We use cookies to give you the best personal experience on our website. If you continue to use our site without changing your cookie settings, you agree we may place these cookies on your device. You can change your cookie settings at any time but if you do , you may lose some functionality on our website . More information can be found in our privacy policy.
Please provide more information.
Stylus no longer supports Internet Explorer 7, 8 or 9. Please upgrade to IE 11, Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Edge. This will ensure you have the best possible experience on the site.
Latest Blog Posts
Clear All Filters
Filter By:
Consumer Lifestyle
Consumer Product
Food, Beverage & Hospitality (5)
Fashion (29)
Beauty (29)
Product Design (20)
Colour & Materials (3)
Consumer Engagement
Retail (10)
Media & Marketing (21)
Published: 17 Oct 2018

Dress for Success: Affordable Interview Dressing

Amber Butchart giving a candidate advice on interview attire

Dressing appropriately for a job interview is a key concern for jobseekers  as well as a financial burden. Charities in Britain and the US are empowering job hunters by providing low-cost and rentable clothing and accessories for interviews.

Recent research has found that UK graduates spend £58 ($77) on average on a new interview outfit – an amount which is unattainable for many (Barclays, 2017). But career-finding app Debut and fashion historian Amber Butchart have collaborated with charity shops across the UK to launch a new initiative: Dress to Impress for £10, providing a whole outfit for just a tenner ($13).

More than 650 charity shops have committed to the enterprise by dedicating retail space to interview-appropriate clothing. Store volunteers will also be on hand to share styling advice from Butchart to allay any concerns.

Similarly, in the US, the New York Public Library has extended its offering beyond books by launching the Grow Up Work Fashion Library in August 2018. The fashion library focuses on accessories, offering items such as professional bags, briefcases and ties for three-week loans. It also has information sheets suggesting interview tips, career resources, books and websites – including those with advice on professional attire.

The two initiatives illustrate how contentious the issue of workwear has become. While professionalism is often associated with traditional tailoring, a recent survey reveals that only one in 10 people wear a suit to work (Travelodge, 2018).

As working life adapts to societal shifts, affordable, high-functioning clothing will be in demand. For further insight into the future of workwear, see Fashion's Workplace Challenge. For more on navigating the changing workplace, see our Macro Trend The Work/Life Revolution.

Published: 16 Oct 2018

Smart Caption Glasses: Theatre for the Hearing Impaired


As of October, London's National Theatre will offer Smart Caption Glasses for hard-of-hearing audience members. The glasses provide live subtitles, enabling theatregoers to enjoy performances as they unfold in real time.

Developed by tech company Epson, the software follows live production dialogue and stage directions, such as audio and lighting cues, to provide instant subtitling. This accommodates changes in pacing that might occur during performances. It also ensures that hard-of-hearing audience members reach significant points in the production - such as jokes - at the same time as the rest of the viewers.

The Smart Caption Glasses can be linked to a touchpad that allows users to alter the subtitling font size, colour, placement and the background display to suit individual needs. The technology could also potentially be used to offer foreign-language subtitles to non-English-speaking audiences, similar to US health-tech company Starkey's recently released translating hearing aids.

The glasses will be available for the National's 2019 season, including at some performances of a touring production of Macbeth. The glasses can be reserved through the National Theatre's online ticketing interface, with booking launching at the end of October for members, and November for the general public.

In the UK, there are 11 million people with hearing loss, making initiatives such as these a wise investment (Action on Hearing Loss, 2017). Time and again companies are proving the commercial benefits of appealing to traditionally under-represented consumers.

For our take on some of the recent designs accommodating a wide spectrum of abilities, see our Design for Disability report, as well as blogs on inclusive clothing for children and adults, and on new technology for the visually impaired.

Published: 11 Oct 2018

Lyft Gets Voters to the Polls


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: 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: 2 Oct 2018

M&S Expands Inclusive Offer with Easy-Dressing Kids’ Range

Marks & Spencer Easy Dressing Kids Range

British retailer Marks & Spencer has released a line of clothing designed for children with disabilities. The Easy Dressing range matches designs from the retailer's main kidswear collection, so every child has the opportunity to dress like their peers.

First launched in August with a range of schoolwear options, the line has now been extended to include clothing suitable for daywear. The designs cater to children with sensory and physical disabilities, featuring soft fabrics and flat-lock seams for comfort, popper and Velcro fastenings for ease, and pockets and extra fabric to accommodate casts and feeding tubes.

In addition, M&S has also used children of mixed abilities to model its Autumn/Winter range in its ad campaign and on-site. As one in 20 kids in the UK have some form of disability, the new collection and ad campaign provide mainstream representation and useful products for members of society whose needs are often ignored (DLF, 2017). The collection is also affordable, with the most expensive item, a coat, costing £36 ($47).

The collection is already garnering a positive response on Twitter - a fitting reminder that as consumers increasingly demand a diverse range of products for all abilities, ages, sizes and races, companies also benefit from catering to these needs.

For more on accessible design, see Design for Disability and our recent blog on inclusive clothing for adults.

Published: 25 Sep 2018

Celebrating Ageing: Neal’s Yard Remedies Campaign

The idea of ‘ageing well’ is starting to shape marketing messages within the beauty industry, following US publication Allure Magazine’s ban on the term ‘anti-ageing’ in August 2017. The negative connotations of this natural process are being rejected by consumers, and smart brands – like Neal’s Yard Remedies – are championing this movement with inclusive campaigns.

Neal’s Yard Remedies has launched a new campaign – Age Well Revolution – in a bid to change the way ageing is portrayed in society. The ethical British beauty brand collaborated with six British women over the age of 40, who embody the core value of self-love. The brand hopes to spark a conversation between older and younger consumers about ageing gracefully through the messages shared by the campaign stars.

The beauty industry and the wider media often misrepresent 40+ women, which can lead to untrue and disheartening expectations among younger consumers. Fifty eight per cent of British consumers aged 18-35 believe that they will become less attractive as they get older (Royal Society for Public Health, 2018) – offering brands an opportunity to change the conversation with campaigns such as this.

Other beauty brands have also adopted this engagement strategy. In September 2018, cult UK colour cosmetics company Revolution promoted its new Conceal & Define Full Coverage Foundation launch with untouched images of people aged 20 to 90.

About 70% of women in their 40s and 50s in the UK feel they are largely ignored by mainstream media (Neal’s Yard Remedies, 2018). We predict more brands will move away from the outdated stigma of old age, as consumers are becoming uninspired by brands that poorly represent them.

For deeper insights into consumer attitudes towards ageist marketing language, see Gen X: Beauty’s Untapped Demographic, Mature Beauty: Entering a New Age and Boomer Beauty

Published: 20 Sep 2018

US Supermarket Taps AI to Better Serve the Visually Impaired

Wegmans has partnered with Aira to help blind shopppers

American supermarket chain Wegmans has partnered with Aira (artificial intelligence remote assistance) to provide blind and visually impaired customers with a substantially improved shopping experience.

The new service uses Aira's app to connect consumers to a remote agent when they arrive in-store, verbally navigating the user around the store and helping them to locate items via live streaming on the shopper's phone camera. The Aira technology also uses GPS, maps and information sourced from the web to help the customer. Free to download, the service is available across all Wegman stores.

Users also have the option of paying for a subscription plan for a pair of smart glasses with an in-built camera, enabling the remote agent to 'see' the store from the user's perspective.

The number of people in the US with visual impairments or blindness is expected to double to more than eight million by 2050 (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2016). Services like Aira are becoming increasingly important in aiding consumer mobility, providing reassurance and offering a more sensorial experience. See our Spotlight Trend The Sensory Opportunity for a deep dive into leveraging the senses to engage consumers on a deeper level.

Roger Tredre, acting head of Retail at Stylus, says: "This move reflects a growing emphasis from retailers on empathetic engagement strategies – in particular, acknowledging the needs of consumers beyond the mainstream."

Other projects to explore include: Assured Living by Best Buy, which helps families take care of their elderly relatives, and lifestyle website Wolf + Friends, which aids parents in designing spaces for their autistic children.

See our report Empathetic Brand Engagement for more on this strategy.

Published: 20 Sep 2018

India's New Market: Homosexual Relationships Legalised

India has legalised homosexual sex

In an historic ruling, consensual homosexual sex was decriminalised in India on September 6. As the country with the second largest population in the world, this development allows a huge demographic to live their lives as they choose, without fear of legal repercussions (US Census Bureau, 2018).

Now that consensual homosexual sex has been removed from Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, it is thought that so-called Pink Capitalism will be a huge boost to India's economy.

The legalisation of same-sex relationships will encourage tourism from the global LGBTQ+ travel market, which is valued at $211bn annually (Peter Tatchell Foundation, 2018). Products and services catering to the particular needs of India's LGBTQ+ community will now also be legally permitted. So it's no surprise that a recent report demonstrates a strong correlation between LGBTQ+ inclusion and economic development (Open for Business, 2018).

The legalisation of homosexual relationships in India opens a new market to businesses and companies that seek to support the interests and requirements of those in the LGBTQ+ community. However, while the law may have changed, India remains a largely conservative society.

To ensure due sensitivity when addressing this topic, see our reports Speak the Language of Now and How to Talk About Sex & Sexuality.

Published: 19 Sep 2018

FIT Pushes for Pink’s Gender-Neutral Future


Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Colour at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), traces the history of this divisive colour, and argues for a nuanced view. Rather than symbolising girliness, FIT prompts visitors to regard pink as being as versatile as black.

Given evolving notions of gender and masculinity (see Redressing Femininity and Fashioning a New Masculinity), FIT has chosen an apt time to stage this exhibit. It traces how pink came to symbolise femininity in Western cultures, and analyses how non-Western communities and global style subcultures offer an alternative perspective on this representation.

The show is filled with garments that illuminate the mutability of gender stereotypes. Pieces such as an Indian man’s dusty-rose sherwani, a punk-inspired suit from Japan, and a magenta hooded Mexican poncho demonstrate how cultural context can render pink a masculine colour. While adopting it as a unisex hue might seem unconventional for contemporary Western attitudes, FIT lobbies for pink as a gender-neutral colour when considered in a wider cultural context.

The range of featured hues bolsters the idea that pink’s meaning is not fixed. A purple-tinged punk ensemble from British designer Zandra Rhodes triggers a completely different response to a peachy Dior dress from the 60s. This multifaceted approach to pink reflects contemporary preferences, with hues such as Pink Dahlia and Retro Pink highlighted in our  S/S 20 Colour Spectrum.

Although the fashion industry is starting to embrace gender fluidity, the exhibit’s sometimes surprising garments underline a continued need for brands to employ pink in less stereotypical ways. Millennial pink may have gone mainstream, but there’s still commercial opportunity for more hues to become standard.

Published: 19 Sep 2018

Kaja Beauty Brings Asian Beauty to Consumers of Colour

Kaja Beauty

US-based Korean beauty and tech company Memebox has launched a multitonal make-up brand called Kaja Beauty – capitalising on Asian beauty innovations for the Western market.

Kaja Beauty is set to debut in cult American beauty retailer Sephora’s stores from September 2018. The brand’s aim is to introduce Korean make-up offerings to people of colour via a total of 47 shade-inclusive products, including brow gels, blushers and highlighters. 

“This is an innovative initiative – it takes learnings from Korean beauty while disregarding elements such as ‘whitening’ effects that have made much of this beauty market inaccessible to consumers of colour, until now,” said Stylus’ senior Beauty editor Lisa Payne.

The launch also feeds into millennials and Gen Zers’ enthusiasm for time-saving solutions: 18% of US personal care users wish their routine was less time consuming (Mintel, 2016). For example, Kaja’s Bento product offers a simple approach to eye make-up for users on the go. The curated eyeshadow trio is housed in a compact container and can be applied with fingers to create an array of daytime and evening looks in a few swipes.

In addition, the formulas’ textures deliver a unique sensorial experience for Western consumers – a key learning from Asian beauty. Mochi Pop, for instance, is a buildable cream-to-powder blush. When applied to the desired area, the smooth, velvety consistency of the product dries instantly.

For deeper cross-category insights into Asian beauty, see our Spotlight Trend Asian Beauty Now. To read more about sensorial beauty innovations, see Selling Sensorial Beauty and Revamped & Reclassified: Shiseido’s Bold New Make-Up Range

The launch also taps into the beauty industry’s need for more diverse and inclusive offerings. For more on this, see Revlon’s Inclusive Beauty Brand Targets Millennials and Women of Colour: Breaking Beauty Barriers.

Published: 13 Sep 2018

Starkey's New Hearing Aids Tap Wearable Tech Appeal

Starkey Hearing Technologies' new AI-powered hearing aid, Livio

US-based health-tech company Starkey Hearing Technologies has revealed its new artificial intelligence-powered hearing aid, Livio. In addition to optimising the wearer's listening experience, it also translates languages in real time and records the wearer's biometric data.

Livio uses directional microphones and binaural audio signal processing to amplify important sounds, such as a friend talking in a noisy room. A key innovation is its use of machine learning algorithms to optimise hearing in different environments, rather than relying on manual tuning.

It is estimated that 466 million people suffer from disabling hearing loss worldwide (WHO, 2018). However, only 40% of people who need hearing aids actually wear them (Action on Hearing Loss, 2017). One reason for this is hearing aids' negative associations with age and illness.

Starkey hopes that Livio's multifunctionality will help to alleviate some of the social stigma still surrounding medical devices. Beyond its hearing capabilities, Livio acts as a fitness tracker, recording the number of steps and time spent physically active, displaying the data in a linked app called Thrive. The wearable additionally logs the duration of social engagement and active listening, presenting the data as a mental health 'score' on Thrive.

Livio also incorporates real-time translation of 27 languages. The wearer's speech is translated on the screen of their linked mobile device, while the responses they receive are heard through the hearing aid.

As disabling hearing loss is projected to affect 900 million people by 2050, health tech companies would be wise to further develop designs that facilitate optimal living for the hard of hearing (WHO, 2018). As noted above, 60% of those in need of hearing aids do not wear them, demonstrating the effect social stigma can have on the adoption of health treatments. In our Tackling Taboos report, we highlight how businesses and platforms can integrate products with stigma-busting rhetoric to entice reticent demographics.

Published: 6 Sep 2018

Nike & Levi's Aim for Moonshots in Purpose-Driven Campaigns

Nike and Levi's launched groundbreaking campaigns this week, with both taking defiant stands on controversial issues. Prepared to put their reputations on the line, and unafraid to alienate parts of their fan base, both companies have set a benchmark for purpose-driven marketing in this hyper-polarised age.

Nike celebrated 30 years of its 'Just Do It' mantra with a campaign featuring ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who caused controversy in 2016 by kneeling at games during the National Anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. An emotive video spot and poster has social media all fired up, from those who support the brand's deal with Kaepernick (who's currently being shut out of the NFL), to those proclaiming they'll now boycott the brand.

It's easy to be cynical about such a marketing move – Nike can afford to lose a few fans and absorb a momentary four per cent drop in stock. But there's no denying that as an example to other brands who want to lead – not just reflect – the cultural conversation, the Nike-Kaepernick team-up has set a benchmark.

Despite the noise around Nike, it's Levi's that has really put its reputation on the line this week, launching a campaign for greater gun control in America. In an open letter for US business publication Fortune, Levi-Strauss CEO Chip Bergh wrote: "We simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work. While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option."

Levi's has established a $1m Safer Tomorrow Fund to "fuel the work of nonprofits and youth activists who are working to end gun violence in America." The brand is also forming a coalition of business leaders to tackle the issue, and encouraging employees to use their paid volunteer time to "get more politically active."

Both these brands are trying to change things, but you might say Levi's has really put its money where its mouth is – it's aiming for the kind of moonshot we outline in Experiments in Moonshot Marketing.

For more on the future of purpose-driven marketing, see Taking Control of Trust, No Offence: Speak the Language of Now, and Brands Take A Stand.

Published: 6 Sep 2018

Girlguiding Overhaul Reflects Gen Z Interests

Girlguiding has launched new interest badges

Girlguiding, the UK's largest female-only youth charity, has introduced new 'interests' badges for subjects including construction, conscious consumption and astronomy. The new badges are part of the biggest overhaul the organisation has undergone in more than 100 years, reflecting a "new programme for every girl".

Throughout Girlguiding's long history, its young members have earned badges by dedicating themselves to activities and interests, which historically centred around tasks such as cooking and sewing. In an attempt to move away from an emphasis on domestic life and traditionally gendered activities, the new badges reframe skills to appeal to Gen Z Girl Guides. For example, sewing skills are now part of the Craftivism badge, which shifts focus onto how the skill can be used to advocate for social change.

The badges have been redesigned to be more inclusive. Previously, the Dancing badge depicted an able-bodied girl, whereas the new version features footprints and musical notes to include Girl Guides of all abilities. They also acknowledge new skillsets that have emerged with the proliferation of social media, including badges for Vlogging and Personal Brand. This demonstrates Girlguiding's understanding of Gen Z (now aged nine to 23), who spend an average of over 15 hours a week online (Ofcom, 2017).

Meanwhile, the Saver badge reflects Gen Z's financial awareness. Eighty-five per cent of this generation believe saving money is important to achieving their life goals, and the badge recognises and rewards good saving practices (Charles Schwab, 2018).

Brands and organisations looking to connect with Gen Z should follow Girlguiding's lead by embracing and celebrating the diversity of Gen Z culture. For advice on how to do this, see Speaking Gen Z's Language.

Published: 4 Sep 2018

New Beauty Brand SPKTRM Champions Anti-Perfection Movement


New York-based start-up SPKTRM is showing the beauty industry how to promote inclusivity with its refreshing Instagram-led campaign.

Launched in August 2018, the colour cosmetics company has pledged to never retouch the appearance of its models. In the brand’s inaugural Instagram-based campaign, ‘flaws’ such as fine lines and freckles were left clearly visible on multiracial models’ faces.

SPKTRM’s efforts on Instagram attempt to challenge millennials’ focus on the perfect selfie, with the brand seeking to counteract the negative effects resulting from consumers’ constant exposure to unrealistic and distorted photos. Filters and body-altering apps are arguably contributing to a rise in body dysmorphia, with more than half (55%) of American surgeons reporting a surge in patients wanting to alter their features to look better on camera (AAFRPS, 2018). 

Further tapping into inclusive beauty ideals, SPKTRM’s first product launch is You+ – a sheer foundation available in over 50 hues with warm, cool and neutral undertones. The vast number of shades satisfies consumers’ growing enthusiasm for broader representation within the beauty industry. 

While SPKTRM’s offering is the most inclusive yet (other similar ranges come in at around 40 shades), brands should consider how else they can promote openness. “Inclusivity doesn’t just mean adding more shades to your foundation offering,” says Stylus’ senior Beauty editor Lisa Payne. “Skin is so much more than the colour alone.”

SPKTRM’s inclusive ethos extends to its social media engagement strategy, which starts with the hashtag #MeInMind. It encourages consumers to celebrate their authentic selves and post make-up-free selfies, while nominating others to do the same. For deeper insights into promoting values of self-love, see Millennial Beauty: Advocating Realness and Reality Check.

For more on inclusive beauty, see Inclusive Beauty: 5 Key Lessons.

Published: 4 Sep 2018

New App Cures Cross-Generational Loneliness


Papa, a new app, connects elderly people in need of a helping hand at home with college students looking to earn extra cash. The app aims to combat the US loneliness epidemic, with recent data indicating that 46% of Americans feel lonely (Cigna, 2018).

The app provides an on-demand solution for when family help isn't available. Carefully vetted college students can be hired by the hour to help with transportation, cleaning, tech lessons or just companionship. Loneliness has been linked to heart disease and premature death, making the app a creative solution to physical and mental illness in older generations (ESC, 2018).

The app benefits both its elderly customers and the student 'Papa Pals', with a recent survey suggesting that Generation Z are more likely to feel lonely than seniors (Cigna, 2018). Papa gives helpers the opportunity to spend their spare time fostering human connections rather than feeling isolated.

The app has a monthly service fee of $15 or $30, with the higher price allowing users to request a specific Papa Pal. Students can then be hired for $15 an hour. The app is currently live in Florida, with plans to expand to other states by the end of the year.

As discussed in Boomers in Motion, services that connect different generations are growing in popularity as household structures shift away from the traditional nuclear family; brands should follow Papa's example and foster intergenerational friendships. For more on tech enhancing wellbeing, see our Nurturing Mental Health report.