A wave of supportive heroine hubs is emerging as Gen X and boomer women reinvent middle age with a positive, open and youthful spirit. More than 80% of American women aged over 40 feel younger, sexier or cooler than they'd expected to (Fancy, 2018). Brands need to catch up to this new reality.
We've been talking about the rise of heroine hubs – supportive women-only platforms – for a while (see Power Girls). Now, middle-aged women are filling a void and creating platforms focused on this stage in life.
While boomer women (aged 54 to 72) are 'reinventing life past 50' (J. Walter Thompson, 2018), only occasionally do brands reflect this new reality.
In forums such as What Would Virginia Woolf Do? and MegsMenopause, the tone is optimistic and positive, but frank about the challenges unique to this life stage. Women are seeking the same from brands: vibrant, multidimensional portrayals and a meaningful grasp of their difficulties, along with new solutions.
For more strategies to help achieve this, see Mature Beauty: Entering a New Age, The New Fashion Landscape 2017 Update: Diversity Rules and A Fashion A'woke'ning.
Also, look out for upcoming reports The Middle-Aged Gap (publishing July 12) and Gen X: Beauty's Untapped Demographic (publishing July 16) for further insights on attracting this cohort.
'Phantom limb' – the perception of still having a missing body part – is a sensory illusion experienced by many amputees. But engineers at the John Hopkins University in the US have created an electronic skin that will soon make this illusion a reality by giving prosthetics the sense of touch.
As explained in the June 2018 research article, the 'e-dermis' is an electronic skin made of fabric and rubber that's layered on top of a prosthetic limb – such as the fingertips of a prosthetic hand. It electrically stimulates the arm's nerves to recreate the sense of touch on the person's fingertips.
The method used is called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or Tens, and is non-invasive – but still feels like a real skin. "After many years I felt my hand, as if a hollow shell got filled with life again," said the team's anonymous principal tester.
E-dermis is not yet sensitive to temperature – but it can detect shapes and perceive pain when it touches something sharp. This is particularly useful for alerting wearers to potential damage, particularly to lower-limb prosthetics. With up to 40,000 amputations performed annually in the US, the innovative e-skin could dramatically improve amputees' quality of life (NCBI, 2018).
Accessibility tech that enhances the lives of people with disabilities is a key area of opportunity, as outlined in CES 2018: Personal Electronics and 10 Tech Trends to Watch in 2018. For more on the technologies that empower people with disabilities, see Design for Disability: Transformative Tech.
Each summer, the latest graduate shows offer an insight into our creative future, with the next generation of talent showcasing an exciting array of new, unseen work. We scoured the shows for the emerging UK textile designers with the most promising projects and innovative use of colour and materials. Here’s our edit of the ones to watch.
Legal cannabis poses a clear threat to alcohol brands. Now, several companies are developing THC-powered, alcohol-free beverages that look and taste like beer, wine or spirits – positioning cannabis as a direct replacement.
Brands are vying to leverage the newly legal status of recreational cannabis in nine US states and Canada (Canadian legalisation begins in October, but edibles/drinkables will be barred for the first year). They're promoting alcohol-inspired beverages infused with THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) as hangover-free booze alternatives and an easy format for social cannabis consumption. Because the effects of conventional edibles are normally slow to kick in but can last for hours, some producers are also designing their products to mimic the response curve of alcohol.
As explained in A Budding Opportunity: Commercialising Cannabis, different strains of the plant naturally serve as alcohol alternatives for both thrill-seekers and their opposing counterparts, moderate millennials. In Canada, 41% of current/likely recreational cannabis consumers regard it as an alternative to alcohol, according to a new study from Deloitte Canada, which concludes that "all alcohol categories could be affected". A 2017 survey of Californian millennials by local cannabis producer OutCo found 34% would choose cannabis over beer, while 18% would favour it over wine.
We initially discussed this concept in Fluid Flavours, part of our Future of Flavour Industry Trend, pointing to drinks like the alcohol-free sauvignon blanc produced by Rebel Coast Winery in California. Here are five 2018 launches worth tracking:
Expect more alcohol brands to follow. Americans already believe regular marijuana use is less risky health-wise than regular alcohol consumption (Marist College, 2017). In the recreationally legal era, as cannabis comes to be perceived as a natural wellness product, products like these are likely to supplement or replace their alcoholic counterparts.
Deciphering the behaviour of all demographic groups is a vital part of our work, and the youngest generations – the connected consumers of the future – are the most crucial for brands to watch.
Aside from being the fastest to adopt new technologies, Gen Z (aged nine to 23) hold great purchase influence in their households. And in terms of personal and social diversity, they’re among the most open and accepting consumer groups we’ve seen.
We’ve just published 10 Youth Trends to Watch, which charts the impact these trends are likely to have on multiple industries. Looking at just three of Gen Z’s polarising behaviours paints a fascinating picture of an enterprising group who are resourceful, mindful and inventive – and looking for brands to support their development in relevant and meaningful ways.
This inspiring new generation of teens has an unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit; more than three-quarters (77%) of 14- to 21-year-old Americans already earn their own money. These tech natives are trading cryptocurrencies and turning their social media platforms into mini e-tail economies. And they’re looking for media outlets – like Teen Boss magazine and social network Maverick, both of which provide practical advice for savvy teenpreneurs – to help them build their own brands and learn start-up skills.
A mental health crisis is gaining public attention across generations. Alarmingly, despite the perception that Gen Z is socially connected, the Office for National Statistics has found that 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK are over three times more likely to be regularly lonely than over-65s.
We believe there’s a real need for compassionate brands to promote self-care through a number of initiatives like wellbeing apps and products, and community hubs that bring young people together in real life.
Further to valuing connection and commerce, Gen Zers seek new forms of self-discovery and ways to express their identity. The beauty sector in particular is responding well with teen- and tween-targeted products that promote creativity, experimentation and diversity – which is also prompting huge industry growth. Brands like Crayola are recognising young people’s self-confidence issues and responding with make-up that encourages them to explore and express their personalities.
In our Asian Beauty Now Spotlight Trend reports, we’re watching a wave of influence coming from the East in the form of clever teen sub-brands and new formats that cultivate inventive behaviour. From Shiseido’s teen brand Posme, with its addictive shareable make-up stickers of single-dose, multi-use colour for the eyes, cheeks and lips, to South Korean beauty brand Etude House’s in-store Color Factory for developing the ultimate in personalised palettes.
As July gets underway, we’re turning our focus to opportunities for engaging with an older market – ‘the middle-aged gap’. We’re also excited to continue building our psychographic landscape – the seeds of our next Consumer Zodiac. Watch this space.
Have a great month,
Chief Creative Officer
A new pop-up salon in London is challenging taboos by opening a nail bar for guys. Could it redefine masculinity in the era of ‘male beauty’?
New British pop-up Guys That Nail It is boldly reframing the beauty salon concept with a nail bar dedicated solely to men. Open from June 12-22 in London’s edgy Peckham district, clients are offered treatments ranging from classic pedicures through to more daring gel extensions.
The launch of the nail bar capitalises on the new era of male beauty, which we expect to grow in line with – and potentially overtake – the male grooming market, which is forecast to reach $60.7bn by 2020 globally (Euromonitor, 2017). Lisa Payne, Stylus’ senior editor of Beauty, says: “Although Guys That Nail It has opened as a pop-up, its success will indicate a gap in the market for more permanent beauty spaces dedicated to men.”
Another brand successfully tapping into the male beauty category is British label MMUK Man. It’s set to launch the UK’s first male-only make-up store in Brighton in July 2018, where consumers will be able to experiment with the 80-piece line.
These openings signal the potential of beauty spaces and services dedicated to men, with 45% of parlours and 64% of mobile professionals in the UK currently not offering male grooming treatments (Beautiful Britain, 2017).
The Swedish manufacturer has acknowledged the huge influence of e-sports with a new collaboration tackling ergonomic seating design for a generation that sits playing computer games for up to 20 hours per day.
As revealed in Designing Amplified Experiences (part of our Active Lives Macro Trend), e-sports is big business, with revenue forecast to reach $1.5bn by 2020 (Newzoo, 2017). Ikea has long dedicated its creative focus to improving ergonomic design, and with gamers sitting down for up to 20 hours a day – sometimes resulting in sports injuries – the pairing is a logical fit.
The collaboration – announced at Ikea’s annual design conference Democratic Design Days last week – is with Swedish e-sports education platform Area Academy, and US medical wearable company Unyq. The latter creates custom prosthetics from digital body scans, which are used to create 3D-printed casts that are tailored to the user’s body. Ikea wants to bring this technology into its stores, demonstrating that customisation is possible within the mass market.
Unyq’s scanning technology will be located in Ikea stores next to its standard chair models. Users create a 3D map of their body, which can be saved and sent to Ikea with their product choice via an app. From these scans, Unyq prints cushions that fit onto the product and feature a lattice structure that guides the user into the correct posture.
The speedy and scalable production made possible with 3D technology is driving new commercial opportunities by creating custom-fitted product. This is a major theme within our A/W 19/20 Design Direction Burst, which explores how designs are being left open-ended to enable users to realise products that reflect their bodies, needs and creativity.
Microsoft's HoloLens – a headset containing a holographic computer – will soon be able to guide blind people through buildings, thanks to its ability to map spaces in real time and offer audio guidance via speakers.
The mixed-reality headset allows users to see, hear and interact with 3D holograms that are "pinned" in their field of vision. Unlike other augmented glasses, HoloLens holograms interact with the world while the user is moving, as multiple sensors can map the user's surrounding space in detail.
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology have designed an application that allows the HoloLens's features to act as a virtual guide, helping blind individuals navigate complex buildings by restoring vision at a cognitive level. The wearable computer captures images of the surrounding environment, and conveys this information via auditory augmented reality. Its speakers can make sound appear as if it's coming from different points within the space – enabling users to find their way just by following the voice, without the need for any physical aids.
"The combination of unprecedented computing power in wearable devices with augmented reality technology promises a new era of non-invasive prostheses", reads the abstract of the research. Considering that 253 million people in the world are blind or visually impaired (WHO, 2017), this technology could be life-changing for many in the future.
Consumers are feeling a greater disconnect from natural environments as the world becomes increasingly urbanised. As an antidote to the lack of natural light in urban spaces, designers are finding innovative ways to enhance or artificially replicate daylight in our homes and built environments. Here are three exciting examples.
Beyond anticipation for the millennium, 2020 is the milestone year that has always denoted ‘tomorrow’s world’. Now, our global colour specialists have forecast the trends that will land in real life for this once-futuristic year.
By looking across the creative industries and the worlds of art, technology and science, they’ve foreseen an exciting, vibrant and positive tomorrow – a tomorrow that’s coming fast.
Here are their three defining trends:
Our research this season has seen us jumping into the future whilst looking back at landmark highlights from the past. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, which not only signified a huge technological accomplishment, but also impacted design and aesthetics.
Half a century later, designers are revisiting the symbolism of the moon and celestial formations in a modern context. We’re seeing mysticism being captured aesthetically, through a redefined space-age palette, in augmented environments and products. Three shades from our Colour Spectrum S/S 2020 capture this trend: pale purple Cosmos; vivid, lunar-inspired Dark Windsor; and a particularly spectacular shade of Neon Peach that I want to surround myself with from this day forward.
We’ve been citing the importance of biophilic design within our everyday lives as part of a wider wellbeing trend. As we design sensitively for the future, we look for ways to convey nature’s fluid rhythms and irregularities through enriching patterns and finishes.
Lauren Chiu, our senior editor of Colour & Materials, says: “For Spring/Summer 2020, we imagine calming utopias where living colour nourishes our senses alongside materials that grow and evolve, nurturing our mind and body as they mature.” A botanical palette includes mineral Blue Shale, verdant Reseda Green, and chalky, soothing Rosaline.
In our wider consumer trend research, we’ve been questioning what it means to be human today – considering what unites and divides us, while acknowledging the crucial role of diversity in society’s wellbeing. For a bright, borderless future, we’re inspired by a rich and resourceful aesthetic that draws influence from a broad global audience.
An appreciation of cultural heritage and skills is leading an exploration of traditional craft, as we see time-honoured techniques being invigorated through contemporary construction. This is where colours that convey history and age-old character – like deep Indigo Ink, stripped-back Vanilla and energising Emberglow – come in.
Here, I’ve presented a sample of just nine of the 48 colours that make up our biannual Colour Spectrum, a glimpse at the colours we should prepare to embrace in 2020.
Alongside our global colour specialists, our advisory team can create bespoke colour forecasts with ideas for application. If you’re interested in finding out more, please do get in touch with our Advisory team.
Wishing you a colourful month,
Chief Creative Officer
CPRobic teaches participants hands-only CPR movements that could prove life-saving in an emergency, while helping them exercise. Just 15 minutes of CPRobic can burn up to 165 calories and when combined with a Bosu fitness training ball, participants can burn up to 400 calories in 45 minutes. The class was added in March 2018 and is taught by CPR-certified trainers.
Virgin created the class after discovering only 6% of patients who require on-the-spot CPR in Thailand receive it before being taken to hospital, as most people have never had CPR training. Less than 1% of the population has a gym membership (IHRSA, 2017), while in countries like the UK, this rate is as high as 15% (LeisureDB, 2017). In order to attract customers, gyms in the region need to market innovative, multipurpose classes to entice more people to try them.
US naturals start-up Knours is capitalising on the wellness category’s personalised beauty trend by addressing hormonal changes in the skin linked to the menstrual cycle.
The company has developed an artificial intelligence-powered app that is designed to analyse changes in the user’s skin condition and mood. It determines an appropriate skincare routine for consumers via a questionnaire, using data such as skin type and the date of their last period to generate a selection of suitable products.
An extension of this personalisation strategy might be an analysis tool that visually assesses and tracks the skin’s health. We believe this is a bankable opportunity for brands, as the global beauty devices market is expected to reach $94.3bn by 2023 (P&S Market Research, 2017).
The eight-piece, Korean-beauty-inspired offering provides skincare and bodycare products to use at different points in the menstrual cycle. For instance, the multitasking Double Duty Mist is ideal for pre- and post-menstruation. The moisturising jojoba oil rises to the top, while the aloe vera water sinks to the bottom. Users simply shake the bottle to mix the ingredients for use on dry, dull skin. When the mixture is left separated, the hero ingredients target oily, acne-prone skin.
Skincare based on menstrual cycles is becoming a fast-developing category as innovative start-ups cater to this model. US brand Amareta launched a three-step skincare range based on women’s menstrual cycles and hormonal changes in August 2017.
US start-up Aura Devices has designed the Aura Band – a next-gen fitness tracker that can track users' body composition, as well as their activity and heart rate.
The Aura Band uses bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), a method of estimating body composition – such as fat, muscle percentage and bone volume, as well as hydration levels. To activate the BIA, users create a loop with their arms by holding the band. The band then passes a low-voltage electric current through the user's body, which allows it to calculate the percentage of water and fat, based on the resistance to the flow of electricity.
Aura Devices claims that tracking body composition is a more reliable way to measure our bodies than using traditional scales, which typically track weight only. This method also enables the device to give the user personalised tips, such as increasing their water intake.
The company plans to reward active users with virtual coins called Aura Coins, which could be used to buy real-life products and services from Aura Devices' partners – such as insurance companies, suggests co-founder Stas Gorbunov. This could spark innovation in terms of health plans, with customers paying insurance fees according to their physical activity levels.
The start-up is currently raising money on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, with the device priced at $109 and expected to ship in August 2018.
For more ways to incentivise consumers to exercise, see Fuelling Fast-Paced Lifestyles.
British air purification tech company Radic8 has designed a portable oxygen purifier, called INBair O2. The device could help office workers reduce feelings of drowsiness in the middle of the day and boost their productivity just by inhaling oxygen.
The book-sized device processes air, purifies it and then delivers it through an inhaler that resembles a headset. It's designed to be an easy-to-use, inconspicuous product for people who would like to use it in their workplace.
Radic8 claims that the percentage of oxygen in offices drops from 21% to 17% as the day passes and more carbon dioxide is produced, which explains why people feel sleepy in the middle of the day. Instead of drinking coffee or eating something sweet, using INBair O2 for 30 minutes is meant to give users a brain boost that will increase their productivity and make them feel brighter.
Priced at $455, the product is available for pre-order from the company's Indiegogo page. It's expected to ship in July 2018.
As concerns over air pollution grow, the size of the residential air purifier market worldwide is expected to reach 21 million units by 2021 (Statista, 2018). INBair O2 is tapping into this trend, as well as the rising interest in maximising personal productivity, by claiming that "pure oxygen enters your bloodstream through your lungs and goes straight to the brain". See also Career Pioneers.
Dutch vodka brand Ketel One has teamed up with London bar No 29 Power Station West to launch the city's first clean-air bar. The space was designed to help Londoners escape from city pollution, and learn how house plants can improve living standards.
The bar is filled with plants that Nasa has found to be effective at removing toxins from the air, including aloe vera, weeping fig, rubber plants and Boston fern. All plants have been supplied by local London urban farm Patch.
Customers can choose from a range of Ketel One cocktails, with ingredients such as basil, mint and rosemary picked from a "living garnish wall". They can also customise the drinks to suit their tastes.
Meanwhile, food comes courtesy of UK chef duo Billy and Jack. Dishes are made from locally sourced sustainable ingredients, such as vodka-cured sea trout with smoked mayo and house pickles, and lamb skewers with labneh, dukkah, spiced date sauce, charred spring onion and spring leaves.
The bar will also host two urban gardening workshops by Patch in late May.
This is the latest example of brands catering for urban-dwelling consumers who are concerned about rising levels of pollution. See New Architecture of Taste (part of our latest Industry Trend The Future of Flavour), Pollution-Fighting Health Drink and Pollution Protection Update: New Formats & Formulas for further case studies.