Agile Innovation Update – July 2016

Every four weeks we scan the best innovation blogs to bring you the FreshMinds Agile Innovation Update of the top stories you need to read each month.

This month we’re looking at Unilever’s acquisition of the Dollar Shave Club, the challenger banks readying themselves for launch, Tesla’s vision for the future and the rise and rise of Facebook Messenger.

Unilever acquires Dollar Shave Club

This week saw Unilever buy Dollar Shave Club for a reported $1 billion in a move to capitalise on the success of the brand’s subscription-based business model. The Dollar Shave Club concept has proved to be popular with consumers – over 3.2 million members are signed up to receive razors direct to their door each month – and now Unilever wants to get a slice of the action. Unilever is not the only FMCG manufacturer looking to tap into subscription services. P&G, which dominates the shaving market with its Glilette brand, has recently launched subscription services for its razors as well as its laundry product, Tide Pods. As a means of building direct relationships with consumers, subscription models could be a game changer for FMCG brands. These actions may only signal the start of a wider push to tap into subscriptions.

Starling Bank set to launch in January 2017

Starling Bank is steeling itself for a January 2017 launch after receiving its banking license this month. The mobile-first challenger bank will use insights, visualisations and real-time updates to help consumers better manage their money and is giving prospective customers the chance to sign up ahead of launch. Starling Bank is just one of a number of mobile-first challenger banks readying themselves for launch. This week, Berlin-based bank, N26, was granted a full banking license, paving the way for expansion across Europe. It has plans to expand to the UK late this or early next year.

Tesla unveils the next step in its ‘master plan’

Yesterday Elon Musk revealed his future ambitions for the Tesla brand in the latest instalment of the company’s ‘masterplan’. Musk’s vision for Tesla involves 3 core areas. The first is expanding beyond just cars into other forms of transport including trucks and buses. The second is to create solar roofs capable of collecting and storing energy within a battery, as part of a proposed integration with Solar City Corp. Finally, Tesla, like many other automotive brands, has autonomous driving on its roadmap. But what’s interesting is that the company hopes that the move to autonomous will pave the way for a car sharing model. This could see Tesla owners being paid to hire their car out to others, a move which could present a future challenge to the likes of Uber.

Facebook Messenger clocks up 1 billion monthly active users and 11,000 chatbots

This week Facebook celebrated reaching a major milestone: 1 billion monthly active users of its Messenger app. Messenger enables more than just sending private messages. The company boasts that 10% of all voice over IP calls are made within the app and also supports communications between businesses and customers through chatbots. To date, a whopping 11,000 chatbots have been developed by brands, to aid everything from sales to customer service. These chatbots span a variety of sectors from financial services to retail but our favourite so far comes from the world of food and drink, where Pizza Hut has developed a chatbot to let Facebook users order food without leaving the app.