coca-Cola’s Radar for Good app seeks to overcome those challenges. Users search for nearby organizations that are in need of volunteers, providing contact information and directions. The app also lets users opt in to future notifications from these organizations.

While the spirit behind the app is fantastic, if the backend process and infrastructure is not well thought out, the whole experience could easily sour. Indeed, it could do harm and become quite cumbersome to the organizations that the app seeks to help. Simply making the connection is one thing; making the right one is where the difference lies.

Trident’s ‘Cambia Tu Track’ promotes optimism in Mexico

Trident

In Mexico City, the traffic is awful, and most citizens have little recourse but to suffer and deal with it. Every day, it can take 90 minutes each way to drive to and from work, and using public buses can increase that time to two hours or more. The worst thing is that this situation is considered “normal.” Being stuck in a vehicle for so long has negative health and social effects, and increases levels of stress and frustration. And there are still other stressors at either end of the road: an unproductive work meeting that serves mostly to waste time or a troubled relationship that needs attention.

Knowing this, Trident created #cambiatutrack (Change Your Track), an effort to help people change their mindset not only with the traffic but with all the situations that cause stress or a bad mood. The brand invites people to share via web, Facebook and Twitter how they see the brighter side of life when they are in traffic, and gives a gift to the person with the most creative post on the microsite or social media every week. For example, a recent winner submitted: “When it is Friday and I’m stuck in traffic, I change my track because the taxi driver becomes my psychologist.” While brands are powerless to resolve myriad consumer anxieties, often they can help people laugh at or otherwise take a brighter view of these issues.

Photo Credit: Trident

International coffee makers thrive in Greek crisis

Coffee machines

Greeks love their coffee. In fact, they are one of the highest coffee-consuming nations in the world, with an average per capita consumption of 5.5 kilograms vs. a global average of 1.3. Before the crisis, most people’s daily fix was provided by coffee shops—many of them corporate chains like Starbucks and Flocafé—which charged premium prices. With the advent of the crisis, however, the often twice or more daily fix became a pricy habit—leaving many Greeks priced out.

Coffee producers Nestlé and Kraft capitalized on this by promoting homemade coffee machines that work with capsules. These sleek and modern machines sit comfortably on a countertop and allow consumers to easily create a variety of high-quality, barista-style coffees at home for a fraction of the cost charged by the shops. Often, the machines are sold with a hefty promotional rebate to help consumers get started since the companies make money by selling the coffee capsules. In Greece, this model was originally pioneered by Nespresso, who sells capsules from dedicated boutiques or via online delivery.

Nespresso’s huge success was emulated by Kraft with its Tassimo machines. Such is the demand that Nestlé even introduced a less premium-positioned range called Dolce Gusto to compete with Tassimo—both the latter brands sell capsules directly from the supermarket. In an economy where almost all categories have seen single- or double-digit declines, the capsule coffee market and its machines have increased by 45 percent over the last two years alone. These brands recognized the importance of coffee to the average Greek citizen, and provided a more cost-effective solution for them to fulfill their needs.

Photo Credits: Nespresso, Kraft, Nestlé

JWT Singapore’s Guardian Angel is a wearable device that helps keep women safe

Guardian Angel

Last year, we posted a few items about brands aiming to make women in India feel more secure in the face of harassment and violence (for example, the telecom MTS India launched a plan that permits women to make calls despite a negative balance). Now an innovative new product from JWT Singapore in support of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) addresses the issue of women’s safety with a wearable device, the Guardian Angel.

The chic $120 pendant can be worn as a necklace or bracelet and works in conjunction with a smartphone app. It has two uses: Clicking a button on the device during an uncomfortable situation triggers a call to the wearer’s phone, and in more precarious situations, pressing the button for three seconds sends an emergency text that includes details on the sender’s location to a designated contact. Ten percent of each sale goes to AWARE. The Guardian Angel points to the potential of wearables in the area of personal safety and the creative ways that brands can use new technologies to help alleviate consumer fears.

Photo Credit: Guardian Angel

Heartbleed bug making consumers ever more anxious

HeartbleedThe Heartbleed bug may have infected upward of half a million websites—including many popular sites like Gmail and Facebook—potentially putting the personal information of consumers across the globe at risk. Data from our AnxietyIndex study suggests that this security breach has likely only exacerbated anxiety about identify theft, as 3 in 5 were already on edge about this issue in 2012. Anxieties are particularly prevalent in South Africa and the U.S., where nearly 7 in 10 report feeling anxious. As a result, brands impacted by Heartbleed must work even harder to earn back consumers’ trust, especially in nations already prone to anxiety about identity theft.

Identity Theft Anxiety

Photo Credit: Codenomicon

Insurance startup in South Africa promises premiums that keep reducing

King Price Insurance

Owning a car is practically a necessity in South Africa, although the government is trying in many ways to build a more accessible and reliable public transport system. Now with fuel prices at a record high and the introduction of electronic tolling of the highways around Johannesburg, owning a car is becoming more and more expensive. One of the first things people tend to sacrifice, and at great risk, is their vehicle insurance, whether by shopping around for cheaper insurance, jumping around from one insurer to the other or simply defaulting on their payments completely.

A new startup short-term insurer, King Price insurance, has found a way of differentiating itself: insurance premiums that are not only competitive but also decrease every month. They argue, “Why should your insurance premium stay the same when the value of your car is continuously decreasing?” Their latest campaign centers around the question “How do they do it?” and features a company “employee” who comes up with various absurd explanations as he tries to figure out how this insurer is able to offer low premiums that also get cheaper over time.

Photo Credit: King Price Insurance

The Nanou Donut effect: Greeks are finding new business models

Nanou

With the protracted-crisis environment becoming the new normal, Greeks are adapting in creative ways. One big change is a host of new business models, from farmers selling direct to consumers to retailers selling clothes by the kilo. A great example is the success of Nanou Donuts.

Nanou Donuts was focused on wholesale until its founder, John Nanou, decided to do something about the many requests to help unemployed people get a job selling doughnuts. His business model: Provide doughnuts at ultra-low prices to small outlet stores manned by previously unemployed people. The catch: The shops—usually in previously shuttered empty properties—are open only from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., when the fresh doughnuts are produced. Nanou then provides these to the outlets with an extremely low margin, enabling them to sell high-quality doughnuts for as little as 60 cents. They have become the craze, with queues often forming outside the small shops and sales records being broken, with many of the shops selling more than a thousand doughnuts during their brief opening hours.

Photo Credit: Nanou Donuts House

Soaring food prices drive more anxiety among women than men

Global Anxiety Drivers

According to recent forecasts, food prices are set to see the biggest increase in more than three years as a result of worldwide drought conditions. Experts believe that prices may rise by as much as 3.5 percent by the end of 2014, whereas individual produce items might see even larger increases (for example, the cost of lettuce could increase by 34 percent). Data from our most recent global AnxietyIndex study reveal that higher prices at the grocery store may cause women more anxiety than men: Across the 27 markets we surveyed, things that impact us closer to home—including food prices—are more likely to drive anxiety among women than men. Nearly 2 in 5 women already feel “very anxious” about the cost of food.

Brands in these categories will need to help women navigate this anxiety through messaging, products and tools that address their concerns head-on and help them manage their budgets.

Government and brand campaigns tackle obesity in Mexico

Obesity is a major public health problem in Mexico and one that creates anxiety for parents, educators, businesses and the government. According to a 2012 survey by the OECD, Mexico ranks second in the world in obesity, at 30 percent of the population; altogether, 70 percent are overweight. Although the topic is not new, at this point it’s generating more conversation than ever.

The government and businesses are both striving to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy and balanced diet and physical fitness. The federal government launched the campaign “Chécate, mídete, muévete” (assess yourself, practice restraint, exercise), which invites people to have a healthy lifestyle by checking their body weight, saying no to unhealthy foods, and taking the time to exercise. Mexico City has its own program to raise awareness of health and wellness.

Coca-Cola has joined this effort by encouraging exercise, not from a serious, formal and medical perspective but inviting people to move for fun, as part of its “Happiness” proposition. In another Coke commercial, part of a campaign that also ran in other markets, the brand makes a connection between the calories of soda and the energy it takes to do all the activities that bring happiness. The ads invite Mexicans to move in a positive way.