Here's another good example of innovation based on immersive insight, on a similar line to last week's post on Interflora. This example is from Fresh Italy, a chain of stores selling fab, freshly cooked Italian food at very reasonable prices run by a mate called Tom Allchurch. So instead of having to chose between yet another sandwich or crappy fast food, you now have a new choice. You can enjoy some piping hot pasta topped with Parmesan, a drink and a chocolate tart to die for, all for just over £5. They have a couple of places in the City of London, and one at Lakeside shopping centre, but with plans for more. You should pop in next time you're in that neck of the woods, see where to find them here.
From talking to and watching lots of customers Tom learnt a few things about their lunchtime habits. First, their time is precious and the last thing they want to do is waste it in a queue. Second, they tend to oder the same thing, or choose from a couple of favourites. Third, its a hassle to worry about remembering your wallet or purse, and whether you have the right money. And by the way, all this insight without a focus group in sight.
Building on this insight Tom and his team came up with the idea for a 'Fast Track' online ordering service, which would tell you when to come in and pick up your food, all ready for you. No queues. No fiddling for change. And the system is smart enough to remember what you ordered before, making it even quicker. To explore the idea they didn't make the mistake of doing a theoretical concept board, they mocked it up in the form of a prototype. And boy did people love it. The service is now live in Ludgate Hill store in the City, so if you work near there, get online and get ordering!