September 13, 2013

Weekly Roundup: Micropopularity, biometrics and vaping

Posted by: in North America

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

-The New York Times explores the emergence of “micropopularity” and what it means to achieve pop culture success in 2013.

-In the new advertising landscape, taglines are dying out, Adweek reports.

-Some employers are embracing parental involvement as a means of retaining Millennial talent, reports The Wall Street Journal.

-A new study examines Millennial managers, finding that they’re perceived as enthusiastic but also entitled, USA Today reports.

-A new report says “American families are becoming increasingly polarized along race, class and educational lines,” reports The Washington Post.

-The gap between America’s richest 1 percent and everyone else reached its widest level in history last year, per USA Today.

-With long hours and high stress the norm in China, The Wall Street Journal reports that some workers are rethinking their priorities.

-An FT special report examines Brazil’s infrastructure and the country’s drive to make improvements before hosting the World Cup and the Olympics.

-The Pew Research Center examines the rising role of location-based services.

-BBC looks at how modern maps are transforming the way we interact with the world.

-With a fingerprint scanner coming to the iPhone, The Wall Street Journal says the move could breathe new life into the concept of fingerprint security.

-And The New York Times takes a wider look at the advent of biometric authentication, one of our 100 Things to Watch in 2013.

-Gizmodo ponders “the weird laptop future,” given the predominance of mobile and the rise of wearable tech.

-As data-driven decision making comes to the fore, Co.Exist asks whether those who generate no data will comprise “a new underclass.”

-An Intel researcher says our love affair with gadgets is turning into a real relationship, per All Things D.

-The New Yorker explores why Facebook may be fostering unhappiness.

-The Atlantic reports that social media may be responsible for an uptick in mass hysteria.

-With smartphone sales slipping, Ad Age notes that big ad spenders from Nike to Sony are all jumping into wearable tech business.

-Digital Trends spotlights the #antiselfie movement.

-Intercom examines the rise of “cards” in Web design.

-USA Today reports that remarriage rates in the U.S. have dropped 40 percent over the last two decades, with cohabiting among divorced people on the rise.

-The FT’s pop critic takes a close look at sex, sexism and music’s current gender battles.

-The Los Angeles Times takes a look at grocery stores’ “long-overdue effort” to harness the latest technology to stay competitive.

-Millennials are multichannel consumers who still embrace the in-store experience, as The Baltimore Sun reports.

-The Marketer takes a look at business opportunities in the BRIC nations and some companies that are getting it right.

-Warc reports that young affluent Asian women are emerging as an important target for luxury brands and premium travel providers.

-The Atlantic features T. Rowe Price financial experts discussing how the luxury category is expanding in emerging markets.

-With cyber war on the rise—one of our 100 Things to Watch in 2013, Rolling Stone takes a look at “the geeks on the front lines.”

-As part of the “Urban Ingenuity” series, an FT columnist looks at how the cities of tomorrow will plan for the needs of residents.

-GfK takes a look at how the financial crisis has shaped Brits age 18-24.

-Japan is seeking to boost entrepreneurship with a program focused on women in the tech sector, as Fortune reports.

-The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the tech startups gaining traction in the Middle East.

-A The New York Times Opinionator spotlights “The Great Stagnation of American Education.”

-As London gears up for fashion week, The Guardian reports that quirky looks are in vogue as new ideas about beauty start popping up on runways.

-With New York’s Fashion Week under way, The Wall Street Journal examines how brands are courting influencers and trying to turn followers into shoppers.

-The Evening Standard reports that “it’s no longer just those in the front row who get the first look at the collections.”

-Mintel spotlights the burgeoning tween and teen beauty and personal care market.

-With foreign fast food outlets multiplying in Paris, The Wall Street Journal has a look at the city’s complex fast food culture.

-The Guardian takes a look at how chefs and artists are using food to tell stories.

-A Time columnist wonders whether grisly true-crime shows are “the new soap operas for women.”

-“’Smoking,’ at least in the form of vaping, is becoming cool again,” notes a New York Times blog post that spotlights how e-cigarette marketers are targeting teens.

-The Economist reports that paper money may be on the way out in the U.K.—to be replaced by plastic-based notes.

-The Wall Street Journal takes a look at “The New Era of Toy Robotics.”

-While LGBT acceptance is rising in China, workplace tolerance is relatively low, according to a study covered in The Atlantic.

-Wired covers the Internet phenomenon that is Lil Bub, “the Internet’s cutest cat,” and her growing media empire.

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Things to Watch

  • Room-sharing service Breather
    September 16, 2014 | 3:30 pm

    Breather

    Described as the “Zipcar for rooms,” Breather is an app that enables access to “beautiful, practical spaces” that can be rented anywhere from 30 minutes to a whole day. While sharing-economy players like LiquidSpace and PivotDesk offer work and meeting spaces, Breather positions its rooms as homey spots that can serve a range of purposes (though not, the founder assures, seedy ones). Rooms include the basics—a desk, a couch, Wi-Fi—as well as some fun touches like a candy jar. Lockitron technology lets users unlock doors with their mobile phones. Breather is available in New York, Montreal and San Francisco, and recently raised $6.5 million in venture capital, citing plans to “own every major market in America.” —Hallie Steiner

    Image credit: Breather

  • Barco Escape’s immersive screens
    September 11, 2014 | 4:15 pm

    Maze Runner

    Escape is a triple-screen system from Barco that “allows you to truly be in the movies, not just at the movies”—in line with the rise of immersive experiences, one of our 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond. Audiences at five U.S. locations and one Belgian cinema will get their first taste of the concept with next week’s release of The Maze Runner, about a group of teens trapped in a massive maze, which will feature about five minutes of immersive footage at key moments. ScreenX is among the other multi-screen, multi-projection cinema experiences we’ve highlighted. —Aaron Baar

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  • “Smart” personal safety
    September 2, 2014 | 6:01 pm

    Defender

    Earlier this year we wrote about the Guardian Angel, a pendant that alerts emergency contacts whenever wearers feel unsafe, created by JWT Singapore. Smart technology is addressing personal safety in other ways too. The Defender is a smart pepper spray that works in tandem with a mobile app, taking a picture of an attacker while contacting authorities. It’s in the final week of an Indiegogo campaign that has well exceeded its goal. Similarly, First Sign has crowdfunded a smart hairclip that detects physical assault, records the evidence and sends for help.

    Meanwhile, college campuses are embracing a more basic form of this tech, encouraging students to download apps like Rave Guardian and Circle of 6, which enable a chosen network to monitor a student’s GPS location during a night out. In a different vein, students at North Carolina State University made headlines last week for their Undercover Nail Polish, which changes color in the presence of “date rape drugs.” —Allison Kruk

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  • Nestlé’s animal-welfare standards
    August 28, 2014 | 10:00 am

    Nestle

    We wrote about rising concerns over treatment of the animals that people eat back in 2012 as brands including Burger King, McDonald’s and Hellmann’s pledged to institute more humane practices. We also included Humane Food among our Things to Watch for 2013. The trend recently picked up more steam with Nestlé’s announcement of animal welfare standards for its suppliers worldwide, following an investigation by the group Mercy for Animals.

    “The move is one of the broadest-reaching commitments to improving the quality of life for animals in the food system,” notes The New York Times, “and it is likely to have an impact on other companies that either share the same suppliers or compete with Nestlé.” Observed the influential blogger Food Babe: “People want to know where their food comes from, and in order to survive the next decade, the food industry will have to change.” —Marian Berelowitz

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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
    August 13, 2014 | 5:01 pm

    Iconeme

    One of our Things to Watch in 2014, beacons have been popping up everywhere from airports to restaurants to museums. But the biggest pickup for these devices—low-cost transmitters that use Bluetooth to precisely track consumers’ mobile phones and send targeted content—has been among retailers. Now, British retailers including House of Fraser, Hawes & Curtis and Bentalls are testing mannequins outfitted with VMbeacon technology from the startup Iconeme.

    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

    Image credit: Iconeme

  • 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

    Image credit: Theresa Kinsella

  • 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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