September 6, 2013

Weekly Roundup: ‘Dematerialization,’ geek power and listicles

Posted by: in North America

Due to Labor Day office closures, this double-edition roundup covers items from the past two weeks.

Find our roundups collected in magazine form on Flipboard, the iOS and Android app; download the app to view this week’s edition here: http://flip.it/J6FjO

-A Salon columnist examines “dematerialization” in the digital age as physical possessions come to mean less to younger consumers.

-More people are starting to question our immersion in technology, writes Nick Bilton, spotlighting the viral hit “I Forgot My Phone.”

-The Guardian examines the “rise of the new geeks,” arguing that nerd culture has moved into the mainstream.

-A New York Times columnist examines, “Who will prosper in the new, increasingly automated world?”

-The Economist takes a look at the rise of robots designed to work collaboratively with humans.

-The New York Times examines France’s struggle to halt the country’s decline while retaining its beloved way of life.

-The Wall Street Journal reports that Mexico has started a public-health battle against sugary sodas, akin to Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign in New York.

-The Economist examines how 3D printing is becoming integrated with mainstream manufacturing.

-A New York Times opinion column examines “How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class.”

-A Pew survey finds that when it comes to online privacy, Americans are more fearful of hackers and marketers than government monitoring, as The Guardian reports.

-A columnist for MIT’s Technology Review takes a look at the next wave of cyber security startups.

-The FT discusses the wealth of technologies that are helping parents keep better track of their kids.

-The AP spotlights how cars are becoming vulnerable to hackers.

-The Economist spotlights the revival of diesel engines as they start giving electric and hybrid cars a run for their money.

-McKinsey examines how cities can prepare for the coming decades of urbanization.

-The Economist looks at how data-based services may revolutionize cities (or not).

-The New York Times reports on how Big Data is coming into play in fashion forecasting.

-“The Future of Journalism Is Data-Driven,” argues the editor of ReadWrite in SayDaily.

-The New Yorker addresses the growing ubiquity of the “listicle,” arguing that “the list is the signature form of our time.”

-Time spotlights “sharecations,” which are enabled by the rise of peer-to-peer services.

-With smartwatches due from Samsung and Sony. USA Today ponders whether consumers will take to these wearable devices. “The Future of Computing Is Not on Your Wrist,” writes one naysayer in New York. The L.A. Times says smartwatch brands can probably count out Millennials.

-Adweek surveys the startups that are giving used luxury apparel a second life.

-The L.A. Times reports on the new wave of personal stylists at mid-tier fashion stores.

-NPD finds that Millennials are less likely than older shoppers to leave brick-and-mortar stores with a purchase in hand, via the L.A. Times. A new survey examines how wealthy U.S. Millennials shop, per Adweek. And MediaPost spotlights a study on Millennials’ brand attitudes, shopping habits and preferences.

-T. Rowe Price Insights reports that young, self-made shoppers traveling to Europe from emerging markets are changing the face of luxury.

-The Wall Street Journal reports that online sales remain surprisingly small for many retailers.

-Mobile Marketer examines whether Twitter could become a mobile commerce powerhouse.

-Bain & Co. forecasts that China will become the world’s biggest e-commerce market this year, reports Reuters.

-As Millennials dine out less, an NPD study takes a look at how they’re eating at home, via MediaPost.

-A Nielsen chart spotlights consumers’ growing willingness to spend more on products from socially responsible companies.

-MIT’s Technology Review analyzes how technology has changed the advertising model, turning “mad men” into “math men.”

-comScore finds that online penetration is soaring in India, via Warc.

-Pew examines broadband penetration in the U.S., finding that a few holdouts still use dial-up connections.

-Nielsen research covers how teens are using entertainment.

-A global study on TV viewing trends from Ericsson finds that more people are watching linear TV than in 2012, per MediaPost.

-Time takes a look at a new crop of job-focused startups inspired by matchmaking sites.

-Chobani’s success with Greek yogurt spotlights the weakness of big food firms when it comes to innovation, according to The Economist.

-The Wall Street Journal looks at how Greek yogurt is squeezing out an array of other products previously found in the supermarket dairy case.

-A Harvard Business Review blogger looks at how CEOs are succeeding in Africa.

-Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the rise of China’s wedding industry.

-The World Health Organization finds that life expectancy for women age 50 and up is growing, via The New York Times.

-After dropping for years, America’s fertility rate is stabilizing, according to new data, via The Wall Street Journal.

-USA Today reports that the teen birthrate in the U.S. has reached a historic low.

-The Atlantic wonders whether the stay-at-home dad trend is overhyped.

-Thanks to “beard-loving hipsters,” razor sales are declining, Time reports.

-The Cut reports on how the pill is no longer synonymous with sexual liberation for women.

-The Atlantic reports that “interning at 60 is the new retirement plan.”

-The Economist reports that casinos are proliferating in the Asia-Pacific region.

-Normally seen but not heard, more models are expressing themselves on social media, per The Wall Street Journal.

-Oxford Dictionaries Online is adding “more voguish vocabulary,” including “twerk,” “selfie” and “FOMO,” reports Quartz. In the FT, author Doug Coupland creates some words we need to describe new conditions.

-Female athletes are starting to “score more commercial goals,” reports The Economist.

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  • Alternative waters
    August 19, 2014 | 1:59 pm

    Vertical Water

    With the coconut water craze going strong, watch for more variations on H2O thanks to consumer interest in more natural alternatives to soda and openness to novel products. Antioxidant-rich maple water (made from maple sap) is gaining attention, while almond water from the startup Victoria’s Kitchen has secured space at Whole Foods and Target. As the AP reports, there’s also cactus, birch and artichoke water—made from either water extracted from the plant or boiled with the ingredient in question—whose makers tout their vitamin and mineral content, as well as their infection-fighting properties. —Allison Kruk

    Image credit: Vertical Water

  • Smart mannequins
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    A “smart mannequin” enables nearby shoppers with a related mobile app to get details about what it’s wearing and how to find the products in the store or buy them online. The big question is whether customers will be motivated to opt in; skeptics say the technology doesn’t yet provide enough real benefit. —Allison Kruk

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  • De-teching apps
    August 7, 2014 | 10:55 am

    De-teching—the idea that more people will choose to temporarily log off—was one of our 10 Trends for 2011, and in our 2014 trend Mindful Living, we discussed the idea that digitally immersed consumers will try to use technology more mindfully. Perhaps ironically, several new apps aim to help people do so.

    Moment tracks phone use and alerts users when they reach their self-imposed daily limit. Pause is “designed to help us reconnect with real life”; it encourages people to use Airplane Mode and engage in real-world activities, and attempts to turn this behavior into a game among friends. Finally, Menthal is part of a research project out of Germany that helps users find out, “Are you in control of your smartphone? Or is your smartphone controlling you?” —Marian Berelowitz

  • Intuitive eating
    July 29, 2014 | 5:00 pm

    Veggies

    As spotlighted in our 10 Trends for 2014 report, people are becoming more interested in Mindful Living, including the notion of eating more mindfully. And with consumers showing declining interest in dieting, the idea of “intuitive eating”—paying closer attention to the body’s hunger signals rather than following a strict regimen—has been steadily gaining traction. Recent media mentions include articles in Fitness and New Zealand’s Stuff, and a Refinery 29 writer is blogging about adopting the practice. With a recent analysis of studies finding that intuitive eating can be a successful strategy for people who are overweight or obese, watch for more consumers to embrace this anti-diet philosophy. —Allison Kruk

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  • Chinese mega-cities
    July 24, 2014 | 1:15 pm

    Tianjin

    China, home to the world’s second largest rural population, is expected to add close to 300 million more urbanites by 2030, when Shanghai and Beijing will likely account for two of the world’s Top 5 mega-cities, according to new UN research. “We are observing one of the most significant economic transformations the world has seen: 21st-century China is urbanizing on a scale 100 times that seen in 19th-century Britain and at 10 times the speed,” notes a new McKinsey paper on cities and luxury markets. China’s wealth will be concentrated in these urban areas: Over the next decade, McKinsey expects Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Shenzhen, in addition to Hong Kong, to join the list of “top luxury cities.” —Marian Berelowitz

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  • Brands + Google Glass
    July 15, 2014 | 6:09 pm

    SPG

    As Google Glass makes its way into the hands of more people (last month it became available in the U.K.), brands are experimenting with the new possibilities that the platform affords. In March, Kenneth Cole became the first to launch a marketing campaign—the “Man Up for Mankind Challenge”—through a Glass app. Users were challenged to perform and document good deeds for the chance to win a prize.

    Starwood’s new Glass app, billed as the first such app from the hospitality sector, lets people voice-search its properties, view photos and amenities, get directions and book rooms. An array of other marketers have turned out apps for early adopters, from Sherman Williams’ ColorSnap Glass (easily create a paint chip that mirrors anything in view) to Fidelity (delivers daily market quotes for Glass wearers). —Tony Oblen

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  • Ugly produce
    July 10, 2014 | 2:45 pm

    Intermarche

    Ugly Produce, on our list of 100 Things to Watch in 2014, is proliferating in Europe, thanks in part to government efforts to reduce the 89 million tons of food wasted in Europe each year. In France, Intermarché has been getting buzz for creating a produce section dedicated to “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables”; a whimsical ad campaign reportedly drove a 24 percent rise in store traffic.

    U.K. supermarket Waitrose recently began selling packs of tomatoes that are misshapen or have fallen off the vine naturally. And in Portugal, Fruta Feia (“Ugly Fruit”) is a cooperative launched in late 2013 that sells unsightly produce that would have gone to waste. Per The New York Times, the group already has a waiting list of 1,000 customers. In line with one of our 10 Trends for 2014, Proudly Imperfect, watch for ugly produce to catch on with both retailers and shoppers. —Jessica Vaughn

    Image credit: Intermarché

  • The $1.25 Cube
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    As we outline in Immersive Experiences, one of our 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond, entertainment and narratives are becoming more enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention. An immersive project from JWT Israel, a winner of the Cannes Chimera challenge, aims to help people experience what it’s like to live in extreme poverty. Once it’s created, the cube will create a multisensory experience that uses tools like augmented reality to simulate sights, sounds and smells and elicit certain feelings. Participants can exit only when the person in line behind them inserts $1.25, a metaphor for the collaborative efforts needed to fight poverty. The aim is for the cube to travel to international events like the Davos conference in order to influence global leaders. —Hallie Steiner

    Image credit: JWT Israel

  • Google’s Android Auto
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    Android

    The connected car is rapidly becoming a reality. Fast 4G LTE connections are turning vehicles into hot spots that come with a data plan, while Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are making their way onto dashboards. This week Google introduced Android Auto, with the first compatible cars expected by year-end. Apple’s similar CarPlay, which turns the car into a platform for an iPhone’s content, was announced in March and is included in new Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo models.

    Car-based app ecosystems will provide relevant info (traffic, maps, vehicle diagnostics, restaurant suggestions) and entertainment, combined with safety precautions like voice control. As we outline in our mobile trends report, connected cars—complete with Internet hot spots, a suite of apps and sensors that communicate—will eventually link up with drivers’ homes, mobile devices and other gadgets to form a seamless system. —Marian Berelowitz

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    In a bid to create a more closed-loop production cycle, retailers including Puma and H&M are partnering with I:CO, a Swiss reuse and recycling firm that sets up collection points in stores for used clothing and shoes. The latest retailer to link up with I:CO is American Eagle Outfitters, which has added collection boxes in all its North American stores. Customers who participate in the “Live Your Life. Save Your Planet” initiative get a $5 credit toward AEO jeans. Any proceeds gleaned from the program will be donated to the Student Conservation Association.

    “The vision is for all products to be designed with future uses in mind, so materials can be 100% reused in a truly endless cycle,” explains a post from I:CO on American Eagle’s blog. An array of brands are taking steps toward a similar vision, as detailed in our upcoming report on the circular economy. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: American Eagle Outfitters

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