Weekly Thought-Starter #018: Make-Up Projections 2019
What do video game characters, junk food and Rihanna have in common?
Well, they’re all driving new product development in the make-up world, in what promises to be a particularly transformative year for the beauty industry.
Take Mac Cosmetics, for example, which has enjoyed record sales in China after launching a lipstick collection based on mobile game Honour of Kings; or London-based nail brand Ciaté’s new Jessica Rabbit-inspired make-up line.
“The success of these launches is underpinned by a growing consumer desire to align with their favourite fantasy characters and their sensibilities,” says Lisa Payne, our Beauty senior editor. “Giving fans a way to further engage with what sparks joy for them is a very powerful tool that make-up brands are harnessing effectively in 2019.”
Where, exactly, does junk food fit in? Well, one relatively unknown indie beauty brand in the US has created a circular pan designed to look like a pizza.
Glamlite Cosmetics’ Pizza Palette – which precedes its soon-to-be-launched Viva Taco palette – features shadows representing different toppings like black olives and mushrooms.
As for Rihanna, well, back in 2017 the pop icon released 40 foundation shades that spurred global beauty brands to become more inclusive with their shade offerings.
But they’re not expanding unnecessarily. Instead, shrewd brands are focusing their new product development on core lines tested on a range of skin tones, and that suit all complexions.
“As the make-up world becomes more saturated with unnavigable complexion colours, the cleverer launches are targeting tone and taking out the guess work,” Lisa adds. “Why pick from a 60+ range of shades when you can pick from a range of 10 with the guarantee they will all work for you?”
ISH 2019: Best of What’s New in the Bathroom
- Space-Saving: Italian brand Agape collaborated with Shanghai-based studio Neri & Hu to develop the new Immersion series of bathtubs and sinks. The collection is inspired by the designer’s hometown, where increasing population density is resulting in shrinking living space. With a small footprint and high walls, the basins resemble traditional Chinese wooden tubs. The bathtub’s form encourages an upright bathing posture to ensure that the entire body is submerged for relaxation, while also taking up a smaller footprint. For more, see Crafting Wellness.
- Smart Sensing: Swiss brand Laufen is energising commercial bathrooms with its new Advanced Control design that fits toilets, urinals and showers with in-built sensors. A connected cloud-based app collects detailed data on the use times and condition of each module. This information can be used to inform tailored cleaning schedules to ensure bathrooms are cleaned according to use, potentially saving money and resources, as well as alert users when units are in need of maintenance. For more, see Social Spaces.
- Sustainable Sanitation: Laufen is also working with Austrian design studio EOOS and Swiss research institution Eawag, to develop a toilet that separates urine and solids from flush water for responsible sanitation management. The toilet uses surface tension to divert human waste into a concealed disposal outlet. It also features a unique bowl shape that helps guide the flow of new water to clean the receptacle. Separating waste and grey water allows for each to be processed individually and minimises the amount of harmful nutrients entering wastewater so that it can be more easily treated and reused. For more, see People & Planet.
Tesco Teaches Communities to Cook with Waste
As conversations around food waste proliferate, brands are seeking ways to reduce their footprint. To this end, UK supermarket chain Tesco has launched a school that teaches community cooks how to maximise donated surplus grocery items.
The company has collaborated with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and UK food distribution charity FairShare to launch a teaching programme for 1,000 chefs in the UK who volunteer for food banks, homeless shelters, refuges and children's breakfast clubs.
The school will teach them how best to prepare surplus food donated by the supermarket to community food schemes. This often includes large amounts of end-of-shelf-life fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as meat and dairy items and seasonal produce, ranging widely in variety and freshness.
The campaign aims to help cooks use every scrap of surplus food. To this end, they are taught everything from knife skills and nutritional balance, to recipes for versatile base sauces. They also receive a folder of adaptable recipes conceived by Jamie Oliver.
The UK food industry wastes 100,000 tonnes of readily available and edible food each year, despite the 43,000 tonnes already redistributed by retailers and manufacturers to charities. Tesco's chief executive Dave Lewis said: "Surplus food donations make a huge difference to people in need, but also create challenges for community cooks faced with unexpected, unusual or large volumes of a particular product. We want to train and support charities to do even more with the donations they receive."
This initiative is a great example of how brands can connect with communities through food education, while at the same time improving their sustainability credentials. Read Culinary Education for more on this thinking in action.
Trend Report Lowdown: Elastic Airlines
From responsive seats to in-flight meditation programmes, airlines have started going the extra mile when it comes to their passenger offering. Elastic Airlines, our recent Travel & Hospitality report, unpacks the developments that promise to have real cross-industry impact.
So, how exactly are airlines becoming more elastic?
They’re working harder than ever in terms of what they’re doing for passengers. From the food they’re serving to anti-jetlag, pro-comfort wellbeing initiatives, airlines are implementing dexterous strategies that will forever change the in-flight experience.
What do these initiatives look like?
Well, you’ll need to read the report to find out. But I’ll share one of my favourites – in February, Brewdog, a beer brand not exactly known for propelling people through the air at 500mph, launched an actual airline.
Its passengers, en route from London Stansted to Columbus, Ohio (where Brewdog has a beer-themed hotel) were able to sample limited-edition brews designed for high altitudes, and to take advantage of a beer-paired tasting menu (overseen, naturally, by crew members who happen to be beer experts).
So that’s on the more ‘out there’ end of the scale. What are more conventional airlines doing?
Creating meditation programmes, installing responsive in-flight seating, and hosting child-friendly tea parties at 45,000ft. The in-flight experience definitely isn’t what it used to be.
Some airlines have had to innovate. Singapore Airlines, for example – which last year launched the world’s longest non-stop flight between New Jersey and Singapore – has introduced anti-jetlag cabin pressure and an advanced airflow purification system that renews cabin air every two minutes. Its planes are also up to eight decibels quieter than the current standard.
Are airlines using their new-found elasticity to revaluate their sustainability credentials?
They are – specifically by cutting waste from their on-board catering. Portuguese career Hi Fly is leading the way following its move to ban all single-use plastic from its flights by the end of 2019. Cutlery will be replaced with reusable bamboo alternatives, while its food containers will be fully compostable.
Delta and Air New Zealand, too, have announced their own plans to phase out single-use plastic over the next 12 months.
What can businesses in other industries learn from these high-altitude innovations?
Well, look at Brewdog. Could your business surprise its customers – and attract new ones – by entering a left-field space? If you represent a hospitality brand, could you take advantage of responsive seating? And what could you do to make your products or services more family-friendly?
What else will Elastic Airlines teach me?
How virtual reality will help passengers zone out of the cabin space, why airlines are creating their own in-flight TV shows and cookbooks, and what happens when you put children in charge of booking flights. What’s the worst that could happen?
How WeWork is Supporting New Small Businesses
As co-working's remit expands, hospitality operators are evolving their spaces and services to better support small businesses. Along these lines, WeWork is launching a food start-up accelerator called WeWork Food Labs to assist entrepreneurs in resolving challenges facing the food industry.
The global co-working giant (which recently rebranded as The We Company) will contribute $1m in seed funding to a cohort of food and beverage start-ups, alongside opening a food-centric co-working space and innovation lab in New York's Chelsea neighbourhood. It will include an area dedicated to research and development and merchandising, a large pantry for users to store supplies, and an events space.
As well as new food and drink product propositions, the brand is specifically looking to support individuals and start-ups developing solutions to the problems facing food production's future. These range from designing tech to help farmers produce greater yields, to sustainable procurement systems.
Roee Adler, global head of WeWork offshoot WeWork Labs, said: "One of the most interesting areas of innovation in the world today is food, and we are uniquely positioned to support the next generation of food and agriculture start-ups. We believe that by creating a space for the most inspirational innovators and inventors to come together, we can help them make their mark on the world."
WeWork also recently debuted its concept Made by We – a hybrid retail outlet, café and rent-by-the-minute co-working space with meeting rooms, also in New York. The shop sells products produced by WeWork's membership base, including candles, speakers and clothing accessories, alongside the company's branded merchandise.
For more on how co-working spaces are offering hospitable services for digital nomads, see Tomorrow's Wandering Workers. For a further example of how the co-working community is supporting food businesses, read Co-Working for Creative Bartenders.
Citymapper Launches City-Wide Subscription Pass
Citymapper aims to become an end-to-end transportation service provider with the release of its Pass. The subscription pass will allow seamless travel across London's transport offerings, with the potential to expand as travel solutions develop.
Replicating London's Oyster Card, the Citymapper Pass uses contactless payment technology to allow customers to travel across the city. It functions across the options featured on the Citymapper app including Santander Cycles and the company's taxi service, as well as all public transport. It also promises to add other travel options, such as shared cars, scooters and mopeds as they become available. The app has already simplified city navigation with multimodal routing, but the company hopes the integration of ticketing and payment will provide a seamless end-to-end transportation service for its users.
In the press release announcing the scheme, Citymapper contended: "buying tickets for public transit fills everyone with anxiety. Every city has different schemes and complex options." It aims to address this issue in the future; after the initial roll-out in London, it plans to make the Pass available in all cities featured on the app, making global travel more user-friendly.
With bus journeys down by 2.1% compared to last year (Department for Transport, 2018), the Citymapper Pass could enliven the use of public transport. The basic subscription includes unlimited journeys on bus and tube services for £31 ($41), undercutting the weekly Oyster Card by over £5 ($6.64). The full subscription (named the Super-Duper Pass), includes cycles and taxis in addition to public transport, and costs £39 ($51) a month. The Pass will be supported by smartphone wallets, meaning phones can used as the travel pass. Early enrolment is already open, and the Pass is expected to be more widely available by the end of April.
Rapha X Unmade: Custom-Created Cycling Team Kits
Capitalising on the enthusiasm of small-scale fandoms, cult British cycling brand Rapha is the latest retailer to partner with Unmade. The new concept will allow members of amateur cycling teams to use Unmade’s on-demand apparel customisation technology to design matching team kits emblazoned with their own logo.
London-based Unmade allows teams to digitally create Rapha-branded sportswear while avoiding the traditionally convoluted process involved in creating sports team kits. The company has an eco-ethical stance, too. Only what’s ordered is made, meaning there’s zero deadstock at the end of production (hence Unmade’s previous collaborations with eco-innovators such as British fashion designer, Christopher Raeburn).
Via its main e-commerce site, Rapha provides simple templates to kick-off the designing process. Products include jerseys, bib shorts, gilets, arm warmers and base layers which can be reinterpreted from a huge menu of pattern and colour options. Teams can also upload their own logos. Seducing with extra context, the platform’s preview images incorporate both a standard, mannequin-style view as well as an in-situ image, for a 360°, action view of the product. The kits are delivered in around eight weeks, with prices lowering as order volumes rise – bringing the standard wholesale model to consumers.
The premise of melding a fan’s identity with that of the brand will blossom in importance as Gen Z audiences increasingly expect the ability to manipulate the platforms they use (whether it’s gaming or retail), or even be included on their favourite brand’s website selling their own versions of products. It’s something we explore in greater detail in Powering the Brand of Self and Retail Meets Media – both part of our forthcoming Spotlight, Dynamic Youth, publishing on April 4.
Fempower Beauty: Rewriting Historical Narratives
US colour cosmetics start-up Fempower Beauty has created a lipstick collection that educates consumers about equality in contemporary society.
The colour cosmetics company’s products, which are dedicated to beauty empowerment, rewrite well-known cultural narratives through a fourth-wave feminist lens. For example, the brand’s inaugural lipstick line – dubbed Genesis – reimagines the Biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Each of the four shades represents one of the characters from the story: Adam, Eve, Lilith (Adam’s first wife) and the Serpent.
The brand’s aim is to strip the story of its alleged patriarchal lens and create an enlightened version with real-life examples. For instance, the vibrant fuchsia hue Eve represents advocacy and standing up for one’s self. The transgender model wearing the shade in the campaign shares her experiences of being misunderstood, and aims to promote the LGBTQ+ community in a positive light.
Fempower Beauty has launched at a time when women are proud to be their authentic selves – globally, 76% of women believe there has never been a better time to be female (JWT, 2017). In order to appeal to these consumers, it is imperative that brands continue to embed feminist philosophies into their values.
With the tag line “Beauty that Gives Back”, the brand’s Fempower Beauty Project works with American non-profit organisation Dignity Not Despair, and donates 10% from each sale. The initiative supports refugee women, and provides them with make-up and hygiene products.
In addition, Fempower Beauty is tapping into the idea of navigating societal issues in an unpredictable global landscape. The brand starts conversations with its followers around modern-day pressures facing women on its Instagram page, with a recent post discussing mental wellbeing and the quest for perfection.
For more on social activism, see Empowering Beauty, The Rise of Activist Beauty and Scent Republik: Perfumes for Positivity.
Tea Brands Remove Plastic from their Brews
Each year, UK consumers drink 60.2 billion cups of tea – a large percentage of which are brewed with teabags lined with non-biodegradable plastic. This industry norm is now being challenged by vocal consumers, and creative brands are responding with inventive and sustainable alternatives that could change the tea landscape forever.
- Banana Bags: UK tea producer Clipper has developed a plastic-free, unbleached, non-genetically modified teabag made from a combination of abaca (a species of banana plant) and a non-GM plant-based material called PLM. The bags are 100% biodegradable and compostable.
- PG Plastic-Free: In 2018, Unilever-owned British tea producer PG Tips replaced its plastic-lined teabags with a 100% biodegradable version made from corn starch. The brand took the move to remove all traces of plastic in its products following a UK petition that garnered 232,000 signatures and called for it to find a sustainable alternative.
- Edible Brews: UK fruit-snack producer Nim's has launched an 'edible tea' that serves as a natural hot drink infusion and snack. The teas are made from air-dried fruits and vegetables and are available in beetroot and parsnip, pineapple and kiwi and pineapple, beetroot and parsnip varieties. They've been designed as a healthy and convenient alternative to caffeinated teas, as they're high in vitamin C and fibre.
For an in-depth dive into the tea industry, read The Evolving Tea Landscape. For a broader look at sustainability challenges in the food and drink sector, see Sustainable Restaurants and Plastic Pledge: How Big Brands are Addressing Sustainability.
Weekly Thought-Starter #017: Ripping Up the Luxury Rulebook
Luxury is in a state of flux. No longer is it being defined by unobtainable perfection; now, it’s becoming more informal and inclusive.
And this is why marketers are seeking new ways to describe high-end experiences. So, is it time to rip up the luxury rulebook?
The case for doing so is compelling. Take Gen Z, which, by 2025, will represent more than 40% of the overall luxury goods market. For them, luxury has to be meaningful; luxury brands, then, must align with Gen Z’s concerns over inclusivity, transparency and sustainability.
“Gen Z is a generation that defines itself more by values and beliefs than the things they buy and own,” says Christian Ward, our head of Media & Marketing. “I think some luxury brands worry that embracing inclusivity and transparency destroys the mystique that makes them totems of luxury in the first place.
“But actually, it’s becoming a sign of ambition, trustworthiness and authenticity for brands to engage with these attitudes and to be more radical in their transparency – and that, to Gen Z, is what makes them special, much more so than heritage or price or some notion of exclusivity.
“This is why you can define Glossier as a luxury brand, even though it’s not competing, price-wise, with the likes of La Prairie.”
How else are luxury brands discarding old tropes? Via tech, for one. They’ve traditionally been slow to embrace digital platforms, but the savvier among them now see how tech can be used to create unique, loyalty-building experiences.
Japanese cosmetics firm SK-II, for example, uses artificial intelligence at its Shanghai store to create an emotion-stirring brand experience – one that tracks customers’ expressions and movements to create a piece of digital art.
There’s also a case for collapsing aesthetic hierarchies. Luxury marketers have been reluctant to follow the general direction of culture in the last 20 years, and to close the gap between high and low aesthetics. But in the ‘nowstalgia’ era, can they afford to remain aloof from low-culture influences?
“It’s a brilliant time right now for brands to get subversive with their marketing and really mash things up,” Christian adds. “One of the most powerful results of taking this approach is that you create communications that invite more sophisticated, and thus more engaged, reactions.
“We talk a lot about brands inviting more complex emotional responses from consumers on Stylus. It’s becoming much more important for marketers to talk to their fans in a more nuanced way now, a way that acknowledges how contemporary culture is messy, volatile and often emotionally hard. Luxury brands have a great opportunity – because they have the creative talent and budgets – to reflect this, to take risks and treat their customers in more sophisticated ways.”
Horror Film ‘Us’ Taps Fans For Co-Collab Marketing
Us, the follow-up to US director Jordan Peele's Oscar-nominated horror Get Out, has already generated an intense fan following before its March 22 release. Alongside obsessional internet theorising, fans have created artworks based on the film's characters. Peele has now added a select number of these fan illustrations to the movie's latest official trailer, tapping into a key trend for Gen Z consumers of tribe-focused co-collaboration that offers a real platform to amplify consumer-creative work.
Jordan Peele has become an influential Hollywood figure by spotlighting racial politics, inclusivity and diversity within the horror format, creating a cultural fusion that speaks directly to audiences typically underserved by the genre.
In the past few years, Peele has devoted much of his Instagram account (followed by over a million fans) to fan-art created by these audiences. Movie fan-art has become a pop culture cottage industry over the past few years, with many artists building careers from releasing tribute posters online. For the marketing of Us, Peele has taken this to the next level by incorporating a select number of Us fan illustrations into the latest official trailer for the film.
In marketing terms, Peele understands the power of embracing fandom to build deeper relationships with audiences, and turn followers into ambassadors. The Us campaign is an exemplar of how brand collaborations need to do more than just enable expression; they must amplify creative voices and offer real professional opportunities – it's a trend we'll explore in more detail in our upcoming Dynamic Youth Spotlight.
Transforming Toxic Waste: from Byproduct to Tableware
Asserting the potential of waste and secondary resources as new material alternatives, design students at London’s Royal College of Art have transformed a toxic industrial byproduct into usable ceramic tableware.
Bauxite residue, also known as red mud, is a leftover of aluminium production. According to the designers, for every tonne of aluminium created, more than twice as much of this toxic waste is produced – equating to 150 million tonnes a year. For an idea of scale, the giant pits where red mud is discarded and stored are visible from space.
Alongside a team of material scientists at Imperial College London and ceramicists, the students have developed a range of clay bodies, slips and glazes using red mud to create a collection of terracotta-like ceramics. Numerous colours and unpredictable glazes are achieved with different firing temperatures, thanks to the material’s high metal oxide content. Colours range from soft red through to purple and black, highlighting red mud’s creative scope.
The project aims to correct the stigma around the term ‘waste’ by transforming an abundant material into valuable products, whilst raising awareness of the environmentally destructive processes and byproducts caused by the production of common materials like aluminium.
In a similar vein, Lithuanian designer Agne Kucerenkaite uses industrial metal waste from water treatment plants to produce experimental colour glazes, as featured in our report Material Direction: Resurfacing Ceramics. See Designers Mine from Waste Streams for more on untapped resources and waste mining.
Revlon x Gurls Talk: Reframing Mental Health Conversations
The three colour cosmetics sets launching as part of the project encourage consumers to use cosmetics as a tool for empowerment. The names of the kits shine a light on key concerns for modern women: body positivity, feminine health and mental wellbeing. For example, The Dare to Love Yourself kit features a Be Your Bae nail polish, Yas Girl lipstick, and Be-U-Ti-Ful eyeshadow putty in bright pink to celebrate self-love.
The collaboration aims to foster a community of women who are ready to speak openly about mental health issues. After wearing the products, users are encouraged to log onto the Gurls Talk network and share their stories on social media. Authenticity and acceptance are also incredibly important brand values for connecting with younger consumers. About 67% of Gen Zers claim that being true to your own beliefs ultimately makes a person cool (Irregular Labs, 2018).
In addition, Revlon x Gurls Talk’s products further tap into inclusive beauty ideals. Each item aims to satisfy consumers’ growing enthusiasm for broader representation within the beauty industry – beyond foundation. In the campaign video, the multiracial brand ambassadors can be seen testing an array of products. For example, a pink eyeshadow putty that suits individuals with cool, neutral and warm undertones is swatched onto various skintones.
The collection launches at a time when discussion around mental health is firmly in the spotlight. Consumers are becoming increasingly proactive about safeguarding their emotional wellbeing via digital platforms such as Manual. Young people’s mental health in particular is an area of growing concern, with 24% of British girls aged 14 suffering from depression (UCL, 2017).
Rent the Runway Moves into Home Products
Rent the Runway is a subscription service for clothing and accessories. Users with an Update membership can loan four articles and swap one piece each month, while users with an Unlimited membership can enjoy endless wardrobe updates.
From mid-2019, the company is introducing soft furnishings into their collection to allow consumers to purchase clothing and homewares that respond to their here-now needs and tastes. The products will be available in a variety of textile bundles, which include sheets, duvet covers, pillows and throws.
Last year, The New York Times estimated that the company’s fashion service has 50,000 active subscribers. This addition aims to introduce a broader range of products to the sharing economy – particularly as the bundles include more personal items such as pillows and bedding.
The partnership responds to the shift in home ownership; as millennials are priced out of the housing market, they are instead using interior products to enjoy creative control over rented spaces. Rent the Runway’s CEO Jenn Hyman also credits the influence of social media for encouraging consumers to have flexible, changing interiors.
“The home used to be a private place, but now it’s a very public place,” says Hyman. “Millennials and Gen Z [are] constantly posting photos of themselves in their homes on Instagram. It’s a reflection of who they are, and they don’t want to be stuck with the same things.”
The move follows the recent news that Ikea is launching its own rental scheme for corporate furniture, illustrating that brands are keen to get ahead of the wave of rental products, a trend we anticipated in our 2019 Look Ahead.
For more on how rental schemes are forging an environmentally friendly future, see The Repair Economy: Top Product Strategies and look out for the latest episode of our podcast, Creating Designs for Life.
Shoptalk: Pinterest & Google Launch Image-Based Shopping
In response to brand hunger for monetising visual search, Google and Pinterest announced new tools at 2019’s Shoptalk retail conference in Las Vegas (March 3-6). Both offerings allow brands to more efficiently usher consumers from searching online images to purchase.
- Google’s Shoppable Image Ads: People searching Google Images aren’t simply after a picture, but also information or help (Google, 2018). Questions like “What’s the price?” and “Where can I buy it?” top the list, according to Daniel Alegre, president of retail shopping and payments at Google. To monetise this intent and serve the 50% of online shoppers who claim a product image prompted them to make a purchase (Google, 2019), the tech giant is rolling out shoppable image-based ads within its Images search section. As with other sponsored content, these sit above organic results.
Consumers can hover over products shown on the images (or tap on a smartphone) to see item names and prices and click through to buy from the advertiser. The feature is in testing with select retailers around queries including “home office ideas” and “abstract art”.
- In-App Shops & Personalised Recommendations: Google is catching up to Pinterest, where brands including US retailer Macy’s already integrate shoppable advertisements into users’ feeds (see The Brief). Serving the 48% of American social media users who say they are searching or shopping for products when using Pinterest (Cowen, 2019), new feed features include a dedicated ‘Shop a Brand’ section that surfaces entire e-commerce catalogues from brands including Levi’s. In addition, newly launched personalised recommendations suggest fashion, beauty and home products based on users’ previous preferences. See Monetising Social Media 2018.
For more, see our full-event report on Shoptalk.