The new service uses Aira's app to connect consumers to a remote agent when they arrive in-store, verbally navigating the user around the store and helping them to locate items via live streaming on the shopper's phone camera. The Aira technology also uses GPS, maps and information sourced from the web to help the customer. Free to download, the service is available across all Wegman stores.
Users also have the option of paying for a subscription plan for a pair of smart glasses with an in-built camera, enabling the remote agent to 'see' the store from the user's perspective.
The number of people in the US with visual impairments or blindness is expected to double to more than eight million by 2050 (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2016). Services like Aira are becoming increasingly important in aiding consumer mobility, providing reassurance and offering a more sensorial experience. See our Spotlight Trend The Sensory Opportunity for a deep dive into leveraging the senses to engage consumers on a deeper level.
Roger Tredre, acting head of Retail at Stylus, says: "This move reflects a growing emphasis from retailers on empathetic engagement strategies – in particular, acknowledging the needs of consumers beyond the mainstream."
Other projects to explore include: Assured Living by Best Buy, which helps families take care of their elderly relatives, and lifestyle website Wolf + Friends, which aids parents in designing spaces for their autistic children.
See our report Empathetic Brand Engagement for more on this strategy.
In an historic ruling, consensual homosexual sex was decriminalised in India on September 6. As the country with the second largest population in the world, this development allows a huge demographic to live their lives as they choose, without fear of legal repercussions (US Census Bureau, 2018).
The legalisation of same-sex relationships will encourage tourism from the global LGBTQ+ travel market, which is valued at $211bn annually (Peter Tatchell Foundation, 2018). Products and services catering to the particular needs of India's LGBTQ+ community will now also be legally permitted. So it's no surprise that a recent report demonstrates a strong correlation between LGBTQ+ inclusion and economic development (Open for Business, 2018).
The legalisation of homosexual relationships in India opens a new market to businesses and companies that seek to support the interests and requirements of those in the LGBTQ+ community. However, while the law may have changed, India remains a largely conservative society.
Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Colour at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), traces the history of this divisive colour, and argues for a nuanced view. Rather than symbolising girliness, FIT prompts visitors to regard pink as being as versatile as black.
Given evolving notions of gender and masculinity (see Redressing Femininity and Fashioning a New Masculinity), FIT has chosen an apt time to stage this exhibit. It traces how pink came to symbolise femininity in Western cultures, and analyses how non-Western communities and global style subcultures offer an alternative perspective on this representation.
The show is filled with garments that illuminate the mutability of gender stereotypes. Pieces such as an Indian man’s dusty-rose sherwani, a punk-inspired suit from Japan, and a magenta hooded Mexican poncho demonstrate how cultural context can render pink a masculine colour. While adopting it as a unisex hue might seem unconventional for contemporary Western attitudes, FIT lobbies for pink as a gender-neutral colour when considered in a wider cultural context.
The range of featured hues bolsters the idea that pink’s meaning is not fixed. A purple-tinged punk ensemble from British designer Zandra Rhodes triggers a completely different response to a peachy Dior dress from the 60s. This multifaceted approach to pink reflects contemporary preferences, with hues such as Pink Dahlia and Retro Pink highlighted in our S/S 20 Colour Spectrum.
Although the fashion industry is starting to embrace gender fluidity, the exhibit’s sometimes surprising garments underline a continued need for brands to employ pink in less stereotypical ways. Millennial pink may have gone mainstream, but there’s still commercial opportunity for more hues to become standard.
Kaja Beauty is set to debut in cult American beauty retailer Sephora’s stores from September 2018. The brand’s aim is to introduce Korean make-up offerings to people of colour via a total of 47 shade-inclusive products, including brow gels, blushers and highlighters.
“This is an innovative initiative – it takes learnings from Korean beauty while disregarding elements such as ‘whitening’ effects that have made much of this beauty market inaccessible to consumers of colour, until now,” said Stylus’ senior Beauty editor Lisa Payne.
The launch also feeds into millennials and Gen Zers’ enthusiasm for time-saving solutions: 18% of US personal care users wish their routine was less time consuming (Mintel, 2016). For example, Kaja’s Bento product offers a simple approach to eye make-up for users on the go. The curated eyeshadow trio is housed in a compact container and can be applied with fingers to create an array of daytime and evening looks in a few swipes.
In addition, the formulas’ textures deliver a unique sensorial experience for Western consumers – a key learning from Asian beauty. Mochi Pop, for instance, is a buildable cream-to-powder blush. When applied to the desired area, the smooth, velvety consistency of the product dries instantly.
For deeper cross-category insights into Asian beauty, see our Spotlight Trend Asian Beauty Now. To read more about sensorial beauty innovations, see Selling Sensorial Beauty and Revamped & Reclassified: Shiseido’s Bold New Make-Up Range.
The launch also taps into the beauty industry’s need for more diverse and inclusive offerings. For more on this, see Revlon’s Inclusive Beauty Brand Targets Millennials and Women of Colour: Breaking Beauty Barriers.
Livio uses directional microphones and binaural audio signal processing to amplify important sounds, such as a friend talking in a noisy room. A key innovation is its use of machine learning algorithms to optimise hearing in different environments, rather than relying on manual tuning.
It is estimated that 466 million people suffer from disabling hearing loss worldwide (WHO, 2018). However, only 40% of people who need hearing aids actually wear them (Action on Hearing Loss, 2017). One reason for this is hearing aids' negative associations with age and illness.
Starkey hopes that Livio's multifunctionality will help to alleviate some of the social stigma still surrounding medical devices. Beyond its hearing capabilities, Livio acts as a fitness tracker, recording the number of steps and time spent physically active, displaying the data in a linked app called Thrive. The wearable additionally logs the duration of social engagement and active listening, presenting the data as a mental health 'score' on Thrive.
Livio also incorporates real-time translation of 27 languages. The wearer's speech is translated on the screen of their linked mobile device, while the responses they receive are heard through the hearing aid.
As disabling hearing loss is projected to affect 900 million people by 2050, health tech companies would be wise to further develop designs that facilitate optimal living for the hard of hearing (WHO, 2018). As noted above, 60% of those in need of hearing aids do not wear them, demonstrating the effect social stigma can have on the adoption of health treatments. In our Tackling Taboos report, we highlight how businesses and platforms can integrate products with stigma-busting rhetoric to entice reticent demographics.
Nike and Levi's launched groundbreaking campaigns this week, with both taking defiant stands on controversial issues. Prepared to put their reputations on the line, and unafraid to alienate parts of their fan base, both companies have set a benchmark for purpose-driven marketing in this hyper-polarised age.
Nike celebrated 30 years of its 'Just Do It' mantra with a campaign featuring ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who caused controversy in 2016 by kneeling at games during the National Anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. An emotive video spot and poster has social media all fired up, from those who support the brand's deal with Kaepernick (who's currently being shut out of the NFL), to those proclaiming they'll now boycott the brand.
It's easy to be cynical about such a marketing move – Nike can afford to lose a few fans and absorb a momentary four per cent drop in stock. But there's no denying that as an example to other brands who want to lead – not just reflect – the cultural conversation, the Nike-Kaepernick team-up has set a benchmark.
Despite the noise around Nike, it's Levi's that has really put its reputation on the line this week, launching a campaign for greater gun control in America. In an open letter for US business publication Fortune, Levi-Strauss CEO Chip Bergh wrote: "We simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work. While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option."
Levi's has established a $1m Safer Tomorrow Fund to "fuel the work of nonprofits and youth activists who are working to end gun violence in America." The brand is also forming a coalition of business leaders to tackle the issue, and encouraging employees to use their paid volunteer time to "get more politically active."
Both these brands are trying to change things, but you might say Levi's has really put its money where its mouth is – it's aiming for the kind of moonshot we outline in Experiments in Moonshot Marketing.
Girlguiding, the UK's largest female-only youth charity, has introduced new 'interests' badges for subjects including construction, conscious consumption and astronomy. The new badges are part of the biggest overhaul the organisation has undergone in more than 100 years, reflecting a "new programme for every girl".
Throughout Girlguiding's long history, its young members have earned badges by dedicating themselves to activities and interests, which historically centred around tasks such as cooking and sewing. In an attempt to move away from an emphasis on domestic life and traditionally gendered activities, the new badges reframe skills to appeal to Gen Z Girl Guides. For example, sewing skills are now part of the Craftivism badge, which shifts focus onto how the skill can be used to advocate for social change.
The badges have been redesigned to be more inclusive. Previously, the Dancing badge depicted an able-bodied girl, whereas the new version features footprints and musical notes to include Girl Guides of all abilities. They also acknowledge new skillsets that have emerged with the proliferation of social media, including badges for Vlogging and Personal Brand. This demonstrates Girlguiding's understanding of Gen Z (now aged nine to 23), who spend an average of over 15 hours a week online (Ofcom, 2017).
Meanwhile, the Saver badge reflects Gen Z's financial awareness. Eighty-five per cent of this generation believe saving money is important to achieving their life goals, and the badge recognises and rewards good saving practices (Charles Schwab, 2018).
Brands and organisations looking to connect with Gen Z should follow Girlguiding's lead by embracing and celebrating the diversity of Gen Z culture. For advice on how to do this, see Speaking Gen Z's Language.
New York-based start-up SPKTRM is showing the beauty industry how to promote inclusivity with its refreshing Instagram-led campaign.
Launched in August 2018, the colour cosmetics company has pledged to never retouch the appearance of its models. In the brand’s inaugural Instagram-based campaign, ‘flaws’ such as fine lines and freckles were left clearly visible on multiracial models’ faces.
SPKTRM’s efforts on Instagram attempt to challenge millennials’ focus on the perfect selfie, with the brand seeking to counteract the negative effects resulting from consumers’ constant exposure to unrealistic and distorted photos. Filters and body-altering apps are arguably contributing to a rise in body dysmorphia, with more than half (55%) of American surgeons reporting a surge in patients wanting to alter their features to look better on camera (AAFRPS, 2018).
Further tapping into inclusive beauty ideals, SPKTRM’s first product launch is You+ – a sheer foundation available in over 50 hues with warm, cool and neutral undertones. The vast number of shades satisfies consumers’ growing enthusiasm for broader representation within the beauty industry.
While SPKTRM’s offering is the most inclusive yet (other similar ranges come in at around 40 shades), brands should consider how else they can promote openness. “Inclusivity doesn’t just mean adding more shades to your foundation offering,” says Stylus’ senior Beauty editor Lisa Payne. “Skin is so much more than the colour alone.”
SPKTRM’s inclusive ethos extends to its social media engagement strategy, which starts with the hashtag #MeInMind. It encourages consumers to celebrate their authentic selves and post make-up-free selfies, while nominating others to do the same. For deeper insights into promoting values of self-love, see Millennial Beauty: Advocating Realness and Reality Check.
For more on inclusive beauty, see Inclusive Beauty: 5 Key Lessons.
The app provides an on-demand solution for when family help isn't available. Carefully vetted college students can be hired by the hour to help with transportation, cleaning, tech lessons or just companionship. Loneliness has been linked to heart disease and premature death, making the app a creative solution to physical and mental illness in older generations (ESC, 2018).
The app benefits both its elderly customers and the student 'Papa Pals', with a recent survey suggesting that Generation Z are more likely to feel lonely than seniors (Cigna, 2018). Papa gives helpers the opportunity to spend their spare time fostering human connections rather than feeling isolated.
The app has a monthly service fee of $15 or $30, with the higher price allowing users to request a specific Papa Pal. Students can then be hired for $15 an hour. The app is currently live in Florida, with plans to expand to other states by the end of the year.
As discussed in Boomers in Motion, services that connect different generations are growing in popularity as household structures shift away from the traditional nuclear family; brands should follow Papa's example and foster intergenerational friendships. For more on tech enhancing wellbeing, see our Nurturing Mental Health report.
A new hair and beauty show hailed as the UK’s first ‘black Beautycon’ has celebrated the diversity of women of colour, and challenged their lack of representation in beauty.
Shades of Beauty Live, held in London on August 24-25, was a discovery platform for brands and consumers. It featured talks from influential figures in the industry, including British beauty entrepreneur Sharmadean Reid.
Here are some of the highlights from the two-day expo.
For more on diversity and inclusivity in beauty, see Inclusive Beauty: 5 Key Lessons.
As bespoke beauty ventures continue to create buzz within the industry, brands are exploring new ways to make these products accessible for all consumers. British naturals brand Emulsion is capitalising on the personalised beauty trend by allowing consumers to address their varying skincare needs on a day-by-day basis.
The 43-piece genderless product line encourages users to create everyday personal care products – such as cleansers, serums and moisturisers – from scratch. Each one of these ‘base products’ is unscented and free from actives – serving as a blank canvas.
All of the formulas can be enhanced with ‘add ons’, including essential oil mixtures, exfoliants and fragrances – all of which create the ideal blend for an array of skin types and environments. For example, the Green Goddess Add On contains concentrated green tea extract – an antioxidant that provides protection from pollution and UV rays.
Emulsion has developed an online questionnaire designed to help consumers find a suitable product and blend – using details such as skin type and fragrance preferences. The mix-and-match format of these products encourages users to supplement each base with a new active every day.
An extension of this personalised strategy could be an analysis tool that visually assesses and tracks the skin’s health. We predict this will be a bankable opportunity for brands like Emulsion – the global beauty devices market is expected to reach $94.3bn by 2023 (P&S Market Research, 2017).
In addition, gender-neutral beauty is a fast-developing category, with 27% of British men saying they would buy cosmetics if they were branded as gender-neutral (Future Thinking, 2018). For more examples of genderless branding, see The Gender Agenda, The Phluid Project: Gender-Neutral Shopping and Instagangs: Asia’s Genderless Beauty Idols.
Thinking inclusively about product and packaging is steadily becoming a must-do for brands. As noted in Packaging Futures: Diversity, consumers are demanding that companies consider individual experiences, and rewarding those that do with loyalty and praise. We look at two recent examples of inclusive packaging to reveal innovative strategies that cater to this market.
Since 2017, the packaging of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats has featured a large white heart where parents can write personalised messages on their kids’ lunchbox snacks. However, this design overlooked the estimated 64,000 legally blind children in the US (AFB, 2018).
In response, Kellogg’s released a series of heart-shaped stickers printed in braille, conveying messages such as “You’ve got this” and “You’re a star”, that can be placed on the packaging. Also available is a cardboard audio box that plays a 10-second recorded message when opened.
Similarly, Xbox improved the packaging of its Adaptive Controller to serve mixed-ability users (for more on this gaming device, see our blog post). After hearing some users have to open products with their teeth, Xbox worked with disabled gamers to develop a “no teeth” design.
For the shipping box, cardboard and paper elements are used in place of tape to avoid the need for sharp cutting utensils. This joinery features large holes that act as easy-to-hold pull tags, with double-sided tags enabling access from both sides. Small enclosed boxes positioned at each end of the product offer protection without the need for bubble wrap.
Brands need to invite a diversity of users into the design process for a better understanding of how consumers engage with both product and packaging. Adopting a user-focused approach will help designs not only appeal to users of mixed ability, but also unveil creative interactions that inspire new enthusiasm for existing product.
Chanel is entering the male beauty category with a make-up range for men, breaking down gendered beauty barriers.
Set to launch in South Korea, premium cosmetics brand Chanel Beauty is tapping into the growing male beauty market with a line solely dedicated to men. Boy de Chanel includes a matte moisturising lip balm, as well as sheer foundations and eyebrow pencils – available in four shades.
The inaugural collection capitalises on the era of male beauty. This market is expected to grow and potentially overtake the male grooming industry, which is forecast to be worth $60bn by 2020 (Euromonitor, 2017).
The limited number of products in the collection take inspiration from staple products in its women’s colour cosmetics range, which create a natural look. Boy de Chanel’s core values are based on the subtle enhancement of facial features – demonstrating a more approachable take on male beauty than the #BeautyBoys of Instagram, who celebrate a heavier style of application.
Although the concept of male make-up is not new, debuting in the lucrative Asian beauty market will allow the brand to trial these products among clued-up consumers before tackling the West.
Asia accounts for 60% of the global market for men’s beauty and grooming products (Martin Roll, 2017). To read more about this segment, see Asian Beauty Now: New Markets, New Ideas and Instagangs: Asia's Genderless Beauty Idols.
Autism affects one in 160 people worldwide – a number that is reportedly growing (WHO, 2017). As highlighted in Design for Disability, this represents a huge proportion of society that could benefit from inclusive goods. We look at how sensorial design is catering to autistic users’ needs in both furniture and merchandise, creating emotionally tailored product and praiseworthy branding.
Croatian brand Tink Things creates kids’ furniture with “sensory intelligence” in mind. Designed on the premise that learning and creativity are processes that involve the entire body, the Mia and Ika chairs explore how furniture can support the mental state of autistic children.
Mia is a cocoon-like spherical enclosure of black fabric held within a timber frame. The seat has a gentle swing to help with concentration and soothe the child, and the soft, embracing form can be opened up and closed off to create a sense of privacy and escape when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
By contrast, the Ika chair is for kids who need physical stimulation. The seat is a soft, padded swing suspended by rope from outer timber legs. It encourages the child to rock and bounce to release frenetic energy for more engaged learning.
Meanwhile, in a bid to encourage people with mixed abilities to attend this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the event is handing out backpacks filled with sensorial contents to entertain and calm individuals with autism. The child’s version features a fidget toy, a soft toy, ear plugs and a water bottle, as well as a list of relaxed performances. The adult’s version is larger and comes without the soft toy.
The festival also features one of the UK’s few Changing Places toilets, which is an updated disabled loo that better caters to those with learning and physical disabilities. The design has an enlarged floorplan, an adult-sized changing bench, a hoist system, a privacy screen, and a centrally positioned toilet.
A historic number of leading fashion publications have chosen black women to appear on the covers of their prestigious September issues, rejecting the notion that diversity hinders sales.
At least eight black women have appeared on the cover of several magazines’ influential September issues so far, marking the first time this many black women have received the honour in the same year.
The individual September covers feature a range of women, from superstars like Beyoncé and Rihanna, to lesser-known comedians, models and musicians like Tiffany Haddish, Issa Rae, Slick Woods and Zendaya.
Musician Rihanna has become the first black woman in British Vogue’s 102-year history to appear on the cover of one of its September issues, while at US Vogue, Beyoncé was given complete creative control over her cover issue. The singer selected 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell to shoot her cover story, making the New York native the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover in the magazine’s 126-year history. Beyoncé also narrated an essay for the issue.
The widespread visibility of black women on this year’s September covers is both timely and necessary; ethically responsible and business-savvy. Not only should brands recognise their responsibility to embrace ethnic diversity across everything they do, they should also acknowledge the cultural influence and spending power of black women – who spend $54m on hair and beauty products in the US alone (Nielson, 2018).
This year’s September issues are a promising start for inclusion in the fashion industry, with US Vogue in particular embracing an inspiring framework that allows diverse groups of people to narrate and visualise their own identities.