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Published: 13 Jun 2018

New Biodegradable Wet Wipes Lessen Beauty’s Impact on Oceans


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:

  • Yes To: American skincare brand Yes To’s new Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Travelsize Facial Cleansing Wipes confront the problem head-on.

    The wipes are made from cellulose, a plant fibre that’s typically found in vegetables such as kale and broccoli. This core material is a biodegradable, compostable and renewable alternative to the plastic binders commonly used in the mass market.
  • Pacifica: US brand Pacifica is similarly tapping into this concept with its new biodegradable Pineapple Wipe Out Oil Cleansing Wipes. The wipes also offer an additional aspect of eco-friendliness, since users are not required to re-cleanse after using them, saving on water usage.

    With 18% of American personal-care users wishing their routine was shorter (Mintel, 2016), we believe this launch offers an efficient and sustainable solution for consumers on the go.

For more on eco-friendly beauty and sustainable design solutions, see The Great Beauty Green-Up, Material Direction: Evolving Plastics and Packaging Innovations 2018.

Published: 13 Jun 2018

AI-Boosted App Digitises Wardrobes

Save Your Wardrobe

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.

Published: 12 Jun 2018

Food Delivery Packaging Transformed into Furniture

RR201 stools by Andreu Carulla

At Barcelona Design Week (June 5-14), design facility Disseny Hub Barcelona showcased Spanish designer Andreu Carulla’s RR201 stools, made from recycled expanded polystyrene (EPS).

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

Published: 12 Jun 2018

Microsoft HoloLens Guides Blind People

HoloLens may soon act as a virtual guide for blind people

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.

For more on the advances in accessibility tech, see 10 Trends to Watch in 2018, Design for Disability: Transformative Tech and our Diversity Outlook Innovation Platform.

Published: 11 Jun 2018

Kanye West to Develop Low-Income Housing

Jalil Peraza

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.

Published: 11 Jun 2018

Text-to-Buy: Walmart’s Simple Sell

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.

See also Concierge Commerce and Best New Brand Chatbots.

Published: 8 Jun 2018

PX+: the Festival for Hospitality Workers

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.

PX Festival
PX Festival
PX Festival
Published: 8 Jun 2018

Payment in Instalments: Afterpay Targets US Millennials


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.

For more on how retailers are courting shoppers' price-conscious mindset, see Budget Retail's Quality Drive. See also Thrifty Millennials Turn to Refund Apps and Fast-Forward Finance.

Published: 8 Jun 2018

New Design Concepts Play with Natural Light

Nathanaël Abeille & Carlos Muniagurria, Reflective bricks

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.

  • Driven by a concern over the lack of natural light in city dwellings, French designer Nathanaël Abeille and Argentinian materials specialist Carlos Muniagurria have developed a process of metalising common bricks in order to reflect sunlight in built-up areas. Coated in chrome and nickel alloy, the bricks could be used to divert and share sunlight between buildings in dark urban streets.
  • Presented at Milan Design Week 2018, Japanese designer Yuji Okitsu’s Focus installation enhances natural and ambient lighting in interior environments. The mobile-like sculpture consists of a number of flat glass lenses that hang from the ceiling. These capture, collect and diffuse light from all angles, creating an ever-changing lit space that brings the nuances of natural daylight indoors.
  • Based in Zurich and Marseille, design studio AATB showcased the Sunny Side Up robotic sun at Milan Design Week 2018 – a contemporary version of the traditional sundial. The conceptual installation features an illuminated robotic arm that orbits around a metal rod, casting a shadow as it goes. The moving light embodies the movement of the sun in real time and aims to reconnect the viewer with the rhythms of daylight. See Lamp Imitates Natural Light Indoors for a similar concept.

For more on the positive impact of natural light on our wellbeing, see Natural Relations within our Materialising Modern Work report, and Supernatural Light in Transformative Spaces.

Yuji Okitsu, Focus
AATB, Sunny Side Up
Published: 6 Jun 2018

Supercharged Loyalty Schemes

NikePlus Unlock

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).

  • NikePlus Unlocks: In February 2018, Nike introduced NikePlus Unlocks to its members’ club fitness app NikePlus. Besides product recommendations based on workouts, consumers can unlock exclusive discounts and content by being active. Rewards range from Apple Music playlists and discount coupons to meditation exercises. See Retail’s Spirit of Adventure.
  • Sainsbury’s Nectar Card: British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s updated its loyalty scheme in April 2018. Trialling in the Isle of Wight, southern England, the app-based scheme rewards consumers for the frequency of their shopping trips as well as the length of time they have been customers. This runs counter to the industry’s typical focus on customer acquisition. Discounts are based on frequent purchases and become more generous the more customers shop with Sainsbury’s, incentivising repeat purchases.
  • Tmall: Alibaba-owned Chinese shopping platform Tmall’s cross-platform loyalty system encourages brands seeking to consolidate their individual rewards programmes into one easy-accessible touchpoint. In 2018, Japanese skincare brand SK-II and Chinese grocer 7Fresh signed up to allow consumers to earn and redeem points via multiple locations. They include Tmall and WeChat as well as the brands’ own stores and e-commerce sites. 

See also Rebooting Loyalty Programmes.

Published: 5 Jun 2018

Customised Storytelling Through Eye Tracking

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.

Published: 5 Jun 2018

Porter Magazine X Parley: Ocean Plastic Campaign

Porter Magazine x Parley for the Oceans

In a new multi-channel campaign, Porter Magazine is collaborating with environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans to raise awareness of plastic pollution.

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.

Published: 5 Jun 2018

2018's Contrasting Fragrance Trends

Glossier You

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.

  • Pretty in Pink: As explored in our report Colour Direction: Evolving Pink, packaging that targets Gen Y combines fuss-free, contemporary design and clean typefaces. Catering to this demand, cult American brand Glossier’s You Perfume Solid is a good example of how to make pink packaging millennial-friendly.

    Launched in February 2018, the pocket-sized balm is designed for consumers with on-the-go lifestyles. The fragrance neatly fits inside a weighted egg that slides to open and close.

    We believe luxury fragrance brands should take cues from Glossier’s minimalistic packaging. The Instagram-friendly aesthetic and compact design are popular selling points among this demographic.

    For more on millennial branding, see Millennial Packaging Strategies, Cosmoprof Asia 2017: Packaging and Marketing to Millennial Women.
Glossier You Sold Perfume
Glossier You
  • Next-Gen Fragrances: The fact that 75% of women want to try an ungendered fragrance – yet the market has been inundated with feminine releases – suggests that there is a big opportunity for mass-market brands to develop more unisex products.

    Savvy businesses wanting to cater to the modern consumer should take cues from niche fragrance and personal care brand Byredo. The Swedish brand acknowledges the cultural shifts of contemporary sexuality with 30 androgynous scent profiles. 

    An extension of this concept might see brands translate specific memories into scents, creating the same olfactory experience for the user regardless of gender norms.

    Byredo’s fragrance launches tap into this key strategy. For example, the new Elevator Music range, in collaboration with American fashion label Off-White, combines earthy notes and musky scents such as bamboo, midnight violet and jasmine petals to evoke a sense of luxury.

    For more on genderless beauty, see Gender-Fluid Generation: Beauty Attitudes, Men Embrace Genderless Beauty and Gender-Fluid Beauty’s Skincare Evolution.  
Elevator Music
Elevator Music campaign
Elevator Music
Published: 5 Jun 2018

Business Pessimists: Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018

Millennials’ positive perceptions of business have reached their lowest level in four years

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.

  • Distrust in Business: Millennials' positive perceptions of business have reached their lowest level in four years. Less than half (48%) believe businesses behave ethically, while only 47% think business leaders are committed to helping improve society. There's a mismatch between what millennials believe businesses should do and what they see happening: they see organisations prioritising profit over making a positive impact in society.
  • Low Loyalty: Among the millennials surveyed, only 28% would like to stay at their company beyond five years. Some 43% intend to leave their employer within the next two years, with 62% citing the gig economy as a viable alternative to full-time employment. If companies want to earn the trust and loyalty of young workers, they need to focus on diversity, inclusion and flexibility, and find ways to help the communities they work in. See also Career Pioneers and SXSW 2018: Speaking Gen Z's Language.
  • Unprepared for Industry 4.0: Although we are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or Industry 4.0 – only 36% of millennials and 29% of Gen Z (aged nine to 23) believe they have the tools necessary to succeed in this industry – that is, the industry defined by tech innovations such as robotics and artificial intelligence. These cohorts are seeking help from business – not to develop technical skills, but soft skills, such as creativity and confidence.

For more on millennials' attitudes, see Turbo-Charged Consumers: Millennial 20/20 Summit 2018.

Published: 4 Jun 2018

Intersport’s Tech-Led Beijing Store

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.

Innovations include:

  • A Smart Shoe Shelf instantly shares product information on a screen as shoppers pull a shoe from the shelf.
  • The AI Shopping Assistant interactive mirror provides wardrobe tips and recommends related items that complement the clothing consumers are trying on.
  • A 24/7 interactive window display at the main entrance allows people to shop around the clock. By using motion-sensor technology, the giant screen wall can distinguish the gender and approximate age of passers-by and recommend the best shoes.
  • By scanning the QR code of a product on their phones, customers can place the products in their virtual shopping bag, so they can still buy the item online after they leave the store.
  • Next-day delivery (within two hours on the same day in Beijing) to any address in China for consumers who don’t want to carry bags.

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.