At Brooklyn Eats 2018 (June 28), local companies demonstrated mass-market appeal with product launches that echoed themes spotted at New York’s Summer Fancy Food Show (June 30 to July 3). These are our top picks for products that capture the culinary innovation brewing in the borough.
A wave of supportive heroine hubs is emerging as Gen X and boomer women reinvent middle age with a positive, open and youthful spirit. More than 80% of American women aged over 40 feel younger, sexier or cooler than they'd expected to (Fancy, 2018). Brands need to catch up to this new reality.
We've been talking about the rise of heroine hubs – supportive women-only platforms – for a while (see Power Girls). Now, middle-aged women are filling a void and creating platforms focused on this stage in life.
While boomer women (aged 54 to 72) are 'reinventing life past 50' (J. Walter Thompson, 2018), only occasionally do brands reflect this new reality.
In forums such as What Would Virginia Woolf Do? and MegsMenopause, the tone is optimistic and positive, but frank about the challenges unique to this life stage. Women are seeking the same from brands: vibrant, multidimensional portrayals and a meaningful grasp of their difficulties, along with new solutions.
For more strategies to help achieve this, see Mature Beauty: Entering a New Age, The New Fashion Landscape 2017 Update: Diversity Rules and A Fashion A'woke'ning.
Also, look out for upcoming reports The Middle-Aged Gap (publishing July 12) and Gen X: Beauty's Untapped Demographic (publishing July 16) for further insights on attracting this cohort.
Online fashion and beauty retailer Asos is extending its diversity agenda once more with a fashion-forward jumpsuit that’s suitable for wheelchair users, created in collaboration with British Paralympic athlete Chloe Ball-Hopkins.
The waterproof outfit costs £50 and has an adjustable hood, a zip around the waist to make it easier to get in and out of, cuffs that allow the sleeve length to be changed, and a pocket for medical supplies. It’s currently only available in one style – pink tie-dye – but Ball-Hopkins hinted that similar garments could soon be on the way. She also clarified that the jumpsuit can be worn by anyone, not just those with disabilities, highlighting the universality of the design.
The accessible suit is far from the retailer’s first encounter with progressiveness – Asos regularly houses exclusive plus-size collections, carries gender-neutral products, and promotes body positivity through inclusive brand marketing. With consumers increasingly demanding diversity across age, size, race and ability, the project is a good reminder that brands should aim for ultimate inclusivity; those that don’t will be left behind.
'Phantom limb' – the perception of still having a missing body part – is a sensory illusion experienced by many amputees. But engineers at the John Hopkins University in the US have created an electronic skin that will soon make this illusion a reality by giving prosthetics the sense of touch.
As explained in the June 2018 research article, the 'e-dermis' is an electronic skin made of fabric and rubber that's layered on top of a prosthetic limb – such as the fingertips of a prosthetic hand. It electrically stimulates the arm's nerves to recreate the sense of touch on the person's fingertips.
The method used is called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or Tens, and is non-invasive – but still feels like a real skin. "After many years I felt my hand, as if a hollow shell got filled with life again," said the team's anonymous principal tester.
E-dermis is not yet sensitive to temperature – but it can detect shapes and perceive pain when it touches something sharp. This is particularly useful for alerting wearers to potential damage, particularly to lower-limb prosthetics. With up to 40,000 amputations performed annually in the US, the innovative e-skin could dramatically improve amputees' quality of life (NCBI, 2018).
Accessibility tech that enhances the lives of people with disabilities is a key area of opportunity, as outlined in CES 2018: Personal Electronics and 10 Tech Trends to Watch in 2018. For more on the technologies that empower people with disabilities, see Design for Disability: Transformative Tech.
Following the opening of Lush’s packaging-free store in Milan, the brand has pledged to further develop its eco-friendly range with an inclusive twist.
British naturals brand Lush is expanding its make-up line with vegan multi-tonal foundation sticks – set to launch in 18 countries. The compact Slap Sticks are available in 40 hues with cool, neutral or warm undertones. Hero ingredients Indonesian coconut oil, Turkish rose wax and Peruvian jojoba oil hydrate and brighten the skin.
The development of shade-inclusive collections is becoming the norm for the colour cosmetics industry, as savvy beauty brands acknowledge diverse consumer groups. Cult US companies ColourPop and CoverGirl are good examples – both have recently relaunched their foundation ranges with up to 42 hues.
In a bid to reduce plastic waste, each Slap Stick is housed in a biodegradable wax casing, encouraging wearers to forego traditional glass or plastic foundation bottles. This ‘unpackaged’ approach has been successfully implemented within the brand’s hair and bodycare ranges – currently, over 35% of Lush’s products are ‘naked’.
In addition, the sticks offer on-the-go usability. The easy-grip egg shape of the foundation stick – which resembles a make-up sponge – ensures consumers can apply the make-up with their fingers and blend the formula for an airbrushed finish, without the use of bulky applicator tools.
While currently a limited-edition run, if popular, they could be rolled out as a permanent feature, and inspire the brand to explore more packaging-free product development in other categories.
Tapping into millennials’ desire for experiences, and aligning with contemporary celebrations of gender neutrality, olfactory artist Klara Ravat collaborated with notorious Berlin techno sex club The KitKatClub on a ‘senses’ party in May.
Under the tagline “Hear it. Watch it. Smell it. Taste it. Lick it. Suck it. F*** it. Dance it”, the event sought to champion queer identities through freedom of expression in body, word and performance. Ravat, who created a scent installation for the event, reflected that “the party was a motivation to explore fears and pleasures”.
It comprised a series of ‘Nose Kinks’ – scented bondage-style vinyl strips in red and black, strapped tight from ceiling to floor so clubbers could get close, touch, smell and play with them to explore how the sensory stimulation influenced their dancing and interaction with others.
Ravat designed three scents, aiming to “take the fetishism of the night one step further and create smells that could be perceived as extremely desirable, very animalic and, at the same time, almost stinky”.
Nose Kink N.1 had a strong musky, faecal and moist base, with a green fresh top layer and a sweet heart. Nose Kink N.2 was velvety and warm, designed “to make people feel like touching each other”. Finally, Nose Kink N.3 was built around civet – a traditionally animalic ingredient found in many classic perfumes.
“This club night taps into a trend we’re monitoring for more experimental, sensorial experiences with fragrance and scent,” said Stylus’ senior editor of Beauty, Lisa Payne. For more, see Experimental Scent Summit 2018, Abnormal Fragrance: The New Normal and Exploring Scent Communication.
Deciphering the behaviour of all demographic groups is a vital part of our work, and the youngest generations – the connected consumers of the future – are the most crucial for brands to watch.
Aside from being the fastest to adopt new technologies, Gen Z (aged nine to 23) hold great purchase influence in their households. And in terms of personal and social diversity, they’re among the most open and accepting consumer groups we’ve seen.
We’ve just published 10 Youth Trends to Watch, which charts the impact these trends are likely to have on multiple industries. Looking at just three of Gen Z’s polarising behaviours paints a fascinating picture of an enterprising group who are resourceful, mindful and inventive – and looking for brands to support their development in relevant and meaningful ways.
This inspiring new generation of teens has an unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit; more than three-quarters (77%) of 14- to 21-year-old Americans already earn their own money. These tech natives are trading cryptocurrencies and turning their social media platforms into mini e-tail economies. And they’re looking for media outlets – like Teen Boss magazine and social network Maverick, both of which provide practical advice for savvy teenpreneurs – to help them build their own brands and learn start-up skills.
A mental health crisis is gaining public attention across generations. Alarmingly, despite the perception that Gen Z is socially connected, the Office for National Statistics has found that 16- to 24-year-olds in the UK are over three times more likely to be regularly lonely than over-65s.
We believe there’s a real need for compassionate brands to promote self-care through a number of initiatives like wellbeing apps and products, and community hubs that bring young people together in real life.
Further to valuing connection and commerce, Gen Zers seek new forms of self-discovery and ways to express their identity. The beauty sector in particular is responding well with teen- and tween-targeted products that promote creativity, experimentation and diversity – which is also prompting huge industry growth. Brands like Crayola are recognising young people’s self-confidence issues and responding with make-up that encourages them to explore and express their personalities.
In our Asian Beauty Now Spotlight Trend reports, we’re watching a wave of influence coming from the East in the form of clever teen sub-brands and new formats that cultivate inventive behaviour. From Shiseido’s teen brand Posme, with its addictive shareable make-up stickers of single-dose, multi-use colour for the eyes, cheeks and lips, to South Korean beauty brand Etude House’s in-store Color Factory for developing the ultimate in personalised palettes.
As July gets underway, we’re turning our focus to opportunities for engaging with an older market – ‘the middle-aged gap’. We’re also excited to continue building our psychographic landscape – the seeds of our next Consumer Zodiac. Watch this space.
Have a great month,
Chief Creative Officer
Electronic transactions are quick and efficient, but a cashless society isn't beneficial for everyone – especially the homeless, who rely on spare change for survival. US start-up Samaritan is tackling this issue by helping next-gen activists support their neighbours in need.
It distributes Bluetooth-powered beacons to homeless individuals and notifies people via an accompanying app whenever they're near a beacon holder. Passers-by can read the person's story and the financial goal they're trying to reach to escape life on the streets – and offer them money with a simple mobile transaction.
These donations can be redeemed at partnering stores for food, transport and essential items including soap and toilet paper, but not for alcohol or tobacco. This helps increase giving, as many people are reluctant to donate for fear of funding addictions.
Currently in beta mode in Seattle, Samaritan plans to expand to other US cities and has already had 7,000 downloads, raising about $2,500 per month.
More than 550,000 people in the US are homeless (Hud Exchange, 2017) – with the Seattle area spending more than $1bn a year in response to the crisis (Puget Sound Business Journal, 2018). Tech companies like Samaritan could help address such social issues by engaging proactive and energetic next-gen activists, who are eager for new ways to streamline change.
It's becoming increasingly important for brands to cultivate and inspire empathy. For the latest ideas inspiring action for good, take a look at Compassion Culture: Embracing Empathy.
Digital gaming attracts a huge and powerful player base around the world, with e-sports battle arena game League of Legends enjoying a following of 100 million (Statista, 2017). With this number of engaged users, gaming needs to consider the diversity of its fans and use intelligent design to cater to different abilities and methods of play.
Xbox, Microsoft’s gaming division, has taken a step towards making gaming more accessible for users of mixed abilities with the Adaptive Controller. Designed in collaboration with charity organisations and gamers, the device is flat and rectangular – breaking from the curved palm grips of the traditional model – and sits easily on a table or on a gamer’s lap.
Two oversized A and B pads feature as a softer and larger update on the old model’s pointer finger buttons, while external input points allow users to connect additional joysticks, pedals and switches. The function of these can be programmed to suit the individual user.
“A gamer can game with one hand and one foot, or one hand and their shoulder, or even one foot and their chin,” says James Shields, Xbox product marketing manager. By offering adaptive controls and plug-ins, the controller is an example of how design can incite users to rethink conventional interactions and create products that are both imaginative and inclusive.
This push to serve mixed-ability consumers is gaining momentum across design categories, from graphics and lettering to wearables and ride-ons (see our blog posts on Inclusive Typography and Design for Disability). With 12.6% of the US population reporting to have a disability (Pew Research, 2017), there is a huge opportunity for brands to build on this inclusive mentality with accessible products that move beyond pure utility to excite and empower. For the latest gaming developments from this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, see Connected Play is Changing the Game at E3.
The Swedish manufacturer has acknowledged the huge influence of e-sports with a new collaboration tackling ergonomic seating design for a generation that sits playing computer games for up to 20 hours per day.
As revealed in Designing Amplified Experiences (part of our Active Lives Macro Trend), e-sports is big business, with revenue forecast to reach $1.5bn by 2020 (Newzoo, 2017). Ikea has long dedicated its creative focus to improving ergonomic design, and with gamers sitting down for up to 20 hours a day – sometimes resulting in sports injuries – the pairing is a logical fit.
The collaboration – announced at Ikea’s annual design conference Democratic Design Days last week – is with Swedish e-sports education platform Area Academy, and US medical wearable company Unyq. The latter creates custom prosthetics from digital body scans, which are used to create 3D-printed casts that are tailored to the user’s body. Ikea wants to bring this technology into its stores, demonstrating that customisation is possible within the mass market.
Unyq’s scanning technology will be located in Ikea stores next to its standard chair models. Users create a 3D map of their body, which can be saved and sent to Ikea with their product choice via an app. From these scans, Unyq prints cushions that fit onto the product and feature a lattice structure that guides the user into the correct posture.
The speedy and scalable production made possible with 3D technology is driving new commercial opportunities by creating custom-fitted product. This is a major theme within our A/W 19/20 Design Direction Burst, which explores how designs are being left open-ended to enable users to realise products that reflect their bodies, needs and creativity.
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.
The US is changing dramatically as its population ages and becomes more diverse. However, these changes are being felt in different ways across the country's urban, suburban and rural communities, according to a report released last month by US-based Pew Research Center. Key findings include:
For more on the widening divide between urban, suburban and rural consumers, see New Metropolitans.
Beyond anticipation for the millennium, 2020 is the milestone year that has always denoted ‘tomorrow’s world’. Now, our global colour specialists have forecast the trends that will land in real life for this once-futuristic year.
By looking across the creative industries and the worlds of art, technology and science, they’ve foreseen an exciting, vibrant and positive tomorrow – a tomorrow that’s coming fast.
Here are their three defining trends:
Our research this season has seen us jumping into the future whilst looking back at landmark highlights from the past. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, which not only signified a huge technological accomplishment, but also impacted design and aesthetics.
Half a century later, designers are revisiting the symbolism of the moon and celestial formations in a modern context. We’re seeing mysticism being captured aesthetically, through a redefined space-age palette, in augmented environments and products. Three shades from our Colour Spectrum S/S 2020 capture this trend: pale purple Cosmos; vivid, lunar-inspired Dark Windsor; and a particularly spectacular shade of Neon Peach that I want to surround myself with from this day forward.
We’ve been citing the importance of biophilic design within our everyday lives as part of a wider wellbeing trend. As we design sensitively for the future, we look for ways to convey nature’s fluid rhythms and irregularities through enriching patterns and finishes.
Lauren Chiu, our senior editor of Colour & Materials, says: “For Spring/Summer 2020, we imagine calming utopias where living colour nourishes our senses alongside materials that grow and evolve, nurturing our mind and body as they mature.” A botanical palette includes mineral Blue Shale, verdant Reseda Green, and chalky, soothing Rosaline.
In our wider consumer trend research, we’ve been questioning what it means to be human today – considering what unites and divides us, while acknowledging the crucial role of diversity in society’s wellbeing. For a bright, borderless future, we’re inspired by a rich and resourceful aesthetic that draws influence from a broad global audience.
An appreciation of cultural heritage and skills is leading an exploration of traditional craft, as we see time-honoured techniques being invigorated through contemporary construction. This is where colours that convey history and age-old character – like deep Indigo Ink, stripped-back Vanilla and energising Emberglow – come in.
Here, I’ve presented a sample of just nine of the 48 colours that make up our biannual Colour Spectrum, a glimpse at the colours we should prepare to embrace in 2020.
Alongside our global colour specialists, our advisory team can create bespoke colour forecasts with ideas for application. If you’re interested in finding out more, please do get in touch with our Advisory team.
Wishing you a colourful month,
Chief Creative Officer
US department store Nordstrom is upping its size-inclusive strategies – recognising the $22bn spending power of the plus-size market, as well as the need for inclusivity across the board.
US denim brand Good American (co-founded by Khloé Kardashian) acted as the catalyst for the department store. The size-inclusive brand demanded that the retailer picked up every size from US 00-24 (UK 2-28) in order to sell its collections.
Nordstrom’s initiative will focus on size and shape diversity across all of its media, mannequins, marketing and signage, which brands with a limited size range will be excluded from. It’s also adding a size-equalising function to its website in a bid to eliminate vanity sizing. This means that customers who search for a size will be shown what closely resembles that measurement from other brands – even if that size is labelled as something else.
Recognising the need for a size-inclusive and fashion-forward product offering, Nordstrom has started asking brands to increase their sizing ranges. Topshop, Rag & Bone and Madewell have extended their denim sizes in line with the retailer’s request, while athletic brands like Nike, Beyond Yoga and Adidas have added XXL to their product offerings.
With brick-and-mortar stores being Nordstrom’s key draw, the strategy is a shrewd move. As size-diverse customers are often excluded from the in-store experience, stores would do well to lead from the front – tackling limited-size brands to ensure every customer is catered for.