Consumer Lifestyle assistant editor Madeleine Cuff takes a look back at some of the highlights of Stylus reporting in 2013 across science, technology and consumer lifestyle.
Luxury remained a strong focus for the Consumer Lifestyle team in 2013. Our December report from the annual International New York Times luxury conference explored how the luxury market is changing in south-east Asia.
Executives highlighted the importance of ‘Aspirational Ambitious Affluent’ (Generation AAA) consumers. Aged 18-34, this group dominates markets across south-east Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia. High-quality finishes, small luxury items and opportunities to customise products will appeal to this customer segment.
The new luxury consumer is younger and more digitally savvy, and has less brand loyalty than other groups, according to Armand de Milleville, vice-president of US financial services firm American Express. Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit, which took place in Vienna in June, Milleville advised brands to engage creatively with younger consumers – and ensure that this includes a strategy for selling via m-commerce through tablets and iPads.
Luxury in China: New Directions analysed the Chinese market in greater detail, highlighting a new class of luxury consumers in the region, with an eye for subtle, understated quality, a reverence for heritage and an expectation of VVIP service. “Luxury in China is now about being ‘in the know’ versus being ‘in the show’,” noted Bruno Lannes, a partner for consulting firm Bain in Greater China. “Brands will face much more pressure to make their offer relevant to the Chinese shopper, rather than relying on luxury status alone.”
We look forward to revisiting the Chinese consumer in more depth in the first of our regional reports, scheduled for January.
Round-the-clock connectivity and the growing ubiquity of smartphones in Western markets have had a profound effect on digital communications, particularly among tech-literate teens. Emoji – graphic symbols used in electronic messages and websites – are gaining global traction. “Teens and millennials are driving emoji usage: they are more social, more snap happy and less meticulous in the way they communicate,” noted advertising agency JWT’s Will Palley. The Emoji Economy explored how brands can harness these visual tools to add a layer of emotion to digital content and track consumer mood.
In Modern Dating, we charted the rise of dating apps, which are changing the way people meet and communicate. Developers are beginning to take advantage of existing smartphone tools, such as GPS, sensors and constant connectivity, to deliver tailored mobile experiences that make dating more like shopping.
Swipe-based social discovery apps such as Tinder – which has enjoyed a meteoric rise since it launched in September 2012 – have proved an instant hit with mobile users, while advances in haptic technology are opening up opportunities for new product categories – particularly for couples and families. The report highlighted potential opportunities for brands to apply these learnings in product development and consumer engagement strategies across a variety of sectors.
Leading designers are developing innovative future transport concepts that address the problems of depleting resources and large, urban-dwelling populations. We showcased some of the best concepts spotted at design challenges and graduate shows around the world.
This year, the Consumer Lifestyle team attended a series of major technology events, in addition to conferences, forums and workshops exploring the cultural impact of emerging technologies.
This year saw the launch of Agile Futures, the seventh Stylus Macro Trend, which explains how to capture consumers as the edges between people and technology dissolve, across three reports:
Agile Futures was inspired by key events in the science and technology sector – particularly International CES, which took place in Las Vegas in January. Highlights included a flurry of flexible displays, health-tracking bands and smart sensors like Flower Power – a sensor that alerts the user to the needs of their plants, designed by US-based wireless tech firm Parrot.
From curved-screen smartphones, to ever more sophisticated wearable technologies, 2013 was the year the Hybrid Age was brought to life. The Consumer Lifestyle team is anticipating the next edition of International CES in January for an insight into what 2014 will hold.