Lego Fusion

Augmented reality was touted as the next big thing when mobile apps started using the technology around five years ago, but it hasn’t fully come into mainstream usage. Juniper Research reports that AR apps attracted around 60 million unique users last year—but sees that number ramping up to 200 million by 2018. And with rising interest in immersive experiences, one of our 10 Trends for 2014, more marketers are experimenting with the technology. As The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year, AR is gaining traction after years stuck in “new-tech purgatory, where ideas loll in the hope of finding mainstream applications.”

Lego is generating some excitement around the upcoming launch of Lego Fusion, which allows users to move real-world creations to a virtual world. In its Milan store, Sephora recently started using an augmented reality mirror that lets customers see how different makeup looks on their face. And a Pepsi Max campaign that outfitted bus shelters in London with screens combining live video of the surrounding street with special effects like tentacles grabbing a pedestrian “might be the best use of augmented reality yet,” as The Verge enthused.

Google Glass and similar devices will fuel further creativity in connecting real and virtual worlds. Epson is marketing its Moverio smart glasses as a “next-generation augmented reality platform.” Leading AR firm Blippar has launched a Games for Glass platform and is working on “real world search” (identifying objects in view and providing relevant information). And Google’s Project Tango—which creates 3D maps of indoor spaces—will pave the way for applications like advanced in-store mapping for shoppers.

Image credit: Lego

Data point_06.30.14

As we’ve noted, the 2014 World Cup will be the first truly mobile tournament, with smartphone-equipped fans keeping up with the action wherever they are. Viewers are also using their phones to discuss the action, a habit that looks likely to help make this World Cup the biggest social media event ever, as Reuters and the AP report today, looking at Facebook and Twitter data, respectively. Even before the World Cup began, Twitter reported there had been more posts about the topic than for the entire 2010 tournament.

According to research by GlobalWebIndex, drawn from a survey of social networkers in Brazil, the U.K. and the U.S. who are watching the World Cup, Facebook is by far the most popular social network for getting updates. Some 94 percent say they’re using it as they watch games, while 59 percent are connecting with Twitter during matches. The chart here, which draws on GlobalWebIndex data from Day 1 of the tournament, found that British viewers are the least social, while Brazilians are most apt to share their views over social media and even take selfies of themselves watching a game.

Naturally, brands are attempting to join the conversation. Many are responding in real time to high and low points of the tournament, like last week’s notorious biting incident, as Mashable reports. And Reuters reports on the social media battle between Adidas and Nike, which includes an Adidas-run Twitter feed for the World Cup’s official match ball, dubbed the Brazuca, which currently has more than 2.6 million followers.

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

-The Wall Street Journal highlights four takeaways from the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, while a columnist for The Drum outlines his five takeaways from the festival.

-The Wall Street Journal notes how the World Cup is shaping up to be the biggest-ever global event for social media.

-A Wired Opinion column analyzes how “Generation Moth,” the generation raised on touch screens, will shape the future of technology.

-NPR breaks down why the new American man “doesn’t look like his father.”

-Business Insider proclaims Millennials are “old news” as Gen Z enters the fray.

-Bloomberg looks at how Millennials’ embrace of e-commerce is changing the retail world.

-In South Korea, luxury brands are no longer as coveted as they once were, via Financial Times.

-Brick-and-mortar stores are still important for male shoppers in the luxury market, but digital is playing a growing role, writes The Business of Fashion.

-Fortune takes a look at why 2014 is “not the year of the wearable.”

-Forbes analyzes why Asia is becoming a hotbed of funding for tech startups.

Continue reading “Weekly Roundup: Butter’s comeback, the new American man and the rise of Gen Z” »


Sugar is getting an increasingly bad rap. It’s “the new tobacco,” says one of the founders of Action on Sugar, a recently formed U.K. group. The new documentary Fed Up takes this stance as well, with Katie Couric and the rest of the team behind the film issuing a challenge to go sugar-free for 10 days. Food brands are starting to cut down on sugar, as we wrote last year, and brands are looking for sugar alternatives. Coca-Cola Life, flavored with a blend of sugar and stevia, launched in Argentina and Chile last year and is coming to the U.K. this fall. And PepsiCo is working with biotech company Senomyx on a “taste modifier” that would induce the palate to sense more sugar than is actually present.

Among the more natural sugar alternatives, stevia has become popular in the last few years but has been criticized for its metallic taste, while agave has been discredited as a desirable substitute. Monk fruit extract now appears promising, and In the Raw offers a sweetener made from the Asian fruit, as does Splenda parent McNeil Nutritionals, which sells Nectresse. Both products are zero calorie. New Zealand company BioVittoria, the dominant supplier of monk fruit extract, says brands including Kashi, So Delicious, Bear Naked and Emergen-C are using the fruit as a sweetener. Meanwhile, companies including Nativas Naturals are touting coconut sugar, which has a low glycemic index, and Damhert Nutrition in Belgium is producing Tagatesse, a sweetener derived from lactose.

Although experts disagree on the effects of various types of sugars, the interest in natural sweeteners speaks to the increasingly mainstream “clean eating” trend as more consumers avoid processed foods and artificial ingredients.

Image credit: Coca-Cola

Among some of the world’s top corporate leaders, there’s a growing understanding that traditional business models—built on the presumption of unlimited and cheap natural resources—must be reworked for 21st century realities. Our latest trend report outlines the alternative model that’s taking shape and how brands across categories are becoming more circular, rethinking everything from product design to relationships with their customers. The circular economy is an important topic not only because the approach is far better for the planet but also because tapping into its principles may well be essential to long-term competitiveness.

The circular economy represents a markedly different way of doing business, replacing established practices like planned obsolescence with new approaches to generating profits. Our report examines how brands from Puma and Ford to Ikea and Starbucks are upending various elements of the status quo: leasing rather than selling products, remanufacturing goods, seeking ways to extend the life of products or their components, finding more value in waste, or designing for circular use.

In addition, the report explains how the circular economy differs from the linear economy, why this concept is gaining more adherents now and what it means for brands. The report also incorporates insights from interviews with several experts and influencers.

Click here to download “The Circular Economy.”

Data point_06.23.14

New research by Nielsen finds that consumers are growing more likely to use their purchasing power to support the greater good—or at least, they’re more likely to make this claim. A majority (55 percent) of 30,000-plus people across 60 countries surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact, up from 50 percent in 2012 and 45 percent in 2011. People in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the Middle East/Africa are most likely to say they would pay more, with Latin America seeing the biggest jump in socially conscious consumers since 2011. Nielsen also examined which issues are most important to these consumers, as illustrated here.

It’s increasingly essential for brands to reassess their social responsibility initiatives, committing more broadly to making a positive impact and integrating social issues into their core strategies. This aligns with The Rise of Shared Value, one of our 10 Trends for 2012—the idea that generating a profit and achieving social progress are not mutually exclusive goals. Indeed, as Businessweek reports, a March 2014 year-over-year analysis by Nielsen found an average annual sales bump of 2 percent for products whose packaging carries sustainability claims and 5 percent for products whose marketing programs promoted sustainability actions, compared with a 1 percent increase for 14 brands without sustainability claims or marketing.

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

-These days the Cannes Lions festival is as much about technology and a broader business agenda as it is about creativity, reports The Wall Street Journal.

-The New York Times Magazine proclaims, “It’s official: The boomerang kids won’t leave,” in examining the generation of young adults still living with their parents.

-Businessweek spotlights a global Nielsen survey finding that a majority of consumers say they would pay more for do-gooder products.

-The New York Times reports that big tobacco companies are backing e-cigarettes, which have blossomed into a $2.5 billion industry.

-The Guardian reports that improved technology, infrastructure and standards of living are driving a digital music gold rush in Latin America and making it a destination for big stars to tour.

-Texting is the biggest social platform for today’s teens, according to The Atlantic, which breaks down some digital stats.

-With Millennials averse to leaving a message at the tone, voice mail is on the wane, reports The New York Times.

-For American women without a college degree, having a child out of wedlock has become the norm rather than the exception, according to The Atlantic.

-Writing in Time, Jane Pauley examines what increasing longevity means for Boomers’ understanding of middle age and retirement.

-Millennials want their careers to enable social good and, consequently, are transforming corporate culture, reports Forbes. And a new survey finds that “Millennials Feel Guiltier About Taking Vacation; More Likely to Check in Outside Of Work.”

Continue reading “Weekly Roundup: Tech overtakes the Cannes fest, boomerang kids and LatAm’s music boom” »

Personality Atlas

In collaboration with JWT SONAR™, today JWTIntelligence launched Personality Atlas: The World Map Redrawn, a report and interactive website that envisions a world map redrawn according to personality type. Which countries would share borders? In which hemisphere would each reside? And what can multinational marketers learn from this reimagined map, especially as they look to expand into new markets and strengthen their presence in others?

The Personality Atlas report is based on findings from a 27-market study of 6,075 adults aged 18-plus that used SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online research tool. The study covered Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States. Our respondents provided their perceptions of each country surveyed, including their own—we looked at overall perceptions, as well as perceptions related to people, culture, government and brands/products.

Taking it one step further, we had respondents assign personality traits to each country. We then redrew the world map (twice) based on the personality assigned to each country, creating continents out of countries with similar personalities and plotting dissimilar types in opposing hemispheres. One map showcases the personality traits assigned by the global population; the second each country’s self-ascribed attributes. These maps reveal that for the most part, global perceptions don’t align with local ones. Quite often, our attitudes toward and perceptions of a particular country are dictated by our level of familiarity with that market and the stereotypes related to it.

Whether we admit it or not, the vast majority of us organize the world according to stereotypes—standardized mental pictures that represent an opinion, prejudiced attitude or uncritical judgment. Some have argued that as the world becomes more interconnected, people will develop more informed and nuanced views on other countries and cultures. But it seems we are relying more than ever on stereotypes as shortcuts to navigate a global landscape that’s increasingly complex and information-dense.

This report (literally) maps out gaps in perception between how locals view their country and how the global population views it, offering ways multinational marketers can reconcile these gaps and handle stereotyping as they expand into new markets and strengthen their presence in others. The full report can be downloaded via

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While governments are still figuring out how to regulate and classify bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, more mainstream brands are beginning to accept it as a form of payment, including most recently Expedia (hotel bookings only for now) and Dish Network., which began accepting bitcoins at the beginning of the year, has processed $1.6 million in purchases so far. Others accepting the currency range from a sports team (the NBA’s Sacramento Kings) to a college. Apple and PayPal are reportedly considering accepting the digital currency, as well.

Bitcoin’s volatility, along with security concerns and legality issues, remain obstacles to wide adoption, but brands are turning to services that function as middlemen, as we wrote in April. Services like Coinbase or Bitpay convert bitcoins to fiat currency, protecting merchants from uncertainty around the currency. Every instance of a high-profile brand adopting bitcoin payments lends to the legitimacy of the currency in consumers’ eyes, while also giving the merchant in question a more digitally savvy and progressive image. Brands will play a crucial role in bringing bitcoin to the mainstream, and will stand to benefit when they do.

Image credit: Steve Garfield

As outlined in our 10 Mobile Trends for 2014 and Beyond report, wearable technology will likely break out in the next few years once a killer app emerges, turning mobile into a full-body experience. While the market is currently dominated by sports and activity trackers, a new report by Intel and business intelligence service L2 suggests that smart clothing, smart glasses and 3D motion trackers (which offer a more whole body alternative to fitness trackers) are the wearables expected to see the most growth over the next few years.

For now, however, wearables are still struggling to find mass adoption. Several factors important factors are discouraging consumers. A TNS Global survey in the U.S. last fall found that more than half of respondents regarded cost as a barrier to purchase, 31 percent cited privacy concerns, 13 percent the appearance and another 13 percent comfort. GfK research also confirms the pressing problem of price for consumers in the U.S. and U.K. As far as appearance, some wearables brands are pushing to make their devices more fashionable. Google is partnering with Luxottica, parent of Oakley and Ray-Ban, to make Glass more chic, while Fitbit is collaborating with fashion designer Tory Burch and Intel is working with high-end fashion retailer Opening Ceremony on a smart bracelet.

With significant numbers of consumers abandoning their fitness trackers within six months—often due to disappointing functionality—the next generation of wearable tech will have to deliver form and function at a relatively low price. The most successful devices will also be human centered and life enhancing.

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Things to Watch

  • 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

  • Marriott’s #LoveTravels
    June 11, 2014 | 1:45 pm

    Americans are now largely open to seeing LGBT characters or couples in ads, as recent JWT research confirmed, and thus “advertising is coming out of the closet, with visible and innovative LGBT Pride campaigns from a diverse range of brands,” writes GLAAD’s Rich Ferraro in Brandchannel. One of the more notable campaigns this Pride month is Marriott’s #LoveTravels, featuring portraits of people including gay NBA player Jason Collins, transgender model Geena Rocera and two dads with their kids. The campaign includes print and display ads and building wraps at five Washington, DC, hotels; a microsite details the individual stories.

    “This is one of the most diverse and inclusive campaigns to have ever run in mainstream advertising,” writes Ferraro. Meanwhile, rival Hilton has revamped its LGBT-focused site and is hosting a wedding reception at the Beverly Hilton for the co-plaintiffs in California’s Proposition 8 gay-marriage court case. —Marian Berelowitz

  • Vogue’s shoppable Instagram
    June 4, 2014 | 2:36 pm

    As we outline in Everything Is Retail, one of our 10 Trends for 2013 and Beyond, shopping is shifting from an activity that takes place in physical stores or online to a value exchange that can play out in multiple new and novel ways. Instagram, a platform ripe with potential, is among those new ways. Vogue’s Instagram feed is now shoppable for consumers who have signed up with rewardStyle’s Like to Know service; liking certain images triggers an email with instructions on how to buy featured items.

    RewardStyle tells DigiDay that more magazines will be signing up shortly. Other firms helping brands monetize Instagram include Soldsie and Hashbag. —Marian Berelowitz

  • Ethically sourced electronics
    May 29, 2014 | 10:45 am

    Last year’s launch of Fairphone, an ethically sourced and produced mobile phone, put a spotlight on the raw materials in our digital devices. Currently taking orders for a second batch of 35,000 phones, the Dutch company ensures that minerals come from conflict-free areas so they’re not helping to fund armed groups. Now a two-minute spot from Intel showcases the company’s commitment to using conflict-free minerals in its microprocessors. Intel’s website delves into the issue, and CEO Brian Krzanich also spoke on the topic at this year’s CES.

    Alongside sourcing sits labor issues, another ethical consideration that Fairphone addresses. Expect more tech companies to start improving their track record when it comes to how their products are made. —Will Palley

  • ‘Look Up’ and the ‘Heads-Up Movement’
    May 20, 2014 | 3:45 pm

    As noted in our new mobile trends report, people are developing a love-hate relationship with our phones. We’ll see a “heads-up movement”—something we forecast in our 100 Things to Watch for 2014—as people try to become better attuned to their real-life environment. The video “Look Up” from Gary Turk, a British writer-director, dovetails perfectly with this idea, with lines like “Look up from your phone, shut down the display, take in your surroundings and make the most of your day.”

    After its release in late April, “Look Up” quickly went viral; it’s now accumulated some 38 million views, approaching the numbers racked up by last year’s similarly themed “I Forgot My Phone,” and inspired a few parodies. —Marian Berelowitz

  • RIFT’s immersive ‘Macbeth’
    May 15, 2014 | 1:00 pm

    As we explain in Immersive Experiences, one of our 10 Trends for 2014, entertainment, narratives and brand experiences will are becoming more immersive and enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention. An upcoming production of Macbeth, created by British theater company RIFT, puts the audience in the middle of the drama via an unusual overnight performance that runs from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

    Located on the top floor of an east London tower block, the show assigns audience members to rooms, where they settle down to sleep following the first several scenes. Overnight, characters visit the rooms to enact events from the play, with the final act taking place at dawn. Coincidentally, one of the best-known immersive theater pieces, Sleep No More, also takes inspiration from Macbeth. —Will Palley

    Image credit: RIFT

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