Following a number of microbead bans in the cosmetics industry, consumer demand for sustainable beauty has increased. Is eliminating environmentally damaging wet wipes the next mainstream solution?
Green beauty brands are creating eco-friendly wet wipes, responding to consumers’ concerns about the toxic impact of water pollution.
Estimates suggest that by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by weight (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). The beauty industry is a major contributor to this. In the UK alone, there has been a 700% increase in the number of wet wipes found along the coastline over the last decade (Marine Conservation Society, 2017).
Stylus explores two innovative products looking to tackle the problem:
Save Your Wardrobe, a London-based app launching in beta in June 2018, encourages consumers to document their wardrobes and build personal databases to help shape future purchases. It provides users with visibility of all the clothes they own, using AI to recommend personalised looks based on calendar events and wearing history.
To set up the digital dashboard of clothes, consumers have a choice: they can photograph each item with the app’s vision tech, identifying the style and brand, or they can opt-in to share digital receipts including style, colour and size information.
Inspirational personal lookbooks, categorised into clusters such as dresses, outerwear and tops, are generated by AI. Users can connect the app with their calendars to receive personalised playlists of outfits – such as a summer holiday playlist.
Besides wardrobe management, Save Your Wardrobe features shopping opportunities. Through a partnership with US shopping platform ShopStyle, which has a database of 1,400 brands, users can shop specially curated mood boards via affiliate links. It’s free to use for consumers, while brands pay for the insights, including preferences that can influence design strategy.
The app features services such as dry cleaning, repairs, resales and alterations, creating an opportunity for brands to extend product lifecycles and customer relationships. See also After-Care Commerce.
Another goal is to help consumers make better shopping decisions – UK consumers have £10.5 billion of unworn clothes in their wardrobes (Weight Watchers 2017). See Reframing Sustainability for eco-conscious brand initiatives.
For another retailer’s foray into personal wardrobe management, see Echo Look: AI-Informed Style Advice.
EPS is the perfect material for providing thermal insulation and protecting goods during transport as it is lightweight, yet voluminous. However, it is notoriously difficult to recycle, as these material characteristics also make it costly to process.
Carulla collaborated with Michelin-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona to turn EPS boxes – in which it receives food from suppliers – into furniture. After use, the packaging is rinsed off, shredded using a pedal-powered grinder, and transferred into an aluminium mould.
Using steam vapour from a coffee machine and a manual workshop press, the shredded fragments are formed into a solid block. This is then removed from the mould and sprayed with an eco-friendly resin for a resistant coating.
Each stool weighs less than 2kg and consists of six EPS boxes – the number received by the restaurant each day.
This progressive, zero-waste initiative demonstrates how small-scale manufacturing processes that use industry-specific materials can give dimension and tangibility to brand values. This is a concept we explore further in our 2018/19 Materials Forecast Home Ground.
We also feature a sunflower-derived alternative to EPS, developed by Dutch designer Thomas Vailly, in our S/S 20 Materials Focus theme Botanical Modernism. For more on how governments, brands and designers are rethinking the way we produce and consume plastic, see Evolving Plastics.
Microsoft's HoloLens – a headset containing a holographic computer – will soon be able to guide blind people through buildings, thanks to its ability to map spaces in real time and offer audio guidance via speakers.
The mixed-reality headset allows users to see, hear and interact with 3D holograms that are "pinned" in their field of vision. Unlike other augmented glasses, HoloLens holograms interact with the world while the user is moving, as multiple sensors can map the user's surrounding space in detail.
Researchers from the California Institute of Technology have designed an application that allows the HoloLens's features to act as a virtual guide, helping blind individuals navigate complex buildings by restoring vision at a cognitive level. The wearable computer captures images of the surrounding environment, and conveys this information via auditory augmented reality. Its speakers can make sound appear as if it's coming from different points within the space – enabling users to find their way just by following the voice, without the need for any physical aids.
"The combination of unprecedented computing power in wearable devices with augmented reality technology promises a new era of non-invasive prostheses", reads the abstract of the research. Considering that 253 million people in the world are blind or visually impaired (WHO, 2017), this technology could be life-changing for many in the future.
Expanding beyond his fashion label to enter the world of architecture, US musical artist Kanye West has announced Yeezy Home, a new creative branch of his brand that’s promising to develop affordable housing.
Minimal information has been released so far about this new project and how it will cater to low-income families. However, render images of a prototype dwelling reveal a modern and luxurious single-storey house, with rooms set around a central zen garden. The interior is spacious and minimal, featuring pre-cast concrete, metallic finishes and a skillion roof. The rapper’s preference for brutalist-inspired spaces is clear, with the images resembling Yeezy’s headquarters in California, which are similarly sparse and concrete-dominated.
West’s plan to move into architecture was revealed in early May, with a call-out on social media for architects and industrial designers wanting to collaborate and “make the world a better place”.
As explored in our A/W 19/20 Design Direction Burst, industry barriers are being broken down by an energetic generation unafraid to enter new domains, leading to inventive mash-ups of genres and aesthetics. West’s project looks set to inject a fresh perspective into architecture by combining his experience in both music and fashion, and invites a new audience to engage with an industry that’s often criticised for its lack of diversity.
For another example of a brand breaking free from expected product categories and exploring new ways to capitalise on established fans and branding, see Adventure Branding: Land Rover Creates Outdoor Phone. For more on how brands are colonising new product spaces and platforms to extend their influence, see Making Brands Indispensable.
Walmart’s start-up incubator Store No. 8 has launched new concierge service Jetblack in select New York City neighbourhoods. Jetblack fuses chatbot shopping with same-day delivery, allowing customers to order items from Walmart and rival retailers such as Sephora and Saks via text message.
Targeting affluent and time-strapped urban parents, the membership-based service ($50 per month) includes gift recommendations, free wrapping, speedy delivery and easy returns. To request an item, users send a message and then receive product recommendations (culled from Walmart and other retailers) via text. The option to shop across multiple retailers using only one interface and delivery partner differentiates the service from ‘one-brand-only’ suppliers.
Deploying artificial intelligence, Jetblack learns what consumers are buying and – if applicable – sends out push notifications (messages) to alert them when they are running low. The same technology in partnership with human experts is used for personalised gift recommendations. For instance, when texting “I need a gift for my 10-year old daughter’s birthday party”, it will respond with a curated product selection via text.
Founded by Jenny Fleiss, the co-founder of US clothing rental start-up Rent the Runway, the service is currently available in Manhattan and Brooklyn for consumers who live in buildings with a doorman. A US-wide roll-out is planned for later this year.
This summer will see the launch of PX+ Festival in the UK (August 24-27) – the first festival solely for those working in and around the hospitality and food industry.
Other European hospitality-focused events include MAD (Copenhagen), Food on the Edge (Ireland), and Parabere Forum (various cities). But unlike PX+ Festival, these events are open to the public and are structured in a symposium format. PX+ attendees have to submit proof that they work in the industry – from farmers and vintners to chefs and bartenders – while non-industry guests can attend as a plus one.
"The people working in the hospitality industry need celebrating," said festival founder Katie Bone. "I wanted to create a moment to celebrate, to collaborate, and discuss ways we can drive change."
Held in Hertfordshire on Duchess Farm – a sixth-generation family business that produces Duchess rapeseed oil – the event will encompass chef dinners, bars, talks and live music. Participants include St John's Wines, chefs Dan Doherty, Clare Smyth and Chantelle Nicholson, sommelier Jennifer Docherty MW, restaurant manager Emma Underwood, and vegetable supplier Natoora.
"[It] will be a great opportunity to create and strengthen relationships between producers and restaurants – a connection which is easily overlooked in the fast-paced environment of the hospitality world," said Duchess farmer Max Ruddle.
For more on sustainability, tracing food sources and tackling waste, see Hotel & Hospitality Trends 2018, Food & Drinks Innovation, Reframing Rare and Feeding Tomorrow's Consumers. Also look out for our report on Sustainable Restaurants, publishing later this month.
Australian buy-now-pay-later digital tool Afterpay is making a foray into the US market in partnership with US lifestyle retailer Urban Outfitters, which has launched the service across its e-commerce sites.
The tool aims to entice the post-recessionary debt-conscious mindset of US millennials – less than a third of whom own a credit card (Bankrate, 2016).
Founded in 2014 in Sydney, the platform allows consumers to pay for products from $35 to $1,000 in four equal instalments, due every two weeks, and receive their purchase before paying it off in full. Consumers browse the retailer's website, select items they want to buy and select Afterpay as their payment method. Afterpay collects the money automatically from users' accounts and does not claim any extra charges for the service, provided the instalments are paid on time. The late payment fee is $10, and a further fee of $7 is applied if the payment is not made within a week, and then the account gets blocked.
The tool has been successful in Australia, where it has over 1.8 million users and collaborates with more than 14,000 retailers, including French beauty giant Sephora and Canadian athleisure brand Lululemon Athletica. According to Afterpay, its service boosts both conversion rates and incremental sales by 20-30%. The company also claims that Afterpay users have a higher average basket size and buy more frequently than other consumers.
Consumers are feeling a greater disconnect from natural environments as the world becomes increasingly urbanised. As an antidote to the lack of natural light in urban spaces, designers are finding innovative ways to enhance or artificially replicate daylight in our homes and built environments. Here are three exciting examples.
Brands and retailers, ranging from America’s Nike to China’s Tmall shopping platform, are supercharging their loyalty schemes to build stronger consumer connections.
With so many shopping options, it’s a challenge to encourage emotional loyalty. Brand loyalists who make repeat purchases, do not switch given an opportunity, like cheaper prices or more convenient access, only make up 37% of the population (Facebook 2017).
See also Rebooting Loyalty Programmes.
Angry River is a short online film that uses real-time eye tracking information to edit itself into a storyline that reflects the viewer's interest.
The project by American filmmaker Armen Perian runs along five different narrative arcs. To determine which storyline to follow, New York-based content studio Crossbeat developed eye tracking technology that uses viewers' webcams to see where their interest lingers on the film. A custom algorithm uses that information to arrange the five story perspectives into one seamless viewing experience that reflects the focus of individual viewers.
The result is a narrative with near-invisible interactivity. "Watching something is still making decisions, and what the viewer decides to pay attention to ultimately drives the action. It changes the movie they see," said Perian.
Angry River's almost subconscious interaction format makes a compelling case for using branching narratives as a content customisation tool. The ability to adapt a story to individual viewers' real-time behaviour unlocks huge potential for intimate engagement moments.
For more on interactive formats and personalised content, check out State of Media: The Fan-First Revolution. To catch up on the use of contextual data in delivering messaging, see Third Spaces. To read more about branching narratives in gaming and TV, see our Pop Culture Round-Up: October 2017.
The magazine, which is published by luxury fashion e-tailer Net-A-Porter, is dedicating its summer issue to the oceans. It will contain a 63-page “Ocean Portfolio” shot in the Maldives, featuring model and Parley ambassador Anja Rubik. Editorials and interviews will explore the critical issues around ocean plastic and explain how readers can take matters into their own hands.
The two-month campaign will see related content published on Porter.com and on social media under the hashtag #PlasticNotFantastic. Meanwhile, visitors to Net-A-Porter.com will be able to purchase items made from Parley’s own Ocean Plastic material, including an exclusive new eyewear range.
Crucially, the magazine is showing long-term commitment to the cause by pledging to become plastic-free by 2019. It’s already taking steps towards this by dispatching its issues in recyclable paper envelopes, as well as making in-house changes like a ban on disposable plastic in the office and on its photo shoots.
Porter is just one of a number of fashion industry players to collaborate with Parley, with Adidas, Stella McCartney and G-Star Raw all having previously partnered with the eco-warriors. For more, see Upcycling: Adidas x Parley.
For more on the fashion brands embracing sustainability, see Sustainable 360 from our New Fashion Landscape 2017 Update, and look out for A Sustainable Journey, publishing on June 13. To read about more sustainability-focused engagement strategies, see Retail: Reframing Sustainability and Creating Shared Value: Sustainability Marketing.
The tastes of British consumers are diverging from the offerings on the current fragrance market, a May 2018 survey by OnBuy suggests. Although the e-commerce platform’s analysis was solely based on the UK, the findings are useful for global perfume brands.
The study of approximately 517,780 British fragrance enthusiasts found that while 75% of women wanted to try a unisex perfume, the market had instead been bombarded with sweet fragrances and pink packaging.
The survey analysed product trends and revealed that 70% of the perfumes released in the first quarter of 2018 had sweet accords, compared to woody notes (45%) and floral scents (60%). Packaging innovations have also shifted towards stereotypically feminine colours – 75% of the perfumes released since January 2018 were pink.
We spotlight two new fragrance launches, both of which respond to these trends.
The confidence of millennials (aged 24 to 37) in business has plummeted, which has made them less loyal as employees, according to the 2018 global Deloitte Millennial Survey.
For more on millennials' attitudes, see Turbo-Charged Consumers: Millennial 20/20 Summit 2018.
Swiss sporting goods retailer Intersport has partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Tmall on a co-branded concept store in Beijing capturing online and offline shopping experiences.
The two-storey, 1,300 sq m Tmall x Intersport store has many state-of-the-art technologies and interactive features.
With 24 stores in China, Intersport plans to reach 100 shops over the next few years, echoing the rising interest in sportswear in China. Sales of athletic wear are forecast to grow 9% annually between 2017 and 2020, versus just 4% for men’s and women’s fashion, according to consulting firm PwC.
All technologies are powered by Alibaba’s New Retail division. See Uni-Commerce: Chinese Retail Focus for more.