9 ways to drive digital innovation: Omo’s “smart peg”:

I came across an interesting example of digital innovation by the Omo brand in Australia this week. (Thanks to Andy Porteous for liking the post by Paul Connell, from Unilever Australia).  "Peggy" is "world's smartest clothes peg". It tells you if it's a good time to hang your clothes out to dry, how long the drying will take and warns you via your mobile phone if its about to rain! Here's what I find interesting about this idea.

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1. Digital is much more than social

A lot of the noise in marketing is still about social media. But the smart brands are starting to explore the true potential for innovation that digital technology offers. Peggy is an example of a brand experimenting with how digital can help improve the customer experience as a whole. This innovation keeps the brand top of mind, but offers real utility to the consumer, not just a communication message.

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2. Anchor digital innovation on a consumer need

The risk with digital is to get carried away with the technology itself. Ono's Peggy is a good example of a brand anchoring the digital innovation on a consumer need linked to a usage occasion: getting clothes washed and dried as quickly as possible, so I can get on with my life. 

3. Link to your brand promise

Peggy also helps bring to life the Omo brand idea of "Freedom to get dirty", summarised with the tagline "Dirt is Good". The brand delivers cleaning performance that gives you the confidence to let your kids play, learn and get dirty. Peggy helps in this mission, by making the whole clothes cleaning process less of a hassle.

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4. Think end-to-end consumer experience

At first sight, the opportunities for digital innovation on consumer goods brands may seem limited. The trick is to think about the total consumer experience. The Peggy idea came from considering not just the moment of using the product, a small part of the total consumer experience, but also the time after using washing detergent, when you have to dry your clothes.

5. Prototype to learn fast

Its nice to see a brand prototyping and idea to move quickly and get real-life customer learning. The Omo.au website says "Peggy is currently in testing, so if you want to be first in line to get your hands on your own smart peg, sign up now". This feels like a new Unilever to me. Rather than having to build a business case and jump through hoops to get approval, the Omo team have built a prototype and then promoted it via their website. They can measure how many people sign up to measure interest.

One trick the brand could do is to actually ask people who are really interested to "pre-order" a Peggy and enter their credit card details. Its more risky if the product doesn't come to market, but it gives you an even more accurate read of consumer interest.

6. Innovate to create social currency 

An innovation like Peggy has "social currency" which makes it worth sharing. For example, a search for Omo peg on Twitter shows that people are staring to talk about this innovation. And giving people a true innovation to share does much more for your brand than simply posting funny pictures or silly sayings, which seem to fill up the social media feeds of many consumer brands.

7. Build your "employer brand" 

Digital innovation like Omo's Peggy doesn't just help build your consumer brand, it also works for your employer brand which targets existing and potential future employees. Rather than just telling people what a great place Unilever is to work, Peggy demonstrates the sort of digitally enabled innovation the company is experimenting with.

8. Amplify your innovation via social

One trick I think the Omo brand seem to be missing is to fully amplify the idea using social media. Peggy is on the brand's website and there is a Youtube film. But it doesn't seem to feature on the brand's Facebook page, at least not yet! The brand doesn't seem to have created a Twitter hashtag like #omopeggy, though I'm about to fix that.

9. Respond in real time

An idea like Peggy makes Omo a customer service provider, not just a seller of products. And this means being ready to respond in real time to customer service enquiries. And on this front the brand does look a bit slow off the mark. Below are two enquiries on Facebook from April 18th, which were only answered today, April 20th. The reply in both case is also identical, looking like its been copy/pasted, whereas a touch of individuality would be better.

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In conclusion, Peggy from Omo is a good example of a big consumer goods company experimenting with digital innovation, and showing 9 ways to drive this successfully.