The social stigma surrounding female menstruation is evolving as progressive start-ups, brands and designers dare to confront social taboos. We examine the brands stepping in with body-positive marketing campaigns and sustainable solutions to capitalise on an enthusiastic market of women seeking new alternatives.
UK start-up Dame has created a reusable applicator tampon made from a self-cleaning antimicrobial material. Combining medical-grade materials that naturally sterilise the device, the applicator remains safe and hygienic after multiple uses. Featuring a smooth semi-gloss finish and shaped to suit the contours of the body, Dame is designed to be comfortable and easy to control.
Similarly, new UK femcare brand Callaly has created the Tampliner. Offering the functions of both a tampon and a panty liner, the Tampliner promises greater absorbency to give users better peace of mind. Co-founded by gynaecologist Dr Alex Hooi, Callaly is the culmination of years of working with, and listening to, the frustration of women who don’t feel adequately protected with existing product.
Also from the UK, graduate Kaye Toland developed Mcycle, a tampon delivery service concept that transforms tampons into compost. Mcycle proposes a system where organic tampons are delivered to subscribers by bicycle. After use, the tampon’s packaging can be used as a bin that is later collected and composted in non-food soil.
Read Breaking Taboos in Packaging Futures: Diversity and Beauty Inspired by Menstrual Cycles for examples of body-positive brands tackling the topic of female menstruation. Also see Tackling Taboos for more on the brave marketing campaigns winning over consumers.
Retail Week Live (7-8 March), an annual conference for retail executives staged in London, saw a fleet of European retail tech start-ups pitching to attract investor interest and industry exposure. We highlight our favourites.
For non-food retailers, the addition of a café or restaurant boosts dwell time and can provide creative inspiration. We sum up the latest hybrid stores, Instagram-ready culinary hotspots, and concepts using food as design cues.
Besides encouraging customers to linger in a shop, the addition of a food offer directly entices experience-hungry young consumers. Global luxury food and drinks sales grew 6% in 2017 from 2016, reaching $120bn (Bain & Co, 2017).
For more on the power of brand extensions, see Retail’s Elastic Brands: Stretch & Diversify.
Modern Food Mall
See also Modern Malls.
Supermarket & Bistro Inspiration
German supermarket chain Lidl has launched a new Facebook chat tool that can assist customers with choosing the right wine to pair with their meal.
To access the bot, dubbed Margot, consumers head to the Lidl Facebook page and click 'send message'. They then select from food-pairing advice, a wine finder, or an educational wine quiz. For the first two options, the user types in what they are looking for, for example a wine to be paired with a particular dish or a variety from a specific region. The chatbot then picks up on key words such as foods, grape varieties, countries, colours and even emoji, subsequently suggesting wines from Lidl's wine selection.
Alex Murray, digital director at Lidl UK, said: "Margot will ensure choosing the right wine is never a daunting process, and we hope this service – along with the existing in-store and online information we already provide – encourages customers to discover the perfect wine from our curated range."
For more on how supermarkets are using technology to create an interactive and seamless experience, see Future Supermarket Strategies, The Mobile-First Supermarket and EuroShop Follow-Up: The Tech-Powered Supermarket.
Samsung has launched an Internet of Things-powered pop-up store concept with data collection and analytics capabilities, available for retailers to hire.
Called Connected Spaces, it’s a collaboration with global shopper conversion specialist Barrows, which handles pop-up ideation, location scouting, logistics and fulfilment for renters.
Available in three sizes, the space comes outfitted with Samsung’s own retail tech innovations. These allow retailers to shed light on data darkness and gain real-time insight into shoppers’ needs by tracking consumer behaviours on a granular level. This can help them to make data-driven decisions and create consumer-centric experiences in the future.
Data is collected via sensors, cameras and connected devices such as digital interactive kiosks and mobile scanners. An analytics dashboard, linked to Samsung’s proprietary real-time behavioural sensing technology Nexshop, gives retailers an overview of metrics such as overall use of store, footfall, average customer dwell time and demographics (age and gender). Results can be filtered by store zone and time of day.
The flexibility is impressive. Staff can adjust the in-store experience in real time. Layout, product placements, staff scheduling and inventory management can all be adjusted promptly after analysing the in-store customer journey and sales figures.
While 47% of commerce leaders are planning to invest in in-store analytics technology (Forrester, 2017), most smaller retailers don’t have the resources to access such expertise. This short-term solution provides an attractive insight into the potential of data.
Sustainability was top of the agenda at Birmingham’s Packaging Innovations trade show (February 28 to March 1), with some of the UK’s leading retailers making emphatic pledges to become plastic-free and eliminate waste in as little as five years. Impressive start-ups showcased the latest in sustainable packaging solutions, while designers gave a lesson on tactility through e-commerce packaging.
Tech companies are responding to growing anxiety about digital saturation and gadget dependency by looking back to the exciting early years of high-tech goods and rebooting fan favourites. Tapping into consumer nostalgia in this way extends the mileage of established designs and secures sales.
US gaming console manufacturer Hyperkin announced plans to relaunch the Game Boy at this year’s CES. Named the Ultra Game Boy, the size and layout remain almost identical to the original in honour of the iconic gaming gadget. An internal battery enables the device to be charged with a USB-C port, while an aluminium case adds a sleek and modern finish. Hyperkin isn’t releasing any new games for the device, meaning it will only be able to play vintage cartridges.
Likewise, global tech company HMD – the manufacturer of Nokia phones – is rereleasing the 8110, also known affectionately as the ‘banana phone’. Its signature design has a slight curve and features a slider to answer calls and hang up. The device has been updated to suit contemporary use: the company has created a phone-specific app store to allow users to access Facebook. The move comes off the back of Nokia’s rerelease of the 3310 last year.
Read our CMF Industry View for the latest detail trends in personal electronics. For more on how brands are employing nostalgia to connect with consumer memory, read Nowstalgia Marketing. To see how designer labels are using trends of yesteryear to ease consumer concerns about an uncertain future, read our A/W 18/19 Fashion Forecast.
Sneaker giant Nike has collaborated on a geo-smart online flash sale hosted on Snapchat, considered Gen Z’s favourite social media app.
An exclusive pre-release promotion of its Air Jordan III Tinker sneaker (to hit stores in March) was tied to a location. People were required to attend the NBA All-Star game on February 18 in the Staples Center in Los Angeles to buy the sneaker in-app.
Powered by geo-location-triggered content – a geo fence was installed over the stadium – game attendees were able to unlock specially designed augmented reality lenses. Push notifications were sent to phones and included exclusive snapcodes. Consumers scanned them to be redirected to the in-app purchasing area.
The shoe sold out within 23 minutes as consumers responded enthusiastically to the promotion, which tapped the appeal of instant gratification and seamless purchase integration.
E-commerce platform Shopify managed order-taking, while on-demand fulfilment start-up Darkstore facilitated same-day delivery to consumers’ homes. Darkstore exploits excess storage capacity in malls and transforms them into on-demand fulfilment centres where brands can store goods for a small commission.
Snap, the owner of Snapchat, is exploring in-app e-commerce with a view to earning sale commissions. Brands should be encouraged to explore the potential of similar collaborations. With stories deleted after 24 hours, Snapchat champions instant and spontaneous content for consumers with short attention spans – the kind of consumer who also impulse shops.
See Harnessing the Hype and Nike Battles E-Purchasing Bots Via Geo-Smart Promos for more on Nike’s push into mobile flash-commerce experiences.
From reviving the mall to targeting Gen Z, the annual GlobalShop trade show and conference (March 27-29) will tackle some of the biggest issues facing modern retailers. We preview some of the highlights – including a presentation by Stylus.
For more on unlocking internal innovation, see The Work/Life Revolution.
Chinese Alibaba-owned online marketplace Taobao has launched a senior-friendly version of its e-commerce app. The easy-to-use app features a simple interface and a family chat button, engaging with members of China’s ageing population who are keen to participate in the digital economy.
Currently, 30 million Taobao users are aged over 50, representing 6.5% of the mobile app’s total 468 million active users (Taobao, 2017). The number of Chinese people aged over 65 is expected to rise from approximately 100 million in 2005 to around 330 million in 2050 – roughly the population of the US (Forbes, 2017).
Senior users register an account through their mobile number and can link the account to their children. Features such as mobile shopping, personalised shopping suggestions and live-streamed content all remain – but with an enlarged interface.
Consumers also have the opportunity to make contact with their families within the app. A photo of a relative is displayed on every page, with users able to easily share products or initiate a chat or voice call by tapping the image. The app also features a ‘pay for me’ option, allowing children to pay for products that their parents have selected.
This venture into empathetic retailing is an example of the sophisticated targeting of consumers by Alibaba. Chinese seniors typically purchase 44 products a year online, spending around $800. The senior citizen online shopping market in China is estimated to be worth $200bn a year (Business Insider, 2017).
For more insights into how brands are embracing diversity and inclusivity, see our Diversity Outlook Innovation Platform.
Multinational corporation Visa has created a range of gloves, stickers and commemorative pins embedded with payment technology to enable fast, contactless transactions at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
At the event, Visa is showcasing the future trajectory of monetary exchange, whereby users pay for goods and services via embedded tech, leaving their credit or debit card at home. This is made possible through the continued development of near-field communication (NFC) chips, which enable any object to process payments when within a four-inch radius of a receiver.
Visa has released three different payment-embedded items suited to the conditions and culture of the Olympic Games. The commemorative pins are inspired by the custom of both spectators and athletes collecting pins as souvenirs of the event, while the stickers serve as flexible micro tags that can be attached to any surface for easy use. The gloves allow users to pay for transactions while keeping their hands warm in Pyeongchang’s cold climate.
Each device purchased is pre-loaded with a monetary value that the user wishes to spend, avoiding the need for the merchandise to be connected to their bank account. During the event, Visa’s merchandise is available to purchase from on-site stores as well as from vending machines located across the Olympic grounds.
Read NRF 2018: Tech-Driven Retail for examples of how emerging tech is shaking up the retail environment and creating seamless check-out experiences. For more on how digital innovations in packaging are transforming products into services, see Digital Packaging Futures.
Global FMCG giant Mondelez has leveraged the ongoing partnership between its cookie brand Oreo and Google to create The Great Oreo Cookie Quest – an augmented reality (AR) treasure hunt.
The mobile game app sets users on mini missions to find virtual Oreos in the real world around them. As opposed to geolocation-based AR games like Pokémon Go, The Great Oreo Cookie Quest uses image recognition to unlock rewards. Players receive riddles and clues for everyday items to hunt down and scan into the app to unlock the virtual cookies. Points are awarded depending on how difficult individual tasks were to master.
As they compete on the global leader board for prizes like Google smartphones or a trip to the company's headquarters in San Francisco, players can compare themselves to friends linked via social media accounts.
Such interactive formats turn passive audiences into active participants in brand campaigns. With the mobile AR user base expected to crack the one billion threshold by 2020 (Digi-Capital, 2017), there are huge brand opportunities in figuring out how AR games and interfaces can nudge consumer behaviour, drive them to real locations, and create physical brand experiences at scale.
A new Las Vegas retail and entertainment complex scheduled to open by late 2019 puts the emphasis on the mall as an immersive, experiential destination.
New York-based American real estate firm Fisher Brothers and creative agency Beneville Studios are partnering on the new complex, to be called Area15.
The 126,000 sq ft development will offer a curated retail and entertainment experience, including a 10,000 sq ft food hall and 68,000 sq ft of floor space for retail and experiential tenants. One anchor tenant is Santa Fe-based multimedia production company Meow Wolf. The innovative group is known for creating interactive experiences that take a ‘fantastical’ approach to storytelling and exploration through sculpture, augmented and virtual reality (VR), sound and performative experiences.
Meanwhile, a sizeable chunk of space (40,000 sq ft) will be dedicated to an indoor and outdoor events area for hosting over 100 gatherings per year. This will include live music performances, corporate events, VR experiences, e-sport tournaments (see also Microsoft’s Debut Flagship NY) and interactive art, catering to consumer appetite for blurred physical/digital offerings (see Digitally Immersive Malls).
Connecting the retail and event spaces will be the ‘Spine’ – a 30,000 sq ft canvas for 3D art installations.
Intended to attract locals and tourists, the hybrid destination could prove the perfect hang-out for Gen Z, who seek new retail landscapes to encourage their spending – the majority of US teens currently only visit malls once a month (HRC Advisory, 2016). See Destination Teen for more.
With immersive experiences gaining in clout, mall concepts grounded in ‘un-consumption’ or low transactions will underscore brand success. See also Modernising the Mall.
Latvian coffee-to-go start-up Coffee Pixels has developed a range of solid edible coffee bars that offer an alternative caffeine fix.
The bars are made using the entire coffee cherry, generating 80% less waste than is produced during the traditional picking and brewing process. See Trans-Industry Ingredients, part of our Future of Flavour Industry Trend, for more on product innovations that utilise coffee waste.
Coffee Pixels' resulting product is high in fibre and its caffeine content absorbs more slowly into the body, causing a slower release of energy over four hours, avoiding the spike and crash often associated with conventional coffee consumption.
Thanks to high levels of antioxidant-rich polyphenols and flavanols, other health benefits include improved brain performance, better digestion and a healthier gut microbiome. See New Architecture of Taste for more on microbiome-boosting product innovation.
The bars are available in two strengths that correspond to different coffee preferences: Cascara (for expresso fans) and Milk, for those who prefer a milder taste.
See also Smart Sustenance for further innovations in brain-boosting mood food.
A virtual reality (VR) headset that measures and tracks the emotions of shoppers was among the standout innovations at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), staged in Las Vegas in January.
Californian start-up Looxid Labs claims the headset will help retailers to acquire a better understanding of shoppers’ emotional states, preferences and engagement.
Looxid Labs is convinced that emotional analysis will be a relevant and powerful commercial tool in the years ahead – see our Look Ahead for more on the power of emotions. Its emotion-tracking VR headset is equipped with six EEG sensors and two eye-tracking cameras assessing eye and brain movements that occur while watching VR content such as virtual store environments, ads or mock-ups of products.
The start-up uses artificial intelligence to translate the gathered data (combining shown content and the viewer’s bio-responses) into tangible insights. It claims the data is genuinely valuable, a step beyond the gimmickry of other emotion-reading technology, with the potential to offer profound insights to drive commercial decision-making both online and in-store.
Looxid Labs’ cutting-edge research projects include beta testing of VR for advertising, customer service, store design and merchandise selection. The company is working on a real-time updated analytics dashboard to provide retailers with easy-to-understand and actionable insights.
The company’s research could pave the way for real-time reactive VR environments responding to shopper behaviour. Prices or marketing messages could be changed to respond to low emotional engagement ratings from shoppers – see Reflexive Retail and Retail’s VR Futures.
For more on gauging the subtle emotions of shoppers, see Empathetic Brand Engagement.
See CES 2018 for more on future-shaping tools and materials.