At the inaugural Esports Activate showcase in New York on March 6, panellists and presenters gathered to discuss the brands, technologies and tastemakers shaping the future of competitive video gaming. With global e-sports revenue expected to hit $905.6m in 2018 (Newzoo, 2017), the time is now for creative brands to move into this burgeoning market.
The social stigma surrounding female menstruation is evolving as progressive start-ups, brands and designers dare to confront social taboos. We examine the brands stepping in with body-positive marketing campaigns and sustainable solutions to capitalise on an enthusiastic market of women seeking new alternatives.
UK start-up Dame has created a reusable applicator tampon made from a self-cleaning antimicrobial material. Combining medical-grade materials that naturally sterilise the device, the applicator remains safe and hygienic after multiple uses. Featuring a smooth semi-gloss finish and shaped to suit the contours of the body, Dame is designed to be comfortable and easy to control.
Similarly, new UK femcare brand Callaly has created the Tampliner. Offering the functions of both a tampon and a panty liner, the Tampliner promises greater absorbency to give users better peace of mind. Co-founded by gynaecologist Dr Alex Hooi, Callaly is the culmination of years of working with, and listening to, the frustration of women who don’t feel adequately protected with existing product.
Also from the UK, graduate Kaye Toland developed Mcycle, a tampon delivery service concept that transforms tampons into compost. Mcycle proposes a system where organic tampons are delivered to subscribers by bicycle. After use, the tampon’s packaging can be used as a bin that is later collected and composted in non-food soil.
Read Breaking Taboos in Packaging Futures: Diversity and Beauty Inspired by Menstrual Cycles for examples of body-positive brands tackling the topic of female menstruation. Also see Tackling Taboos for more on the brave marketing campaigns winning over consumers.
Retail Week Live (7-8 March), an annual conference for retail executives staged in London, saw a fleet of European retail tech start-ups pitching to attract investor interest and industry exposure. We highlight our favourites.
Vivid shades of yellow are proving a popular colour choice for commercial interiors. Daringly applied to floors, walls and ceilings, the bold hue is transforming retail, work and public spaces into friendly and optimistic environments. We highlight the latest most inspiring examples.
As an unconventional choice for commercial interior spaces, variations of yellow in different tones, textures and finishes could be further explored for other eye-catching applications in architecture and interiors, or for different sectors such as packaging and product design.
L’Oreal showcased a standout piece of beauty tech at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas (March 9-18). The cosmetics giant’s Innovation Lab developed a dispenser that can create 8,000 bespoke blends of foundation.
Le Teint Particulier (LTP) uses artificial intelligence to formulate foundation tailored specifically to the user. An analyser comes into contact with three points on the user’s face at a short distance, so light is prevented from disrupting the colour-matching process. The data is picked up by an algorithm, which maps out the levels of cyan, magenta and yellow that are present to identify the customer’s skin tone. Before the machine blends and dispenses the precise shade, users can select the desired coverage and finish.
LTP was originally developed for L’Oreal’s colour cosmetics brand Lancôme in 2016, debuting exclusively at luxury US department store chain Nordstrom. L’Oreal shared the technology at SXSW because LTP is still the most advanced custom-blend foundation machine in the world – offering more shades than a supply chain could produce.
Shrewd brands such as Fenty Beauty and Huda Beauty have acknowledged the diversity of their consumer bases by launching foundation ranges of up to 40 shades, but L’Oreal’s device taps into a more valuable strategy – complexion colour matching. In 2017, Pinterest data revealed saves for complexion colour matching rose to a whopping 378% on the image-pinning platform, confirming the consumer desire for this bespoke offering.
The facility will include access to a team of doctors and therapists who specialise in optimising gut health by using theories developed over 100 year ago by Austrian physicist Franz Xaver Mayr. Treatments are inspired by practices Mayr developed, such as pre-dawn stretching exercises in the forest and a dose of purging Epsom salts before breakfast. The treatment centre will also include cryotherapy chambers (where users are exposed to freezing temperatures as low as -90°C), as well as a gym space and studio.
According to a spokesman at the club, "the specialists at Lanserhof will be able to detect potential illnesses before they even become an issue. It's all about healing and prevention and helping people extend the quality and length of their lives."
The spa space is set to open in late 2018 and membership will be priced separately to that of The Arts Club.
This collaboration reflects our thinking around the boom in products and services focused on improving consumes' gut health, and its relation to overall mental health and wellbeing. See our Look Ahead 2017, as well as New Architecture of Taste (part of our latest Industry Trend, The Future of Flavour) and New Food Covetables.
The Phluid Project – America’s first gender-free lifestyle store – opened this month in New York’s NoHo neighbourhood.
The shop sells clothes, make-up and lifestyle items that transcend traditional gender stereotypes. Owner Rob Smith’s mission is to “[create] a space where strangers, allies, friends – people – can be unapologetically themselves.”
Streetwear-inspired fashions are arranged by colour and style. Most are designed in-house with gender-free sizing, which runs from one to four instead of small to large (size one fits like a womenswear medium). Outfits are displayed on specially designed gender-free mannequins, which have a pronounced flat bust and narrow waist to present as either masculine or feminine.
Phluid also aims to position itself as a community hub for gender-curious customers. The back of the store features seating for events such as lectures and networking nights. For more on stores as culture coders and thought leaders, see Beta Blends in our Industry Trend Liquid Retail.
Customers can also purchase limited-edition garments and accessories featuring cartoon-style characters from local Brooklyn illustrator Jeremy Villesca, who also created an in-store mural depicting portraits of diverse New Yorkers.
For more on the rise of gender-neutral fashion and retail, see Diversity Rules (part of The New Fashion Landscape 2017), Zara Launches Gender-Neutral E-tail Category, John Lewis Goes Gender-Neutral and Brand Watch: Mother’s Gender-Neutral Agenda. For more on body-inclusive mannequins, see Progressive Fashion: February Round-Up.
Brits are concerned about sharing their personal information online and are more comfortable sharing data with organisations they know and trust, according to new research from UK non-profit Open Data Institute (ODI). Key highlights include:
For more on how brands can attain trust in the era of big data and artificial intelligence, see Tech for Trust: DLD 2018.
German car manufacturer Audi, European aerospace company Airbus and Italian engineering company Italdesign presented a new flying car concept called Pop.Up Next at the Geneva Motor Show 2018 (March 8-18). It's a hybrid between a car and a quadcopter, and is fully electric and autonomous.
Unlike other flying cars, Pop.Up Next consists of two parts: a two-seat car pod and a drone-like quadcopter module that attaches on top to transform it into a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air vehicle.
The companies envision that when passengers travelling in the car get stuck in traffic, they can use an accompanying app to hail the quadcopter component, which will pick up the vehicle and fly it to its destination. These flying parts will recharge on top of buildings until they're summoned by a user.
Pop.Up Next is the evolution of Pop.Up, a concept Airbus and Italdesign presented in Geneva in 2017 without Audi. The new version is much lighter than its predecessor and has a redesigned interior. According to its creators, it aims to free commuters from the need to drive and offers a solution to growing traffic problems in city centres.
"Creativity is needed where new mobility concepts for cities and people's diverse needs are concerned," said Bernd Martens, Audi board member and Italdesign president. "Pop.Up Next is an ambitious vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future."
For more on the future of mobility, see Radical Transport. Don't miss our Geneva Motor Show 2018 coverage, publishing on March 22.
As discussed in our report Pop Culture Round-Up: Winter 2018, the values, desires and attitudes of Gen Z have recently been amplified by two very different experiences. One was the reaction to the tragedy of the Parkland high-school shooting in the US; the other was the success of a new generation of young, multicultural and LGBTQ athletes at the Winter Olympics.
The power of this Gen Z cultural moment comes as no surprise to anyone aware of this demographic's savviness, individuality and diverse outlook. But it underscores how important they're becoming as a consumer force. However, that's not to say they can be easily defined.
This year's Youth Marketing Strategies (YMS) conference (London, March 21-22) will gather social media experts, marketers, start-ups and young consumers to explore Gen Z trends and attitudes, and help brands better understand this complex generation.
YMS's parent company, youth insights business Voxburner, will be launching its latest Youth Trends Report at the event, "busting any misconceptions you may have on the attitudes, values and behaviours of this generation". Attendees will also hear from the likes of social media marketing firm Social Chain, Chinese digital agency Qumin, and marketing experts from liqueur brand Jägermeister and ice-cream giant Häagen-Dazs.
Stylus will also be participating. Christian Ward, head of Media & Marketing, will be chairing a panel with Sony, Three, BBC Radio, US entertainment company Refinery29 and UK production company Mad Cow Films on how to create truthful and innovative digital content.
If you'd like to attend YMS, we're offering a 20% discount. Use the code STYLUS20 when buying tickets here.
The annual International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference (IECSC) in New York (March 5-7) brought together more than 275 exhibitors to showcase the latest luxury product and spa-service innovations. We highlight three key beauty trends.
The stark realities of the crisis in media and advertising were faced head-on at this year's Guardian Changing Media Summit (London BFI, March 7). From the gender pay gap, to better representation of women and minorities and the ad world's battle with Silicon Valley, the BFI echoed with loud calls for change.
The #MeToo Revolution
There was anger from a number of panellists at what's been lost as a result of women feeling forced to leave the industry because of sexism and harassment. British media writer Jane Martinson pushed Martin Sorrell, chief of UK advertising giant WPP, on the need for change in his own business. "Women in our industry are more effective than men," Sorrell commented – prompting Martinson to ask: "Why don't you promote more women then?"
British advertising consultant Cindy Gallop saw this gap between words and deeds as a key problem. Gallop emphasised that the biggest issue facing the ad industry today is sexual harassment. "It keeps out of leadership and power the leaders who would make equality, diversity and inclusion happen," she said. She called for action through demonstration: "Don't do stunts about diversity, or create content about diversity – be diverse."
In the "fake news" era, the question of trust is crucial. Sam Baker, founder of UK female-focused platform The Pool, commented that "the only value you have is the audience's trust". Farrah Storr, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan UK, agreed, pointing to the value of print in establishing that image of trustworthiness. "Advertisers are understanding the role that print plays in building trust," she said.
There was concern over the way social media forces people into "echo chambers", where they only hear opinions that they agree with. However, Matt Kelly, editor of pro-EU newspaper The New European, vehemently disagreed. "The media has never been more plural; the echo chamber has been completely blown apart," he said. "The problem is the fact-checking. We're suckers for a story, and journos have become lazy in grabbing onto tags [like fake news]. We need to be much better in establishing facts."
Kelly sees this as an opportunity: "Brands will gravitate to being trustworthy," he commented. Nick Robinson, presenter of BBC Today, agreed: "Brands will re-establish themselves," he said. "People will realise that they need to go to brands they can trust, because you don't have time to assess for yourself the truth of stories."
Brands Take Back Control
This idea of brands reasserting themselves as arbiters of truth and authenticity was important for many speakers, who believed that brands have for too long been doing whatever the tech giants demanded of them.
Sacha Berlik, managing director, EMEA of global programmatic agency The Trade Desk, said: "Advertisers can vote with their money. They can make a decision [about] if they want to fund unmonitored social media content, or fund quality journalism." He believes that "we need to be educating the advertising world" on the responsibilities they should be taking on to ensure trustworthy journalism survives.
Gallop came at the same problem from a different angle. "We have a responsibility to redesign the future of technology," she said. "The founders of the big tech companies hate advertising. When you hate advertising, you will never leverage your resources and talent to innovate completely new forms of powerful new advertising on your platforms."
Gallop views this as a massive opportunity for brands and marketers to take back control. "The future is not ad units – it's ad products," she said. "Things of utility and value that surprise and delight consumers in the way they're delivered. We have the opportunity to create those. Look at those platforms and decide how you'd like to use them."
As such, she advised brands: "Blue-sky it. Don't look at what exists now – project out five years down the line; go sci-fi and magical."
For non-food retailers, the addition of a café or restaurant boosts dwell time and can provide creative inspiration. We sum up the latest hybrid stores, Instagram-ready culinary hotspots, and concepts using food as design cues.
Besides encouraging customers to linger in a shop, the addition of a food offer directly entices experience-hungry young consumers. Global luxury food and drinks sales grew 6% in 2017 from 2016, reaching $120bn (Bain & Co, 2017).
For more on the power of brand extensions, see Retail’s Elastic Brands: Stretch & Diversify.
Modern Food Mall
See also Modern Malls.
Supermarket & Bistro Inspiration
German supermarket chain Lidl has launched a new Facebook chat tool that can assist customers with choosing the right wine to pair with their meal.
To access the bot, dubbed Margot, consumers head to the Lidl Facebook page and click 'send message'. They then select from food-pairing advice, a wine finder, or an educational wine quiz. For the first two options, the user types in what they are looking for, for example a wine to be paired with a particular dish or a variety from a specific region. The chatbot then picks up on key words such as foods, grape varieties, countries, colours and even emoji, subsequently suggesting wines from Lidl's wine selection.
Alex Murray, digital director at Lidl UK, said: "Margot will ensure choosing the right wine is never a daunting process, and we hope this service – along with the existing in-store and online information we already provide – encourages customers to discover the perfect wine from our curated range."
For more on how supermarkets are using technology to create an interactive and seamless experience, see Future Supermarket Strategies, The Mobile-First Supermarket and EuroShop Follow-Up: The Tech-Powered Supermarket.
From autumn 2018, Copenhagen's waste-to-energy plant Amager Resource Center (ARC) will include a year-round artificial rooftop ski slope, a hiking hill and a climbing wall for local residents.
Originally opened in March 2017, the waste facility is considered the cleanest and most efficient incineration plant in the world. Usually, such waste-management plants are kept outside cities or well hidden. ARC, however, will become a destination in its own right. Designed by Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, the building's new features will include a grove of 30 trees, the world's tallest climbing wall and a 600-metre ski slope on top of its slanted roof. The surrounding area will provide further recreational facilities, such as soccer fields, a go-kart track and water sports.
ARC brings Copenhagen one step closer to becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2025. It powers 62,500 homes and provides 160,000 households with hot water, while emitting 100,000 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide than the city's previous plant.
As part of the new design additions, the plant will emit carbon dioxide smoke in the form of giant rings for each 250kg of the gas produced. The smoke rings will be visible from most of Copenhagen and are expected to raise awareness about the scale of air pollution that's produced, even in a plant with huge efficiency measures. It's an attempt to help people become more aware of the waste they produce in their daily lives.
For more on the innovative solutions for environmentally friendly city living, see Smart Cities: High-Octane Hubs.