Published on May 16, 2016

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Australian businesses are answering the age-old dilemma of what to get for that person who has everything.  Next birthday you could expect a can of air, or even a Costco coffin.

Entrepreneurial businesses are successfully generating market demand, not to mention intrigue, by offering non-traditional products.  Here are some new and strange items available for sale at your local supermarket and café.

COFFINS AT COSTCO

International hypermarket chain Costco recently added a new end-of-life essential to their product line – humble, low cost and functional… coffins.  Costco’s general manager Patrick Noone predicts strong sales in Australia after venturing into this market in the United States successfully.

“We took a look and thought that this market could probably do with some more competition,” Mr Noone said.

Lessons learned:

  • Assess your market for gaps
  • Find ways to expand your product offering or range without modifying your service scape or logistics.
  • Know your competition.

THE DONUT ICE-CREAM CONE

Image: Bakery on O'Connell

Image: Bakery on O’Connell

If Freak-Shakes (donut topped milkshakes), Cronuts (a croissant-donut hybrid) and a Nutella café aren’t enough to overstimulate your sweet tooth – never fear because Australian businesses are right on top of the next extreme dessert. The Donut Cone –cronut dough, deep-fried and messily decorated with gooey sweet toppings is now clogging our arteries and our social media feeds.

Australian cafés such as South Australian Bakery on O’Connell have been floored by the “unbelievable” demand for the $6 treat and bakeries around Australia are improving the original Czech creation by offering more indulgent toppings and mastering the texture and crust for eager-to-try markets.  Social media goes crazy over a #hashtag and a delicious food-gram!

Lessons learned:

  • Scan your industry for world-wide trends.
  • Use your social space to your advantage – appeal with good imagery and encourage customers to post about your product.
  • Can never offer too much of a good thing.
  • Continually improve your product.

FRESH AIR

How much would you pay for fresh air?  In Australia, where most of us take fresh air for granted, a business called Green and Clean Air is bottling cans of air from prime locations such as the Blue Mountains, Bondi, Tasmania and the Gold Coast and shipping it to international markets at $18.80 per can.   The company collects clean air into disposable cans each holding 130 to 140 deep breaths through a plastic face mask through the mouth and nose. That’s only 13 cents a breath!

The idea is taking off in the Chinese market, where severe pollution makes fresh air a prized commodity.

Lessons learned:

  • Understand the cultural differences between markets as it can break or make you.
  • Create value with the seemingly ordinary.
  • Don’t underestimate the potential of your commodity.