Taking Social Innovation To The Next Level

By Mandy Cudahy A few months back I wrote a post showcasing how companies are FINALLY starting to incorporate social into their overall marketing mix and use traditional advertising to flaunt their social media efforts. Since then I am happy to report that a number of brands have surpassed my advice and are taking it to the next level.  Not only are companies advertising their social media efforts at every consumer touch point they now are now investing billions of dollars making their products and services themselves social!

Who are these brands that are paving the way in social innovation??


This brand has put a lot of emphasis on climbing to the top of the social ladder and they have finally gone and done it! Pepsi has just introduced the first ever social vending machine that allows you to send a beverage gift to your friends. This creation allows consumers to pick out of a hundred different flavors and send them as a gift to a friend by entering his or her name, contact number, and personalized text message or video. Once that is done, the gift is delivered to their friend along with instructions on how to redeem the gift at other such vending machines. You can even send a gift to a random stranger!  That’s not all, the machine also encourages users to connect with their Pepsi Refresh Project and in turn will reward a user with exclusive product info and a coupon off their next purchase!

Why this is great for Pepsi?

  • Consumers are always looking for unique gift ideas and fun, interactive toys. Together this machine offers both which will encourage trial, sharing, and purchase of products.
  • Pepsi provides its users with a simple way to receive a free coupon while they are engaged with the brand so that they can collect valuable information and keep communicating with the consumer even after purchase.
  • They are connecting with consumers at the point of excitement!


Earlier in the year, this social leader decided to go national with a Starbucks Card mobile app that lets consumers use their smartphones to pay for that morning latte. After discovering that their customer base was devoted to Starbucks’ material card system they thought why not make it even more effortless and require consumers to have nothing but their phones on them. The brand now offers the nation's largest mobile payment network , has implemented this system into 6,800 stores, and revealed that more than 3 million people have paid using the app. Starbucks has mentioned that in the near future they plan on leveraging their digital and social properties in the world of consumer packaged goods and loyalty programs.

Why this is great for Starbucks?

  • The idea required a relatively low investment in hardware and little modification of existing consumer habits which made the adoption much quicker.
  • The application is unique which encourages increased trail and thus purchases.
  • The application allows them to collect valuable data about their consumer and the consumers buying habits to better improve the overall experience.

Vail Resorts

More than just snow coats the mountains and lifts at Vail Resorts these days. For the 2010-2011 ski and snowboard season this Colorado based company unveiled a new social gaming app that allows visitors to track their activities and share them with their friends and family — all done through radio frequency (RF)-enabled chips embedded in their season passes and lift tickets. The app, called EpicMix, is a cross between a program that allows you to track your physical activities, and a location based network like Foursquare, which rewards users for exploring new areas. Vail Resorts reported that this app was used by almost 100,000 guests who racked up 55 billion vertical feet of skiing and snowboarding at the company’s five resorts. This season the company sold 667,000 of its app-eligible Epic season passes and almost 40,000 Vail Resorts skiers downloaded the EpicMix mobile app.  The company encouraged some 275,000 posts on Facebook and Twitter reaching approximately 35 million more social media users, based on Facebook’s estimate of 130 friends per user.

Why this is great for Vail?

  • The application in nature gives consumers an amazing user experience which will encourage repeat visits.
  • The sharing features are proven to drive some serious engagement and hype around the brand.
  • Having such a unique and cutting edge product encourages users to want to test it out which in turn drives traffic and sales.
  • Positions the brand as a knowledgeable industry leader.


Have you witnessed any great product/in-store integration of social recently? Share here!