October 4, 2013

Weekly Roundup: Twitter’s global impact, Paleo profits and the iPosture

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-A McKinsey report on “the shifting global business landscape” examines changes in where and how the world does business as emerging markets expand.

-As Twitter files an IPO, an FT special report takes a look at how people around the globe are using the service and the cultural impact it’s having.

-Ad Age highlights a study that finds older Millennials, particularly those with kids, aren’t all that different from the generations before them.

-A new report from Georgetown University explores Millennials’ delayed transition to adulthood, as The Wall Street Journal reports.

-For many college students, email is just too slow, reports The New York Times.

-The New York Times examines the endurance of store brands in supermarkets well beyond the recession.

-A Gartner reports finds that the 3D printer market has reached an “inflection point,” via TechCrunch.

-Television is becoming increasingly significant to Facebook and Twitter as they vie to cash in on second-screening, reports The New York Times.

-And Salon observes that the Breaking Bad finale shows that even young cord-cutters are tuning in to big TV experiences in real time.

-A Cisco report on the Internet of Things forecasts a nearly nine-fold increase in connected devices by 2020, according to ReadWrite.

-The Business of Fashion reports that China’s ecommerce giants provide a platform for fashion entrepreneurs.

-NPR takes a look at how demographics and economics are affecting China’s elderly population.

-The Economist reports on the health of the Vietnamese economy.

-A new study reveals that more middle-class Americans are going outside mainstream banking, using fringe services like payday loans, reports Time.

-Though Americans have become more likely to buy brands linked to environmental or social causes, they’re skeptical such purchases make much impact, via WARC.

-The Economist checks in on London’s new startup cluster, Tech City.

-A Pew study on Jews in America finds that secularism is on the rise, in line with the wider population, via the Los Angeles Times.

-A new report investigates what Millennials are seeking most from religion, reports USA Today.

-Boomers taking their grandchildren on vacation represent a growth area for travel, reports The Wall Street Journal.

-The FT takes a look at the Paleo diet craze and some of the businesses profiting from it.

-Pumpkin-flavored food is proliferating in the U.S., reports Nielsen.

-More Americans are indulging in dessert, not only after meals, reports USA Today.

-Gluten-free is moving to the cosmetics category, reports the Daily Mail.

-The CEO of Auctionata writes in All Things D about the advent of “art tech,” or businesses that are leverage technology to enable art purchasing.

-The Business of Fashion takes a look at how European ecommerce players are trying to reduce returns with better sizing technology.

-Wearable tech will eventually move beyond accessories as tech gets woven into clothing, says Jawbone’s CEO, via Co.Design.

-Smartphones and tablets are becoming key aids for the blind or visually impaired, reports The New York Times.

-The “iPosture” employed by people immersed in mobile devices is causing an uptick in back pain, per the New York Daily News.

-With some couples putting off marriage indefinitely, Slate reports that “in many parts of America, fiancé has become a permanent relationship status.”

-Newsweek takes a look at what might be next for the gay-rights movement after marriage is legalized.

-The FT reports that employers like Deloitte, GE and even the U.S. Army are using psychology practices to help workers become more resilient.

-The Wall Street Journal reports that stamp collecting is seeing a revival, thanks to wealthy Chinese collectors who view stamps as a serious investment.

-As vinyl records continue to gain popularity, brands are taking note, reports Ad Age.

-USA Today spotlights a spate of new gross-out toys that fart, burp and the like.

-Ultimate, the professional sport of Frisbee, is becoming more established and more lucrative, reports The Economist.

-Private jets are getting a bit more affordable, reports USA Today.

-Aiming to combat the bad reputation of Chinese tourists, China’s tourist authority has issued guidelines for travelers, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

-A new spate of fitness programs and pet spas cater to overweight dogs, reports The New York Times.

-Vanity Fair spotlights “The New Establishment: 2013.”

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Things to Watch

  • Money & messaging apps
    October 23, 2014 | 11:13 am

    LINE_icon02

    Given the primary function of mobile messaging apps and their technical capabilities, money transfer and payments are an alluring proposition, as outlined in our new report on payments and currency. Snapchat filed two trademarks in July that indicate a potential move into peer-to-peer payments. The recently announced Line Pay will let Line users make purchases through their Line accounts, send funds to each other, and split costs using a “Dutch Pay” feature. Line Pay will launch in Japan and, as Tech in Asia reports, serve as “an entrance to new industries” thanks to integration with the new Line Taxi service and Line Wow, for food delivery. In South Korea, KakaoTalk launched the PayPal-like Kakao Pay in September, and a remittance service, Bank Wallet Kakao, is in the works. —Marian Berelowitz

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  • The #TimsDark Experiment
    October 14, 2014 | 3:46 pm

    To entice customers into tasting its new dark roast, Canadian fast food chain Tim Hortons, with the help of JWT Canada, created a surprise immersive experience. A store in Quebec was wrapped in material that blocked all light from the outdoors. Patrons entered warily and, once inside, heard a staff member (who was wearing night vision goggles) guiding them through the dark. At the counter, customers were handed a cup of the dark roast—the brand’s first new blend in 50 years—with the darkness heightening their sense of taste. When the lights came on, the patrons saw they were on camera.

    The #TimsDark Experiment has garnered YouTube views and some press attention, and shows how creatively imagined immersive experiences—one of our 10 Trends for 2014—can encourage consumers to engage with a brand.

  • Bitcoin bank Circle
    October 7, 2014 | 4:40 pm

    Circle

    In late September, the startup Circle launched a web app that effectively functions as a bitcoin bank. Using a debit card or bank account, users transfer funds to Circle, which converts the money to bitcoin at no fee. Circle also insures this money at no cost. The company aims to make bitcoin more accessible via consumer-friendly design and is aiming to take on traditional banks and companies like PayPal, as The Guardian reports. Next up: Android and iOS Circle apps.

    Circle co-founder Jeremy Allaire gave a keynote at the Inside Bitcoins conference in April, citing the need for a “killer app” to bring bitcoin into the mainstream. Now Circle seems to be taking the lead, and others are sure to follow. —Nick Ayala

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  • High-tech tasting
    October 2, 2014 | 6:00 pm

    Nanosensor

    Thailand got a lot of buzz this week with an innovative idea: a taste-tester robot, or electronic tongue, that’s programmed to distinguish authentic Thai dishes from wanna-be’s. Artificial tongues aren’t new but have been evolving. Most recently, Danish researchers developed a nanosensor that mimics “what happens in your mouth when you drink wine,” enabling winemakers to control astringency very early on. In Spain, researchers created a beer-tasting robot that can distinguish between varieties of brew.

    Meanwhile, advanced technology can also create recipes: IBM has touted how Watson, its “cognitive computing system,” can analyze the components of ingredients to come up with novel ideas for dishes; find a few of them here. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Aarhus Universitet

  • Marriage gets marginalized
    September 25, 2014 | 5:00 pm

    One of our 10 Trends for 2012 was Marriage Optional: More people around the world are living together or remaining solo instead of marrying. Pew reports this week that 1 in 5 Americans age 25 and up have never married, a fundamental shift since 1960, when only about 1 in 10 could say the same. Millennials are especially ambivalent: Two-thirds of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed by Pew agree that “society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children” vs. 53 percent of the next generation up (age 30 to 49).

    Europe is seeing a similar move away from marriage, driven by “austerity, generational crisis and apathy towards the institution,” notes The Guardian. It says weddings are at historical lows in some nations; last year Italy recorded the fewest since World War I. For a look at how changing marriage patterns are affecting families, see our report Meet the New Family. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: JD Hancock

     

  • 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

    Image credit: Maze Runner

  • “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

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