Spurred by predictions that menswear sales will outstrip womenswear worldwide by 2020 (Euromonitor, 2017), a new wave of lifestyle-focused flagship destinations are being dedicated solely to men. Most are characterised by a community-driven ambience and bespoke experiences over a hard sell.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) messaging that focuses on the personal/individual benefits of a product or service has a greater impact on consumers than messages based around broader social issues, according to a global survey released earlier this month by communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick. Highlights include:
For more on how CSR has evolved from a badge of honour for companies to a basic consumer expectation, see Doing Good.
A new dye based on thermochromic ink makes hair change colour with fluctuations in temperature and light – showcasing multidimensional innovation for the haircare market with strong youth appeal.
Called Fire, the product changes the colour of the hair based on external factors such as heat, cold, and the environment the wearer is in. Launched amid the buzz of London Fashion Week by UK product development company The Unseen, the black dye turns red with heat, while others transform from black to white, silver to powder blue, blue to white, and black to yellow.
Fire also promises this chameleon-like wow factor without causing any damage to the hair. Regular thermochromic ink is toxic to human skin, but this barrier was removed via polymeric stabilisation – a process that wraps chain-like molecules (polymers) around the irritating elements.
Lauren Bowker, material alchemist and founder of The Unseen, was inspired by a scene in 90s film The Craft where a teenage witch changes her hair colour with a spell. “It’s about bringing sci-fi to real life, and why not?” she told Forbes. “Material science is now at the point of bringing all the things we imagined as kids to life.” For more on how magic and spirituality are driving beauty innovation, see Make It Magic.
The company is working on a permanent version of the dye (it currently only lasts a few washes) and is looking for commercial licensing opportunities to bring this innovation to market. Bowker hopes to see Fire on shelves by the end of 2017.
Apprehensive millennials are seeking stability and opportunities in an uncertain world, according to the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Highlights include:
See Millennial 20/20 Summit for more on this crucial demographic.
New innovations are improving vinyl flooring for home interiors, while manufacturers are pioneering sustainable materials. Here, we select several noteworthy developments in flooring.
Read about our visit to London’s Surface Design Show 2017 and see our Preview of Dutch Design Week 2016 for more surface material innovations.
Helsinki pop-up restaurant Take In, created by global financial firm American Express, is challenging the definition of the traditional restaurant. Guests order takeaways on-site from 20 local restaurants through Finnish app Wolt. Once their deliveries arrive, they consume the meals on the premises.
The kitchenless restaurant provides plates and cutlery on request, and has been designed to serve the needs of solo diners as well as groups of friends with different dietary needs and preferences. Dubbed "a living room in the city" by Wolt's director Juhani Mykkänen, the concept aims to encourage social dining.
Participating eateries include high-end establishments like Atelje Finne, Kom and Pastis, which have designed special takeout options just for the pop-up. Guests won't be charged a delivery or entry fee and don't need to book ahead. Take In will be open from now until the end of April.
For more on unusual dining concepts, see Nightlife Eats as well as Ikea's DIY Restaurant Pop-Up. For more on flexible communal dining, as well as 'dining al-desko', see Post-Kitchen Lifestyles, part of our Kitchen of the Future Industry Trend. Meanwhile, New Roles & Rituals examines the major drivers impacting today's eating culture.
Gap has piloted a soon-to-be-rolled-out, fully shoppable augmented reality (AR) app that lets shoppers try on clothes remotely, showing them in context and adjusting to the consumer’s size.
The concept, Dressing Room by Gap, was developed in partnership with San Francisco-based 3D avatar developer Avametric and Google – the latter deploying its AR platform Tango, which uses camera devices to overlay images onto a physical space in real-time, not unlike the Pokemon Go mobile game.
After selecting an outfit (the catalogue shows 3D renders of Gap's current e-commerce offer), shoppers are required to add personal info such as height and weight, and choose one of 10 featured body sizes (0-20). The app consequently creates a 3D avatar wearing the item, placing it into the environment directly in front of the shopper via their mobile device screen. Shoppers can move the digital mannequin to view the clothing from different angles, as well as changing whole outfits, sizes and colours, with the avatar reacting in real-time (see also Rapid Retail). All the items are purchasable in-app.
The concept is currently exclusive to Google Tango-enabled smartphones, making it relatively prohibitive. There is only one model on the market at present – Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo's Phab2Pro, with a model by Taiwanese electronics company Asus due to launch at the end of 2017. However, the potential to review consumer behaviour and ‘trigger points’ for purchase remains strong.
Health and wellness engagement start-up Truworth Wellness is set to gamify wellbeing in the workplace with a new app that rewards staff for sticking to their health plans.
Based in Jaipur, India, the company employs a team of health professionals who conduct quarterly screenings of more than 600,000 corporate employees across India, the US and Europe. Workers are given personalised wellness plans that encourage mental wellbeing and target stress-related diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
Looking to boost engagement, Truworth will launch a new gamified ‘Wellness Corner’ app in April. Employees gain benefits for sticking to their health programmes and cheering on colleagues who are trying to do the same. Prizes will come in the form of a currency that workers can exchange for health products. The app will also have an algorithm that helps employees manage their sleep, relationships and overall emotional health.
The initiative taps into growing interest in both gamification and preventative corporate wellness services such as fitness, health-risk assessments, weight management and screenings, which are designed to reduce absence, boost productivity, and improve employees’ quality of life.
For more on how brands are integrating gaming mechanisms into their offerings, see Rebooting Loyalty Programmes and The Gamification of Retail. Check out The Business of Wellbeing and the Wraparound Wellness Update for more on how wellness has transformed from a consumer need into a commercial driver.
Email marketing service MailChimp has launched an absurdist advertising strategy that pushes its messaging beyond omnichannel formats and into completely different product categories – all in the name of wordplay.
In 2014, MailChimp became a meme with a pre-roll audio ad on blockbuster podcast Serial that featured a young woman mispronouncing the platform's name as MailKimp. Now, New York-based ad agency Droga5 has created the 'Did You Mean...?' campaign, which riffs on more misnomers via three surreal short films: MailShrimp, JailBlimp and KaleLimp. For instance, MailShrimp features a shrimp sandwich singing about its career ambitions. The clips are being screened in cinemas across the US and UK – without any mention of MailChimp's actual name or services.
Bemused cinemagoers who visit the films' websites can follow digital breadcrumb trails to a range of products (bearing mangled versions of the company name) that infiltrate completely unrelated product categories. For example, FailChips are bags of broken potato chips – MailChimp partnered with media company Vice for a short documentary on the provenance of FailChips, while Vox Media's food vertical Eater uses them in a recipe for Chicken Karaage.
There's also WhaleSynth, a synthesiser tool distributed on tech product platform Product Hunt; and VeilHymn, an interactive music video. Meanwhile, MaleCrimp, SnailPrimp and NailChamp are aimed at beauty fans.
The appeal of regular omnichannel campaigns diminishes as digital content platforms become increasingly alike in format. 'Did you mean...?' is a delightfully obscure way of reclaiming versatile messaging.
The initiative digs deeper into the playful breed of luxe the brand's been co-opting since its 2014 arcade-game-style Fendi Fun pop-up in Harrods department store, London (see Haute Humour). This sensibility was reprised last year with a boisterous-looking, year-long Tokyo pop-up featuring giant fur dolls, mini theatres and neon projections (see full blog post for more).
The visual-centric, Tumblr-style 'F is For...' is accessible via the brand's main e-commerce site, a separate microsite and a standalone app, and boasts five sections. Freaks is an 'About' section pitched as a creative call-to-arms for millennials (aka 'freaks'); Fulgore hosts editorial shoots unique to the platform; Faces features interviews and images of Fendi's latest 'ambassadors'; Freedom offers global listings of hip venues; and Fearless spotlights 'creators' and emerging talent within the arts. All articles can be shared on social media.
For now, keeping the mood soft sell, nothing can be purchased on the platform. See Rise of the Exploratorium for more on the 'post-transactional' space.
While the concept illustrates Fendi's allegiance to fun, it also highlights how luxury brands are 'splintering' to ensure wider appeal. In December 2016, Fendi created an elegant 'Happy Room' pop-up at Design Miami geared towards older consumers, showcasing materials innovations. See Retail: Digitising Luxury, 2017 and Tiered Retailing for more on this tactic.
California-based start-up Habitat has developed a Nasa-approved kitchen knife that sharpens itself.
The KNasa knife uses an alloy originally developed by the California Institute of Technology and later tested by engineers at Nasa. The alloy, which coats the knife, contains nano-serration properties, which form microscopic teeth along the length of the blade.
As the knife is used, the micro-serration is worn away, exposing more teeth. This self-sharpening property enables the knife to remain sharp for up to five times longer than is typical after reasonable usage. The knife is also multifunctional and can be used to cut meat and hard-crusted bread, traditionally requiring a classic serrated blade.
The knives are reportedly twice as strong as titanium and score 70 on the Rockwell (HRC) scale, which measures the hardness of a material by the indent made by the Rockwell Hardness Tester. Funded via a Kickstarter campaign, the knife retails at $100.
For more on exceptional gadgets and kitchen tech, see Activating At-Home Foodies, part of our latest Industry Trend, Kitchen of the Future. Meanwhile, Transformational Cooking looks at ergonomic, balanced and fluid design for kitchen utensils and spaces.
Parents' increased willingness to spend on kids' fashion, combined with an appetite for seeking value at all levels of purchasing (see The Austerity Opportunity for more), is fuelling an upsurge in online recommerce initiatives in Europe and the US. The UK childrenswear market is expected to hit £7.8bn by 2019 (Mintel), with global sales growing at a CAGR of more than 6% by 2020 (Technavio).
For more on children's retail, see Kids-Centric Commerce 2017 (publishing on February 16), and Toy Worlds: Targeting Gen Me. For more on reselling, see Rent the Runway's Subscription Mode, Sneakerhead Resale Mega-Concept, The Berkeley Vintage Style Service and Byronesque: Vintage E-Tail App.
Moodo is the first smart device that allows users to customise the scent of their environment by mixing together various fragrances via an app. Launched on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo earlier this month, the device met its $50,000 fundraising goal after less than two weeks online.
Made for the home or office, the smart scent box holds up to four scent capsules that can be loaded into the device and used at the same time. Users are able to create customised scent profiles by varying the intensity of each fragrance and saving their creations on the accompanying app. There are also four pre-composed “scent-scenes”, devised by “leading French perfumers”.
"As primarily visual and auditory thinkers, we don't ordinarily imagine scent as a spectrum, the way we view the colours of a colour-wheel or palette of a rainbow," the Moodo Indiegogo site reads. "But smell is actually one of the widest spectrums in nature, and it hasn’t found its place in the modern home."
“With Moodo, we give users a customised platform to create and experience a virtually limitless world of fragrances to choose from,” adds Yoav Avidor, CEO of Agan Aroma, the Israel-based parent company behind Moodo.
For more on the connected smart devices enhancing consumers’ home lives, see CES 2017: Home Electronics.
International department store Debenhams has just announced a new global partnership with a leading modest fashion brand.
London-based label Aab will work collaboratively alongside Debenhams to produce a collection of contemporary conservative clothing – including hijabs and abayas – in a push to promote a more inclusive approach and cater to a wider customer base.
Jeanette Whithear, international trading director at Debenhams, said: “Adding the high-quality fashion range to our product mix enables us to offer collections that are highly relevant in both international markets and to our domestic customers, and is a step closer to creating a product offer that caters for broader customer needs.”
The inaugural collection – set to launch in May this year – will be rolled out across 14 international stores in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, as well as pop-up shops in select UK stores, starting with its flagship on London’s Oxford Street, with hopes for expansion in the future.
According to Fortune magazine, Islamic women represent the biggest opportunity for the future of fashion, with modest clothing predicted to be the single biggest opportunity in womenswear globally for the next five years.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have created a new eco-friendly, sustainable and natural soap molecule that could transform the cleansing market.
Called Oleo-Furan-Surfactant (OFS), the renewable soap molecule reduces the need for synthetic chemicals in cleansing products that are washed through into our natural water supplies and harm the environment.
While typical soaps and detergents are created from fossil fuels, OFS is made from renewable sources – natural products such as soybeans, coconut and corn. Additionally, OFS forms soap particles called micelles that clean at low concentrations, reducing the environmental impact on rivers and lakes.
Beyond the formula’s eco clout, a study to be published in the next issue of the American Chemical Society’s leading journal ACS Central Science shows that OFS also performs better than market cleansers in cold and hard water, which can often turn conventional soaps cloudy and gooey.
A lack of foaming ability often deters consumers looking for a deep clean. Researchers tackled this problem by adding nanoparticle catalysts to optimise the soap structure for foaming capability. OFS was shown to foam with the consistency of a conventional detergent.
Cleansing makes up a significant portion of the beauty and personal care market, which was valued at €84,377m ($89,500) for Western Europe last year (Statista, 2016). With more emphasis on natural and sustainable models, formulas like this mean big business for both brands and developers.
For more on sustainable, natural and ethical beauty developments in the beauty market, see Future Beauty: New-Era Naturals. For research into the new ways in which water will feature in our beauty routines, see New Ways with Water.