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This video on the creative thinking-based strategy TESCO employed to penetrate the South Korean grocery market was shared on Google+ recently by James Fraser. With TESCO using an alternative name, Homeplus, it was able to become the number two player in the South Korean grocery market even though it suffered a deficit in the number of retail locations.

If you jump to framing the business objective as “we have to get more stores,” the answer is easy, self-evident, and all too routine: build or acquire more stores.

Instead, the grocery chain remained focused on the real business objective (grow sales) and based on consumer insights (South Koreans are incredibly busy and the in-store grocery experience is a nightmare), Homeplus used (or approximated the results of) creative thinking exercises to look at the opportunity in reverse: take the in store buying experience to where shoppers already are with a virtual subway store!

Homeplus created the virtual subway store with displays identical to those in actual stores, QR codes for online ordering by phone, and home delivery. Putting the virtual stores where potential grocery shoppers already are in subways increases personal productivity and maximizes their free time. The virtual store campaign led to online sales gains highlighted in the video.

All this success by sticking to the fundamental business objective, but re-framing the business issue in a very different way.

That’s creative thinking for business success at its best! – Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” for help on how to be more creative! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6 Responses to “Creative Thinking: Tesco Homeplus Virtual Subway Store”

  1. Chuck Dymer says:

    Mike,
    This is an awesome post and a brilliant example of creativity and innovation (yes, they are different) at their best. When I teach de Bono’s Lateral Thinking workshop, we use how to improve a corner market (convenience store) as an exercise. Although placing a market in a subway has come up as an idea several times (as has virtual online shopping) no one has yet combined QR codes and smartphones as was done in the video.Very clever. Thanks for finding and sharing.
    Chuck

    • Anonymous says:

      Your comment, Chuck, speaks to the value you’ve always taught of forcing combinations. Perfectly intriguing standalone ideas can become magical when they’re brought together!

  2. Mike Brown says:

    Since this post, Tesco has run into a string of serious challenges. Here’s a 2014 article updating where the company stands at this point: http://lrwblog.net/5-branding-lessons-tesco-tumble/#.VCPsMuz7-I4.twitter

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