Friday, December 12, 2008


Going to the movies is truly an experience. There’s nothing quite like ducking into a cinema on a rainy night, standing in line with your date while pointing at the various titles, purchasing a popcorn, soda and candy at the concession stand, filing into the dark theater for two hours with complete strangers, and afterwards, acting as a critic and sharing your opinion.

Unfortunately, movie attendance has been steadily decreasing. Whether the decline is due to an increase in watching movies at home, or from the escalating costs of tickets, Americans are only making an average of 5 trips to the movies per year.

The Idea: movie theater memberships.

Movie theater prices have become quite bloated over the past couple of years, with an average ticket jumping from $6.75 in 2000 to the $10+ adult price we see today. And while people may be frequenting the movies less often, the theaters are still showing the same number of movies, still maintaining the same operating costs, and still offering the same concessions.

By offering movie theater memberships, you would be guaranteeing revenue, and the system in place would give members the perk of being able to reserve seats in advance, thus driving up the demand for tickets as well. More tickets equal more trips to the concession stand, where movie theaters can continue with their giant markups: this also translates into a profit which does not need to be shared with the motion picture industry.

Those who become members would receive membership cards, which could be swiped before the purchase of tickets, concessions, or even arcade games at the theater. The membership could come with a special member discount on certain food items and arcade games, enticing people to buy something or play something they previously would not have. More importantly, this swiping could also be used to produce valuable information, such as member’s movie preferences, time preferences, and even concession preferences – such information would be useful research for both marketing and advertising agencies.

To learn more about movie theater economics, check out

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


What’s the best part of fast food? Bag fries, of course. Even those unfamiliar with the term are surely familiar with the concept: the French fries which fall out of their containers at every drive-thru, usually resulting in a fight over who gets to keep the bag with the bonus fries.

The Idea: menu item bag fries.

Fast food restaurants could offer bag fries as a new item on both their drive-thru and in-store menus. The bag fries would be an order of small fries (usually included as part of value menus already), just without a container. Instead of packing the fries into a paper vessel, the employee would just toss them into the take-out bag. This Idea would bring consistency to a process that has been known to take customers on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

There would be multiple benefits for the restaurants, the consumers, and even the environment. At a time where people are tightening their belts (financially) and watching their waistlines, restaurants could capitalize on the novelty and profit that an extra dollar per order would provide, while at the same time allowing customers the perception of not really ordering a small fry. The consumers would benefit by being able to opt for an order of bag fries over a larger container-bound order, costing them both less money and less calories. Lastly, the environment would benefit from the decrease in container use.

Opponents may argue that the joy of bag fries is discovering them at the bottom and that their uncertainty is their allure. One could dispute this opinion with the distressed jeans argument: jeans become distressed, but people buy pre-distressed jeans because it is a guarantee to get the look that they want; bag fries may occur, but people would buy bag fries because again, it is a guarantee to get the quantity that they want.

To learn more about the potential benefits of fast food innovation, check out

Monday, December 8, 2008


City roofs seem to be barren expanses of rubber and metal, littered with air units and exhaust piping. Recently however, and especially in areas of green construction, plants and vegetation have been sprouting up on new buildings’ roofs. These plants provide numerous benefits, both to the building and to the environment, but could vegetation atop buildings become even more advantageous?

The Idea: rooftop nurseries.

Rooftop nurseries would be an extension of green roofs, but would be available atop standard buildings (both commercial and residential) as well. Rooftop nurseries would be, quite simply, regular nurseries housed on city roofs. The vegetation could range from houseplants and flower bouquets to full blown vegetable gardens and starter trees. They would provide many of the benefits a green building's roof provides, while simultaneously encouraging many economic benefits. Rooftop nurseries would create opportunities for businesses and employment, as well as opportunities for increases in locally grown products; further, they would give an aesthetic boost to downtrodden neighborhoods.

A variation could be to free up valuable metropolitan real estate. In many cities, there are a number of gardens – often spanning entire blocks - which are tended to by residents. Perhaps the owner could choose to sell the land their garden is on in exchange for a plot on their roof, where their plants and vegetables could be relocated. This would benefit everyone involved, since it would allow the developer to create profitable housing, commercial real estate, or a mix of both; it would allow the residents to maintain the gardens, with the possibility of increased growth due to the new altitude and unguarded sun; and the city would bask in the economic, environmental, and public relations benefits that would come along with brokering such a deal.

To learn more about existing rooftop vegetation projects, check out