Convenience stores – and, most recently, drugstores – are the latest retail category to undergo a reinvention. We highlight an innovative concept that’s the result of an unusual partnership between France’s Casino Group and beauty giant L'Oréal: a new urban take on the convenience store.
Le Drugstore Parisien stocks everything from beauty and pharmacy products to healthy snacks and treats. It also provides free wi-fi, phone-charging points, water fountains, shoe-shine machines, parcel pick-up points, sinks and dressing tables, and even a “light therapy area”.
The target market of the new retail concept is the urban young, for whom “the lines between work, culture and fun are being blurred, creating a new way of living”, according to Jean Paul Mochet, chief executive of convenience banners at the Casino Group. Around 55% of products are priced at under €10.
The first two stores opened in late June in Paris on rue de la Chaussee d’Antin (360 sq m) and rue du Bac (150 sq m). A third is planned for the city, with a view to roll out the concept to other European locations and possibly even Brazil and Colombia, where Casino Group has subsidiaries.
Jean-Charles Naouri, chairman of Casino Group, hailed the launch as proof “that major companies are able to come together to invent and create unique, original places in line with contemporary lifestyles”.
For its first foray into Instagram TV (IGTV), Instagram's long-form video format, spirits brand Bacardi used poll widgets in Instagram Stories to let its fan community direct a music video shoot in real time.
The brand collaborated with Grammy-nominated Canadian DJ A-Trak and French dancers Les Twins, who have performed with the likes of Beyoncé and Missy Elliot. During the nine-hour shoot, Instagram Story polls were posted on Les Twins' account, letting fans vote on different aspects of the video. With the audience picking background locations, dance moves, colour filters and camera angles, the final clip arose from 1,024 possible variations.
Using Instagram Stories, a media format consumers are already familiar with, was a canny move by creative agency BBDO New York to draw Bacardi's audience into the new IGTV channels. The resulting Live Moves clip is part of Bacardi's ongoing #DoWhatMovesYou campaign, which focuses on self-expression and liberation.
"It's a much deeper, more meaningful level of engagement that pushes fans to really think about what moves them and take control of the narrative," said Bacardi's director of creative excellence, Laila Mignoni.
As we explored at length in State of Media: The Fan-First Revolution, interactive, personalised and crowd-sourced content will play a central role in brand media strategies going forth. In our round-up of developments from E3 2018, we also note how the latest developments in cross-platform gaming will unlock great potential for interactive brand storytelling.
From extreme colour to unisex make-up, the 2018 edition of annual cosmetics and packaging trade show MakeUp in Paris (June 21-22) highlighted strong beauty directions, with brands and formulators prioritising sustainability with sex appeal.
Here are the top five trends from the show:
A Chinese e-commerce giant that invented a shopping festival, ostensibly to celebrate the anniversary of the company’s launch, saw sales soar again this year. JD.com reported $24bn in sales for the 18-day event.
Chinese consumers’ enthusiasm for festivals and special events was highlighted again in June with the runaway success of the 618 Shopping Festival, created by JD.com.
The e-commerce giant reported RMB 159.2bn ($24.6bn) in sales for this year’s version of its annual shopping celebration – 37% up on the 2017 event.
The festival, which ran from June 1-18, neatly coincided with Father’s Day in China and the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival. Top categories were mobile phones, PCs, air conditioners, other digital products, and food and beverages.
Rival e-tailer Alibaba’s shopping event Singles Day, held in November, reached sales of $25.3bn in 2017, up 40% compared to 2016 (NY Times, 2017). Meanwhile, in the US, Amazon is expected to run its annual Prime Day event in July this year.
Stefanie Dorfer, Retail editor at Stylus, commented: “These kinds of self-made events are producing exceptional figures. As a marketing exercise, they have proven to be outstandingly successful. The lead retailer’s partners and even its competitors are all able to benefit from these festivals.”
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.
Online fashion and beauty retailer Asos is extending its diversity agenda once more with a fashion-forward jumpsuit that’s suitable for wheelchair users, created in collaboration with British Paralympic athlete Chloe Ball-Hopkins.
The waterproof outfit costs £50 and has an adjustable hood, a zip around the waist to make it easier to get in and out of, cuffs that allow the sleeve length to be changed, and a pocket for medical supplies. It’s currently only available in one style – pink tie-dye – but Ball-Hopkins hinted that similar garments could soon be on the way. She also clarified that the jumpsuit can be worn by anyone, not just those with disabilities, highlighting the universality of the design.
The accessible suit is far from the retailer’s first encounter with progressiveness – Asos regularly houses exclusive plus-size collections, carries gender-neutral products, and promotes body positivity through inclusive brand marketing. With consumers increasingly demanding diversity across age, size, race and ability, the project is a good reminder that brands should aim for ultimate inclusivity; those that don’t will be left behind.
'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.
Virtual reality (VR) is plunging consumers into multisensory environments, impacting industries from product development to entertainment. Now, Swiss scent and flavour house Givaudan has added scent to the equation with its new 'Smell-In-A-Box' technology.
Launching at San Francisco conference Food IT in June 2018, Givaudan has created a smell emitter that releases fragrances that align with visuals projected through a VR headset. The version showcased at the event placed wearers in a virtual kitchen, with the scent emitter releasing the smells of different ingredients as they appeared within the space. These included bananas, strawberries, onions and garlic.
This technology, which has scope for cross-industry impact, is exciting for several reasons. In terms of food and drink, it further validates thinking around VR-enhanced dining experiences and product development first put forward in our report Sensory Edibles. It could also be used in the entertainment space – allowing gamers and film viewers to become even more fully immersed in virtual worlds via the addition of olfactory stimulation.
For further examples of how product developers are using scent to enhance the consumer experience, see New Fragrance Worlds and Scented Cup Simulates Flavour. See also Tribeca Immersive 2018: The Art of AR/VR and CES 2018 x Retail: Emotion-Tracking VR Headset to discover more on the rapid and evolving growth of VR products across the industry spectrum.
Following the opening of Lush’s packaging-free store in Milan, the brand has pledged to further develop its eco-friendly range with an inclusive twist.
British naturals brand Lush is expanding its make-up line with vegan multi-tonal foundation sticks – set to launch in 18 countries. The compact Slap Sticks are available in 40 hues with cool, neutral or warm undertones. Hero ingredients Indonesian coconut oil, Turkish rose wax and Peruvian jojoba oil hydrate and brighten the skin.
The development of shade-inclusive collections is becoming the norm for the colour cosmetics industry, as savvy beauty brands acknowledge diverse consumer groups. Cult US companies ColourPop and CoverGirl are good examples – both have recently relaunched their foundation ranges with up to 42 hues.
In a bid to reduce plastic waste, each Slap Stick is housed in a biodegradable wax casing, encouraging wearers to forego traditional glass or plastic foundation bottles. This ‘unpackaged’ approach has been successfully implemented within the brand’s hair and bodycare ranges – currently, over 35% of Lush’s products are ‘naked’.
In addition, the sticks offer on-the-go usability. The easy-grip egg shape of the foundation stick – which resembles a make-up sponge – ensures consumers can apply the make-up with their fingers and blend the formula for an airbrushed finish, without the use of bulky applicator tools.
While currently a limited-edition run, if popular, they could be rolled out as a permanent feature, and inspire the brand to explore more packaging-free product development in other categories.
Convenience stores across the globe are undergoing a healthy transformation, becoming wellness havens that offer fresh, organic food and vegan alternatives. A new West Coast opening – The Goods Mart in Los Angeles – combines sustainability with activism.
Described as the ‘7-Eleven of the future’, organic home essentials are the key product at The Goods Mart – a convenience store that opened in May 2018 in Los Angeles.
The bright space with clean interiors carries 300 all-natural products free from artificial colours, sweeteners, flavours and growth hormones. Partnerships with local businesses result in high-quality items at lower prices, including eco-friendly boxed water for $1.25, and misshapen fruit and vegetables for 50 cents. iPads at the checkout educate consumers on the provenance of products, responding to concerns about transparency in retail.
This is a smart business opportunity, with 68% of US millennials willing to pay premium for organic food (Matchbox, 2017). “The fresh, organic and plant-based movement is not a fad by any means,” says Laura Swain, assistant editor of Food, Beverage & Hospitality at Stylus. “It’s a major trend.”
The Goods Mart also dedicates space to community events and donates food nearing its expiry date to the homeless. Consumers are also encouraged to support local charities by leaving tips at the till.
Serving as a test store, The Goods Mart plans to expand nationally in 2019.
Global hit game Minecraft is pulling its players' design skills into the physical realm to help restore coral reefs.
To promote its recent Aquatic update – where players can build and explore underwater landscapes – Minecraft drew players into the new game environment by challenging them to build virtual coral reefs. Once 10 million underwater building blocks were placed, Minecraft released a donation to US environmental charity The Nature Conservancy.
The gaming community further boosted donations by buying in-game design items, with all proceeds going towards the cause. The Nature Conservancy said the funds generated will enable the placement of 15,000 corals in the US Virgin Islands, Mexico, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.
The initiative also turned some of the resulting in-game designs into actual underwater sculptures made from BioRock – a man-made medium that promotes coral growth. Six BioRock structures have been installed off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico; three feature familiar characters from the Minecraft franchise, while the remaining three were designed by players.
On Earth Day in April 2018, Pokémon Go galvanised its mobile gamers by rewarding players who showed up at geolocations for environmental clean-up events. Clearly, there is huge engagement potential for brands that know how to harness the gaming community's creative energies and narrative passions.
For more on how cross-play (the ability to play the same game across mobile- and home-bound devices) will create opportunities for brands to use the narrative immersion of gaming to drive actions in the physical world, see our recap of E3 2018.
A pioneering multifunctional luxury townhouse, 5 Carlos Place, is being opened by fashion e-commerce company MatchesFashion in the heart of upscale Mayfair in London this September. Here’s a preview of what will make it special.
The six-floor, 5,000 sq ft townhouse promises to expand the parameters of what a brand space can offer. It’s a big addition to MatchesFashion’s small bricks-and-mortar retail portfolio, which includes a much smaller townhouse, No. 23, in London’s Marylebone district, and five physical stores.
Speaking to Stylus ahead of launch, chief brand officer Jess Christie said the space aimed to “educate, engage and inspire our customers, and bring a sense of fun and enjoyment back into physical retail”. It will host a broadcasting studio as well as a year-round programme of events, evolving into a cultural hub.
The company sees 5 Carlos Place as “a blank canvas” where it can work with partners on all kinds of events. A blend of digital and physical is at the heart of the project. Christie said: “For us, the future of retail is to be even more personal, to use technology to really understand and serve our customer and make their life easier.”
Customers will be able to shop straight from their mobile, she added, “as technology in the space will link you directly to the product on-site to add to your basket or wish list”. Another option will be to book a bespoke private shopping appointment.
Roger Tredre, acting head of Retail at Stylus, said: “The early signs are that this is a thrillingly experimental project that will demonstrate how companies primarily operating online can raise their profiles, and strengthen their customer base through physical space innovation.”
Now in its seventh year, Korea’s K-Design Awards celebrate the best in spatial, industrial and communication design. We share our three favourite packaging projects and the key learnings they illustrate.
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.
Consumer demand for sustainable goods and advanced technology is on the rise. Smart brands and retailers are finding innovative ways to satisfy these environmentally conscious yet stylistically discerning millennials. Here, we take a look at three future-facing fashion projects and innovations for July.
For more on sustainable solutions, see A Sustainable Journey, Fashion’s Sustainability Surge and Sustainability Turns Smart: Manufacturing a Clean Future.