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The Brief
Published: 14 Jun 2019

Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime: The Future of Gaming from E3 2019

By far the biggest attention-grabber at the 2019 E3 expo in Los Angeles (11-13th June), US actor Keanu Reeves revealed his involvement in the already hotly anticipated dystopian roleplay game Cyberpunk 2077. However, announcements regarding the future infrastructure of how games are accessed is likely to have the biggest impact on the power and reach of the sector.

Industry giants Sony and Microsoft as well as Google itself are readying themselves for the arrival of 5G mobile internet by setting up cloud gaming networks. These systems will break down the many accessibility barriers of the old industry model, which called for gamers to update dedicated and costly hardware every couple of years.

With infrastructure set up so that anyone could log into a high-end game, anytime, on any personal mobile device, the reach of these sprawling interactive communities will explode. As noted in our Gamescom 2018 report, bringing high-end gaming to mobile devices via cloud-streaming services would add around two billion screens to the infrastructure.

Where there's streaming, there's subscriptions. From Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, to developer and publisher Ubisoft's Uplay+, to the much-discussed Google Stadia, every corner of the gaming industry is working to become the Netflix of interactive entertainment. How this will impact game creators' incomes remains to be seen – but with changes in monetisation systems come tremendous opportunities for any brand to forge marketing partnerships.

For more on the diverse and dynamic engagement strategies taking hold in this huge market, check out The State of Esports.

Published: 14 Jun 2019

Solar Panels Turn Pollution into Food

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Imperial College London

Scientists at London start-up Aboreal have conceived a way to reduce CO2 levels in polluted cities using bio-solar panels, whilst simultaneously producing next-gen nutrition.

The BioSolar Leaf system facilitates plant growth, such as microalgae and phytoplankton, on solar panels. Through photosynthesis, algae convert solar energy and CO2 into breathable oxygen. Each panel absorbs the same amount of carbon dioxide as 100 trees per day.

The algae can then be harvested as an antioxidant-rich plant-based food source. Gram for gram, spirulina – a common form of algae – has more calcium than milk, more beta-carotene than carrots and more protein than meat.

This new way of producing algae, which is being piloted on the rooftop of Imperial College London's new campus, is less expensive to execute than laboratory-based production and results in higher quality algae.

Julian Melchiorri, chief executive and founder of Arboreal, said of the invention: "My goal was to tackle climate change while addressing critical issues related to the food system. This pilot plant will produce sustainable healthy food additives while purifying the air, producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the surrounding environment."

This multifunctional bio-solution is an exciting evolution in the mission to turn cityscapes into climate-friendlier spaces.

For an example of how algae cultivation can provide nutrition in the workplace, read Smart Sustenance, and see Self-Sustaining Spaces for more on eco-friendly kitchens of the future.

Published: 14 Jun 2019

Adventure-seeking millennial travellers are spending less on accommodation and more on experiences, dining and Instagram-worthy moments. Responding to this mindset, savvy hospitality operators are offering flexible micro-rooms, updated motels and next-gen hostel concepts that deliver the most bang for their buck.

At a Glance
Relevant Industries
  • Travel/Hospitality
Trend Duration
Now 2 yrs 5 yrs 10 yrs 20 yrs
Innovation Platforms
  • Nifty Spaces: Hotel brands are conjuring up spatial concepts that appeal to millennials who spend minimal time inside their guestrooms. "Millennials are used to a fast-paced life and this continues when they travel. Hotels become less important because time spent relaxing in the room is far from the focus of the trip," says Tyler Protano-Goodwin, marketing manager UK holiday company Audley Travel.

    Hilton's new sub-brand Motto by Hilton takes inspiration from the boutique end of the hostel sector. Its space-saving rooms come with loft and bunk beds as well as beds that double as modular sofas. Room temperature, lighting and electric window shades are controlled via an app, and guests have access to high-speed WiFi. The first Motto property opens in London in 2020, followed by outposts in Boston, Dublin and Lima.
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Motto By Hilton
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Motto By Hilton
    Similarly, Japanese luxury hotel group Hoshino Resorts' affordable new Omo5 Tokyo hotel is inspired by yagura – a type of Japanese wooden scaffolding. Its 125 minimalist rooms are constructed from cedar wood frames with raised sleeping areas and traditional tatami flooring. Guests can sign up to 'ranger' tours ($6) with local experts, who accompany them to hidden cultural sites and under-the-radar restaurants and bars.
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Omo5 Tokyo
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Omo5 Tokyo
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Omo5 Tokyo
    Meanwhile, in March 2019, UK budget hotel chain Premier Inn opened its first Zip by Premier Inn hotel, a new ultra-affordable hospitality concept. The 8.5 sq m rooms – conceived by PriestmanGoode, a British design consultancy that specialises in aircraft interiors – are half the size of the operator's standard lodgings. All rooms come with an ensuite bathroom and adjustable light box to simulate natural light. Rates start at £19 ($22) per night.
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Zip By Premier Inn
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Zip By Premier Inn
  • Roadside Reinvented: Recognising that nearly 60% of American millennials took at least one road trip last year (MMGY Global, 2019), opportunistic hospitality brands are looking to reinvent the roadside.

    Hotel and members' club Soho House has opened Mollie's Motel & Diner, the first of a series of affordable hospitality spaces located alongside the motorway in Oxfordshire (as covered here). Inspired by 50s Americana culture, the establishment features a diner, drive-thru, general store and co-working space. Its 79 rooms (£70 per night) display luxury touches associated with the brand, such as toiletries from Soho House's spa brand Cowshed, Egyptian cotton sheets and rainforest showerheads.
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Mollie's Motel & Diner
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Mollie's Motel & Diner
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Mollie's Motel & Diner
    Meanwhile, Austin's Bunkhouse hotel group recently acquired and renovated San Francisco's Phoenix Hotel, a 50s motel historically frequented by stars like David Bowie and Kurt Cobain. As such, the upgraded space is inspired by travelling musicians, featuring wood panelling, record players, vintage furniture, retro rock concert posters and neon lighting. The outpost hosts regular pool parties with live bands and DJs.

    Similarly, in May 2019, Canadian boutique hotel group The Drake opened Drake Motor Inn, a 50s-themed roadside hotel in Ontario. The motel, which is covered in vintage art and hosts photography exhibitions, loans out bikes and polaroid cameras to adventure-seeking guests.
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Phoenix Hotel
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Drake Motor Inn
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  • Hostels Shift Gear: Galvanised by budget-conscious, community-minded millennials, the global hostel scene is predicted to boom, growing from $5.5bn in 2017 to $6.2bn by 2020 (PhocusWright, 2018). This opportunity is catching the eye of investors – in 2018, French real estate investment company Foncière des Régions allocated around €400m ($450m) to invest in European hostels.

    Hostel brands are attracting millennials by offering Instagram-ready design features and unique experiences. Bangkok's Kloem Hostel, which opened in late 2018, enables guests to decorate the space around their bunk to help them feel at home. Guests can request potted plants, fish bowls and bamboo table lamps when they check in.
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Kloem Hostel
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Kloem Hostel
    In the same year, Portuguese port brand Sandeman's opened The House of Sandeman hostel in Porto. The lodgings are port-themed too: it's located in an 18th-century wine cellar and the bunk beds are constructed from wine barrels. For an extra fee, guests can experience wine and port tastings and vineyard tours.
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The House of Sandeman
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The House of Sandeman
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The House of Sandeman
Published: 14 Jun 2019

For Gen Z teens, maintaining a positive, balanced lifestyle is more important than losing a few pounds or hitting the gym. Mental health and identity are key drivers behind a movement towards progressive, holistic wellbeing. Building on themes seen in 10 Wellbeing Trends to Watch, we highlight the opportunities for brands to engage this diverse cohort.

Summary
Holistic Health
Teens are not just looking for physical workouts; mental health, mindfulness and altruism all combine to create their vision of fitness. Brands should examine Gen Z experiences to create relevant exercises that address the concerns of both body and mind.
Inclusive Communities
This generation is socially, racially and sexually diverse ­– but traditional sports applications tend to overlook marginalised communities. To keep up with the times, fitness facilities need to ensure they’re providing a safe, understanding environment for everyone.
Accessing Activities
Typical bricks-and-mortar gyms are becoming passé, as teens expect integrated digital experiences wherever they go. It’s no different in the active sphere; look to Gen Z-loved platforms and gamified workouts to keep their interest.
At a Glance
The Regional Focus of this Report – Global
Relevant Industries
  • Fashion/Apparel
  • Fitness/Sports/Outdoor
Trend Duration
Now 2 yrs 5 yrs 10 yrs 20 yrs
Innovation Platforms

Holistic Health

Gen Z are stressed. In fact, 91% say they’ve felt physical or emotional symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, associated with stress (American Psychological Association, 2018). But they have already made the connection between being active and being happy, with 65% stating they are at least casually active (Physical Activity Council, 2018).

  • Work Out Your Stress: According to recent research on how physical activity influences mood, people who work out once a week – even for as little as 10 minutes a day – tend to be happier than those who never exercise (Psychology Today, 2018).

    Millennial and Gen Z-minded content platform Refinery29 got 2019 off to an active start with its ‘joyful movement’ campaign. The 21-day plan included activities such as walking, jump rope and trampolining to help readers try new sports, get their bodies moving, and start the new year with a cheerful outlook.
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Richard Chance via Refinery29
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  • Mindful Moments: Consistent mindfulness meditation practice can help reduce anxiety, depression, stress and pain. This has led to the rise of fitness activities which focus on the mind as well as the body.
    Last year, London fitness space Frame launched its HIIT and Chill class. Speed and strength movements are followed by a cool-down meditation sound bath. Cult LA gym Knockout similarly offers emotionally supportive classes such as confidence-boosting dance workouts, meditation and workshops to address career troubles within the gym space. There is a distinct gap in the market for fitness brands and gyms to address teen-specific issues, such as school and puberty stresses.
    Charities are also supporting the cross-pollination of mental and physical fitness. Last summer, UK men's mental health charity Humen partnered with Barry's Bootcamp to deliver a HIIT class and mental health discussion. Money raised from the event went towards Humen’s Gym for the Mind campaign, which aims to make men “feel more human”.
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Frame HIIT & Chill
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Knockout
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Humen X Barry's Bootcamp
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Humen X Barry's Bootcamp
  • Active Activism: With the Tenacious Teens of our 2019 Consumer Zodiac championing ethics and sustainability, this demographic will increasingly expect their fitness providers to follow suit. UK gym 1Rebel's #REBELAGAINSTPLASTIC initiative is eliminating single-use plastic from its gyms and providing reusable alternatives.
    In December 2018, it opened its first 100% single-use-plastic-free gym on London’s Southbank. To explore more altruistic activations within the sports industry, read our Fitness Futures: Social Sport Trends report.
    When teens work out, they want to feel good as well as look the part. Earlier this year, British YouTube fitness influencer Grace Fit UK launched new activewear brand Tala. All of the workout garments in the range are made from recycled pre- and post-consumer materials, such as cotton and plastic water bottles. The company’s shipping packaging is recyclable, and all labels are printed on plantable seed-studded paper to help reach the brand’s goal of becoming 100% sustainable in the future.

Generation Z has come of age at a time when health and wellness is a major consideration. Many younger members […] follow their parents’ healthy ways, and it seems health consciousness only gets stronger as they approach adulthood.

Dana Macke, Associate Director – Lifestyles and Leisure Reports, Mintel
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Tala

Inclusive Communities

Gen Z are a diverse cohort, and therefore expect brands and retailers to take an inclusive stance with their products and platforms. They want safe, LGBTQ+-friendly, gender-neutral spaces that allow everyone to thrive and get fit at the same time.

  • Every Body: A 2018 Ypulse survey revealed that US girls’ confidence levels can drop by 30% between the ages of eight and 14, and more than half feel pressure to be perfect. But young men are just as vulnerable – recently published data shows that hospital admissions of boys being treated for eating disorders in the UK has almost doubled in the last eight years (NHS, 2018).
    Type #fitspo into Instagram, and you’ll find more than 56 million posts – the majority promoting svelte, toned body shapes. However, empowered youth movements, communities and individuals are breaking down fitness body stereotypes.
    Instagram influencers like @mynameisjessamyn, @karinairby, @theeverymanproject and @biggalyoga are here to challenge the norm. Their messages of inclusivity and body confidence have resonated deeply – amassing around two million followers between them. Additionally, hype brands like Outdoor Voices, as well as established mainstays like Nike are taking inclusive stances by casting and representing people of all shapes and sizes in their campaigns and store mannequins.
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@karinairby
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The Everyman Project
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biggalyoga
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Outdoor Voices
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Nike
  • Beyond Binary: In recent years, queer and trans visibility has increased. In fact, 35% of Gen Z say they know someone who prefers to be addressed with gender-neutral pronouns (Pew, 2019). For a lot of trans and non-binary youngsters, gendered fitness and gym spaces can be intimidating.
    Open and inclusive ones like LA’s Everybody and California’s The Queer Gym are providing supportive environments. Gender-neutral changing facilities are just some of the initiatives taken to make members feel safe and comfortable, encouraging exercisers to share their preferred pronouns ahead of classes and removing mirrors to de-emphasise the aesthetics of fitness.
    Personal fitness is estimated to be a $9bn industry, with online training taking up an increasing share of the market. A growing percentage of online trainers are trans and non-binary, catering to demographics wary of traditional gym atmospheres.
    Jesse Diamond is a transgender National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified fitness trainer in Nashville, and has an audience of over 35,000. And Atlanta-based Shawn Stinson, a transgender personal trainer and competitive bodybuilder, has an audience of almost 17,000. Both have high engagement with their followers, making them ideal micro-influencers for brands looking to connect with this audience.
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Everybody Gym features gender neutral changing rooms
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The Queer Gym
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  • Broadening the Perspective: Nearly half of Gen Z identify as non-white, but people of colour (PoC) have long been underrepresented in fitness and wellness (Pew, 2018). Young female PoC leaders are creating innovative ways to bring self-care to new audiences.
  • Sanchia Legister of London’s Yogahood removes the social barriers preventing PoC from participating in yoga. Britteny Floyd-Mayo, also known as Trap Yoga Bae, introduces “those who feel ostracised from the typical Yogi experience” to the exercise by using trap music and a live DJ to create a party atmosphere. Based in San Francisco, the events draw crowds in their hundreds.
  • Similarly, New York's Spiked Spin launched to provide affordable cycling classes for black female-identifying individuals after founder Briana Owens became frustrated with the lack of PoC-minded wellness activities the city had to offer. Until mainstream companies catch on, these fitness start-ups are leading the way for inclusivity

Health and wellbeing brands should celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of this generation. Explore opportunities to create products and experiences that relate directly to Gen Z’s life experience, while providing safe environments in which to improve their fitness.

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Spiked Spin

Accessing Activities

Teens are self-sufficient and clued-up; they go online to find the best deals, download DIY apps, and discover new trends through peers and celebrity influencers. With democratised co-creation becoming a clear consumer driver for Gen Z, they’re increasingly expecting brands to reach them via connected platforms and devices.  

  • Digital DIY: As well as Snapchat, YouTube is where Gen Zers go for information. New York boutique fitness space Performix House taps into this generation’s interest in individual content creation. It offers an in-house studio, where members and trainers have access to brand-building resources such as a full production team to create fitness instruction videos and other social media content.
  • App-letics: According to a study by UniDays, 43% of surveyed teens work out at home. Over half own or have access to a smartphone, so it’s no surprise that mobile fitness activations are a popular choice for teens (Pew, 2018). Cult apps like Kayla ItsinesSweat, Gymfitty and Freeletics offer personal training and fitness support on smartphones.
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  • VR IRL: There’s been an explosion of virtual reality (VR) spaces and apps where users can go to look after their bodies – and their minds. Such fitness experiences will appeal to the digital-native Gen Z demographic, who are used to tech applications across all facets of their life.
    Fitness companies are already capitalising on the novelty of alternate realities. Last year, cult US activewear brand Outdoor Voices released an augmented reality (AR) app that encouraged consumers to hit the great outdoors in order to purchase new products ahead of their official release.
    As this generation is familiar with interacting with technology in the leisure space, gamifying exercise through VR and AR is a great way to engage their interest in getting and staying fit.
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VR fitness experiences will appeal to the digital-native Gen Z demographic
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Outdoor Voices AR Trail Shop
  • Leveraging Affordability: As many youngsters are still financially dependent on their parents, cost-effective fitness solutions will act as a key consumer driver. Low-cost and pay-as-you-go gyms and schemes are already finding success among young consumers. There are more than 500 low-cost clubs in the UK, which cost less than £20 ($25.50) a month, and account for 15% of the market value.
    US chain Planet Fitness has recognised this demand. The brand is offering free memberships at its 1,700 locations for teens aged 15-18 from June to September to help them keep their fitness levels up during the school summer break. Other gyms would be wise to follow suit; it could cultivate loyal members beyond their teenage years, and encourage other family members to join for convenience.

To reach Gen Z, brands must learn to speak their language and optimise their product for teen-friendly channels. Don’t ignore digital, but integrate IRL (in real life) activities with immersive tech to appeal to this cohort. Companies must always consider economic accessibility, as many of this generation are still dependent on the bank of mum and dad.

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Published: 14 Jun 2019

Collision 2019: Tech for Human Connection

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Bungalow

A crop of start-ups at the Collision tech conference in Toronto last month focused on building community and connection, responding to the rise of Gen Lonely, and the backlash against established social platforms. Here, we look at two that stood out from the crowd.

  • Creating Renter Communities: Targeting urban isolation and the mass of millennial renters is Bungalow – North America’s fastest-growing co-living company, according to co-founder Andrew Collins. Rather than focusing on short-term rentals, Collins said Bungalow is “building rich community within households and across households”.
    The start-up pairs users with roommates and also hosts events to bring local Bungalow residents together. An app that helps members report maintenance issues includes a social component, encouraging users to connect with one another.
    Two years since launch, Bungalow has expanded to 10 American cities, leveraging existing inventory rather than building new housing. It signs multi-year leases with homeowners, furnishing and maintaining the properties, and rents rooms individually.
  • Coupling Kindness with Commerce: Austin-based Koya, which launched last month, encourages users to create meaningful points of connection with friends and family, said co-founder Courtney Werner.
    The app lets users send messages and surprise gifts that are geo-located to spots a recipient frequents or is likely to visit. For instance, upon arriving at their hotel, a traveller might receive a smartphone notification that a friend has bought them a drink at the bar; users are charged through PayPal when gifts are redeemed. Koya is currently seeking brand partnerships.
    According to Phoebe Scriven, a venture capital investor with London firm Rooks Nest, this type of positive, interpersonal activity is something we’ll see more commonly as platforms look to help users forge and maintain deeper relationships. See also Next-Gen Online Communities in our Spring 2019 Pop Culture Round-Up.

Find our full report on Collision 2019 here.

Published: 13 Jun 2019

Trend Report Lowdown: Towards Our Sustainable Future

Date:Thursday, June 13, 2019
Author:Charlie Gilbert

From leveraging longer product life cycles to exploring the wealth in waste, our new Macro Trend reveals how your business can – and must – contribute to a truly sustainable future. Here’s what it covers across 10 reports.

Sustainability. Can it really be described as a trend?

Not in the traditional sense of the word, no. Rather, it’s an imperative that every single one of us – whatever our industry, role or status – has to get on board with. Right now – and we really do mean right now – we must all take action. And to do that, we need to learn from each other.

Where to start, on something that can seem overwhelming?

Well, by reading our latest Macro Trend: Towards Our Sustainable Future. Its 10 reports cover everything from The Wealth in Waste – which explores how upcycling creates circularity in product design, architecture, beauty and fashion, to Reaching Eco Demographics, which shows how to best reach a range of audiences to promote eco living.

What do these audiences look like?

Let’s break it down generationally. First, boomers and seniors: they’ve typically been ignored in the sustainability conversation, but with the environmental crisis firmly entrenched, they’re looking to make eco-conscious adjustments to their lives.

Next, Gen X, whose sustainability concerns are centred on their families. Sustainable products, services and messaging will go down well with a group that’s genuinely fearful for their children’s future.

Millennials. They may have less disposable income than the generations preceding them, but the money they do have is used to support sustainable causes. They’ve demonstrated their commitment to sustainability; brands now have to mirror this in their business models.

Gen Z, meanwhile, are passionate climate activists who are able to make their voices heard globally – just look at Greta Thunberg. Brands should engage with the ethos of this generation early.

Finally, Gen Alpha – the first sustainability natives. Here, we believe, lies a rich opportunity for new eco-driven initiatives.

How to engage these demographics, and their nuances?

It won’t be easy: marketing messages around sustainability aren’t cutting through. Brands, then, need new ways to talk about the issue – and that means doing more than planet-friendly pledges.

Could your business facilitate positive behaviour change? Can you be more honest by admitting mistakes and being open about your challenges? And can you go beyond non-specific terms and vague promises to re-engage the sceptical?

Communicating with Conscious Consumers, the Macro’s Media & Marketing report, reveals how to answer “yes” to these questions by creating platforms for change, spotlighting transparency, and promoting definitive climate-positive goals.

What other reports are in Towards Our Sustainable Future?

The Post-Vegan Opportunity, which explains why tomorrow’s planet-positive diet must prioritise diversity, compassion and radical thinking.

Ethical Travel’s Breakthrough, which unpacks the products and services blending sustainability, luxury and wanderlust.

Leveraging Longer Product Life, which shows how to monetise the growing global demand for extending life cycles in all kinds of consumer product categories.

Water Warriors, which deep dives into cross-industry best practice in water conservation – from small, mindful tweaks to large-scale, tech-driven innovations.

Eco-Ethical Retail Tech, which examines the powerful role consumer-facing retail tech has to play in the battle for sustainability.

And Tech’s Holistic Revolution, which explores the transformative technologies that are helping reshape the nature of sustainability.

I count nine. What’s the final one?

Ah, our Editors’ Insights. Shall we share a couple?

Yes please.

Well, Mandy Saven, our head of Food, Beverage & Hospitalty, says that while there are many reasons for going vegan, saving the planet “isn’t one of them”. “While many media channels, food brands and even celebs are selling us a convincing story about its ability to reduce food scarcity and eco damage,” she says, “the reality is far more nuanced and complex.”

And here’s Christian Ward, our head of Media & Marketing, on why people are becoming numb to sustainability messaging. “Despite increasing demand for more ethical choices, brands face a challenge in articulating their purpose in a way that cuts through,” he explains.

“The opportunity for marketers is to reframe the sustainability conversation into something more optimistic, with education and accessibility at its heart.”

< Back to all posts

Published: 13 Jun 2019

Daye’s CBD Tampons Reduce Period Pain

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Daye

The feminine care industry is experiencing a complete transformation, as bold indie brands step into the spotlight and shatter taboos. Simultaneously, smart companies are reinventing everyday products to optimise comfort. British start-up Daye is launching CBD-infused tampons, with the aim of making periods as pain-free as possible.  

Set to launch in Autumn 2019, the brand’s first product offers an alternative to traditional painkillers. Each tampon is coated with 30% cannabidiol (CBD) oil to maximise pain relief during menstruation. CBD naturally decreases this discomfort when absorbed via the vaginal canal, as it holds the highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors. 

Daye is breaking new ground with its product launch by targeting menstrual cramps, an area of feminine care that’s relatively overlooked. It’s also tapping into the boom of CBD-related products that ease pain – about 40% of US consumers turn to CBD to alleviate aches (Eaze, 2019).

Daye also debuted its female-first blog Vitals ahead of the product launch. The health-focused platform aims to reduce the stigma around periods. It covers a range of topics, including women’s health and CBD, offering practical advice on both to help alleviate physical discomfort during menstruation. This is a key issue in the UK – about 57% of British women feel period pain has affected their ability to work (YouGov, 2017).   

In addition, the brand is targeting women who actively search for eco-friendly products. The packaging includes water-soluble paper wrappers and compostable refill pouches. Daye also provides users with a renewably sourced sugarcane applicator.

For more on the beauty industry’s use of cannabis, see CBD Beauty's Rush: Unpicking the Hype and The Chillery: A Weed Wellness Platform.

Published: 12 Jun 2019

At Stylus’ Decoded Future summit in London this year (June 6), discussions spanned the imperative of sustainability, creating stronger bonds with customers, and the tricky business of forging authentic digital connections.

Summary
Verify Your Message
“Trust in advertising is at an all-time low because we are being saturated with [it],” said Jenny Quigley-Jones, founder of UK marketing agency Digital Voices. To overcome the trust barrier when discussing vital issues like sustainability, brands were urged to forge external, cross-industry partnerships that bolster their oft-grand claims.
Fashion’s Circular Pivot
As we explore in Leveraging Longer Product Life, the fashion industry is a prime offender when it comes to waste. From clothing rental stores to digital-only garments, speakers agreed that fashion’s future hinges on engaging consumers with circular business models. 
Bring Customers into the Fold
Tapping into the importance of customer-led engagement we discuss in Cultivating Brand Ambassadors, speakers highlighted the importance of engaging with niche and overlooked communities. “Get to know your customers’ quirks and habits,” said Colette Newberry, co-founder of beauty company The Inkey List. “Revenue will flow from deep connections.”
Next-Gen Influencer Marketing
Globally, 61% of consumers aged 18 to 34 have had their decision-making impacted by digital influencers (eConsultancy, 2018). But despite their sway over consumers, concerns have arisen regarding the transparency of influencer marketing. Brands are deploying clever strategies that create closer relationships between social media fans and companies, so potential customers trust their product or service. 
At a Glance
The Regional Focus of this Report – Global
Relevant Industries
  • Advertising/Marketing
  • Beauty
  • Fashion/Apparel
  • Media
  • Retail
Trend Duration
Now 2 yrs 5 yrs 10 yrs 20 yrs
Innovation Platforms

Verify Your Message

To get consumers engaged when discussing vital issues like sustainability, speakers agreed that it’s essential to ensure marketing initiatives are free from greenwashing. This demands cross-industry partnerships that enable brands to bolster each other’s messaging.

You need to start prioritising the planet over your profits, and if you don’t do this you won’t have a business in the long term.

Jane Robson Blanchard, Non-Executive Director, Braiform
  • Bring in a Third Party: Third-party certifications can provide consumers with actionable information about a company’s business practices. “Having an independent certification from a third-party company shows that your commitment isn’t only marketing,” said Aaron Hocking, EMEA managing director for Australian tour provider Intrepid, which became the first B-Corporation travel company in 2010.

    However, these certifications must be trustworthy and communicated effectively to be valuable. As we mention in Communicating with Conscious Consumers, part of our Towards Our Sustainable Future Macro Trend, most people don’t know what different certifications represent. Intrepid works around this knowledge gap through its blog and social media channels, which focus on the brand’s charitable endeavours, such as its community-based tourism project in Myanmar and campaign to promote mountain porter’s rights.

    Turkish denim brand Isko adopts a similar approach, educating consumers via its social media channels and activations about its EU Ecolabel and Nordic Swan Ecolabel certifications. Yet Rosey Cortazzi, Isko's global marketing director insists that these certifications are trusted by the consumer: “They know that these [certified] products will be soft on the skin and be safe to wear.”

    Listen to our Future Thinking podcast for more on navigating the complex space of sustainable travel.
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Emily Gordon-Smith presenting Towards Our Sustainable Future
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Isko at Decoded Future
  • Tech for Good: Several speakers emphasised the benefits of working with start-ups to resolve the most pressing global challenges. Paul Miller, managing partner and chief executive of Bethnal Green Ventures, said: “We have been helping Google and Microsoft to set up platforms for ‘Tech for Good’ start-ups. These larger corporations are actively seeking to work with mission-driven start-ups.”

    Marc Zornes, co-founder and chief executive of Winnow, added: “The one thing we [humans] have is the power of ingenuity to drive change, and organisations must appreciate this. Those taking climate change seriously will have a competitive edge.”

Fashion’s Circular Pivot

“[Fast fashion] is a model based on overconsumption, overproduction […] and the exploitation of women,” said MP for the UK’s Labour party Mary Creagh. Savvy brands are rethinking how future generations will interact with fashion, pushing for circular models that reduce the wear-it-once model of consumption.

I want fashion to set out its blueprint for a net zero emissions world.

Mary Creagh, Labour Party MP for Wakefield
  • Engaging with Resale: “Resale and rental has to be the future because we can’t keep using new resources,” said Sara Arnold, founder of British fashion rental company Higher Studio, which champions moderate consumption by only offering rare garments, such as atypical coats and power jumpsuits. According to Arnold, such clothing helps “people to really appreciate wearing something unusual”.

    For Arnold, this clothing is an excuse to push the eco-activist agenda: “Everyone with a platform has a responsibility to tell the truth and raise awareness [about climate change]. As a company, we’ve declared a climate emergency.” As such, the brand’s social media platforms forego glossy outfit shots for calls to action on raising sustainability awareness.
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Higher Studio
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Mary Creagh
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Higher Studio
  • Digital Fashion’s Waste-Reducing Message: Partly inspired by the boom in digital influencers (see AI Influencers Rise Up below), Dutch company The Fabricant is pioneering tech for dressing consumers’ virtual alter egos (such as avatars) with digital-only clothing lines. The fashion house uses 3D visualisations to develop luxury garments that will never be made physically – but exist digitally as one-of-a-kind blockchain tokens. In May 2019, the brand sold its first garment at auction for $9,500, suggesting that digital garments might provide a waste-free solution for the luxury fashion industry.

    Digital companies are also helping non-luxury consumers reduce their environmental footprint. Irish start-up The Nu Wardrobe lets users digitise their wardrobe and share their clothes with others. Before both parties arrange a collection point, a deposit fee of €5 ($5.65) is paid to secure the item. The company claims this initiative will reduce landfill waste, as people are encouraged to rent unused clothes and dress sustainably.

For more on renting clothing, see Leveraging Longer Product Life and A Sustainable Journey

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The Fabricant

There needs to be a bigger shift in consumer behaviour. People need to understand that when clothing has reached its end of life, it can be reused. We need infrastructure in place to fuel this change like doorstep collection.

Cyndi Rhoades, Founder & CEO, Worn Again Technologies
  • Tech-Enhanced Textiles: Smart manufacturers are answering the call of brands seeking eco-friendly material innovations to make ethical clothing. A fashion brand’s choice of raw materials determines up to 50% of its environmental footprint (WRAP, 2017).

    British fashion-tech company Worn Again Technologies aims to eradicate the use of virgin resources in clothing and textiles. The manufacturers have developed a technology that recycles the polymers of cotton and polyester. It extracts and purifies these raw materials to produce a virgin equivalent without microplastics. 

Bring Customers into the Fold

Speakers agreed that brands can foster loyalty by forging two-way partnerships with their customers, either by bringing them into their workforce or by having active conversations with them. This is an especially powerful way to communicate with cohorts frequently overlooked by marketers. 

  • Beauty Insiders: Niche brands are making waves in the beauty industry thanks to refined formulations and personas that appeal to skintellectuals. Colette Newberry, co-founder of British brand The Inkey List, spoke of the value of building a real relationship with customers. The brand purposefully doesn’t hire outside agencies to do this, instead, it partners with customers to test products, speaking to them directly about new launches. 

    For more on how niche brands are disrupting the beauty industry, listen to our Future Thinking podcast featuring The Inkey List co-founders.
  • Just for Boomers: Lara Crisp, editor of UK online over-50s community Gransnet, described boomers as brands’ biggest missed opportunity: 22% of those aged 55 to 64 live in households with a total wealth of £1m or more (ONS, 2019). According to Gransnet, this demographic feels alienated by advertising which commonly portrays them as either unrealistically rich and glamorous, or as worried crones peering anxiously into their purses.

    Crisp said that the key to selling to this cohort is understanding their nuances, by engaging with them through forums like Gransnet, hiring more of them in their companies, and using real people in ads aimed at them. “Companies simply don’t understand this market and treat over-50s as a homogenous group. We wouldn’t lump together a four-year-old and a 40-year-old,” she commented.
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From L-R: Lisa Payne, Matt Huban, Colette Newberry and Elise Ngobi at Decoded Future
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The Inkey List
  • Champion Core Identity: When engaging with audiences via community-led media such as memes, foregrounding brand message is crucial. According to Deborah Joseph, editor-in-chief of Glamour UK, the magazine struggled to grow its social media following by only sharing funny memes. When it started using Instagram’s Stories feature to champion its core pillars of feminism and empowerment via memes, its audience grew quickly.

    The ability to remain authentic without missing the mark is key, agreed John Montoya, UK marketing director at Vice. He is currently looking at how the brand can use quirky Gen Z-favourite app TikTok: “We don’t want to be the old people in the room. We try to achieve authenticity through staffing – employing young people.”

    For more on fan collaboration and the meme opportunity, see Pop Culture Round-Up: Meme Mechanics.
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Glamour UK
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Glamour UK
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Glamour UK

Next-Gen Influencer Marketing

Speakers explored the problems (and potentials) of influencer marketing, focusing on how brands can cut through social media noise by forging authentic connections. The role of AI influencers is also facing scrutiny as brands grapple with how best to integrate CGI avatars into a successful marketing strategy. 

  • Catching Influencer Attention: British colour cosmetics start-up Beautonomy has found success working with influencers to create bespoke eyeshadow palettes. “We collaborate with influencers to build something they love. What is great is that they keep using [the eyeshadow palettes]. It continues into multiple posts and [they] talk about the quality of make-up,” said the brand’s chief operating officer Kyle Karim. “In [making bespoke products] we have to create relationships. We can’t chuck your name on it and send it.”

    As influencer marketing proliferates, ‘consumer as creator’ strategies will help brands nurture meaningful relationships that eradicate one-off promotional transactions – see Supercharging Creativity for more.
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Beautonomy
  • AI Influencers Rise Up: AI and computer-generated models are infiltrating Instagram feeds, as the lines between fantasy and reality blur. Although these influencers have already been used in renowned campaigns, brands should employ them imaginatively.

    “Brands are only leveraging them for scenarios that human beings would be in. For Ugg’s 40th anniversary they just stuck in Lil Miquela and it was quite gimmicky,” commented Livvi Yallop, creative and influencer strategist at The Digital Fairy.

    American fast-food brand KFC set the standard for creative use of CGI influencers in a recent Instagram campaign that reimagined its spokesman, the Colonel, as a young adult. The Colonel appeared in typical influencer scenarios, such as discussing #selfcare in sponsored posts and undergoing a spiritual awakening at Joshua Tree National Park in California.

    According to Amie Shearer, head of influencer marketing at Mumsnet: “[The campaign] is a brilliant way to get people to engage with KFC Colonel’s Club by taking the brand into new digital spaces.” Brands would be wise to follow this inventive example, which uses AI influencers as an opportunity for broadening the brand’s fan base, rather than as a digital supplement to traditional influencers.
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Lil Miquela x Uggs
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Lil Miquela
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KFC
Published: 12 Jun 2019

Sustainable Footwear Solutions

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Tread by Everlane

Numerous brands are turning their attention to sustainable footwear solutions as a means to replace damaging manufacturing processes with resourceful alternatives. We round up noteworthy projects that use innovative material developments and low-impact strategies.

  • American apparel brand Everlane is on a mission to produce the world’s most sustainable sneaker with its new line Tread. The trainers are designed to be long-lasting and are made using carefully considered low-impact materials. The sole is a blend of natural and post-industrial recycled rubber (making it 94.2% virgin plastic-free), while the laces and lining are made using recycled plastic bottles. The brand has partnered with third-party firms to offset the carbon emissions they can’t yet eliminate, justifying a carbon neutral status. 
  • German footwear brand Nat-2 pioneers eco-friendly footwear using innovative materials. A recent release is the Milk Line, made using QMilk. This felt-like material is formed using milk fibres from leftover milk which is not suitable for the food industry – a valuable but overlooked raw material. The fibres are combined with wool to create a soft felt, which is temperature regulating and antibacterial.
  • A concept sneaker from Nat-2 features a blood-red bio-leather panel made from meat industry waste. The shoe is a collaboration with Israeli designer Shahar Livne who develops sustainable materials using low-value byproducts from slaughterhouses. The waste products – such as fat, bones and blood – are processed into a substance than can be moulded or 3D-printed into a leather-like material. See Waste Pioneers for more material innovations using food industry waste.

  • US start-up DopeKicks has launched a waterproof, eco-friendly sneaker made from hemp. Hemp fibres are processed into yarns and woven into a durable textile – a process that consumes three times less water than the production of cotton. The shoes also feature recycled rubber soles, cork insoles and are manufactured using ethical labour.

Read our latest Macro Trend, Towards Our Sustainable Future, for more innovative eco-conscious strategies.  

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Tread by Everlane
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Nat-2 Milk Line
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Nat-2 x Shahar Livne
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DopeKicks
Published: 11 Jun 2019
Date:Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Eco awareness, ethics and values now influence all travellers, and this mindset is opening up countless opportunities for brands and operators.

Our latest Future Thinking podcast – recorded at last week’s Decoded Future event in London – sees three travel industry heavyweights reveal what these opportunities look like.

Bouteco’s Juliet Kinsman, Intrepid Group’s Aaron Hocking, and Stylus’ own Mandy Saven were joined by journalist Deborah Cicurel to discuss what the new eco traveller looks like, wealth distribution, and how not to annoy customers.

 

Like what you hear? Don’t forget to subscribe to future episodes.

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Published: 11 Jun 2019

Maximalist Fashion Is Having a Moment at NYC Museums

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Camp: Notes on Fashion

The monotony of minimalism is over – or so claims a duo of current fashion exhibitions in NYC. The Metropolitan Museum grapples with camp subculture, while the Museum at FIT traces style’s perpetual swerve from understated to exuberant, and back again.

These shows reflect the fashion industry’s current interest in irreverent glamour – a trend we analyse in Luxury Fashion’s Open-Source Thinking. In Camp: Notes on Fashion at the Met, this glamour is manifested in the exhibit’s unabashedly theatrical approach. Loosely structured around the 1964 essay Notes on Camp by American intellectual Susan Sontag, it moves from an exploration of the genesis of camp, to a dramatic display of contemporary, over-the-top garments. 

Camp emerges as a perennial flourish of showmanship – whether expressed in a Renaissance statue’s hip-out contrapposto pose, or Dutch fashion duo Viktor & Rolf’s 2019 billowing tulle meme dresses.  

While the Met presents an exaggerated interpretation of one maximalist subculture, Minimalism/Maximalism at the Museum at FIT proves that flamboyant garments stand up to academic scrutiny. Starting with the 18th century, it traces how tastes have pivoted from over-the-top to subdued and back again. Through this continuous juxtaposition, the show cautions against definitive style statements. 

In contemporary fashion, the tension between minimalist and maximalist styles has become integrated into cohesive statements. The multilayered, monotonal outfits we highlight in Street Style 2019: Part One underline how contemporary consumers merge these two statements.

It’s not just fashion demonstrating this malleable approach to maximalist tendencies. The upcoming Less Is a Bore at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art showcases designers and artists who’ve pushed back against minimalism – a trend underlined in our S/S 20 Materials FocusLand of Plenty.

For more on maximalist fashion, see Instagangs: Gen Extreme and Youth Style Tribes: X-Treme Expressionists.

Published: 11 Jun 2019

VF Corporation’s Next-Gen Fashion Showroom, London

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VF Corporation

US fashion group VF Corporation – parent company to some of retail’s major current success stories (including Vans, Timberland and The North Face) – has launched a new-gen showroom in London. The aim? A B2B hub facilitating innovation and trans-brand pollination – especially regarding what executive vice-president EMEA, Martino Scabbia Guerinni, referred to as “VF becoming a purpose-led company”.

Guerrini kick-started the launch by heralding the success of its big three aforementioned brands. Cumulatively, they’ve achieved a sales uptick of over 14% since 2017 – and the group aims to use that influence to push a sustainability-focused agenda.  

The 15,000 sq ft hub, which is designed by UK architects Darling Associates and includes a lush rooftop garden designed by award-winning British landscape gardener Andy Sturgeon, is located in Soho. Positioned within walking distance of many of its brands’ flagships, VF hopes that the multi-storey space will not only be a beacon for buyers and industry discussion, but also for its retail partners - enabling them to trial new shop-floor-applicable technologies and review sister-brand strategies.

“This space will bring together creatives from 20+ brands [covering outdoor, active, work and jeans categories] to ensure that whatever we’re doing, we’re constantly dancing with our consumers,” said Guerinni.We’ve known for some time it’s no longer about two seasons a year, but thinking in terms of concepts, markets and channels.”

While the claim that the brand spaces are experiential feels somewhat inflated, they certainly resemble boutiques more than traditional showrooms, featuring hero-product zones, video walls and museum-style product development showcases.

Also notable are digital screens in both Timberland and The North Face showing product on avatar-style mannequins – allowing visitors to examine life-like recreations of fit and fabric properties. The concept uses internal technology for rapid prototyping products (reducing the waste of traditional systems) which, according to the brands, may also be migrated to the shop floor. 

Published: 11 Jun 2019

KLM Designs V-Shaped Eco Planes

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KLM

As explored in our latest Macro Trend report Ethical Travel's Mainstream Breakthrough, when it comes to sustainable tourism, the elephant in the room continues to be fuel-hungry air travel. Addressing this issue, Dutch airline KLM has reimagined the shape of the passenger aircraft.

Collaborating with Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands, the airline has unveiled designs for a v-shaped plane, where passengers are seated inside the 'body' of the wings. The aircraft – dubbed the Flying V – has been designed for long-distance travel. Thanks to its improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight, it uses 20% less fuel than the current most efficient design.

"Radically new and highly energy-efficient aircraft designs such as the Flying-V are important in this respect, as are new forms of propulsion," said professor Henri Werij, dean of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft. "Our ultimate aim is one of emission-free flight. Our co-operation with KLM offers a tremendous opportunity to bring about real change."

A full-sized section of the plane will be formally revealed at KLM Experience Day at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in September, to coincide with the airline's 100th anniversary.

Despite initiatives such as Flyskam (a popular no-fly movement gaining momentum in Sweden), the vast majority of global travellers will continue to travel by plane. This kind of innovation in the aircraft space is a vital component in ensuring that the travel industry contributes towards a sustainable future.

For more on how airlines are rethinking their eco approach, read Elastic Airlines.

Published: 11 Jun 2019

Mycelium Temporary Architecture that Biodegrades After Use

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Carlo Ratti Associati

For pop-up installations and events, there is a need to develop temporary architecture that does not harm the site or condemn materials to the trash after use. Italian architecture studio Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) is exploring how organic matter can offer a sustainable stand-in for construction materials and produce structures that grow from and return to the soil.

As part of this year’s Milan Design Week (8-14 April), CRA worked with multinational energy company Eni to produce the Circular Garden. The installation is an outdoor green space marked with 60 arches grown from mushroom root, otherwise known as mycelium.

CRA injected mushroom spores into a long organic base to propagate and fortify the structure. Fungi has a fast growth time: the entire installation, which boasts an impressive 1km of mycelium, was fully developed in six weeks.

However, the duration of Milan Design Week is even shorter; after the festivities the structure was shredded into a compostable pulp. The few additional materials used in the installation are similarly considered: natural rope and wood chips decompose along with the mycelium, and small metal joining elements are recycled for new projects. 

As we explore in our latest Macro report, The Wealth in Waste, mounting economic and environmental pressures mean that it is no longer an option for businesses to waste resources. Biodegradable alternatives, such as mycelium, offer a means to satisfy the here-now needs of short-lived architecture before it returns to the earth.

For more on how biodegradable materials are facilitating eco-conscious consumption, see our Product Design Direction A/W 20/21 Grounded.

Published: 10 Jun 2019

Weekly Thought-Starter #028: Towards Our Sustainable Future

Date:Monday, June 10, 2019
Author:Charlie Gilbert

Sustainability is one thing that everyone, regardless of industry, role or status, needs to get on board with.

Which – in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and impossible goals – begs the obvious question: how?

Well, by leveraging longer product cycles, exploring the huge wealth in waste, and engaging better with eco-minded demographics. You could even invest in tech that might just save the world.

Make no mistake: every brand can make a difference, and end up stronger as a result.

“Addressing sustainability is the most important action we must take right now, personally and professionally,” says our chief creative officer Tessa Mansfield, of our new Macro Trend, Towards Our Sustainable Future.

“Brimming with hope and optimism, this Macro shows us how to combat the devastating effects of environmental crises through meaningful and sometimes simple actions,” she adds. “Consider it an affirmative handbook of ideas, highlighting the work of innovative designers, thinkers and makers who have improved their products and services for the benefit of the planet.”

You may have heard about our cross-industry ethos, which in the sustainability realm is especially relevant. It’s never been as important to learn from each other, and to address the bigger environmental picture with a collaborative, positive and informed agenda.

That’s why Towards Our Sustainable Future’s 10 reports are so well equipped to inspire and invigorate your sustainability efforts. Use them and your business will become more creative, grow and, crucially, help drive a genuinely positive future for the planet – which, as it stands, we only have 11 years to save.

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