author archive

A year ago we wrote about the curated subscription companies popping up, an e-commerce model that fit with three of our 10 Trends for 2011: Non-Commitment Culture, Hyper-Personalization and the Urgency Economy. These monthly services were focused around women’s fashion and beauty, (e.g., ShoeDazzle, JewelMint, Birchbox), but we expected that the idea would quickly expand […]

GIF (or Graphics Interchange Format) date back to 1987, and for most of that time the brief animations have been a tacky, unwelcome Web presence. But for a while now, we’ve been noting a comeback of GIF culture. Some artists are turning to them as a way to differentiate their work (Mexican photographer Ignacio Torres, […]

Smart stores are coming to Brazil. Earlier this year, Australian surf brand Billabong outfitted inventory at a store in the city of Barueri with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which transmit data through electromagnetic waves. The tags help the retailer run the store more efficiently—for example, they provide real-time inventory data and can help prevent […]

Last week we posted about how movie distribution is changing in the digital age. We’re also seeing new ideas for crowdfunding movies, giving filmmakers what they want most: the ability to make their vision a reality, without pressure from studios and others with a big stake. Here in Brazil, Eu Maior (Bigger Me) is a […]

Brazilians are sharing the love these days, via a wave of groovy street art themed around love and happiness. “Mais amor, por favor” (“More love, please”)—a phrase created by 24-year-old designer Ygor Maratto that was spread around Sao Paulo by graffiti and street posters—seems to be Brazilians’ motto. Another common graffiti message is ”O amor […]

In less than a year, the iPhone app Instagram has attracted 10 million-plus users, who use the free tool to apply various effects and filters to their photos and then share them via Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook. Now, digital communities are forming around the behavior of posting pictures while mobile. Instagram users can create groups […]

This word cloud shows how young Brazilians today see their generation—as dreamers (“sonhadora”), but also very much as consumerists (“consumista”), as fighters (“batalhadora”), and as responsible, creative, communicative and happy. This was among the findings of the Brazilian Dream Project, an extensive study of 18- to 24-year-olds recently released by the Brazilian research company Box1824 […]

While Orkut has been the biggest social network in Brazil, Facebook is growing fast (we’ve already written about Facebook-inspired Carnival costumes). More than 1.9 million Brazilians joined Facebook in May, according to Facebook statistics portal Socialbakers, representing a monthly leap of 11 percent. (Only Egypt came close percentage-wise, with Brazil well in the lead on […]

Today, some dreams of fame revolve around making it big online, and it’s not just adults who dream of going viral but kids too. Ark Music Factory, now known for its 13-year-old client Rebecca Black, is focused on turning regular teens into YouTube pop stars. Producers Patrice Wilson and Clarence Jey, who launched the company […]

Brazil as E-leader, one of our “100 Things to Watch in 2011,” is a phenomenon driven in part by the fact that social networking here is even more popular than in developed markets. At this year’s Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, its pervasive influence was clearly apparent, from costumes to promotion of the celebrations. Beyond […]


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Things to Watch

  • Rivals joining forces
    January 26, 2015 | 7:19 pm

    Volkswagen_5 2000px-BMW.svg

    Not long ago, a collaboration between two rival companies would have been seen as a counterintuitive and perhaps desperate measure. In 2015, however, BMW’s partnership with Volkswagen on fast-charging electric vehicles stations makes the automakers look self-confident, open and serious about sustainability and the common good.  Continue reading “Rivals joining forces” »

  • Virgin Hotels
    January 21, 2015 | 1:42 pm

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    Taking a cue from private clubs like Soho House—which now has outposts from Berlin to Chicago and Toronto—and cool hotel hangouts like the Ace, the first hotel under Virgin’s affordable-meets-aspirational banner houses a Commons Club. Offering “exclusivity for all,” the Commons hosts a “roundtable of ideas and indulgence” at a nightly social hour and includes a restaurant, bar and study area. Virgin marketing also taps into easyHotel lingo with the promise of no surprise fees and free wi-fi.

    Continue reading “Virgin Hotels” »

  • Google’s Ara phone
    January 16, 2015 | 11:51 am


    A new video from Google shows the latest prototype of its modular phone, which will launch this year in Puerto Rico. Project Ara emphasizes personalization—“What if you could make thoughtful choices about exactly what your phone does, and use it as a creative canvas to tell your own story?”—but the sustainability implications are also important.

    Continue reading “Google’s Ara phone” »

  • Nike taps into urban exploring
    January 5, 2015 | 1:13 pm

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    The city is the new terrain for Nike’s rebranded all-conditions gear, now named NikeLab ACG. Taking a cue from the urban exploration trend (“urbex”)—which involves venturing into unseen and generally off-limits structures and documenting the adventure—Nike says that “For today’s athletes, the city is the ultimate landscape,” complete with “modern obstacles” and many microclimates. Images show an intrepid explorer on a rooftop amid skyscrapers. The urban environment is now as challenging, intriguing and adventurous as the natural landscape.

  • Tears become… streams become…
    December 17, 2014 | 1:50 pm

    Artists and performers are increasingly creating multisensory pieces that immerse and envelope audiences, who in turn are embracing these one-of-a-kind experiences. In New York, the latest example is the performance and installation tears become… streams become…, a “field of water that harnesses light, reflection, music and sound” by Scottish artist Douglas Gordon and French pianist Hélène Grimaud.

    Continue reading “Tears become… streams become…” »

  • The Glade Boutique
    December 11, 2014 | 5:16 pm

    More marketers across the spectrum are creating novel pop-ups and activities that add dimension to the brand and satisfy consumer interest in experiences. These experiences are also increasingly interactive, immersive and multisensory, as our past trend reports have discussed. In line with these trends, a Glade Boutique holiday pop-up in New York City’s Meatpacking district, created with fashion designer Pamela Dennis and interior designer Stephanie Goto, features five rooms themed around “scent-inspired feelings,” like relaxation and “energized” (complete with an Oculus Rift virtual thrill ride).

    The pop-up is a departure for the mass-market candle brand: It has no outside signage, just a keyhole with a neon sign asking, “What will you feel?” Inside, with white walls and polished concrete floors, there’s all the cues of a groovy concept store. Visitors walk past a terrarium to the “Feelings Lounge”—sofas arranged around an objet-bedecked coffee table—then find the new collection of candles covered in bell jars for sampling the scents, akin to the merchandising format of ultra-luxe candle brand Cire Trudon. There’s also a backlit installation made up of hundreds of Glade candles.

  • Cheap-phone wars
    December 3, 2014 | 11:54 am

    Obi Mobiles

    Mobile brands are creating cheaper, stripped-down smartphones for emerging markets, competing with domestic brands producing their own low-cost phones. The field is getting more competitive with Obi Mobiles from former Apple CEO John Sculley, which targets young, image-conscious consumers. Obi launched recently in India, the Middle East and Singapore, and plans for further expansion in 2015.

    Obi will be taking on Chinese up-and-comer Xiaomi, which is entering five new markets this year. Meanwhile, Google launched the Android One OS in India last month in tandem with several domestic brands, which are pricing the phones at around $100. Prices will get lower still, at least for the most basic smartphones: Mozilla has announced plans to sell phones that use its Firefox OS in India and Africa for just $25. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Obi Mobiles

  • Snapcash
    November 19, 2014 | 4:54 pm


    Disruption in the payments sphere is opening the way for social media brands to act as intermediaries between consumers and their money, as we note in our report on payments and currency. Facebook is said to be planning a P2P payments feature for Messenger, South Korea’s KakaoTalk announced a PayPal-like service in September, and Line is creating a mobile service that will let users make on- and offline purchases. Now, Snapchat is partnering with Square to enable payments between users, as explained in this video’s energetic retro musical number.

    After users (U.S. only and 18-plus only) enter debit card info, they simply send a cash amount within a text. While Snapchat’s recent data breaches may give some users pause, the P2P payments space is a smart place to be as young consumers get accustomed to services like Venmo that make it easy and even fun to pay friends. —Marian Berelowitz

  • Payment in a heartbeat
    November 11, 2014 | 5:26 pm

    Nymi-paywith

    Our recent report on the future of payments and currency spotlights the rise of biometric payments—using a unique physical characteristic to authenticate transactions—which promise to greatly improve security and help remove friction. So far we’ve seen systems that rely on fingerprints (e.g., Apple Pay) and the palm’s unique vein payment (see Quixter). Now, the startup Bionym is exploring ways to harness its Nymi wristband, which uses the wearer’s unique cardiac rhythm as authentication, for payments.

    Bionym is linking with MasterCard and the Royal Bank of Canada for a test in which an NFC chip in the wristband enables contactless payments. The company, which is looking to license its technology into other wearables, recently raised $14 million in a Series A funding round and has racked up 10,000 preorders for the Nymi. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Nymi

  • Vegetable co-stars
    November 4, 2014 | 6:31 pm

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    “Vegetable co-stars” is one of our 100 Things to Watch in 2014—the idea that veggies are gaining a higher profile on restaurant menus—and more star chefs are indeed embracing this trend. José Andrés and his ThinkFood restaurant group plan to open Beefsteak (as in tomatoes), a vegetable-focused fast casual eatery in Washington, D.C., next year. The Washington Post also points to chef Roy Choi’s new greenhouse-like Commissary in L.A., which says it serves “good food and drink based around plants as the foundation.”

    “Chefs around the country, and the globe, are pushing meat from the center of the plate—and sometimes off it altogether,” notes The Wall Street Journal, citing examples like Alain Ducasse revamping his menu at the posh Plaza Athénée in Paris. Catering to a growing group of diners looking to eat less meat, vegetable-heavy dishes also offer new opportunities for creativity. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Plaza Athénée

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