Innovation is in the Bag

Innovation is in the Bag

Winnovation! Episode One – Ballistic Stats and Innovating the Shopping Bag

Last month was an exciting and positively off-the-charts month at Innovation Excellence.

A couple of weeks back, I was stepping off a plane in Helsinki to do a keynote speech for S-Group – the giant Finnish retailing organization – when I got the news that our site was going ballistic. Just six weeks after launch, I was stunned to find out that on that one day alone we had almost 20,000 visits, nearly 44,000 page views, and a stunning 1,716,284 hits. These stats almost knocked me down. Since our launch on August 1, by more conservative measures we’ve had over 360,000 visits, we’ve served up well over a 1,000,000 pages, and we’ve had over 21,000,000 hits. Overall, our visits increased 30% from August to September, and page views were up 25%, so all the arrows are pointed in the right direction.

Also incredible to find out that we’re already Number One for innovation on PostRank – the monitoring platform for web content that Google acquired this June. To put this in context,’s innovation section is only Number Three!

One article in particular generated a disproportionate amount of buzz last month: a post by Melba Kurman entitled “Intel to Universities: No Patents, Please, Just Open Source”. If you missed Melba’s insights on this new, revised approach to open innovation, I encourage you to click the link.

Melba’s piece was not just recommended with wild enthusiasm on Twitter, Facebook and Google+1 (like, hundreds and hundreds of times), but was also picked up and redistributed by major sites like Slashdot, Ycombinator, and Fefe in Germany. Great stuff!

So here we are at the beginning of our third month at Innovation Excellence and I’ve decided to start a regular blog post on innovation news, and cool stuff that has recently caught my eye. Those of you that have received my blog in the past will know that it’s been called “Winnovation!” for years. So that’s the name I am going to continue to use in future.

For this first post, I thought you might like to see some innovation in the incredibly important world of… er, shopping bags.

Four Lenses of InnovationI’ve always said that you can innovate around literally anything, whether it’s toasters, tires, or paint cans, or a conventional business model like, say, banking, or air travel, or automobiles. All you have to do is use the right methodology to start radically reinventing whatever has gone before. As many of you know, my own preferred methodology for insight generation and ideation is the “Four Lenses of Innovation”. The ´”Four Lenses” are:

  1. Challenging orthodoxies
  2. Harnessing trends
  3. Leveraging resources in new ways
  4. Understanding unmet customer needs

I have used this methodology for many years, in 54 countries around the world, to help my clients create new value for their customers in radical new ways, and in the process to create incredible new wealth for their organizations.

OK, so… let’s take shopping bags. How could we innovate around this humble part of the retail experience?

First we could challenge the orthodoxy that a shopping bag is just a place to put the company’s logo. Instead, what if we used it as an attention-grabbing piece of advertising in its own right? In fact, what if brands started using shopping bags as mobile billboards?

Now think about trends. With so much shopping now being done online, and therefore invisibly to the world, traditional retailers have to try harder than ever to stand out as brands, and their customers need to feel more of a buzz when visiting a bricks-and-mortar store instead of ordering at home with a click of the mouse. What if the shopping bag could play a role in addressing these two challenges?

When I talk about leveraging resources, I mean viewing your company’s core competencies and strategic assets as things you could use in new ways, or stretch into new opportunities. Most companies view their own shopping bags as a necessary evil, not as a strategic asset that could be used as a powerful advertising medium. What if we could change that?

Understanding needs is about trying to tap into those deep, unmet and articulated customer needs, and then addressing them in innovative new ways. Here’s an example: everyone today seems to want to express themselves, right? Otherwise they wouldn’t spend so much time posting useless personal information on Facebook, or making their own Garageband music and podcasts, or writing their own blogs. So what if we could use the shopping bag as a medium for making bold, expressive statements?

When you put all of these insights together by combining the “Four Lenses” what you get is the following amazing cases of shopping bag innovation (courtesy of ):

Innovation Bag 1

Innovation Bag 2

Innovation Bag 3

Innovation Bag 4

Innovation Bag 5

I hope you find this stuff as inspiring as I do. And, again, it serves to illustrate that we can apply the principles of innovation and value creation to literally everything. For more examples of shopping bag innovation, go to Bored Panda’s web site.

For more on the “Four Lenses”, there’s a whole chapter in my book Innovation to the Core, which you can pick up on Amazon or at your favorite book retailer.

Also check out the dedicated IT platform Discovery Suite (co-developed with Imaginatik) for corporate-wide insight generation and ideation using on the Four Lenses of Innovation.

And watch this space for more Winnovation! news – coming soon….

Back End of Innovation Conference

Don’t miss an article (3,300+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group!

Image credit:

Rowan GibsonRowan Gibson is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on enterprise innovation. He is co-author of the bestseller “Innovation to the Core” and a much in-demand public speaker around the globe. On Twitter he is @RowanGibson.

Rowan Gibson




Five CV skills of a business-minded individual

By Hubert Day | September 21, 2023

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash The skills listed on a CV help employers quickly understand your suitability for a…

Read More

Four ways you can ensure employees take accountability for their work

By Hubert Day | April 5, 2023

One of the most important driving factors for any successful business is a high-performing team. Having people working for you…

Read More

No Comments

  1. Tim Latham on October 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post and some really interesting shopping bag designs. Now let me be the first to say that I am very “pro innovation”, so I “willing you” to provide examples of great shopping bag innovations as I read through the piece.

    But I have to say that what I think we have here is some interesting designs of shopping bags…I’m not really convinced that they illustrate anything more important that great design.

    If great design is by definition innovation then fair enough, but in my view all of the images are of …conventional shopping bags that look really great, not step change innovations of the humble shopping bag.

    Anyway keep up the good work – I love it!

  2. Joshua Fialkoff on October 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    An interesting question here is: what is the digital analogue of the plastic bag. When evaluating trends, that is the first thing that comes to mind for me. Or, is there a way to inspire shoppers to continue advertising for sellers even if they’ve purchased their goods online.

    We’re presented with a similar problem in the book and music industries. It used to be that you could see what someone on the subway was reading. That’s quickly becoming a thing of the past.

    So, while I do find these designs innovative, it’s time to rethink the purpose of the bag, and its benefits to buyers and sellers, and consider other ways to get the same effect.

    For example, with e-books, it might be beneficial to make use of bluetooth or some proprietary technology so that if you’re sitting next to someone else with a Kindle, you can see what they’re reading. Books are a little easier though since people typically like to share (and often are proud of) what they’re reading. A similar solution may work for bags, but I think it’s a bit tougher to get people excited about sharing the fact that they bought something on Amazon.

Leave a Comment