Read our roundups in magazine form on Flipboard, via the iOS and Android app or online; click here to find our magazine collection.

-The New York Times reports on a new study that finds average American household wealth has dropped by one-third during the past 10 years.

-Mobile e-commerce is on the rise in India, which with plenty of room to grow is capturing the attention of international investors, reports The New York Times.

-Family and marital instability has grown for both rich and poor families during the past 40 years, reports The New York Times.

-Forbes profiles “the recession generation” and explains how they are shaping the future of money management.

-Quartz chronicles the demographic and economic trends in the Philippines over the past five years, looking at the potential for growth along with ongoing challenges.

-Time examines the decade-long rise in suburban poverty in America. 

-Marketers are experimenting with ways to increase advertising on mobile devices, which currently accounts for less than 10 percent of all ad spending, Financial Times notes.

-Despite a more positive social view of working mothers, the new “culture of overwork” is contributing to the ongoing gender pay gap, according to research highlighted by Time.

-Millennials, who tend to live “throwaway” lifestyles, are transforming the U.S. retail industry, reports CNBC.

-Forbes opinion editor Avik Roy examines the persistence of black poverty from the Civil Rights era through today.

-The “farm to counter” fast food trend begun by Chipotle continues to grow as a new crop of regional chains thrive and expand, reports The New York Times.

-Some chat app makers are developing bots that may allow marketers to converse with consumers, dubbed “chatvertising” by The Wall Street Journal.

-Airbnb looks to attract more business travelers with a customized portal and a new partnership with business travel and expense management company Concur, via Techcrunch.

-Dubai’s latest boom in luxury hotels has brand names attached, explains The New York Times.

-Soaring attendance at museums has fine art institutions grappling with crowd challenges, according to the The New York Times.

-Small “narrow format” retailers are growing at the expense of big-box stores like Target and Walmart, according to Goldman Sachs research, reports Huffington Post.

-Euromonitor sums up its findings on personal appearance, while Quartz offers additional insight highlighting Indian women’s use of beauty products.

-Organic personal care product sales are booming with almost double-digit annual growth expected through 2020, Cosmetics Design notes.

-Athletic apparel is a bright spot in the sluggish clothing industry as activewear becomes popular outside the gym and manufacturers push high tech, reports The New York Times.

-Money looks at 10 products including bread, gum and cupcakes on which Americans have considerably slowed spending.

-The Wall Street Journal examines the possibilities of 3D printing from food to fashion to travel.

-A survey spotlighted in Time finds almost half of Millennials would prefer a “beta test” marriage before full-fledged commitment.

-Digiday breaks down new research on Generation Z in five charts about their devices, social media, spending power, demographics and influence.

-Forbes looks at the growing trend of companies hiring back human employees when the technology they were replaced with “didn’t work.”

-Ad Age examines whether virtual reality is the next big thing in advertising as marketers experiment with immersive technology such as Oculus Rift.

-CNBC explores the mall of the future with technology, such as full-body scanners and mobile phone checkouts, becoming the mainstay at brick-and-mortar stores.

-No words necessary as emoji evolve into a new digital language, The New York Times observes.

-The Wall Street Journal notes health-conscious consumers are driving the grass-fed milk trend.

-Advances in data tracking and more connected “things” could lead to future birthdays overrun by brands offering best wishes, notes Medium.

-A growing legal marijuana market means both opportunities and challenges for cannabis brands, Adweek notes.


“Even Kanye Thinks ‘Luxury’ Has Become Code For ‘Rip-Off’” declared a Time headline last week, noting recent comments from the musician as well as U.K. designer Jasper Morrison, who told The Wall Street Journal that luxury “invariably stands for overpriced, poorly considered product, whether it’s a hotel, an apartment block, a handbag or a holiday.” It seems that more consumers are inclined to agree. Some luxury brands have seen growth slowing, while “affordable luxury” is on the rise.

“Bridge brands” like Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Vince or Karen Millen in the U.K. are doing well. Michael Kors saw same-store sales rise 26 percent year-over-year in its March quarter, while sales at Kate Spade rose 33 percent last quarter. More consumers may be looking to Live a Little—as we phrased one of our 10 Trends for 2012—and splurge on moderate amounts of luxury. That helps to explain why more drugstore products from brands like L’Oréal and Johnson & Johnson are boldly pushing prices to $25 and beyond for goods with premium ingredients, as The Wall Street Journal reported.

Another driver here is that mass-market consumers are getting more discerning and demanding. Mass-market brands have to amp up their offerings. The luxury perfumers at Robertet Fragrances recently developed an affordable line to be sold exclusively at Target. Automakers such as Hyundai have begun to standardize features that were once higher-end options, from satellite radio to heated side mirrors. Everyday foods and beverages from beer to coffee are now artisanal or “craft.” Even hostels are going upscale—known as “poshtels.” Brands must increasingly cater to consumers looking for the best of both worlds: prices that aren’t sky-high for products that offer at least a taste of luxe. 

Image credit: Target

Data point_07.28.14

China’s ecommerce market is exploding. It has surpassed the U.S. as the largest ecommerce market, and according to new research from Exane BMP Paribas, “The percentage of consumers preferring to buy online is growing by leaps and bounds.” The investment company expects 9 percent of all Chinese purchases to be made online this year, up significantly from five years ago, with China lagging only the three most developed ecommerce markets (the U.K., the U.S. and Germany) in penetration rate.

Exane and others suggest brands partner with established players like Alibaba’s Tmall, which enjoys a substantial share of the ecommerce market. Although some brands are wary of Tmall, as The Wall Street Journal has pointed out, a VentureBeat columnist notes that it offers several key advantages to retailers. Exane’s report focuses specifically on luxury retail, warning that “European and American luxury players have no time to waste in the Chinese online market,” given the appetite for luxury goods in China and the increasing propensity to shop online.

Read our roundups in magazine form on Flipboard, via the iOS and Android app or online; click here to find our magazine collection.

-Rising consumer demand in sub-Saharan Africa is “driving hopes that Africa will emerge as a success story … comparable to the rise of the East Asian Tigers in the second half of the 20th century,” reports The New York Times.

-A new study forecasts that, post-recession, technology will continue to polarize the work world, with automation displacing more mid-wage, routine-oriented workers, reports The New York Times.

-In the second quarter, Global Consumer Confidence reached its highest level since 2007, reports Nielsen.

-eMarketer expects mobile ad spending to jump by 83 percent this year, leading both newspaper and radio spending, reports The Wall Street Journal.

-Quartz spotlights charts showing current TV habits based on data from the networks as the Television Critics Association press tour kicked off.

-Many Millennials are still saying no to marriage and are now projected to be the generation with the least number of married people by age 40, via Money.

-Mobile-focused Millennials, dubbed “silent travelers” by travel researcher Skift, are pushing hotel and airline brands to find new ways to reach them, notes MediaPost.

-The “mystery of missing out,” or MOMO, is supplanting FOMO as the latest social media anxiety, The Observer points out.

-A new McKinsey report finds global luxury sales growth will concentrate in cities, notably those in emerging markets.

-Some high-end consumers, along with some celebrities and designers, are dissing luxury products, scaling back their purchases and crying ripoff, reports Time.

Continue reading “Weekly Roundup: ‘Silent travelers,’ MOMO and the battle over breakfast” »


Mobile shopping is becoming an increasingly mainstream habit. In the U.S., smartphones now account for a quarter of visits to e-commerce sites, up from 18% in 2013, Business Insider reports. In the APAC region, Frost & Sullivan expects mobile commerce to grow from a $76 billion market in 2013 to $153 billion in 2017. And InMobi predicted in February that 83% of global consumers with mobile devices will make a purchase through their device in the next year. Recent research from GlobalWebIndex breaks down where Internet users are most apt to use phones to shop (China is No. 1) and where they’re most apt to use tablets (China again).

In emerging markets like China, many shoppers are leapfrogging PCs and using mobile as their primary device to access the Internet. At the same time, mobile penetration continues to increase (indeed, there were 96 mobile subscriptions for every 100 people on earth in 2013).

Brands are increasingly focused on ways to make mobile transactions more seamless. The Starbucks app will soon give users the ability to order and pay with their mobile devices. The Visa Checkout app will allow consumers to complete debit and credit transactions without leaving vendor apps. Both Twitter and Facebook are exploring ways to make in-platform purchases easier. At the same time, basic tools like texts are also effective. According to James Van Arsdale III, director of UX for WebLinc, text messages lead to more sales than emails among younger consumers.

Image credit: Visa

Virtual dressing rooms have been around for a long while, but early technology struggled to meet consumer expectations, and many initial attempts faded. Today, however, virtual dressing is enjoying a renaissance thanks to new technologies—including augmented reality and 3D modeling—and better use of consumer data. The new models go beyond simply building body replicas and follow a “fit and flatter” ethos.

The current wave of virtual dressing adds clothing dimensions, personal preference and crowdsourced data to traditional fit models, as USA Today reports. Banks of data about consumers with similar body types, preferences or personalities can mean more satisfied outcomes, notes Internet Retailer. And Fortune reports that companies like Fitbay (“a clothes discovery service personalized to your unique shape and size”) can offer online retailers data such as which brands are most favored by people with specific body types.

The reimagination of virtual dressing rooms is driven by the ongoing upswing in e-commerce and the expense of returns that retailers must bear. Return rates average 20 to 30 percent for online apparel retailers compared with less than 10 percent on average for hard goods, as Internet Retailer notes.

Expect a continued push for virtual dressing as technology evolves further. EBay recently bought 3D visualization and simulation company PhiSix. Video game technology may also play a role; in Japan, clothing brand Urban Research uses Microsoft Kinect for virtual pop-up dressing rooms. And retailers could adapt the virtual reality headgear Oculus Rift in interesting ways, as an in-store Tesco experiment demonstrates.

Data point_07.21.14

Multigenerational households continue to grow, a trend we termed More Under One Roof in our Things to Watch in 2009, as the recession was getting well under way. New research from the Pew Research Center shows that 18 percent of the U.S. population lived in a multigenerational household as of 2012, up 50 percent from 1980. That translates into 57 million Americans in these households, almost twice as many as was the case in 1980.

A key driver of the trend is Millennials, who are continuing to grapple with the effects of the recession but also tend to regard parents as friends (“peerents”). According to Pew, almost 24 percent of adults 25 to 34 live with multiple generations, up from 11 percent in 1980, and more Millennials than seniors (ages 85 and older) now live in multigenerational households. This trend has significant ripple effects in the economy as so many members of this generation delay adulthood and the traditional milestones of getting married, buying a house and having children, as USA Today notes. As they do so, we’re seeing the social normalization of living with one’s parents into adulthood.

Read our roundups in magazine form on Flipboard, via the iOS and Android app or online; click here to find our magazine collection.

-By 2030, the world’s mega-cities will be located mainly in Asia and Africa, according to a new U.N. report, as outlined in Quartz.

-Bloomberg reports on Pew Research finding a continued increase in multi-generational American households thanks to Millennials remaining at home for longer.

-National Geographic chronicles the changing face of hunger in the U.S.

-McKinsey discusses the rise of digital banking in Europe, along with how and why retail banks need to move aggressively.

-Savvy, selective, budget-minded Millennials are still shopping offline, but in new ways, The Dallas Morning News reports.

-A Kantar report charts the explosion of the market for “free from” food in the U.K. as the “worried well” embrace these products, reports The Telegraph.

-The New York Times examines the rise of the “Nice Internet” and the profitability of uplifting content.

-Nielsen Social looks at social brand ambassadors, with stats on influencers and their importance to brands.

-New York examines the smartwatch hype and their potential to catch on with consumers. Some smartwatch brands are betting that the kids market will drive the category, notes Bloomberg.

-As reports, a study on “hook-up culture” finds that Millennials are no more promiscuous than older generations. Time spotlights research finding that young men desire intimacy above sex.

Continue reading “Weekly Roundup: Future mega-cities, the ‘nice Internet’ and nudity” »




Many consumers not only approve of brands backing LGBT causes and consumers—as JWT’s April study for Buzzfeed showed—but in some cases feel especially supportive of brands that do so. As a recent JWT Canada study found, LGBT support can also inspire patriotic sentiments. In advance of Toronto’s massive WorldPride celebration in late June, 81 percent of respondents said they were glad to live in a country where people can participate in an event like WorldPride, and more than half (54 percent) agreed that hosting WorldPride made them feel more proud to be a Canadian. Support was especially high among Millennials (85 percent and 69 percent agreed, respectively).

As part of WorldPride, JWT Canada also created a Twitter-powered flag on behalf of ShantyTown Inc. and Toronto PFLAG. Stationed above a popular pub in Toronto, the flag was raised higher when Twitter users wrote LGBT-positive tweets and sunk lower with expressions of intolerance. The #RaisethePride initiative produced 5.2 million social media impressions, with 6 percent of Twitter conversations in Toronto centered around the installation. In this case, LGBT pride was contagious, generating a ripple effect of positive emotions.

Image credit: WorldPride

Kyle WiensLaunched out of Wiens’ college dorm room in 2003, iFixit is akin to a Wikipedia for information on repairing electronics, appliances, vehicles and more. Wiens also launched Dozuki, in 2012, which focuses on documentation software. We talked to him while researching our trend report on the circular economy, an alternative, more sustainable economic model whose principles include keeping goods in circulation for as long as possible rather than tossing them into landfills. Wiens discussed why brands should get more proactive about helping consumers fix their products, which brands are doing so and which consumers are most interested in making their own repairs.

What was the inspiration to create iFixit?

I was just trying to fix my computer. I was a student, and I wasn’t able to afford a new computer. I had dropped my laptop on the power plug; I knew it was just a loose connection—if I could take it apart and just put a drop of solder on the connection, it would be fine. I was looking around on the Internet for how to open the computer, and I couldn’t find any information anywhere. I got it fixed, but it was never perfect again.

It turns out most repairs are like that. Once you’ve done it once or twice, it’s easy, but the first time is difficult. We decided to take some pictures of the process and put them online for our own satisfaction, just because we were annoyed at how hard it was. We had 10,000 hits the first weekend. It turned out there was a lot of pent-up demand, because it was something the manufacturers just weren’t doing.

To frame it in a circular economy context, there are oftentimes circular opportunities around products that the manufacturers don’t realize, maybe because they’re not entrepreneurial enough internally. Maybe it’s just an opportunity that hasn’t gotten big enough for them to choose to take advantage of it. And in this case, the manufacturers have left a gaping hole in the market.

In order to have a repair economy work, the person doing the repair—whether it is the consumer or repair technician—needs three things. They need the knowledge of how to do the repair, they need the tools to get in and open the product up, and then they need replacement parts. iFixit provides all three of those. So if you break your iPhone and need to repair it, we provide you with a replacement screen; it comes in a kit with the tools you need, and then the instructions are free on the web or in an app. We make it really easy to go through and do the repair. Continue reading “Q&A with Kyle Wiens, co-founder and CEO, iFixit” »

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Things to Watch

  • 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


    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


    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


    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

    Image credit: Jakob Montrasio

  • Brands + Google Glass
    July 15, 2014 | 6:09 pm


    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

    Image credit: SPG

  • Ugly produce
    July 10, 2014 | 2:45 pm


    Ugly Produce, on our list of 100 Things to Watch in 2014, is proliferating in Europe, thanks in part to government efforts to reduce the 89 million tons of food wasted in Europe each year. In France, Intermarché has been getting buzz for creating a produce section dedicated to “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables”; a whimsical ad campaign reportedly drove a 24 percent rise in store traffic.

    U.K. supermarket Waitrose recently began selling packs of tomatoes that are misshapen or have fallen off the vine naturally. And in Portugal, Fruta Feia (“Ugly Fruit”) is a cooperative launched in late 2013 that sells unsightly produce that would have gone to waste. Per The New York Times, the group already has a waiting list of 1,000 customers. In line with one of our 10 Trends for 2014, Proudly Imperfect, watch for ugly produce to catch on with both retailers and shoppers. —Jessica Vaughn

    Image credit: Intermarché

  • The $1.25 Cube
    July 3, 2014 | 12:30 pm

    As we outline in Immersive Experiences, one of our 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond, entertainment and narratives are becoming more enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention. An immersive project from JWT Israel, a winner of the Cannes Chimera challenge, aims to help people experience what it’s like to live in extreme poverty. Once it’s created, the cube will create a multisensory experience that uses tools like augmented reality to simulate sights, sounds and smells and elicit certain feelings. Participants can exit only when the person in line behind them inserts $1.25, a metaphor for the collaborative efforts needed to fight poverty. The aim is for the cube to travel to international events like the Davos conference in order to influence global leaders. —Hallie Steiner

    Image credit: JWT Israel

  • Google’s Android Auto
    June 26, 2014 | 3:00 pm



    The connected car is rapidly becoming a reality. Fast 4G LTE connections are turning vehicles into hot spots that come with a data plan, while Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are making their way onto dashboards. This week Google introduced Android Auto, with the first compatible cars expected by year-end. Apple’s similar CarPlay, which turns the car into a platform for an iPhone’s content, was announced in March and is included in new Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo models.

    Car-based app ecosystems will provide relevant info (traffic, maps, vehicle diagnostics, restaurant suggestions) and entertainment, combined with safety precautions like voice control. As we outline in our mobile trends report, connected cars—complete with Internet hot spots, a suite of apps and sensors that communicate—will eventually link up with drivers’ homes, mobile devices and other gadgets to form a seamless system. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Android

  • American Eagle Outfitters’ recycling boxes
    June 19, 2014 | 3:45 pm

    American Eagle

    In a bid to create a more closed-loop production cycle, retailers including Puma and H&M are partnering with I:CO, a Swiss reuse and recycling firm that sets up collection points in stores for used clothing and shoes. The latest retailer to link up with I:CO is American Eagle Outfitters, which has added collection boxes in all its North American stores. Customers who participate in the “Live Your Life. Save Your Planet” initiative get a $5 credit toward AEO jeans. Any proceeds gleaned from the program will be donated to the Student Conservation Association.

    “The vision is for all products to be designed with future uses in mind, so materials can be 100% reused in a truly endless cycle,” explains a post from I:CO on American Eagle’s blog. An array of brands are taking steps toward a similar vision, as detailed in our upcoming report on the circular economy. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: American Eagle Outfitters

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