Nestlé employs fleet of robots to sell coffee machines in Japan

Pepper the android is set to rival George Clooney as the face of coffee in 1,000 Japanese stores, thanks to SoftBank.

Pepper and George Clooney

Move over George Clooney – Nestlé has employed a fleet of chirpy robots to sell its coffee machines in Japanese stores.

The US actor, who has become the global face of the Nespresso brand, has been given the elbow in favour of Pepper, a cheeky and chatty android, which its makers claim can answer customers’ questions.

“How do you enjoy coffee? Number one: An eye-opener coffee; Number two: A post-meal cup of coffee,” Pepper asked a Japanese TV personality, Kyoko Uchida, at a promotion event in Tokyo on Monday.

The 120cm-tall robot has a human-like face perched on top of a white plastic body, with rollers and what looks like a tablet computer on its chest.

The gimmick will eventually see 1,000 stores across Japan with their own Pepper, which makers say can understand up to 80% of conversations.

The robots will “help us discover consumer needs through conversations between our customers and Pepper,” said a joint statement from Nestlé and SoftBank, whose French arm Aldebaran developed the technology.

Pepper – which was unveiled in June by SoftBank’s president, Masayoshi Son – already sells mobile phones at SoftBank’s 74 Japanese stores, where it has been used to collect customers’ opinions.

Engineers claim the robot’s artificial intelligence has allowed it to expand its conversational ability by listening to what customers say.

The robot will go on sale to the public in February, with a price tag of 198,000 yen (£1,060) plus monthly fees.

Source:; 01 Dec 2014

Oil & Gas Social Media Challenges

Social media has provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to make even the smallest brands global and provides the added bonus that content can go viral worldwide. However, with this new medium, comes a new challenge for industries like Oil and Gas, which still rely on “old school” methods to communicate effectively with their global audience.

The most successful brands in the O&G industry to master social media are @Shell and @BP, why, because they have successfully adopted a brand voice.

Interacting and responding to the general public on social media and putting a ‘human element’ at the forefront of their communications is what these Oil and Gas businesses have done very well.

By successfully adopting a brand voice and by uploading quality content such as commenting to contemporary issues such as investment, oil exploration, the environment etc., onto carefully selected channels they have built a strong social media presence

A recent tweet by @BP has included most of these essential ingredients. They’ve embedded a cartoon Youtube video in their tweet, as part of their continuing campaign that showcases their investments in America

BP has 94,000 followers on Twitter. It may not be the Oil and Gas company with the most followers, but it does a great job in sharing news about its business online.

Social media is only set to grow and therefore it presents a prime opportunity to any company in the Oil and Gas industry to spread the word and participate in online conversations. The point is that, in a world where information and choice are available at the touch of a button, whether b2b or b2c brand, it’s no longer enough to simply follow the “old school” approach.

Finally, there is no sure recipe for success when connecting with an audience through social media, specially within the Oil and Gas industry, but one thing is true: brands need to be interactive and timely, and most of all approachable – and that’s the role of social media.

Source:; August 2014

Shell unveils first soccer field powered by players’ footsteps

shell soccer

Shell and Brazilian soccer player Pelé this week showcased a first-of-its-kind soccer field capable of capturing kinetic energy created by players’ movement and combining it with nearby solar power to generate renewable electricity.

Located in the heart of Morro da Mineira, a Rio de Janeiro favela, the soccer field uses 200 high-tech, underground tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. The energy is then stored and combined with the power generated by solar panels next to the field to convert into renewable electricity for the new floodlights, giving everyone in the favela a safe and secure community space at night.

Until it was redeveloped by Shell, the soccer field was largely unusable and many young people were forced to play in the streets. The Morro da Mineira project shows how creative ideas delivered through committed partnerships can shape neighborhoods and transform communities.

The project is part of the Shell #makethefuture program, which aims to inspire young people and entrepreneurs to look at science and engineering as a career choice, and in particular use their minds to develop energy solutions for the future of the planet. The kinetic technology used at the soccer field was developed by a grant recipient of the UK Shell LiveWIRE, which serves as a catalyst for young entrepreneurs and students to develop enterprising ideas into viable and sustainable businesses.

A company called Pavegen has developed a similar kinetic technology, which uses tiles to harness the kinetic energy of footsteps. In January, the company unveiled a project at the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Kent, England — where 24 tiles, covering 12 meters of a corridor, captures and converts kinetic energy from students’ footsteps into a sustainable energy source. Every time a Pavegen tile is stepped on, kinetic energy is converted into electricity, which lights an LED on the surface of the tile, as well as helping to light the area.

Another energy generating technology you can trample on is being developed by an Idaho couple — a modular paving system of solar panels that can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, as well as playgrounds, to generate electricity to power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots.

Source:; 12 Sept 2014

Study of the UK petroleum retail market

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) commissioned Deloitte in 2012 to conduct a study of the UK petroleum retail market in order to develop a better understanding of the implications of recent trends in the number of petrol filling stations (PFS) on the overall security of supply and the resilience of the downstream oil sector. For the purposes of this study, the UK petroleum retail market is defined as the retail sales of road transport fuel (petrol and diesel) to consumers and businesses via the UK’s PFS network.

This report provides an overview of the UK petroleum retail market, including its size, key demand drivers, types of retailers and PFS proximity, and how these have evolved over time. It also sets out the key business drivers in this market and the ensuing business models and strategies of different market participants.

Source: Deloitte, Dec 2012

Click here for full report

The future of petrol retail branding

Forty years ago the petrol filling station was an iconic landmark.


Post-war romantic visions of futuristic architecture were played out on the forecourt.


During the 1970s, these iconic stations were replaced by bland, generic formats owned largely by the major oil companies.
Architecture and service was rationalised and standardised across the world. In most regions, attended service was removed and customers were left to fill the car themselves.

More recently, the oil majors have stepped back from retail sites, focusing on franchising the forecourt operation to independents and the shop offer to well-known grocery brands.

At the same time supermarkets have taken significant market share by offering cheap fuel next to grocery shopping.


But retail has moved on…


While petrol retail has become bland and uniform, nearly every other retail experience, from banking to supermarkets to buying cars, has been revolutionised.

Shopping for fuel is one of the few experiences still termed as a ‘distress purchase’.

So what’s the future for the filling station?

Read more

Source: Circle Brands, UK  (May 2010)


Consumers start to view cars as quality-of-life enhancers rather than acquisitions


The recession forced consumers to think about car buying from a bare-bones cost-and-function perspective. But for the first time in years, Americans may have reasons to fall in love with their cars again. Storytelling apps make the journey more engaged and fun, car campaigns are switching up gears with a heavy emphasis on outdoor time, and consumers are leveraging their cars to help them collect more lifestyle-oriented Merit Badges. Ownership today is becoming less about the kind of car you have, and more about what you choose to do with it.


Over the last few years, cultural and economic changes (including rising gas prices, recession and a heightened sense of eco-consciousness) shifted the motivation to buy (or even drive) a car. Basics like cost and “my old car died” began to trump most other car-purchase factors and, in short, owning a car simply became less fun.

But the rise in technology, the car’s role as the third space, and economic recovery are now turning the personal vehicle into a lifestyle enabler, a seamless extension of home and work life that has permitted drivers to do everything from managing their allergies to finding local movie times, all within the confines of their car. In fact, more than half of Millennials and Boomers say they are looking for a car that supports versatility and their personal lifestyle (CEB Iconoculture Values and Lifestyle Survey, December 2012). As these consumers find more ways to “live” inside their vehicles, cars are once again taking on a more aspirational, desirable value.

More apps help make the ride itself more enjoyable. Food Network on the Road helps foodies pinpoint all the spots featured on shows. Volvo Joyride’s social media campaign encouraged users to think about their ideal road trip and then Pin it. Drivers can document (Voice Record Pro), capture (Vine) and share (Instagram) their journey in real time.

Some car campaigns have shifted the conversation from performance and MPGs to unplugging, exploration, the human spirit and inspiration. Jeep’s “GPS to Get Lost” app fosters the pure love of discovery. Acura’s “ Made for Mankind” campaign features people climbing redwood trees, walking the desert, and scuba diving — the actual car doesn’t show up till close to the end of the ad. And in Hyundai’s “Epic Play Date” spot, mom blogger Heather Armstrong spends two minutes inspiring more parents to spend time with their kids outdoors.

These types of messages appeal to different kinds of car buyers for different reasons. For Millennials, who are often categorized under “not interested” when it comes to car buying, interest isn’t about ownership as much as it is a deeper understanding of what a car can help them do. If they perceive the car as an essential tool for interesting lifestyle discoveries, their stance on ownership may shift gears. Boomers, on the other hand, are driving new car sales but are all too familiar with what a car can do for them. The question for Boomers is what more a car can do to live a better, more enriching life in the later years.

At the end of the road, it’s all about redefining personal success through the collection of unique Merit Badges. It’s not about the car you have anymore, it’s about what you do with it.

Source: Iconoculture Consumer Insights, October 2013