Global PR firm Edelman Communications has released its 2017 Trust Barometer survey, revealing that among 33,000 individuals across 28 nations, trust in government, media, business and NGOs is at a universal all-time low.
Less than half said they trusted the media (43%) or government (41%), while NGOs (53%) have fallen to trust levels on a par with business (52%). In the GDP five (US, China, Japan, Germany and UK), trust in NGOs has even dipped below the 50% mark.
Crucially, among global respondents stating they are "uncertain" whether these institutions are working for them, business holds the highest trust score (58%). Brands have a lot of leverage with dissatisfied consumers, with three out of four survey participants also believing that businesses can improve both profits and economic and social conditions in the communities they interact with. Consumers expect responsible business from brands looking for continued support.
The public is also increasingly withdrawing into peer communication. For the first time ever, 'a person like yourself' is now considered as credible a source of information as an academic expert, and 55% say an individual is more believable than an institution. To stay in touch with this hyper-individual audience, marketers will have to build and maintain brands through community engagement from the ground up.
For more on engaging with consumers in the era of distrust, see Brands Take a Stand and Renegade Retail from our Currency of Dissent Macro Trend. For more on how to connect with anxious consumers, see our report on Playful Escapists.
New York-based skatewear brand and serial collaborator Supreme has teamed up with Louis Vuitton for the French house’s Autumn/Winter 2017/18 menswear show. The range of accessories and ready-to-wear pieces – boldly embellished with the signature logos of both brands – marks the increasingly symbiotic relationship between luxury and irreverent streetwear brands.
The collaboration has already produced excitement amongst Supreme’s loyal social media fans, with a dedicated Supreme ‘leaker’ posting pictures of the collection hours before its catwalk debut. Louis Vuitton designer Kim Jones also added to the social uproar himself, posting an Instagram picture of a Supreme sticker on a monogrammed Louis Vuitton bag, in a move that mimicked the styling of Instagram-popular ‘luxury’ designs. For more on this, see Instagangs: DIY Designers.
The collection is just one example of how luxury brands are cashing in on the success of catwalk copies and tongue-in-cheek, hi-lo collaborations. This month, French label Vetements created an ‘Official Fake’ version of its statement raincoat in response to the success of parody brand Vetememes’ riff on the popular jacket. Meanwhile, in September 2016, graffiti artist Gucci Ghost was enlisted by his namesake brand to collaborate on its Autumn/Winter 16/17 collection.
Unlike previous Supreme collaborations, the Louis Vuitton collection will only be sold in select LV stores and temporary locations, in a strategy that could mimic the success of queue-attracting pop-ups such as Kanye West’s Life of Pablo merchandise shop.
Counterfeit culture, and the changing face of luxury will be addressed in our forthcoming Luxury Macro Trend report.
A team of US scientists have discovered a new form of gene therapy that they claim can reverse the ageing process. This is achieved by targeting the genes that turn skin cells back into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) – powerful stem cells similar to those found in embryos.
A six-week lab study on mice found that the animals not only looked younger, but boasted better cardiovascular health, straighter spines, healed more quickly and lived 30% longer. “Our study shows that ageing may not have to proceed in one single direction,” Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of California’s Salk Institute told The Guardian. “With careful modulation, ageing might be reversed.”
Although this therapy is not yet appropriate for use on humans, these findings have huge implications for the health, wellbeing and beauty industry. Scientists predict clinical trials for humans targeting these genes via drugs and topical creams – rather than genetic embryo manipulation – could well be under way within the next 10 years.
US department store Neiman Marcus has installed interactive mirrors in 21 of its US outlets – enabling consumers to record personalised beauty tutorials in-store, and replay and shop directly from them later.
The concept responds to statistics revealing 25% of US consumers are interested in interactive/digital in-store experiences such as virtual mirrors, VR headsets and interactive displays (Mintel, 2016).
Created by US technologists Memomi (see Neiman Marcus' Interactive Fixtures and Smart Stores: Connected Flagships), the 22" 'Memomi Makeover' mirrors are being deployed at counters of Neiman Marcus' own beauty brand, Le Métier de Beauté. Nine other beauty brands will join by the end of January 2017.
The mirrors film staff applying the cosmetics, subsequently sending consumers high quality, voice-note-embedded video footage – a series of shortened clips showing each step – via email or text message. The make-up artists can even mark on the mirror the products that were tried, bought and preferred post-session; consumers simply click on the links attached to the video to make a purchase.
The mirrors also simulate different lighting (night, sunlight or office), letting consumers view different scenarios side by side – especially useful for obtaining more realistic data on desire and purchase intention.
The brand is already planning to create a 'feedback loop' in future iterations, allowing consumers to communicate with make-up artists via the feature after they've left the store.
At this year’s Imm Cologne furniture fair (January 16-22), luxury manufacturers are turning their attention to the needs of affluent urban dwellers – resulting in modular and highly functional pieces suitable for smaller living spaces.
European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has developed a new aeroplane concept that uses swappable interiors to offer a flexible and customisable travel experience.
The Transpose model, developed by Airbus' Silicone Valley innovation team A3 splits the inside of the cabin into identical and repeatable sections which sit on rails within the plane and can be easily switched in and out via large side doors. This quick and simple process would take place between flights to reconfigure the plane before its next journey, adapting to passenger needs with features such as a sleeping module for night flights.
Each module can house anything from a bar or café to a spa or a co-working space for those travelling on business. To avoid passengers facing higher costs, some of the modules would be sponsored by brands, such as a Starbucks coffee shop or a Gordon Ramsay pop-up restaurant.
Based on the design of current Airbus cargo planes, this concept could be officially launched in the next few years.
This revolutionary design is a further example of how airlines are developing techniques to modify and improve air travel to meet the evolving individual needs of tech and experience-savvy modern travellers. To read more about how luxury brands are meeting their needs, be sure to check out our report New Luxury Travel. This is part of our Industry Trend The Future Guest, which explores in-depth what guests are looking for and how brands are addressing these trends.
The publishing industry has been quick to seize on the audience-building opportunities of a Trump presidency. Daily Twitter updates from the man himself are driving non-stop analysis and reaction, to the extent that a number of news outlets have set up dedicated Trump-centric spin-offs.
Slate's Trumpcast podcast, Mic's Navigating Trump's America newsletter, and Crooked Media – a politics news site launched by former Obama White House staffers – are among a slew of new destinations devoted to tracking the Trump phenomenon. In December, the Washington Post even released a browser extension that enables users to fact-check Trump's tweets – from within the tweets themselves. The Post example is a useful case study for any marketer: culturally relevant, offering utility, and reflective of core brand values.
These media properties have been created to scrutinise and critique, but there's also an opportunity for brands to help consumers of any political stripe navigate the realities of Trump's America.
With the Brexit referendum in the UK, both political spokespeople and the media were attacked for failures in communication. A report from the Electoral Reform Society in September 2016 was highly critical of the campaigning, saying that the general public were ill-informed and misled by both sides. Clearly, brands could have played a part in engaging the public (as we discuss in Brands Take a Stand).
Unpicking the truth from Trump's communications could be an even harder task. As we can see, the media is starting to tackle this issue head on. Brands need to step up to the challenge.
Canadian technical athletic brand RYU (Respect Your Universe) is tapping into the annual January fitness drive with a distinctly cruel-to-be-kind initiative. Fans are being offered discounts on new gear – but only if they’ve altered their shape by working out in the year since their original purchase.
Titled Up + Down, the replacement plan is part of the retailer’s Athlete Members Program. The free membership gives subscribers exclusive access to discounts and events, priority access to promotions and private shopping, training and nutrition tips and recipes – see also Membership & Tiered Retailing.
Members can return items purchased within the last year if they’ve added muscle mass or lost weight, and repurchase the same or similar workout wardrobe in their new size for half the regular price. RYU will donate all returned items to local charitable organisations that are also invested in helping individuals reach their fitness goals. See also Retail: the Eco-Ethical Upsell, Brands Behaving Authentically: Culture & Inclusivity and Pioneering Perspectives.
The scheme launched on January 3 2017 and is running both online and in-store. H&M trialled a similar concept last year – see Calories for Clothes: H&M Poland Targets Young Urbanites.
For more on retail concepts with an empathetic and/or supportive edge, see The Supportive Sell (part of The Business of Wellbeing Macro Trend), Audio Make-Up Tutorials by L’Oreal and Fashion Clinics: Aftercare Retail. See also Athleisure: New Store Aesthetics & UX Strategies.
British supermarket giant Tesco has collaborated with UK food-sharing app Olio to give away produce from its "wonky fruit" range, which includes "perfectly imperfect" apples and pears. The handouts took place at busy London tube and train stations, with commuters able to refer to the app to find out where the collection points would be.
The app, which enables individuals and businesses to connect with local residents to donate surplus food that's near or just past its use-by date, pinpoints locations where the Tesco produce can be collected. It follows a partnership with British supermarket chain Sainsbury's, which joined the app in early 2016 for its Waste Less Save More initiative.
Tesco is now hoping to leverage the app on a more permanent basis to reduce its overall food waste across a wider spectrum of products.
In December 2016, Tesco urged customers to join its crowdfunding platform Backit, where small food and drink businesses can raise funds and receive advice from larger chains on how best to grow their enterprises and reduce food waste.
An international report by Unilever has revealed that a third of global consumers (33%) are now choosing to buy from brands they believe are doing social or environmental good. The study surveyed 20,000 adults from five countries on how their sustainability concerns impact their choices in-store and at home, and mapped their claims against real purchase decisions. Highlights include:
For more on how going green is becoming a brand imperative, see our Sustainable Futures Update.
Hong Kong-based bed linen brand Cloth & Clay made its debut at home textile trade show Heimtextil last week (January 9-12) with a range of premium bedding and accessories designed by a global team of artists.
Cloth & Clay stood out among the stands with its distinctive and stylish Nordic Nights collection, which draws inspiration from the serenity and beauty of the Nordic landscape. In calming pale and dark shades of grey and green, it explores mountain ranges, forestry and geometrics interpreted into prints and embroidery. Other collections feature imagery captured by artists in Cambodia, Tasmania and the UK.
Subtle use of graduating shades and fine cotton and linen materials provide a soothing and comfortable atmosphere in the bedroom. Look to our Serenity S/S 2017 colour concept for further examples of designers using soothing palettes to create quiet and serene environments that allow us time to rest and reflect.
Serenity and silence are also set to be key themes at international interior trade show Maison & Objet, which returns to Paris this week (January 20-24). See Preview: Maison & Objet 2017 for more.
Cloth & Clay will exhibit at Ambiente 2017 (February 10-14). Products are currently available through the brand’s website and via UK retailer John Lewis.
Check back for our full coverage of Heimtextil 2017, publishing on January 24.
BMW is piloting a 3D augmented reality (AR) experience app powered by Google's AR technology Tango, allowing consumers to customise and interact with virtual life-sized versions of its i3 and i8 car models.
The i Visualiser is available in select BMW sales outlets that are equipped with Tango-enabled mobile devices, the first of which was launched by Chinese tech company Lenovo in November 2016. As more of these Tango-enabled smartphones come to market, BMW plans to make the app available on Google Play.
Built by global full-service agency Accenture for BMW's Future Retail programme, the i Visualiser lets users customise features such as interior and exterior colours when viewing the AR experience on screen. Users can virtually open the car's doors, turn on lights or experience the view from inside the car, and are then able to save and share the final visualisation. While this is the first customer-facing personal screen-based AR experience by an automaker, Fiat Chrysler showed a similar Tango-based prototype, also by Accenture, at the 2016 Mobile World Congress.
With car buyers increasingly choosing to research their options digitally instead of visiting physical dealerships, automakers are exploring new tools to influence couch-bound customers – as outlined in New Directions in Auto Marketing. Other new technologies carmakers are using to educate and engage via digital – and especially mobile – include 360-degree video and chat bots. Kia Motors North America recently created the NiroBot for Facebook Messenger as a way to introduce the Niro hybrid utility vehicle.
For more uses of AR in the customer journey, see Retail: Digitising Luxury, 2017.
Encouraging shoppers to indulge in self-steered exploration (see The Rise of the Exploratorium for more) and putting the shoe category on a distinct pedestal, the sneaker areas mimic art galleries, with the footwear displayed on the walls like installations.
Visitors can access ‘Behind the Sneaker’ stories and contextual information via their own headsets and smartphones. All they have to do is connect to a dedicated URL that hosts the recorded audio tracks (in-store signage gives shoppers prompts). To access audio on specific shoes, customers simply input the code shown beside the relevant pair into a dialogue box on their mobile device.
The audio tours reveal information on design inspiration, cultural influences and impact, as well as the technologies used in the product development process. They also offer interviews with influential figures such as Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, urban culture experts and athletes such as former NBA player Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier.
In its annual Affluent Insights Luxury Report, Singapore-based global luxury consultancy Agility Research and Strategy pinpointed key trends for affluent Chinese consumers in 2017. Highlights include:
For more on the evolving luxury consumer, see Luxury Perspectives Update: The Consumer of 2030.
With consumer appetite for wellness still booming (see The Business of Wellbeing) and global athleisure sales predicted to rise by 30%+ to $350bn in 2020 (Morgan Stanley, 2015), it’s little surprise that most US and UK department stores’ new year-based initiatives focused overwhelmingly on fitness and health. But there was also an interesting eco-ethical nod, trading on a resolve to consume more ‘consciously’.
Initiatives were largely split into two camps – editorialised, largely video-based content, and in-store events. We highlight the best: