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Published: 15 Oct 2018

CBD in your Soda: Coca-Cola Considers Cannabis

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Coca Cola

Following a boom in innovation in the cannabis drinks space, Coca-Cola has confirmed that it's exploring the possibility of using CBD oil in some of its drinks in the future.

Coca-Cola has embraced the massive financial potential of the cannabis space, which is set to be worth $22bn by 2022 (Brightfield Group, 2018). The global brand is in talks with Canadian medicinal cannabis producer Aurora Cannabis with the aim of developing a range of drinks infused with non-psychoactive CBD. The drinks will take advantage of the medicinal effects of the compound, which is said to ease pain, inflammation and anxiety.

For more on cannabis as a multipurpose elixir, see our report 10 Wellbeing Trends to Watch.

Michael Christopher, head of Californian cannabis drinks brand Mood33, is enthusiastic about this new development. As he stated at Advertising Week New York (October 1-3 2018), "It's a huge validator of our category for CPG [consumer-packaged goods] to be using [CBD] as a hero ingredient."

It appears, then, that Christopher doesn't see Coca-Cola as a threat. Instead, he is welcoming it as a potential investor in regional brands like Mood33, should cannabis eventually become fully legal across the US – as many expect it will do.

See our Spotlight Trend Commercialising Cannabis to learn more about this fast-growing industry. You might also want to take a look at The Beverage Buzz: Alcohol-Style THC Drinks for examples of how North American drinks brands are currently tapping into the cannabis space. Additionally, Fluid Flavours offers insights into innovations in the beverage industry.

Published: 12 Oct 2018

Open-Ended Toys Teach Code Through Magical Interactions

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Kano

Children’s toys are being reframed as life-training tools, embracing simplified tech as a catalyst for computer-based dexterity (see also Gen Alpha: Childhood Rebooted). UK tech company Kano takes this a step further with its Harry Potter-branded coding kit, which explores how toys can help develop children’s skills, while fostering a sustainable relationship between child and product.

The wand coding kit comes in four pieces, which children assemble by following a step-by-step instructional guide. The wand pairs with an accompanying app, which allows users to programme spells to be triggered in response to a range of movie-inspired hand gestures. Children code by moving around brightly coloured blocks, with a split screen presenting the JavaScript version of their actions.

The app features a series of games – from levitating feathers to taming fire – that children play using their wand as controller. These actions physicalise the game and offer users an immersive experience, recreating the magic of the popular film series – for more on gesture-based interaction design, see our A/W 19/20 Design Direction Burst.

Kano’s open-ended design allows this sense of magic to be extended outside of the game, with the motherboard able to interact with other electronic devices. “You can use the wand to turn the lights on in your house,” says Kano’s director Aaron Hinchion. “This is something you can do whatever you want with.”

Modular design is key to Kano’s mission, tackling the throwaway culture in electronics. Incorporating no glue or screws, the plastic components can be recycled, with users then able to use the motherboard in different projects – or even craft their own wand out of wood.

Allowing hardware and software to run independently helps products respond to changes in age and interest, as well as future-proofing toys so that they can be enjoyed beyond childhood.

Published: 12 Oct 2018

Facebook Launches Its First Video Chat Device: Portal

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Facebook is aiming to make video chat a more natural, seamless experience with the release of its first hardware device, Portal.

Facebook's Portal combines a video screen with an artificial intelligence-powered camera that tracks users' movements, keeping them in the frame throughout the chat. The device also features four integrated microphones that pick up speech, regardless of where the user is in the room. These features mean that, unlike smartphone and computer video-chat apps, Portal allows the user to move and speak freely, as if their conversation were happening face to face.

With Portal, Facebook is tapping into a global trend of dynamic, borderless living, facilitating a realistic communication experience through technology (for more on this, see our report Being Borderless). Facebook also appears to be targeting family relationships: Portal's Story Time, an augmented reality application, allows users to read stories to loved ones using a teleprompter while smart visuals and audio illustrate the story. For more on how technology is supporting new family dynamics, see Crafting Modern Connections, part of our latest Macro Trend The Kinship Economy.

Facebook is wise to capitalise on the popularity of video chat: in 2017, it hosted 17 billion video chats on its Messenger platform (Facebook, 2017). However, reaction to Portal has been mixed; reviewers have found the camera tracking effective, but are concerned about privacy in light of Facebook's recent data breaches and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook describes Portal as "private by design", fitting it with features such as a camera cover and a button to completely disable the visual and audio recording functions, with the aim of increasing the product's privacy credentials. For more on how to preserve consumer privacy, see our Safeguarding Security report.

Published: 12 Oct 2018

Resilient Coating Lowers Temperatures in Extreme Climates

In 2018, global temperatures look set to reach record highs for the fourth consecutive year (Carbon Brief, 2018). As reports emerge of buildings and infrastructural elements melting in the heat, designers need to specify more resilient materials that prolong product lifespans and protect people. We look at one potential solution.

Researchers at New York’s Columbia University have developed a coating that reflects over 96% of heat without using pigment or power. The innovation has far-reaching applications as it can be fabricated, dyed and applied like a paint to anything, including rooftops, buildings, vehicles and spacecrafts. 

Once applied, the coating is not reliant on power, making it a passive daytime radiative cooling (PDRC) method. This could prove valuable for developing countries, where electricity sources can be unreliable and the effects of climate change are extreme. Alternative methods of keeping temperatures cool, such as air conditioning units and electrical fans, are extremely energy-intensive.

White paint is often applied to aeroplane fuselages and buildings in hot climates as it typically contains titanium dioxide, which gives surfaces the reflective properties needed to keep them cool. However, white paints usually have pigments that absorb UV light, limiting their performance.

In the same way that soap bubbles or snow reflect light, the new pigment-free coating has a bubbly structured surface with air voids to increase reflectivity and create an insulating layer.

In our S/S 20 Colour Spectrum direction Augmented Space, we mention Vantablack – a pigment so dark that it alters our perception of form and dimension.

Look out for upcoming reports on how to future-proof design for challenging environmental conditions.

Published: 11 Oct 2018

Lyft Gets Voters to the Polls

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Lyft

US ride-hailing companies are redirecting some of their resources to help customers from underserved communities execute their right to vote.

Estimates saying that 15 million registered voters didn't participate in the 2016 US election due to transport troubles have inspired Lyft to offer 50%-off promo codes through voter-turnout NGOs like Vote.org.

The company will also collaborate with non-partisan, non-profit partners – such as National Urban League and The National Federation of the Blind – to help underserved communities. It will provide rides free of cost to those whose journeys to polling locations are challenged by accessibility issues, lack of personal or public transport, or conflicting work schedules. Fourteen per cent of those who didn't vote in 2016 said they were too busy to do so (Pew, 2017).

In the weeks before the midterm elections on November 6th, Lyft will be working with the NGOs When We All Vote and National Voter Registration Day to send passengers in-app reminders of voter registration deadlines. It will also educate drivers and provide them with voter information to pass on to passengers. Lyft's competitor Uber has since announced a similar scheme.

As explored in depth in our report Engaging Future Communities, part of our latest Macro Trend The Kinship Economy, consumers move through multiple group identities throughout their day – brands need to find ways of addressing those groups' dynamic needs in the moment.

For more on creating campaigns tailored to the needs of localised communities, see our report How to Target Local Consumers. To read up on inspiring case studies of brands setting their sights on a greater goal, check out Experiments in Moonshot Marketing.

Published: 11 Oct 2018

Debenhams Launches New Omnichannel Beauty Initiatives

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Debenhams Beauty Club

British department store chain Debenhams has launched a beauty initiative designed to improve its appeal among Gen Z and millennial consumers. Taking an omnichannel approach, it fuses online and offline channels via a loyalty-based digital social platform and two new discovery-led store concepts.

The new store departments, called Beauty Halls of the Future, are designed to provide consumers with an interactive, Instagrammable space. Located within the newly renovated Meadowhall store in Sheffield and Debenhams’ flagship store in Watford (just outside London), they take over a large proportion of the stores’ overall footprint (15% at Watford).

Tapping into consumers’ appetites for softer retail (for more, see Soft Sell: The New Retail), the new departments feature a Beauty Club House, which hosts demonstrations, workshops and events. Situated around the Beauty Club House are themed zones, such as the Skincare and Colour Lab, where new innovations in skincare, hair and make-up are presented.

An area called the Mini Bar takes advantage of the still-booming customisation trend, allowing shoppers to mix and match travel-sized products across all categories. A host of beauty services are available at the Beauty Bar, which is powered by London blow dry brand Blow Ltd and offers manicures and blow dries. The concept spaces were designed by British creative studio Checkland Kindleysides. For more on Instagram-led beauty stores, see our blog post on New York brand Winky Lux’s experiential retail space.

Debenhams has also unveiled its new loyalty programme Beauty Club Community. This digital social platform enables users to give and receive real-time peer-to-peer beauty advice and discuss beauty trends with Debenhams’ 6,000-strong beauty adviser network. Users can earn loyalty points and badges in return for their engagement with and contribution to the forum. For more on this topic, see Supercharged Loyalty Schemes.

To learn more about millennials’ beauty spending habits, see Millennials Beauty Buying: In Numbers.

Published: 10 Oct 2018

Femtech Fave Releases First Silent Wearable Breast Pump

London-based femtech company Elvie has just launched the world's first silent wearable breast pump. The device is free from the tubes and distinctive noises of a traditional pump, allowing discreet and hands-free milk expressing.

The Elvie Pump sits in the wearer's bra, allowing the user to continue with daily tasks while expressing milk. Like Elvie's Kegel training device (see our blog), the pump comes with an app that records data on factors such as milk production and pumping history. More importantly, the app allows the device to be controlled remotely, meaning the user doesn't need to fiddle with the pump while it's in their bra. The device has the potential to revolutionise breastfeeding for all mothers, especially those who return to work while still pumping. A single pump costs £229 ($300), with the double unit retailing for £429 ($560).

Traditional pumps are noisy and require the use of bulky machinery, often forcing users to find a private place in which to express. In the UK, although mothers have no legal right to breastfeeding breaks in the workplace, employers must meet obligations under health and safety, flexible working and discrimination laws (NCT, 2017). The NHS advises that the toilet, often one of the only private spaces available in a workplace, is not a suitable place in which to express milk (NHS, 2018).

The Elvie Pump is designed to be unnoticeable and allows women to express discreetly, as highlighted in its promotional video. Brands stand to benefit by following Elvie's example and providing tech that supports breastfeeding mothers. The hashtag #NormalizeBreastfeeding has over 740,000 mentions on Instagram, illustrating the growing movement towards destigmatising this natural act.

Our report Motherhood highlights further ways in which consumers can be supported in this chapter of their lives.

Published: 9 Oct 2018

Supercharge Your Shower: Skinjay’s Nespresso-Style Capsules

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Skinjay

New shower innovations offer spa-like experiences, responding to consumers’ demands for more from their at-home cleansing rituals. French start-up Skinjay’s new range blurs the boundaries between wellness and personal care by harnessing the power of aromatherapy with the aim of alleviating tension.   

The luxury brand has upgraded the act of washing by introducing an interchangeable and colourful diffuser system for the shower. The easy-to-install device goes between the shower mixer and the hose, with the capsule then inserted into the device itself. A mixture of water and essential oils is then expressed from the showerhead, with the hot water and steam creating a mist-like effect.  

Skinjay’s new spa-inspired capsule range, called Mission, focuses on scent and its influence on emotions. The four-piece collection uses different notes to alter the user’s state of mind in various ways. For example, the Bedtime capsule is aimed at those who are looking to unwind. It claims to reduce stress and anxiety levels as neroli, green mandarin and ylang ylang are released from the capsule.  

This innovative product feeds into the growing trend of using aromatherapy to improve consumers’ mental states. It provides a new way for people to physically and mentally prepare for the day ahead. To read more about these rituals, see our report Serving the Self-Care Generation.

With each of Skinjay’s capsules creating a distinct olfactory experience, consumers are encouraged to experiment with the different scents available, choosing one that matches their mood. For more on this idea, take a look at our blog posts The Rise of Fragrance Wardrobes and Lush’s Spa-Inspired Range Makes Mood Magic

You might also be interested in our reports Luxurifying Personal Hygiene and Selling Cyclical Beauty, which further explore the connection between personal care and wellness. 

Published: 9 Oct 2018

The Maiyet Collective’s Concept Store: Reshaping Ethical Lux

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Maiyet Collective

Luxury ethical fashion label Maiyet is behind The Maiyet Collective, a new concept store opening in October inside a London members’ club dedicated to positive social impact. It will feature talks, activities and over 50 like-minded brands – just not its own.

Studies suggest almost 20% of millennial luxury spenders always take ethics into account (Statista, 2017). Responding to such trends, New York-based Maiyet is launching landmark part-time concept store The Maiyet Collective, housed in The Conduit – a new social ethics-focused members’ club in London’s prestigious Mayfair district.

Co-founded in 2011 by three entrepreneurs – including South African Paul van Zyl, a former human rights lawyer – Maiyet partners with artisans in developing economies such as Kenya, India, Peru and Mongolia.

The Conduit and its new store are intended to be a beacon for design, commerce and wider discourse on politics and entrepreneurship with a positive social purpose. The department store-like space aims to host over 150 events including talks, workshops, performances and exhibitions (see also Soft Sell: The New Retail).

The store will stock approximately 50 UK-based “positive impact” brands (although not Maiyet’s own label) – including denim brand M.i.H Jeans; accessories label Elvis & Kresse, which rescues and reforms raw materials; and Ishkar, a business that works with craftspeople in war zones.

The 5,000 sq ft space will function as a monthly pop-up, open from Thursday to Saturday. Thursday is exclusive to Conduit club members as a preview perk, while Friday and Saturday are open to the public but by appointment only – a strategy that ensures visitors are provided with a suitably attentive tour of the space and can learn about the manifesto. This echoes London-based concept store Blue Mountain School’s attempt to establish an intellectual approach to luxury by guiding visitors around the space – for more, see Retail City Guide, London: May 2018. See also Re-Engineering Exclusivity.

Published: 8 Oct 2018

Chef-Curated Made-for-Instagram Meal Kits

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La Famiglia Rana

As food continues to dominate Instagram feeds, consumers expect restaurants and food brands to help them curate their own Insta-worthy images via beautifully presented dishes, backdrops and props. Looking to meet this need from an at-home perspective, London-based chef Skye Gyngell has partnered with Italian pasta brand La Famiglia Rana on a meal kit specifically designed to be Instagram-ready.

Each tortellini meal kit includes a plate, 'restaurant-quality' plating instructions and a wooden spoon in addition to the filled pasta, assisting consumers in creating pictures to be posted online. The kits are available in six different varieties, including spinach and ricotta tortellini with datterini, mint, and olives; chicken and smoked pancetta tortellini with radicchio and Parmigiano Reggiano; and prosciutto cotto and mozzarella tortellini with girolles and marjoram.

Gyngell says: "The world's obsession with photographing our food has fuelled a rise in all sorts of odd-but-edible inventions, turned humble vegetables into mega-trends, transformed restaurant diners into paparazzi and inspired home chefs to spread their wings. Anything that inspires people to be adventurous and creative – and proud of what they've prepared – is a wonderful thing."

It is an undeniable fact that over the past couple of years, Instagram has had a huge impact on how we consume our food. According to UK-based Italian restaurant chain Zizzi,18- to 25-year-olds spend an average of five days per year browsing food images on social media platforms.

For more on how other food brands and restaurants are exploring this trend, see Restaurant Provides Instagram Kits and The Food Content Boom.

Published: 8 Oct 2018

BBC Two Gets a Playful Visual Makeover

BBC Two has reinvented its brand identity for the first time in 20 years. The TV channel’s fresh look includes 16 idents created by British and international artists, featuring captivating colourful animations and unique soundscapes to create a more engaging viewing experience for modern audiences.

The rebrand is an exciting move for BBC Two – the third largest channel in the UK, after BBC One and ITV. Working with leading creatives and sound designers to revive television content is a progressive direction for the BBC. Recognising this, BBC Two plans to add to these animations over time.

BBC Creative, the broadcaster’s in-house agency, oversaw the brand refresh along with British creative agency Superunion. They collaborated with various creatives and pioneers in digital animation and motion graphic design, such as UK-based Mainframe, New York-based David McLeod and Berlin-based Helmut Breineder.

British composer Alex Baranowski scored the sound, adding a rich sensorial quality to the enticing visuals. His aim was “to build unique soundscapes for each film that blurred the line between what could be ‘music’ or ‘sound’”. He did this by performing musical instruments in unusual ways and enhancing sounds using a combination of analogue and digital techniques.  

Each piece of content features a curved ‘2’ outline in the centre. The different designs reflect specific moods and are intended to convey the channel’s varied content and commitment to creativity.  

Our Spotlight Trend The Sensory Opportunity highlights innovative engagement strategies that seek to capture consumers’ attention via entertainment and media channels. Check out Sensory Product for inspiring visual digital seduction techniques. 

See also The Future of Television.

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BBC Two idents 2018
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Published: 5 Oct 2018

KLM’s Robot Assistant Helps Passengers through the Airport

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KLM

Adding a more advanced dimension to the airport tech revolution and taking a step further from helpdesk robotics, Dutch airline KLM has launched a robot that acts as a personal assistant to help passengers through the airport.

Care-E is a self-driving trolley able to carry up to 85lbs of luggage and drive at walking pace alongside the traveller. To use the robot, passengers scan their boarding card, and it will take them to the right area. The bot also has real-time access to flight information, so it will know where to go if the gate changes or the plane is delayed.

Care-E uses a variety of non-verbal sounds to interact with users, meaning that passengers won't have to speak Dutch to operate the robot. It's currently being tested at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, with plans to debut at New York's JFK and San Francisco International by the end of 2018.

Airports are becoming ever more tech-savvy to offer an easy, seamless experience for consumers, and this development by KLM is a smart move from the brand. For more on airports using robotics in increasingly clever ways, see New-Wave Airports, Dubai Airport's Aquarium-Themed Security and Agile Airlines Reshape Travel.

Published: 5 Oct 2018

Creatives Move Out of the City for Fresh Inspiration

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City Quitters

Can creative inspiration be found outside of the melting pot of urban centres? And can innovation thrive in a rural setting? New book City Quitters by UK trend forecaster (and out-of-house Stylus expert) Karen Rosenkranz explores how young designers are moving further afield in search of a fresh perspective for their work.

As explored in New Metropolitans, cities are undergoing a demographic shift. Millennials (aged 24 to 37) are increasingly relocating out of urban areas, while boomers (aged 54 to 72) are stepping in to their place.

According to Rosenkranz, the rising cost of urban living and fierce competition are making it harder for creatives to thrive in a city environment. The dulling effect of financial anxiety and long work hours, plus a global homogeneous aesthetic fuelled by identikit social media feeds, led her to question whether “fresh, original thinking is no longer the preserve of a thriving megacity?”

For Italian artist Ivano Atzori and American set designer Kyre Chenven – two of Rosenkranz’s ‘city quitter’ subjects – the move to a small valley in Sardinia, Italy, steered the formation of their interdisciplinary studio Pretziada. The duo looks to the region’s design vernacular to inform their work, evolving traditional making techniques to peddle Sardinian crafts to the world.

This migration of creatives to the countryside will help rid rural life of simplistic utopian clichés, and instead, foster a fresh visual language that directs heritage crafts into the future.

For more on how crafts are being revived to offer consumers a sense of belonging, while fulfilling the innate human desire to create, see our S/S 20 Design Direction Journey.

City Quitters: Creative Pioneers Pursuing Post-Urban Life is published by Frame.

Published: 4 Oct 2018

Lego Engages Adult Creativity with New Model Kit

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Lego has released Lego Forma, a new mechanical model kit aimed at adults looking to "reconnect with their creative side". The premium kit targets self-proclaimed 'kidults' and the AFOL community adult fans of Lego.

The Forma kit allows buyers to build an articulated fish, complete with a hand-crank to simulate realistic swimming movement. The model comes in four different prototypes each of which has the same fish 'skeleton' but can be decorated with different shark or fish 'skins'.

Lego's new release taps into the growing kidult market: in 2017, 11% of toy purchases were made by over-18s for their own use (NPD, 2018). As discussed in Playful Escapists, consumers are turning to nostalgic activities such as Lego model-building as a reprieve from today's high-pressure, digital-heavy world.

The Lego Forma kit has launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, to test the demand for such a product. The target of 500 units sold quickly, and now over 3,500 sets have already been purchased. This sales tactic is wise, following Lego's 8% revenue decline in 2017 due to a surplus of stock that prevented the release of new products (Lego, 2018). The kits are expected to be delivered in January 2019.

With its new model kit, Lego is catering to demand for tactile play opportunities for adults. For more on the benefits of experiences that engage the senses, see our Sensory Opportunity Spotlight Trend.

Published: 4 Oct 2018

FabFitFun: Branded Live Broadcast

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FabFitFun, FFF Live

The fine lines between selling, guidance and entertainment are being blurred, with brands now behaving like media entities to stand out and provide a more engaging route to consumption. Tapping into this trend, US beauty, wellness and athleisure subscription box FabFitFun (FFF) has launched a shoppable live show on Facebook to generate more digital interaction.

Running for two weeks until October 5, FFF Live airs daily between 11am and 1pm and is available to all active Facebook users. Marrying commerce, entertainment and content (see Contextual Commerce for more), the schedule ranges from expert-led advice and educational sessions, to QVC-style product showcases and entertainment.

Industry experts explain how to use beauty products, while hosts demo items from the current Fall Edit box, with viewers able to interact with them in real time via the comment section. Viewers can also win prizes via a game show titled The Fab Challenge – such as Win in 60, where a caller has 60 seconds to match the right price to a corresponding product. If they match all five, they win all the prizes on display.

The launch ties closely with the brand's ongoing content creation strategy. This already includes a series of Founder Chats with partner brands, hosted by FFF co-founder and editor-in-chief Katie Rosen Kitchens; and an exclusive members TV channel (updated monthly) on FFF's website, where subscribers get on-demand access to fitness tutorials from LA's top trainers. See also Subscription E-Tail Gets Experiential.

The show will return in Q4 with the release of the winter subscription box and an updated schedule, which will be altered according to consumer feedback gathered from the beta launch. See also Retail's Brand Broadcasters, Interactive & Shoppable: Live Video Shopping Platform and Monetising Social Media '18: Five Trends.

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