Value Bundling

Preparing Your Brand For the Future

Bundling It All Up

It is painfully obvious in our existing post-Coronavirus / pre-vaccine reality that personal and business conclusions — either algorithmic lead or experience-based — are being guided by their respective time-tested outcomes.

This will not do! Everything has changed and is still changing. Even this article is already obsolete, and it was just posted. (Though you should definitely keep reading. ; )

There are a lot of moving pieces in this pre-vacc Checkered Game of Life* we are all playing. And, while a handful of us may have fit our game pieces into their tight-fitting round holes, many others of us have not even left the starting position, or are trying hard to force our rounded pieces into the square holes, or are even just waiting for the spinner to stop. And some days it truly feels that a majority of us are simply and irretrievably stuck in the corner of the box.

Perhaps nowhere is this sense of discontinuity more pronounced than in the struggle by businesses to fully understand where they stand in a post-Corona world. As we collectively find our way out of this strange time and begin to define a ‘new normal,’ it will be important to recognize, for example, that retail will not yet be able to re-create the in-store experience that existed six months ago and that this will be a significant factor in customers’ reluctance to return.

There is no doubt that, moving forward, the in-store experience is going to be limited and will, excruciatingly, lack some of the basic elements that attracted customers in the first place. The absence of dressing rooms, in-person consultations, and even interaction with staff will be apparent and off-putting.

To survive, retail, more than any other sector will have to adapt to an uncertain future, where so many of the constructs upon which their business model was built will have turned to dust and blown away, as if Thanos, himself, had snapped them out of existence.

Businesses are going to have to find new and different ways to create extensions of their brand value and new multidimensional experiences to take the place of older ones that are now obsolete. In short, business will have to learn to ‘bundle.’

A Floury History of Bundling

Bundling is a marketing tactic that involves offering two or more goods, services or value propositions as a package deal for a single or discounted price, in order to extend the value. Companies may choose to bundle goods for several reasons, including cost efficiency, market opportunities to enhance profits, and as part of a competitive strategy. While the term is, today, most often associated with telecoms and entertainment content companies’ attempts to ‘out value’ their competitors, bundling has been around for quite a while.

During the Great Depression 1.0, with everything except misery in short supply, ‘making do’ with what was around was the only option. In those difficult times, if women wanted to provide for their families, they had to get creative, especially when it came to clothing. When these pragmatic heads of households noticed that many of their food staples, including flour, came in cotton sacks **, desperation birthed innovation and, once emptied, these fabrics were used to make clothing, tablecloths, and toys for their children.

In a classic bundling move, when manufacturers of these staples caught word of the trend, they decided to reinvent the way they packed their products, printing aesthetic designs directly onto the sacks, tacking into and amplifying their post-market value as crafting material. The results were remarkable! By the late 1930s, flour companies regarded the designs of these sacks as a crucial part of their marketing plans, creating an entirely new competitive edge and branding tent pole.

This brings us to the Atacama Desert in Lima, Peru, 2013. It happens to be one of the driest places on earth with virtually no rainfall. In the surrounding area, roughly 700,000 people have no access to clean water for drinking or bathing. Another 600,000 of the city’s 7.5 million residents rely on cisterns for their water, which must be filled by pumps or by hand and cleaned regularly.

But in a bizarre twist of fate, Lima’s Pacific Coast experiences humidity of more than 90 percent from December to February, their Summer season. Leveraging this reality, engineers from Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) devised a way to turn all that humidity into usable water. The clever bundling solution? They erected an OOH billboard advertising enrollment in the University that also worked as an atmospheric condenser, delivering the potable water from the base of the billboard. The idea came about because UTEC was facing a slump in enrollment and the engineering department wanted a way to attract more engineering students to the university. They crafted an advertisement that would provide a very obvious demonstration of the university’s engineering projects. The water-collecting billboard was born. In three months, it had produced about 2496 gallons of water. The billboard reportedly cost only about $1200 to install.

A Bundle of Bundling

Here is a quick review of how some products have expanded their value by bundling related (though often unexpected) features or capabilities. This list is only the tip of the iceberg and offered simply to get you thinking like a bundler:

· Hair coloring products that change color depending on the Sun’s UV factor.

· Clothing that can share your emotional status.

· Smart bandages that display body temperature, alert when there is an infection, or notify users or caregivers that the bandage needs to be changed.

· Beacon technology can update consumers that the product they have been waiting for is in stock when you are physically near the store.

· Smart Mirrors can assist with hair, clothing and make-up demonstrations or that act as personal trainers, demonstrating correct workout form

Bundling to Tech: C’mon In…The Water’s Fine

While the concept of bundling additional value into a product or service has long been a staple of forward-thinking marketers, the advance of technology has only served to make it easier and more common. The very concept of Augmented Reality is built on the idea of ‘adding’ to what is currently perceived. And the nature of the tech space is to continue to be able to fit more capabilities into what has already existed.

Next generation AR glasses, for example, can truly begin to so much more than high-end toy boxes. They will quickly take on new roles, including wellness monitoring. Virtually no one knows that signs of serious diseases and conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid diseases, and certain types of cancers can be detected through an eye exam which could easily be added to the list of AR glass functions.

Likewise, head tremors, which can be measured by AR headsets, can also advise the wearer regarding early stage of Parkinson’s disease or other neurological disorders, mercury poisoning, overactive thyroid and liver failure. With all of this data available by analyzing the human eye, how long is it before a product like Oculus Rift doubles as a personal concierge doctor?

And, continuing our look ’10 Seconds Into the Future,’ why would products like Alexa and Siri not soon be making other diagnoses? As women’s voices are connected to hormone levels and linked to their menstrual cycles, why could not eventually access a potential pregnancy? With enough training and a voice history database, a virtual assistant might well be able to predict Parkinson’s, heart disease or depression.

Bundling It All Up

At a point when we have begun to realize that nothing is ever likely to be exactly the same, it becomes clear that the smart way to prepare for the unknown is to ‘future proof’ your brand is by expanding its potential value proposition.

In thinking how you might leverage value bundling to stay ahead of your competition the important thing is to allow yourself to think laterally. Set aside the normal ‘logical’ parameters you normally apply to thinking about your offering and brainstorm how you might leverage what is either inherent in your offering or in the needs of your targeted audience in order to create supplemental, yet additive value to your target’s experience.

In a parting act of self-promotion, I will say that this kind of ‘out-of-the-box’ value expansion is precisely the kind of consulting we offer clients at Digital Wheel of Fortune. We help clients turn create experiences that synergize and ‘future proof’ their brands and experiences.

Get in touch and let’s get ready to Buuuuundle!

*- 1860’s originally game name by Milton Bradley

  • * -Note: From the 1930s through 1960s, cotton bags used for the delivery of commodities helped to boost the American Cotton industry accounting for eight percent of the cotton goods produced in the U.S.