A roundup of new retail concepts from around the world, as reported on Springwise a site devoted to trendspotting. 

  • Sweet and sticky – Australia
  • Sparschwein – consumers are richer than they think – Germany
  • What will NOT be personalized – US
  • Oil & Vinegar & World Domination – Holland
  • Luxury for Rent – US
  • Manboo – Japan

Sweet and sticky- Australia

From Down Under with sweet love: Suga Candy Kitchen in Melbourne and Sticky in Sydney take the candy experience economy to the next level by turning rock candy into a personalized, name-embedded feast for the eyes and stomach. Candy is hand-made on the premises (a serious case of retail-theater), with crowds forming in front of the shop windows. The experience continues inside the store: customers can try out the various sweets, or partake in candy making contests, enticing GENERATION C and CUSTOMER MADE enthusiasts to not only become part of the experience, but also to co-create it. Special events (birthdays, weddings and the like) are also being addressed: customers can choose their own colors, flavours and message. Corporate clients, which include Kylie Minogue, Ralph Lauren, Toyota, MTV, Optus, Westpac and Revlon, can purchase a bag of 10 kg customized rock candy for AUD 30 (around $23 US).  Capitalizing on the powerful combination of entertainment, high quality and niche focus, Suga Candy now has 6 shops in the Melbourne urban area, while Sticky has two shops in Sydney.

Sparschwein: consumers are richer than they think! – Germany

With a name like Sparschwein, it has to be good! Indeed, Munich-based Sparschwein (German for piggy bank), is a new direct seller venture encouraging Germans to go on a domestic treasure hunt, exploring their basements, attics, cabinets, and garages for valuable items, especially fashion accessories, antiques, baby products, computers, electronics, cameras, domestic and garden appliances, design furniture, and certain financial contracts. Unearthed items will then be sold by one of 1,000 Sparschwein agents who will later this year go door to door in German cities and villages to collect the items, and sell them on eBay and other auction sites on behalf of the owner.  The proceeds (minus a finder’s and handling fee) go straight into a newly opened savings account. Sparschwein cooperates with the Deutsche Kredit Bank, a daughter of the Bavarian Landesbank, offering up to 2.35 percent interest on an account. Hence Sparschwein’s compelling claim to be world’s first financial institution that allows people to build up savings without money. The agents will also advise the owner on how to make the most of this money for specific goals (like a new car, a holiday, education, etc). Through S-broker, a German discount broker, proceeds can also be invested in securities, or be exchanged for coupons and discounts, as a host of B2C companies have teamed up with Schwarschwein to even serve consumers with an aversion to piggybanks.

What will NOT be personalized? – US

What’s better than confetti? Personalized confetti, of course! Enter Confoti, who sell confetti and stickers that consumers can customize with their own photos. The process is straightforward: customers use the Confoti website to upload their photos, choose their accent colors, and crop each photo the way they want it to appear on the confetti. 3,200 pieces of confetti, using 1-30 photos, cost $19.95 while 48 customized photo stickers sell for $6.95. Manufacturing and delivery takes anywhere from one to twenty days depending on shipping options.

Oil & Vinegar & World Domination – Holland

Another sticky retail-experience, this one not brand-new, but now slated for mass expansion: Dutch Oil & Vinegar, a culinary Mediterranean gift/lifestyle shop, selling everything from more than 25 varieties of olive oil to numerous kinds of vinegar, dressings, olives, dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, pesto, herbs and spices, and so on. The experience part? Consumers can sample and taste the goodies, have their own oil and vinegar containers (re-)filled at Oil & Vinegar, and get expert advice while meandering through the store.  Sure, a variety of small shops around the world occupy this same space, but Oil & Vinegar is the first one to succeed in building the concept into a true brand, without losing the magic normally associated with small niche players. Witness franchisees lining up to spread the pressed virgin olive gospel: the company now has over 100 stores in 11 countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the US. As almost half of these shops are concentrated in the Benelux countries, there is still plenty of opportunity in major markets around the world. Next up is the US: after a recent investment into the company by Hampstead Holding, Oil & Vinegar now plans to open up 124 new stores in the States in the next few years. Franchisees, on your marks!

Luxury for Rent – US

When did the luxury-for-all craze really start? According to the Saison Research Institute of Japan, a whopping 94.3 percent of Japanese women in their 20s own Louis Vuitton goods and 92.2 percent of them own a Gucci product. Numbers for the US and the EU may be somewhat lower, but there too millions of consumers crave the latest luxury brand shoes, skirts and bags. The ‘problem’: most women can’t afford to own a large collection of all these pricey wares, let alone keep up with the new fashion styles that are introduced each season. To the rescue comes Bag Borrow Or Steal, an online based membership program that offers a broad selection of original designer handbags and other contemporary fashion handbags, for their members to ‘Borrow’. They also offer a purchase option that they call ‘Steal’. Members can borrow bags for as long as they want; when they are ready for something new, they return the bag and borrow the next one. Fashionistas are thus guaranteed that they’ll always be carrying the ‘must-have’ handbag.  Bag Borrow or Steal’s business model resembles that of Netflix: customers can sign up for three different membership levels, with a minimum three-month commitment. Deluxe memberships allow members to borrow 2 bags at once. There is no time limit on ‘borrowing’ needs: bags can be kept for as long as members want. There is a $9.95 round trip ticket charge each time a member ‘borrows’ a bag. A concept that makes total sense: with status anxiety-driven consumers depending on luxury more than ever before, we expect to see more and more new-style rental and shared ownership services, making top-end luxury goods available by limiting the actual usage time. From renting a Segway for a month to a Mercedes CLS for a day to De Beers diamonds for an hour, the luxury rental concept can be applied to virtually every business segment.

Manboo – Japan

Japanese Manboo is where the Gaming & Manga Generation come together to form a a sleek, branded chain of ‘cafes’ that offer a luxurious living room (well, multiple mini living rooms in the form of private, carpeted cubicles with separate personal computer and television monitors) setting for playing games, watching DVDs, reading comics and surfing the web. Reclining chairs and oceans of free coffee, teas and soft drinks included, 24/7. There’s even a nail salon and shower facilities. All this for only a few bucks an hour. Manboo currently has 45 cafes; four of them within blocks of Tokyo’s Ikebukuro train station alone!  With gaming, surfing and IM-ing taking up the majority of eyeball-time of virtually every 16-year-old kid from Sao Paulo to Seoul (forget TV!), who’s going to set up the new Starbucks for the PS2/Xbox 360 generation outside Japan?