Innovation is a two-sided challenge, and can only truly happen when it simultaneously solves for the needs of the consumer and of the business. Ideas are easy, but merging big ideas with business acumen is hard, and the key to sustainable growth. At Fahrenheit 212, we call these “Money and Magic” innovations. 

Read on for six of the best Money and Magic solutions we’ve recently observed in the market, chosen by the Fahrenheit 212 team.

Adidas Does 3D Printing

3D printing adoption is on the rise, both from an individual consumer perspective and in manufacturing. The majority of adopters (51%) are still using it for prototyping, but 52% of manufacturers expect to use 3D printing for high-volume production within 3-5 years (compared to just 38% two years ago). One early adopter, Adidas, has been testing 3D printing options for a while. Earlier this year they announced the Futurecraft 4D, the first 3D-printed shoe they would mass-produce.

Adidas began using 3D-printing technologies not just to capitalize on a trend, but to reinvent and improve a supply chain that has yet to evolve with technology. As Engagement Manager Matt Castile explains, Adidas was able to make their manufacturing process faster, better, more efficient, more environmentally friendly (because there is no waste), and stronger via 3D printing — lowering costs and improving the product experience for customers. It allows the company to produce smaller batches of shoes, creating more customized options and increasing exclusivity.

Shop Without Shopping

MM.Lafleur was built on the principles of Money and Magic, explains Analyst Gisela Andras. A clothing brand for “women who hate to shop,” this company is reinventing the retail experience for an underserved group of shoppers. The product is based around a “Bento Box” offering, which alleviates customer stress and effort. With the tagline #BetterThingsToDoThanShop and marketing targeted at high-powered, busy women, MM.Lafleur is reaching a retail base that has plenty of money to spend, but not enough free time to spend it. It’s great for consumers who hate to shop — because even if you don’t like shopping, you still need clothes — and it’s an innovative business model that serves the company as they continue to scale.

Cleanly’s Surge Discounts

Cleanly, an app that collects your laundry and returns it cleaned and sorted within 24 hours, was created to solve for a problem and consumer need within the dry cleaning industry. In cities like London and New York, many consumers don’t have laundry machines in their homes. They’re also busy and rely heavily on public transportation, meaning they may not have the time or resources to take their clothes to a laundromat. 

Cleanly approached this consumer challenge differently from typical laundry apps, solving a problem in their own business model and creating more value for consumers with a single change. Engagement Director Tobias Rooney noticed that Cleanly implemented a “surge” benefit that sends discount offers to users within a geofenced area where collections are already happening. The consumer gets a better deal, and Cleanly is able to increase density of collection in a single van, driving down costs and improving their margins. At the end of the day, it’s a win for both parties.

Customer-First Banking

Brazil’s banking industry has long been in need of disruption, and fin-tech startup Nubank has been making waves since launching in 2013. With over $178 million in funding from investors like Sequoia Capital, DST Global, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Nubank is a “no fee” credit card managed through a mobile app.

Consumers, especially younger consumers looking for a friendly, simple, transparent banking experience, are frustrated with a bureaucratic banking industry that’s dominated by five large companies. As Associate Lissa Fedrizzi explains, those five banks control 95% of all consumer financial services in the company. They’re currently pulling back services and cutting costs, resulting in worse terms for customers and making Nubank all the more attractive for customers.

By identifying a major need in the industry, Nubank found a “Money” solution that has brought in 7 million card applications. Consumers are happy with the alternative financial options, and the industry is being pushed to adopt more transparent, consumer-friendly policies across the board. The real magic? Nubank reports that their customer acquisition costs are zero dollars, showing a company can be built entirely on word of mouth when it solves a vital consumer need.

Angels for Citi Bike

Every City Bike user knows that there’s one major flaw to an otherwise great urban system: If you work in a busy area, you’ll likely ride a bike to work but may never find one to ride home. Enter Bike Angels, a plug-in for the Citi Bike app that allows riders to earn points for riding bikes from areas of high bike population to low. The app engages consumers in the Citi Bike experience, notes Analyst Julia Sigal, and the points eventually add up to saving.

For bikers who may not have a set destination in mind, it gamifies the app and allows them to earn something during their ride. Meanwhile, the business is able to more effectively serve customers in diverse locations, and it saves resources that would otherwise have been spent manually redistributing the bikes.

The Future of Packaging

Believe it or not, water is one of the main ingredients in most household products. In fact, goods including laundry detergent, soap, cream, and shampoo are made up of about 80% water. Cumulatively, water weight demands packaging and fuel, and causes more pollution. Designer Mirjam de Bruijn’s challenges the packaging status quo in, “Twenty”, delivering a better business model for consumers and businesses in one design. “Twenty”'s products are highly concentrated in capsules, powders, bars, and are packaged in mostly empty bottles, leaving room for roughly 80% water. Once consumers purchase and bring home the product, all they need to do is add a tiny bit of water, generously mix, and put it to use.

Katie, an Associate, loves "Twenty" because in one elegant solution, de Bruijn helps to solve our global sustainability challenge, provides consumers with simple, quality products, whilst also saving the business an extraordinary amount in water and shipping costs. In short, everyone wins.

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When working on a new project or trying to solve your next problem, it’s important to look for opportunities to combine both commercial viability and customer empathy. By identifying innovative two-sided solutions, businesses are able to achieve predictable, sustainable growth, while also making things better and making better things.