Easy peer-to-peer payments are expanding beyond the likes of PayPal and Venmo. Square Cash will soon enable P2P money transfers via email: The dollar amount goes in the subject line, and Square is cc’d, with payment going to the recipient’s debit card. Similarly, Google has integrated Google Wallet and Gmail for a new service that treats money as an attachment that can be added to any email, including those sent to non-Gmail addresses. Since both Google and Square are also merchant account providers, email-based transfers may also expand the mobile wallet’s capabilities. —Bobby Esnard
The advent of drones for civilians—one of our 100 Things to Watch in 2013—has some brands taking to the skies. Domino’s has gotten buzz for its DomiCopter concept in the U.K., a drone that can shuttle hot pizzas to customers, at least in theory. In South Africa, organizers of the OppiKoppi music fest, to be held in August, say a beer drone will deliver the beverage to festivalgoers. Orders will be taken via a mobile app, and the device will drop a beer (equipped with a parachute) based on GPS location. In the U.S., however, drones for commercial use won’t be cleared for takeoff until 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration issues guidelines. —Will Palley
Recently The Wall Street Journal asked Twitter to predict what the next big calorific snack will be, now that the cupcake market is “crashing.” That was just before “cronuts” burst onto the sweets scene in New York City: This doughnut made from croissant dough has been a huge success since chef Dominique Ansel debuted it at his SoHo bakery. New Yorkers are also taking to mini-pies (sweet and savory) from New Zealand chain Pie Face, which recently opened its fifth store in the city. Or maybe mini-bundt cakes will win us over. Bakery chain Nothing Bundt Cakes is expanding, recently opening its 67th location across 15 U.S. states. —Will Palley
Image credit: Dominique Ansel
Earlier this month, Amazon launched a Men’s Grooming shop, featuring both mass and high-end brands in categories including skin care, body care and hair care. The site has a distinct black-and-white design and includes how-to editorial content from Men’s Fitness. Men’s grooming products are one of the beauty industry’s fastest-growing segments, with global revenues rising by an average of 6 percent a year since 2006—reaching almost $33 billion in 2011—according to Euromonitor International. In the U.S., Mintel forecasts that men’s toiletries sales will be a $3.2 billion market by 2016, a $1 billion increase from 2006. Even as the term “metrosexual” has faded away, men are increasingly image-conscious, and any stigma around using such products is rapidly diminishing. —Marian Berelowitz
Image credit: Amazon
The mobile device is becoming a sixth sense for users, harnessing various data streams to enable an enhanced sense of the world, as we explain in our report “13 Mobile Trends for 2013 and Beyond.” “We are about to enter an era where a digital sixth sense will become a reality,” remarked a contributor in a Time column yesterday that looks at how wearable tech, Google Glass and augmented reality will help drive this development. Some smartphones already contain as many as 18 specialized sensors, such as a gyroscope, GPS and an accelerometer, providing data streams that allow the mobile device to understand the user’s context. As heads-up displays like Google Glass proliferate, the mobile sixth sense will be more seamlessly integrated into daily routines. Contextual, real-time information will potentially help to make consumers’ lives easier, while brands will benefit from rich data streams. —Will Palley
Image credit: Zensorium
Last year we wrote about kid foodies: how kids are becoming more interested in what they eat and the art of cooking. A few new manifestations of this have popped up. In the U.S. last week, Fox announced it would launch Junior MasterChef, a spinoff of MasterChef, to be hosted by Gordon Ramsay. The kids version of this competition has already debuted in markets including the U.K., Israel and Thailand. And in the U.K., Tesco has linked with cooking site Great British Chefs on a free iPhone and iPad app featuring recipes “specially conceived to be cooked with children”; a section of the site features these easy recipes as well. Meanwhile, the James Beard Foundation has named ChopChop its top food publication of the year: The 3-year-old nonprofit magazine aims to motivate American kids to eat better by providing fun recipes for families to make together. —Marian Berelowitz
What do Karl Lagerfeld, Hello Kitty and Iron Man have in common? They’ve all been Tokidokied. The Italian brand’s cute-yet-edgy Japanese-inspired cartoon characters have amassed a cult following since 2005. Tokidoki (“sometimes” in Japanese) has partnered with product categories from makeup (Sephora and Smashbox) to bags (LeSportsac) to headphones (Sol Republic), and its momentum has yet to slow. The new Lagerfeld concept store in Paris is selling a limited-edition vinyl “Karl” Tokidoki figurine. In Singapore, 7-Eleven customers get a stamp for every SG$4 they spend in-store, and 18 stamps earns a Tokidoki Hello Kitty figurine—a promotion that’s creating lots of buzz among young lifestyle bloggers and collectors who want the series of 10.
Campaign Asia attributes the success of Tokidoki, the creation of Italian designer Simone Legno, to word-of-mouth, social media and a cost-effective marketing strategy that leverages its partners’ brand values, communication channels and customer bases. —Geri Kan
Image credit: Tokidoki
One of the more cuddly manifestations of our trend The Super Stress Era—the idea that governments, employers and brands will be working harder to address stress as it mounts around the world—is a new program at Los Angeles International Airport called Pets Unstressing Passengers (yes, that’s PUP for short). In our 10 Trends for 2013 report, we cite “cat cafés” in Tokyo and Shanghai, designed to help soothe patrons. Now dogs are getting their turn: At LAX, volunteers with trained pooches ready to be petted will roam departure gates to help defuse travelers’ tension. The program is modeled on similar, smaller-scale efforts at San Jose and Miami airports. —Marian Berelowitz
Among our 10 Trends for 2013 is The Super Stress Era: the idea that governments, employers and brands will ramp up efforts to address stress as it mounts around the world. In Hong Kong, a McDonald’s Value Meals campaign is reminding stressed-out residents that “It doesn’t take much to be happy.” The city is “a stressful environment in which many people forget that happiness doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated,” says a McDonald’s marketing director in a press release. Indeed, in a 2012 Regus survey, 55 percent of Hong Kong respondents said their stress levels had risen in the past year.
In addition to airing commercials that show silly, lighthearted moments of fun, McDonald’s kitted out a double-decker “Happy Bus,” which plies the busy Cross Harbour Tunnel route, with a motion sensor that makes laughing sounds when passengers swipe their Octopus cards and seat backs featuring optical illusions—replacing passengers’ hairstyles with Ronald McDonald’s. And distorting mirrors at bus stops feature reminders to smile. —Geri Kan
As discussed in our latest report, “13 Mobile Trends for 2013 and Beyond,” people are using mobile devices to communicate in multiple new ways that are more visual, richer, faster, easier, more automated or simply more fun. One way they’re doing so: with messaging apps like Line, Viber and KakaoTalk, which have become “an indispensable form of communication for hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” as The Wall Street Journal notes. Depending on the service, users can embed content like songs, video, images and doodles; communicate via emoticons and virtual stickers; share location; and play games while chatting. Stickers (some free, some premium) are a world in themselves, from dancing pizza slices to proprietary characters. The app Rednote lets users add music to texts, choosing songs based on the mood they want to convey.
The numbers are impressive: MessageMe garnered more than a million users within a week of its launch last month. Line claims 120 million downloads. To compete with these over-the-top apps, mobile operators are launching their own services, like Libon from Orange and Bobsled from T-Mobile USA. —Marian Berelowitz
Image credit: Rednote
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