Hybrid Business: A New Mix, from Couture to MeatBy Sara McGuyer • Aug 18th, 2010 • Category: Analysis
After watching ice cream trucks all but disappear from streets, the food truck business has made a huge comeback. When a taco truck in Indiana can make it into the New York Times, you know there’s a trend afoot. West Coast Tacos in Indianapolis is the perfect example of the hybrid business – new product, old package, new relevance. It’s new in the sense that it offers fusion food, korean tacos. West Coast Tacos then uses the old delivery method of the food truck, made relevant in today’s market by the fact that they broadcast their location through twitter to let people know where they’ll be on any given day. In addition, location-based game foursquare allows checking-in to food trucks, and there’s even a badge to earn, adding to the allure for the hyper-connected.
Our reconnection with the business on wheels might just be an extension of our addiction to cell phones, mobile apps and an on the go lifestyle. And this could be just the beginning. Enter LaSMOOCH, the couture truck, your roving source for fashion and accessories, at least if you’re in the Hamptons. This is hybrid to the extreme – a high-end product, typically sold from glass cases in posh retail environment (or maybe a catalog or web site) available in a truck converted to look like a walk-in closet. According to Manhattan Style, LaSMOOCH carries pieces ranging in price from $50 to $1,200.
Fashion might be old business, and mobile trucks might have been around the block, but together? All of this combined with neighborhood targeting via drive-by. This isn’t so different from the age-old marketing tactic of buying zip codes to send a catalog or snail mail promotion, but in this physical manifestation it offers the immediacy of product now versus in 8 to 10 business days for shipping.
In some cases the nonprofit sector has turned mobile to get services to those in need or to deliver health service messages in new ways. The documentary Born Sweet showcases a mobile karaoke truck visiting remote Cambodian villages to steer people away from old water wells tainted with arsenic.
Beyond the truck, the vending machine is another example of businesses going hybrid to meet new demand, find niche markets. If you’re in Spain, you can access gourmet meat 24/7, thanks to a butcher shop that installed a meat vending machine outside its shop. Or, consider the Art-o-mat, a refurbished cigarette machine, modified to dispense $5 art. We’re not only mobile, but seeking convenience in clever, unexpected forms.
The next wave of hybrid business could very well be less about product, and more about experience. Think: Mobile Karaoke, Tattoo trucks, Photobooth on wheels. What else could work in a vending machine? or on a truck? If you’re in an old biz, can you mix it up with new distribution? Can your business go hybrid?
Image credit: pamhule