Marketing in Europe 2016 … from healthy chocolate to digital cosmetics and millennial vlogging

December 14, 2015

What are best new ideas for brands and marketing in 2016? … How can you apply the ideas to your own business?

I was recently in Odense, the heart of Denmark, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, and the modern global centre of research and development for robotics and drones. I was looking for the best new ideas in business across Europe, and maybe that combination of storytelling and future technological capabilities is the secret to success in a changing world.

Europe has increasingly focused east rather than west in its worldview, be it in attracting tourism, where to vacation, finding the best markets for exports, or where to look for inward investment. It has also realised that success is no longer achieved through being big, but by being smart. We live in an ideas world, and it is the companies that are built on ideas – artistic, design, entertainment, knowledge and technological innovation – that are succeeding in Europe.

Take ARM for example, the microprocessor company from UK. It makes nothing, but it designs the “brains” of most of the world’s smartphones, tablets and wearables, which are then made in an ecosystem of partners for Apple, Samsung and every other brand. Compare their strategy to Intel, which has the huge capital costs of making things, and you see a vast difference in revenues and share price over the last 5 years. Similarly, look to industries like gaming – particularly in the Nordic countries – with brands like Supercell and Rovio. Or even look at Estonia, birthplace of Skype, which now offers E-Estonia virtual citizenship to encourage entrepreneurs to use the nation as a platform for future success.


Here are some of the best ideas from the European region, to help inspire your brand and marketing thinking:

Airbus Double Seating

How do you fit more people into an airplane without cutting into passengers’ already squeezed personal space? Airbus wants to seat people on top of each other. The French-based company Airbus filed a patent recently for a “mezzanine seating” design that will take advantage of the “substantially unused” upper areas of aircraft cabins. “It is very important from an economic point of view to make optimum use of the available space,” the patent reads, though the company doesn’t think customers have to suffer in the process—the upper-level seating could recline 180 degrees and be “suitable” for business class, says Wired Magazine. “It would therefore be desirable to provide a passenger seat arrangement that permits optimum use of the space in a passenger cabinet…but still provides a high level of comfort for the passengers.”

How can you apply this idea to your own business? Constantly rethinking the conventions of your industry, seeking to optimise the use of assets, and also using new ideas to be the industry thought leader.

Banksy’s Dismaland

Dismaland was a temporary art project organised by street artist Banksy, constructed in the seaside resort town of Weston Super Mare in south west England. Prepared in secret, the pop-up theme park and art expo was staged at the Tropican, an old and disused swimming pool complex, and presented as “a sinister twist on Disneyland”.  Banksy described it as a “family theme park unsuitable for children.” Banksy created ten new works and funded the construction of the exhibition himself. The show featured 58 artists invited to participate by the street artist. After being open over the British summer, it has now been packed up to be taken on a roadshow around the world.

How can you apply this idea to your own business?  Counter-intuitive thinking … be the antidote to what others do!


Brewdog is a beer from Scotland. With attitude. it produces about 2.2m bottles and 400k cans per month. It was founded in Edinburgh in 2007 by James Watt and Martin Dickiem whilst the main brewing moved to nearby Ellon in 2012. Take a whirlwind tour around Brew HQ … Check out the hop canon, used to fire hops at warp speed into the beer, the centrifuge which was specially commissioned to avoid harsh filtration, and see the business that is funded by 16,000 dedicated craft beer crusaders, consumers, who invested in Equity for Punks.

How can you apply this idea to your own business?  Have attitude and personality. Connect with your consumers.

Ego Boost Chocolate

Eat yourself beautiful! This chocolate bar contains a daily dose of skin firming collagen, an essential protein for building up, moisturising and tightening the skin. And of course, this 50g bar tastes delicious! It’s got a slight “forest-berries-dipped-in-chocolate” flavour, and comes in a thick, chunky bar. To further protect your skin and your health, it contains Chaga, one of the strongest anti-oxidants around, guaranteed to protect you from free radical damage and assist cellular repair throughout the body. Dark chocolate also reduces “bad” cholesterol and increases “good”, and has been known to improve brain function. As if you needed any other reasons to indulge in this yummy treat!

How can you apply this idea to your own business? Be naughty and nice … product that do good, and taste good.

L’Oreal Makeup Genius

L’Oréal’s tech lab launched its first product, an app called Makeup ­Genius. Hold your smartphone up to your face like a mirror, and the face looking back might have deep red lips and dark eyes for the red carpet, or subtle shades for the office, depending on what products you choose. Even if you move around, the virtual makeup stays in the right places, like looking in a real mirror. Whilst L’Oreal focused on European consumers, China has been a massive market for the app, bringing 4.7 million of its total 14 million downloads.  “Girls in China can be shy to apply makeup if they are at the counter or if they are going out with friends — they don’t want to put on very dark lipstick, very dark eye shadow,” said Asmita Dubey, chief marketing officer for L’Oréal China.

How can you apply this idea to your own business?  Combine physical and virtual experiences to do more for people.

One Fine Stay

Greg Marsh launched this premium version of Airbnb in London 5 years ago, renting out private luxury homes. Today the company lists homes in London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles, and “already six times larger than the inventory of The Ritz, The Plaza, Hotel George V and Hotel Bel-Air combined”. Like Airbnb, Marsh found that stunning photography and building a community of referrals were key to engaging people and their trust. The customer experience is premium all the way, and includes thoughtful additions such as private drivers available from the airport on request, and a free fully-paid smartphone for use whilst you are staying.

How can you apply this idea to your own business?  Make somebody else’s idea better.

Park Run

10 years ago, a small group of 13 runners met in Bushy Park, near Teddington, for a timed 5km run. Unlike most running events, there were no entry processes, no numbers, and no fees. Just a few volunteers to mark out the course, and your time at the finish line. It became a regular event, runners measuring their progress over the weeks and years. 10 years later, 1.3 million runners take part every week in Park Runs that take place in 775 locations across the world. All free. All 5km. And all recorded in one global database. The Park Run organisation now has a full-time team of professionals running the global network, paid for by a range of sponsors, and supported by an army of  local volunteers. The grassroots movement has now become the world’s largest weekly running event.

How can you apply this idea to your own business?  Start a business from the grassroots – and new business model.

Rapha Cycle Club

Rapha was launched in 2004 with one mission: to create the finest cycling clothing and accessories in the world. Ideal for the wealthy, Lycra-clad, 50-something year olds who take to the roads of Europe each weekend. But Rapha is about far more than products, it is about the love of cycling, and brings together its community through its stores, known as Cycle Clubs in cities across the world. Sit down at the kitchen table, have a coffee and croissant, watch a video of the recent Tour, marvel at the gear actually word by the great riders, meet people with the same passion as you, get your bike fixed, and even go for a ride. It even has a travel business, and rapidly growing range of publications.

How can you apply this idea to your own business?  Brands are about people not products, about their passions.

Rapha is one of the 100 brands featured in my new Gamechangers book. Read the case study.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a range of credit-card sized single-board computers developed in Cambridge to promote the teaching of basic computing skills in schools and to young kids. A community of followers quickly developed online, served by a fanzine called MagPi. Physical events quickly followed, initially called Raspberry Jams … and then a global network of local clubs focused on helping young people in schools and local communities, and even older people too, to explore their own potential for what they can do, starting with a simple $30 computer.

How can you apply this idea to your own business? Simplicity. But also creating a movement.

Raspberry Pi is one of the 100 brands featured in my new Gamechangers book. Read the case study.

This Girl Can 

This Girl Can is a national campaign developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations. It’s a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets. The campaign doesn’t hold back in trying to encourage women to beat their barriers. “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox” and “I kick balls, deal with it” are among the hard-hitting lines used in the campaign to prompt a change in attitudes and help boost women’s confidence. 13 million people have now viewed the flagship This Girl Can film online.

How can you apply this idea to your own business? Challenge the perceived wisdom, and find attitudes that really connect with your audience inside.

Volvo Life Paint

Volvo Cars developed Life Paint as “the best way to survive a crash, is not to crash”. Life Paint is a unique reflective safety spray, invisible by daylight, it shines brightly in the glare of car headlights. The reflective spray was actually created by ad agency Grey London which won two Grand Prix awards at this year’s Cannes Lions festival, is now being distributed in Volvo dealerships around the world, challenging criticism that the product was just a marketing stunt. LifePaint, when applied to bikes and clothes, increases the visibility of cyclists to cars. It was created as part of a range of products produced by Grey (with others) to promote different aspects of Volvo’s cars and brand (in this case, its commitment to safety via its IntelliSafe system). But whereas some of the concepts – including Swedish Air, an inhaler that offered visitors to Volvo showrooms a lungful of fresh air – disappeared without trace, LifePaint captured the imagination of the press and the public and received wide coverage across the media.

How can you apply this idea to your own business?  Random ideas can have radical impact.


Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, is one of the world’s leading millennial vloggers … “a self confessed beauty junkie, I chat through my favourites, share my beauty purchases, tips, tricks and a few poopy attempts at applying makeup for your viewing pleasure”. She’s a 25-year old YouTube celebrity, blogger, author and beauty guru who currently lives in Brighton, England With her boyfriend Alfie Deyes (aka Pointlessblog) She currently has over 8 million subscribers. Her schedule is usually a video every Sunday, but it varies.  Her bestselling book is called Girl Online. As well as being an author, beauty guru and world famous YouTuber she was also featured on popular British baking show, Great British Bakeoff.

How can you apply this idea to your own business? People trust people. Using the power of influencers to build your brand in more social, collaborative and human ways.

Around the World in 80 Marketing Ideas

This is part of a larger project to find the best marketing ideas from around the world, real and practical solutions which work in one place – and (with relevant adaption) could work in your market too … Copy Adapt Paste! They were sourced through my personal travel experiences (I visited around 50 countries in 2015 as a keynote speaker and expert consultant), through a crowdsourcing program and with the help of two friends, Anouk Pappers and Maarten Shaeffer. You can download all 80 marketing ideas in the presentation below:

Read more about

  • Kaleidoscope 2016 … the 7 big ideas that will shape customers and markets, drive brands and innovation
  • Marketing in Europe in 2016 … from healthy chocolate to digital cosmetics and millennial vlogging
  • Marketing in Asia Pacific in 2016 … from flying shrimp to Aussie farmers and intelligent chopsticks
  • Marketing in The Americas in 2016 … from cool carrots to cardboard 3D headsets and superhero supplies.
  • Marketing in Africa and Middle East in 2016 … from farms in boxes to walking a marathon for water.

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