I always try to treat a mundane food-shopping trip as an expedition to an exotic marketing laboratory. Viewed through that filter, there's usually something interesting going on.
Case in point is this yogurt case at Whole Foods. Hanging out on the top shelf are some granola-type bars. These particular bars are sold by a firm called Attune and are infused with probiotics. So selling them in the yogurt section makes perfect sense: it's about being placed in a way that embraces the shopping experience and needs of the human at the end of the supply chain, rather than efficiencies of layout and inventory stocking. For example, before I arrived at this display, I had no idea that you could get the outcome of yogurt consumption in a solid food experience. Had these Attune products been located in the activity bars section, I would have missed them amongst all the brand shouting.
When it comes to innovation, there's as much or more that can be done with all of the layers of product experience around the core offering as with the core offering itself. And in this day and age, running some experiments with three of the four P's — place, promotion, price — is likely to yield some quick and productive results. Always ask, "So where are we going to sell this?"
You’ve hit on exactly the point at which the rubber of end-user centred design hits the road.
We’ve found that companies can have great product design based on a deep dive into latent needs and a great brand based on an integrated design personality but it’s all worthless if the experiance is not delivered properly to the customer in the “last mile”.
I’m looking forward to the day when virtual reality can mimic a real shopping experience. How will VR impact the P’s, when there is no limitation of physical shelf space, or you can sort the store’s inventory efficiently by promotional items, and you can easily shop from different stores for the best price without the inconvenience of actually physically traveling to different stores?