A new UK virtual reality project called The Wayback aims to help people with dementia and Alzheimer's. Launched via Kickstarter, it recreates key events from the past as a way to boost personal memories of those moments.
The first to be reproduced is the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The Wayback team, in partnership with ad agency Grey London, shot a recreation of a street party celebrating the event, focusing on particular details – from authentic clothing to conversations that may have occurred among participants – that may spark memories in those viewing the footage.
"The Wayback virtual reality film offers those living with dementia the opportunity to live in the moment, to go back in time and to just ' be ' again," said Dr David Sheard, a dementia expert and consultant on the project. "The Wayback enables families to see the person is not lost to dementia, but able to still experience and feel being who they were, and share those memories with them."
The Wayback follows on from global ad agency Y&R's Chat Yourself app, released in April 2017, which aimed to help dementia sufferers recall key information via a chatbot interface. The initiative won numerous awards at this year's Cannes Lions, including Gold in the Mobile category.
Art Basel and Design Miami will be taking place from December 5-10 2017. A growing roster of satellite shows and events are set to make this edition the largest and most dynamic to date. Here, we preview some highlights.
With pollution levels at a record high, brands are increasingly adapting to the changing environment – utilising harmful waste fabrics to create everyday items or creating protective accessories that don’t skimp on design.
For more on how brands are adapting to rocketing pollution levels, see The New Fashion Landscape 2017 Update: Challenging Environment, Packaging Futures: Sustainability and Agile Beauty – part of our Work/Life Revolution Macro Trend.
The constant need to revise the role of the physical brand space is spurring new forms of retail-tainment involving cinematic/televisual collaborations. These are primed to capture ‘crossover-consumers’ – for whom retail supported by a pop-cultural aspect provides a key hook.
Spy Blockbuster Used to Spur Tailoring Sales: British luxury menswear e-tailer Mr Porter has opened a sleek tailoring shop in London carrying 90 pieces from its exclusive Kingsman line. The luxurious collection replicates garments worn in the 2017 blockbuster spy movie Kingsman 2. The pieces were even designed in collaboration with the film’s acclaimed costume designer Arianne Phillips. Further pushing product placement into the retail domain, a box equipped with a digital screen reveals special elements of the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Kingsman watch seen in the film.
Cult TV Attraction: Ramping up Halloween 2017, British fashion retailer Topshop partnered with Netflix’s cult show Stranger Things to turn its London flagship into a themed extravaganza. This included stage sets and a window display featuring a lab (staffed with actors). Championing cross-platform promotion, it also introduced a dedicated webpage on its e-commerce site hosting a trailer for the show’s new season, and a Stranger Things-branded capsule collection.
Geek-Girl Kudos: Moving from engagement into product, brands have been acknowledging the licensing opportunities for female sci-fi fans. US cosmetics brand CoverGirl released a collection inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), while Mac Cosmetics launched a Star Trek make-up line. See CoverGirl x Star Wars and Geek Beauty: 2016 Licensing Opportunities for more.
The Kokon is a suspended pod chair that employs soothing scents, sounds and vibrations to help workers relax and manage stress. Created by a US start-up of the same name, the seat was designed in response to increasing concern about the effects of stress on physical and mental wellbeing, and encourages users to enter a meditative state.
The pod hangs from a central exterior pole that allows the seat to bob slightly in the air, evoking a sense of weightlessness. The team collaborated with Canadian perfume design studio Parfums Jazmin Saraï to embed olfactory molecules within the chair’s felt frame – made from upcycled textile waste – to activate an emotional experience of safety and comfort.
An audio soundscape is projected via over-ear headphones, using frequencies that disrupt anxious thoughts and focus listener attention. This is translated into a physical experience via vibrational feedback resonating throughout the chair’s material, as well as through two handheld ‘sound pebbles’ placed in each palm, directly relaying the pulses of the soundscape to the user.
As explored in our Macro Trend The Work/Life Revolution, companies are realising the impact of staff wellness on productivity, and investing in spaces that foster rejuvenation. For more on adopting mindful workspaces to nurture and inspire staff, see Scape x UnStudio’s Reset Pods in Materialising Modern Work, and Professional Play in Blueprint for a Better Workplace.
Global co-working company WeWork has announced plans to open a private elementary school called WeGrow in its New York headquarters in September 2018.
Focusing on educating children about entrepreneurship, the school will embrace hands-on teaching for practical experience. For example, kids will spend a day each week on a farm to learn how to grow vegetables, and will then have to come up with a plan for selling them.
"In my book, there's no reason why children in elementary schools can't be launching their own businesses," co-founder Rebekah Neuman told Bloomberg. "Kids should develop their passions and act on them early, instead of waiting to be 'disruptive' later in life."
The curriculum is still in development and will incorporate mindfulness, meditation and farm-to-table cooking. Technology will be important too, but won't replace interactions with teachers.
The school plans to leverage the expertise of professionals in the WeWork network, employing them as mentors to cultivate children's passions. It will also serve the community by accommodating kids in the same premises during the working day.
Another key selling point is that when parents travel, their kids can join them and tap into the WeGrow schooling network once it's established worldwide. The move into education marks further expansion of the WeWork empire, with WeGrow joining the company's housing venture WeLive and gym/spa concept Rise by We.
For more on the disruptive educational models preparing young people for the changing demands of the future workplace, see Career Pioneers.
Jewellery design and cosmetics collide in German designer Saskia Diez’s collaboration with Berlin-based luxury make-up brand Uslu Airlines. Inspired by colourful jewels, the limited-edition Precious Nails collection delivers a translucent finish – signalling an exciting new nail colour trend.
The three paints are based on rubies from Mozambique, emeralds mined in the Muzo region of Columbia, and sapphires found in Kashmir, India. Each polish is also named after the regions’ local airport codes: the red is called BEW (Beira Airport), while the green is BGO (Bogota Airport) and the blue is IXJ (Jammu Airport).
Diez’s thin formulation creates a sheer finish similar to that of the gems themselves – an emerging trend that bucks the market’s current obsession with bold, opaque and matte colour (see S/S 18 Women’s: Nails). The launch also reflects the increasing consumer interest in gemstones – 10.3mn carats of ruby were produced in 2016, compared to 8.4mn carats the year before (GIA, 2016).
Only 100 units of this collection have been made available – playing on the messages of rarity and luxury conveyed by the jewel-inspired theme. In addition, the polishes also come with a selection of stick-on nail sequins made of 19ct rose gold – helping to redefine consumer expectations of luxury materials and mass-market beauty product. See The New Rules of Luxury for further cross-category developments.
High product return rates are still dogging e-commerce sales: approximately 30% of all products bought online are returned, compared to 8.89% in bricks-and-mortar stores (Business 2 Community, 2016). As many as 75% of consumers report having returned a fashion item they bought online (Optoro, 2017). We reveal three tools/tactics halting the harmful slide back.
Live & Direct, from Web Browser to Store
As discussed in Reflexive Retail: Live, Emotional & On-Demand, British tech start-up Hero is a software tool that can be embedded into any brand’s website, allowing online shoppers to access in-store staff for viewing and discussing products in detail. Beyond spurring a 40% uplift in average order value, Hero is also reversing return rates. It’s currently working with British department store Harvey Nichols and US jeweller John Hardy.
“Because consumers can even ask the person in store to find someone of a similar size to try on items on their behalf, it stops consumers buying multiple sizes and then sending several back – giving brands a false idea of revenue,” says company co-founder and chief executive, Adam Levene.
Try Before You Pay
Similarly focused on evading false revenue, UK-based e-tail giant Asos has launched a ‘try before you buy’ service that allows customers to try on items at home and only pay for what they keep. This differs to the current system, where payment is taken almost immediately and reimbursement happens anywhere up to two weeks after items are returned. Customers also have a full 30 days to pay after the order is dispatched, without incurring any interest or fees for the privilege. Asos nudges consumers about approaching deadlines with email and text reminders.
At present the service is only accessible via Asos’ mobile app, affirming the brand’s shift towards mobile-centric commerce: 58% of its orders globally are now placed via a mobile phone, a figure that shoots up to 80% in the UK. The feature is being supported by Swedish payments business Klarna.
For more on Asos’ latest e-innovations, look out for Solving Retail’s Search Conundrum, publishing November 23.
Advances in Virtual Fit Tech
With 49% of consumers citing not being able to touch, feel or try on a product as one of their least favourite aspects of online shopping (Big Commerce, 2017), advances in virtual fit tech also remain key to reducing return rates.
In 2016, Israeli technologists Fitfully revealed a consumer-facing measurement and calibration system primed for the sportswear market. Using the easy-to-access combination of a smartphone, a piece of newspaper and a credit card, footwear fit can be assessed in just 30 seconds. Fitfully’s app guides the user on how to scan their feet (the user needs to wear a patterned sock, allowing the software to recognise the shape of their foot), producing a 3D model from around 25,000 video-captured measurements. It then provides a coloured pressure map showing where the shoe fits well (illustrated in green) and where it doesn’t (demonstrated in red). The brand began beta testing the concept with Adidas last year.
US mums want advertisers to portray the unglamorous side of motherhood along with the beautiful moments, according to a November 2017 report from global market research company Mintel.
For more on the attitudes and values that unite modern mothers, see High-Speed Families: New Dynamics.
Beijing Design Week (September 23 to October 7) has become a cultural highlight for China’s bustling capital city since launching in 2009. This year’s theme was Design+, with designers and tech companies collaborating to investigate the future of urban planning, transport and public activity.
Read Apac Mentality for more on how consumers in the Asia-Pacific region are returning to home-grown brands. For more on the changing values and perspectives of China’s emerging consumer tribes, see China’s Youth: Challenger Consumers.
Boldly reframing the traditional approach to male hair loss, American men’s grooming and wellness start-up Hims offers hair-loss products aimed at millennials.
Founded by entrepreneur Andrew Dudum, the range presents a complete hair kit of effective ingredients. Finasteride pills treat male-pattern baldness at the crown and in the middle of the scalp, while a DHT-blocking shampoo reduces the hormone that causes hair loss, and minoxidil drops claim to aid new growth.
Engaging with The Male Groom Boom in the US, the packaging boasts millennial pink tones and a minimal, contemporary feel compared to the medicinal, aggressively masculine styles typically adopted by the male grooming sector. The beauty industry is evolving and embracing new notions of masculinity by rejecting these traditional aesthetics – see Instagangs: Femboys. A similar trend is also occurring in the fashion industry – see Fashioning a New Masculinity and Soft Vs. Hard Masculinity.
While hair loss is a common problem for older men, Dudum’s recognition of hair loss as a burgeoning concern among millennials is plugging a lucrative gap in the market – which is worth $4bn in the US alone (Ibis World, 2016). In an interview with online fashion and beauty news source Glossy, Dudum said: “We were all suffering in silence, because none of us had the courage to recognise that we were in it together and could help each other.”
For more on masculinity and male grooming, see The Barbershop Boom.
Perhaps not surprisingly in the era of globalisation, Western retailers have finally added China’s Singles’ Day (the biggest money-spinner on earth in terms of retail ‘events’) to their list of ‘holidays’ to target.
Invented eight years ago by Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba as an antidote to the disenfranchisement of Valentine’s Day, Singles’ Day – November 11 – now generates more instant sales than any other global shopping day. Alibaba took an astounding $25.3bn of sales this year (up 40% from 2016), while Chinese e-tail competitor JD.com amassed an impressive $19bn (90% of all transactions made on Alibaba were made via mobiles, Alibaba, 2017). In comparison, combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US amounted to $6.79bn in 2016 (Forbes, 2017).
Buoyed by these successes, Western brands are beginning to wade in on the event, including US fashion store Opening Ceremony, German luggage brand Rimowa, L’Oreal and Unilever. All collaborated with Alibaba on appearances during its shoppable See-Now-Buy-Now fashion gala (broadcast on seven platforms including local TV, reaching 100 million viewers), or by launching limited editions in 60 pop-ups in 12 Chinese cities.
Several independent Western brands hijacked the holiday to present global e-shoppers with another reason for pre-Christmas spending. Outerwear brand The Arrivals and lifestyle store Need Supply in the US as well as British fashion concept store LNCC all ran marketing campaigns, largely e-newsletters, containing promos anchored in being single – plus 11% discount codes. See also China & Beyond: Singles’ Day Goes Omni-Channel.
“With over 225 countries taking part in the festival this year, it’s clear that the world is paying attention from a shopping perspective,” says Gareth Ellen, chief operating officer and regional planning director of China at marketing agency Geometry Global. “Clearly there are some western brands ‘getting it right’ and winning big during this retail extravaganza. Three of the top 10 selling brands in this year’s Global Shopping Festival were Western; Nike, Uniqlo, and Adidas, while in the cosmetics category six of the top 10 brands were from outside China – including L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and Lancome.”
For more on rethinking retail’s shopping ‘holidays’, see Renegade Retail.
New Hampshire-based craft brewer Portsmouth Brewery has launched a new beer that claims to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
The beer, named Libeeration, is a gruit-style ale that contains ingredients known to calm menopausal symptoms, including motherwort and mugwort (to reduce hot flushes and night sweats), lemon balm (for better sleep), chamomile (to help with anxiety) and damiana (for balancing hormone levels). It also includes saphir hops, which offer a hint of tangerine flavour and are said to help promote restful sleep.
The beer was created in consultation with women's health practitioners and herbalists, spending six years in development.
For a broader look at the incorporation of alcohol into healthier and more conscientious lifestyles, see Alcohol's Healthy Future and Alcohol Trends 2017. See also Alcohol's New Female Focus for more on how the industry is including women in order to broaden its traditionally male-focused marketing reach.
Designed for distilled alcoholic spirits such as rum and whiskey, Brum is a packaging concept that incorporates oak timber into the bottle, allowing the maturation process to continue at home.
Brum was conceived by Bram van Oostenbruggen, a Dutch designer and recent graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven. Inspired by his experience of distilling spirits as a hobby, van Oostenbruggen sought to invent an alternative for storing and ageing alcohol that encourages the drinker to form a deeper appreciation of the maturation process.
Brum’s design features a cut-glass bottle that’s attached to a panel of oak timber and secured with a silicone seal to prevent leakages. The inclusion of oak timber in the packaging allows the spirit to continue maturing after it has been transferred into its individual bottle, just as it would in an oak barrel.
The use of Brum packaging also speeds up the ageing process. With smaller batches, the alcohol comes into closer and more consistent contact with the oak timber. In just a few months, the spirit contained within is able to reach a level of maturation usually achieved after several years.
Alcohol stored in Brum packaging continues to mellow even after the bottle has been opened and while it is consumed. As a result, the drinker is able to experience the influence of the oak on the spirit’s colour, flavour and aroma – a process usually concealed within the distiller’s cellar.
Thea Green, British entrepreneur and founder of cult nail empire Nails Inc. has launched a colour cosmetics line that takes inspiration from Instagram – banking on the social-media platform’s catalytic turnover of beauty and product trends.
Using Instagram as a primary resource for Inc.redible’s vision, Green understands the importance of social media’s influence on millennials and Gen Z: 80% of Gen Z and 74% of millennials’ purchases are influenced by social media (Retail Dive, 2017). In an interview with British Vogue, Green said: “The idea is for the brand to tap into those social-media trends like foil lips, strobe lips, things like that, but to offer wearability as well as creating great swatchability.”
The line encompasses 54 lip products, from matte liquid lipsticks to lip primers. Altogether, the range offers high-gloss textures, pigmented metallic finishes and vibrant colours, as seen on Instagram – a platform that’s emerging as key for a new era of make-up artists (see Instagangs: Make-Up Experimentalists).
This fast-acting brand follows in the footsteps of London-based 3INA, which releases new products every month based on catwalk beauty trends.
For its campaign, Inc.redible enlisted four ethnically diverse international YouTube beauty bloggers including Nyané Lebajoa from Germany and US-based Vivian Vo-Farmer. It shrewdly uses the hashtag #BeYourIncredibleSelf to promote messages of self-love and empowerment – an incredibly important strategy for connecting with young consumers (see Empowering Beauty).