-Bloomberg Businessweeksays some wealthy Chinese are trading in the stresses of urban living for the countryside.
-Western apparel companies are starting to rethink their presence in Bangladesh, reports The New York Times.
-Suicide rates among U.S. Baby Boomers have spiked over the past decade, notably among men in their 50s, as The New York Times reports.
-Marriage has become a status symbol in the U.S., writes a TheNew York Times op-ed columnist.
-As the business of online video heats up, Adweek and Ad Age cover the Digital Content NewFronts. The New York Times notes that it’s “street cred vs. quality” in online video pitches, and Google’s Eric Schmidt declares that YouTube has displaced TV watching.
-The Guardian reports on a study finding that Facebook is shedding users in its biggest markets.
-A New York Timesessayist examines the new way in which young people now view old age.
-Airbnb’s plan to verify its users is one more sign that online anonymity is becoming a thing of the past, writes the FT.
This week we released “Travel: Changing Course,” a report that examines how several of our macro trends—Peer Power, Predictive Personalization and Hyper-Personalization—are influencing the travel category. Peer Power speaks to the expansion of the peer-to-peer marketplace, which is moving beyond goods to a wide range of services—and starting to upend the hospitality, tourism and transportation industries. Examples include P2P lodging services like Airbnb and Couchsurfing, P2P experience services like SideTour and Vayable, and P2P transport services like Sidecar and BlaBlaCar.
Open-minded, tech-savvy Millennials over-index when it comes to positive attitudes and behaviors tied to the P2P economy, according to a survey of 1,016 adults in the U.S. and the U.K. that we conducted using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool. While a third of the general population said they would be the first of their friends to try new things like peer-to-peer services, more than half of Millennials said as much. A third of Millennials have used P2P services to save money, and close to 4 in 10 have used these services to earn income or learn a new skill—more than Gen Xers and far more than Boomers.
As consumers seek more intimate, unique experiences, established brands can examine what new behaviors and expectations the P2P model is creating and start delivering against those, or otherwise use the emergence of these services as an opportunity to rethink how they operate or position their businesses.
At Contagious magazine’s Now/Next/Why daylong conference in New York yesterday, the emergence of alternative currencies was a hot topic. The dramatic rise and fall of Bitcoin has highlighted the fact that consumer confidence is shifting away from traditional institutions like governments and central banks in favor of smaller, more independent alternatives. According to a recent study by Contagious, 21 percent of Americans and 15 percent of Britons would be comfortable with abandoning traditional sovereign currencies for currencies not tied to a major banking institution. Local money has already taken off in Brazil, which reportedly has dozens of local currencies in circulation. Closer to home for us, North Brooklyn has an informal currency, the Brooklyn Torch.
The conference also touched on the concept of Alternative Brand Currencies, one of our 100 Things to Watch in 2013. While in-game currencies (think Farmville credits) have existed for some time, virtual currency is expanding: This month Amazon is planning to introduce Amazon Coins, with which Kindle Fire owners in the U.S. will be able to buy apps, games and in-app items. In Egypt, where retailers often lack the coins to give adequate change, Vodafone and JWT created Fakka Cards, top-up vouchers for mobile phones that can replace these small denominations with airtime. In Mexico, Nike’s “Bid Your Sweat,” created by JWT, was an online auction of Nike products that let bidders “pay” with kilometers they had tracked on a Nike+ account. (We outlined some other interesting initiatives here last year.)
Another currency will be data, noted Marc Guildmann of Enliken, an online dashboard that helps users understand and control how their browsing data is being used. As consumers grow more aware of the value of their data and the trail they generate—i.e., their demographic information and personal preferences, their browsing history—they will seek to monetize it, looking to exchange it for something of value. Brands will increasingly need to provide compelling benefits to consumers willing to share their personal information.
Waze’s Di-Ann Eisnor was among the experts we spoke with for our recent trend report “13 Mobile Trends for 2013 and Beyond,” which is based around insights gleaned at the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in February. Waze, a “community-based traffic and navigation app,” won Best Overall Mobile App at the Global Mobile Awards held at the Congress. The company claims 40 million-plus users around the world and, after launching an ad platform in late 2012, counts Target, Taco Bell, Walmart, Ramada Hotels and Dunkin’ Donuts among its advertising partners. As Eisnor explained, the company is using its data on “how people move through the world and what their patterns are” to help brands fine-tune messaging to consumers on the go.
Can you give us a quick overview of Waze?
We are a social GPS and real-time traffic—and that means that we have this group of 40 million drivers, or more now, and they are anonymously giving us GPS traces and timestamps just by turning their phone on to get their free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and their traffic information. And then we use that to try to make sure that everybody saves as much time as possible every day. Our users are unique in that they’re not just using navigation for when they don’t want to get lost; they’re commuters for the most part. And so they’re using it with great frequency—on average I think it’s now seven and a half hours per month. It’s a fairly high frequency use.
We’re trying to do something fairly new that takes advantage of everything we’ve all learned about location and about navigation. We’re kind of this companion that gets people to where they want to go at different parts of their day—we know if they’re going from home to work and what time of day that is. We know if they’re going from work to the airport or from work to their kids’ school or to the daycare or to the soccer field or to the gym, because they’re doing those searches as soon as they get into the car.
Our April trend report examines how some of our macro trends—Peer Power, Predictive Personalization and Hyper-Personalization—are influencing the travel category.
As the peer-to-peer marketplace expands in size and scope, it will increasingly upend the hospitality, tourism and transportation industries. For an overview of this new sector, we spotlight 20-plus services focused on P2P lodging, experiences and transportation. While these companies may be expanding the market for travel, they are also putting the squeeze on traditional service providers. With the peer-powered economy about to reach critical mass, we look at how established brands can maintain their ground or even find new opportunities.
Another trend starting to reshape the travel sector is the rise of hyper-personalization: Today’s travelers expect highly personalized experiences and customer service—thanks in part to the rise of customization and personalized suggestions online—and the industry is starting to deliver on this expectation, armed with Big Data and insights gleaned from social media. We look at some ways in which brands are fine-tuning offerings around individual customers, and what this development means for marketers.
The report also spotlights Millennial travelers, whose adventurous and social approach to travel is influencing the travel industry in a number of ways, and includes 20-plus Things to Watch in travel, from Holographic Concierges to Transient Hotels.
“Travel: Changing Course” builds on our “Rebooting Travel” report from 2011, which focuses on the tech-enabled traveler. Read about that report here. Also find our latest report on Slideshare, here.
A new survey that examines “what it means to be middle class in America today” finds a feeling of “pervasive, entrenched vulnerability—a sense that many financial milestones once assumed as cornerstones of middle-class life are now beyond reach for all but the rich,” as Ronald Brownstein writes in The Atlantic. Sponsored by Allstate, the poll is part of “The Next Economy” series—a joint project of The Atlantic and National Journal—and was conducted earlier this month.
Nearly 4 in 10 Americans are vulnerable to unexpected shocks, saying they lack the means to make it through a health emergency or job loss, and only about 2 in 10 feel it’s very realistic that they could do so. The findings are similar when it comes to saving enough for retirement; and among self-identified members of the middle class aged 40 to 59, fewer than 20 percent feel a comfortable retirement is “very realistic.” Almost half of Americans view the ability to pay for a college education—regarded as one of the most important enablers of social mobility—as a privilege restricted to the upper class, and 40 percent believe it’s not very realistic that they will be able to fund a child’s higher education. An annual vacation feels similarly out of reach for many.
For more on this topic, see “American Dream in the Balance,” a report we produced last year that explores attitudes toward socioeconomic mobility.
Retooling for an Aging World, one of our 10 Trends for 2010, touched on a trend we’ll see more of as Baby Boomers get older: the rising desire to “age in place,” or remain in one’s home and community as long as possible. In the U.S., where Baby Boomers represent the largest group of retirees in the country’s history, a range of products and services are helping seniors make it easier to remain independent.
Tech-driven solutions will become increasingly important for aging in place. The upcoming Numera Libris integrates tele-health and safety monitoring in a wearable smart device that integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and biometric monitoring. Rest Assured is a company that rigs homes with sensors and communications equipment so seniors can be monitored; as The New York Times recently reported, clients pay $1,100 per month on average. TigerPlace, a senior housing facility in Missouri, has tested rooms featuring motion-detection sensors over doorways and in the mattresses and a Microsoft Kinect box mounted on the ceiling to detect falls. And more home automation firms are marketing senior-friendly innovations such as automatically adjusting countertops and shelves, temperature monitors, and audible and visual alarms on appliances, doors and smoke detectors.
Of course, the real estate industry is making adjustments as well. More than 5,000 home builders have graduated from the National Association of Home Builders’ Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist program, which focuses on catering to seniors’ housing needs in terms of logistics and customer service. Since the 2001 debut of Boston’s Beacon Hill Village, the first aging-in-place community in the U.S., dozens of similar villages have opened nationwide, with 120 more in development, according to 2012 research from the Rutgers School of Social Work. And an Oregon nonprofit recently started providing very low-interest loans to seniors interested in making their homes more accommodating.
While researching our latest report, “13 Mobile Trends for 2013 and Beyond,” we spoke with Iris Lapinski of U.K.-based CDI Apps for Good, a nonprofit focused on teaching teenagers to create apps that solve problems they care about and can help to change their world. Founded in 2009, Apps for Good has grown to 100 schools and 5,000-plus 11-18 year-olds across the U.K. In 2012, the Observer and nonprofit innovation charity Nesta named Lapinski one of Britain’s “50 New Radicals” for her work with Apps for Good. She discussed how mobile apps can be a force for social change, Gen Z’s attitude toward mobile technology and why apps and tech are “the new rock & roll.”
Can you explain a little more about Apps for Good?
What we’re trying to do is to democratize app development. We think that real innovation always comes from the fringes of society, it doesn’t come from the people in the middle. So if you only ask white male 35-year-old developers what apps they can come up with, they come up with problems they encounter in their own lives. If you ask 14-year-old Muslim girls, because they have a different perspective on life and different experiences, they will come up with different ideas for apps. That was our working hypothesis when we started, and then the first course we did resulted in one of the three apps for Stop and Search, which is for young people who are being stopped and searched by the police [to understand their rights].
For us, “social good” is problem solving. We take a really broad definition of what is “for good.” It has to be legal, it can’t be purely entertaining or purely commercial, but it can be a game that solves a problem, it can be a commercial app that addresses a problem.
The 180,000 electric vehicles on the road around world account for just 0.2 percent of passenger cars, but reportedly the international goal of reaching 20 million EVs by 2020 is well within reach. Readying for a future in which cars need charging stations, retailers and restaurant chains are working with companies in the EV charging market. Tim Hortons, Kroger Co. and Walgreensare among those in various stages of installing chargers in their parking lots.
To encourage the investment, ECOtality Inc. in the U.S. is selling potential partners on the ability of its Blink EV chargers to offer “a competitive differentiator and reason for customers to stop, shop, and eat.” Partners can also “take advantage of the advertising space” on Blink’s charging stations. The electric vehicle supply equipment, as it’s termed, can also bring public relations benefits. “While EVSEs may not be a profit-generating enterprise in the near term, there are other benefits to installation, such as promoting sustainability through ‘green PR’,” states an August 2012 report out of UCLA.
Though it’s cheaper to install EV charging stations than traditional fueling stations, questions remain about their viability and even their environmental credibility. Charging mats, which use magnetic induction technology (i.e., the same general principle as your electric toothbrush), may be a more convenient alternative. Meanwhile, the “chicken or the egg” question persists: Companies looking to establish a viable model for EV charging need a significant volume of cars on the road—indeed, many charging stations are going unused—yet consumers remain wary of running out of charge while driving.
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 yesterdaythat 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
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 ChopChopits 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
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 Regussurvey, 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 Journalnotes. 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
Virgin Active began the year asking South Africans, “Can being more active make you happier?” The company, which operates 100-plus health clubs across the country, is going beyond the gym, providing digital solutions to encourage consumers to be more active and so “Live Happily Ever Active”—in line with one of our 10 Trends for 2013, Health and Happiness: Hand in Hand. While the link between body and mind isn’t a new concept, the idea that health impacts happiness and vice versa is becoming more ingrained for consumers and a theme for marketers.
Virgin Active’s online tool devises training routines and provides advice and resources to help people achieve their goals. Members are encouraged to make active choices with the range of exercise classes on offer. The brand is also asking South Africans to share “Happily Ever Active” stories across social media sites to demonstrate that being healthy is a sure route to being happy. — Harsha Prag
Launched last fall, this mobile dating app is hitting it big with its predominantly Millennial users—clocking in with 20,000 daily downloads, more than 2 billion rated profiles, 20 million matches, and 65 percent of users logging in daily and 80 percent weekly. What primarily distinguishes Tinder is the way it enables snap judgments based on member photos, a process “designed to be familiar and emulate the way we interact in real life,” as the website puts it. Relying on Facebook integration, Tinder lets users scroll through photos of people within their set parameters who are most likely to prove a match, tapping a green heart if interested, a red X if not. Tinder then connects users when interest is mutual, eliminating fears of rejection and unwanted attention.
The app shoots away any pretense that it’s notall about looks for this cohort and speaks to our culture of impatience (and the resulting emphasis on images over words) and hyper-efficiency. —Nick Ayala
As we noted in our 10 Trends for 2013, more people are coming to recognize the link between health and happiness and taking proactive steps to improve both at once. Indonesia-based digital agency XM Gravity, a JWT company, recently created a mobile app designed to keep employees feeling happy, connected and cared for. The app’s “Mood” function asks users to choose one of nine emotions (excited, mad, relaxed, etc.); executives or HR personnel will seek out people who consistently specify negative moods in an effort to fix the situation. A “News” section features fun announcements (free ice cream, movie screenings, company trips).
“The Happiness App serves as a sort of heart check up on everyone in the company,” explained CEO Kevin Mintaraga. Since a happier person is a healthier person, he said, “in the end, they are the ones who would give their best at work.” —Will Palley
These days, it’s hotels that are on the move, not the guests. Transient, or pop-up, hotels offer affordable rooms in prime spots or posh lodging near seasonal events such as music festivals. Sleeping Around, a Belgian company, transforms 20-foot shipping containers into luxury rooms and transports them to cities around the continent. The Pop-Up Hotel, a British firm, will supply luxury safari tents at June’s Glastonbury Music Festival, as well as a full restaurant and “exclusive luxury toilets,” no doubt a valuable festival perk. Podpads will also offer rooms at Glastonbury, but theirs look like small plywood cottages. Another business using shipping containers as rooms, Snoozebox, operated at the London Olympics, achieving 85 percent occupancy, and became a surprise financial success. This week The New York Times spotlights a few additional options.
With travelers increasingly interested in one-of-a-kind adventures, these hotels help provide an experience that few friends will be able to replicate. —Alec Foege