News 16.01.2024

Need to Know

NRF 2024 Retail’s Big Show daily recap, coffee brand Bettr offers a pragmatic take on sustainability and Gen Z are earning a spot on recruiters’ blacklists.

NRF 2024 Retail’s Big Show daily recap: Denim dressing and rethinking luxury spirits

National Retail Federation 2024 Retail’s Big Show, US National Retail Federation 2024 Retail’s Big Show, US

US – More than 40,000 attendees were expected at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center on day one of the 2024 Retail’s Big Show on 14 January 2024. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, opened up the main stage to share insights into what’s next for an iconic brand such as Levi’s, which, like all retailers, suffered from inflation, high interest rates and stiff global competition in 2023.

‘We will always be famous for our blue jeans and we don’t want to lose that, but there are so many other opportunities,’ she said. ‘We want to grow denim dressing. We want people to think of Levi’s when they see denim dresses, denim shirts, total denim looks. You have to diversify the right way.’

During a panel discussion entitled ‘The future of retail at your front door’, Blockchain Style Lab founder Sasha Wallinger highlighted how Covid completely transformed consumers’ expectations of online retail. ‘We are all now luxury consumers,’ she said. ‘We are all expecting the concierge approach at our front door. With that status, everybody has become a Gucci consumer when they’re shopping.’

Later in the day, Moët Hennessy CEO Philippe Schaus delved into what’s next for the luxury champagne, wine and spirits market. To him, it is crucial to rethink where the shopping experience happens when buying a bottle of Dom Pérignon or Moët & Chandon. ‘They used to say selling wine and spirits was selling luxury in a non-luxury world. We want to bring the experience miles away from picking up a bottle on a shelf in a liquor store,’ said Schaus. He cited how his team had learned from LVMH’s fashion, watches and beauty brands to build high-end stores where prices can go up in exchange for a 360-degree high-quality shopping experience that conveys quality and tells the story of the products and their craftsmanship.

As a best-in-class example, he presented California-based Chandon Home, a wine-tasting destination in nature that features re-imagined tasting spaces, and an exclusive micro-community programme called Club Chandon. In January 2024, the venue even opened its new lounge designed exclusively for Club Chandon members. In our analysis of the Luxury Members’ Club Market, we previously highlighted how luxury consumers on the quest for a tight community are joining new kinds of private clubs.

Strategic opportunity

Beverage brands should explore the concept of creating unique tasting destinations for products. Just like Chandon, can you develop spaces that go beyond traditional liquor store shelves, providing a memorable and upscale experience for customers?

Bettr Coffee is brewing sustainability with imperfect authenticity

Bettr, Singapore Bettr, Singapore
Bettr, Singapore Bettr, Singapore

Singapore – Bettr, a coffee brand founded in 2011, is leading Singapore’s sustainable coffee movement. The brand enlisted creative agency Anak to refresh its branding and more effectively communicate its ethos and expanded mission.

Unlike the widespread idealised approach to sustainability, Bettr harnesses authenticity. the brand rejects the notion of pristine, perfect sustainability, instead celebrating the messy, complex reality of making a positive impact on the planet. The new mantra is clear: ‘Scr*w perfect, make impact.’

This rebranding showcases several contemporary design trends, featuring retro typography and engaging illustrations. Notably, it introduces three relatable characters striving for change. Illustrated by Freda Lai, senior designer at Anak, these characters appear across all brand elements, from packaging to the website, adding witty copy that highlights the benefits of sustainability in coffee – a topic we explore further in Brewing Coffee Futures.

Bettr’s fresh approach underlines a broader shift in how brands communicate sustainability in a more genuine, entertaining manner, adopting atypical communication strategies highlighted in Subversive Sustainability Ads.

Strategic opportunity

To position your brand’s sustainability uniquely in a competitive market, avoid falling back on alarmist climate rhetoric or excessively positive spin. Instead, use satire, humour and clever insights to speak to consumers in a relatable manner to foster behavioural change in an engaging way

'Situationships' have made their way into Sweethearts boxes

Sweethearts Candy, US Sweethearts Candy, US

US – Sweethearts, the brand behind the iconic conversation heart candy, is embracing Gen Z dating trends with the launch of a limited-edition Situationships Box for Valentine’s Day.

Situationships refer to relationships with no clear label or boundaries and have become so widespread among young singles that the term was ranked in the top four words considered by the Oxford University Press’ 2023 Word of the Year. Sweethearts are leaning into modern dating trends and took inspiration from the dating landscape to imagine a limited-edition situationships box.

The sugary sweets, which usually bear messages such as ‘Be Mine’ or ‘Kiss Me’, have been replaced with blurry and intentionally misprinted heart sweets to match the non-committal nature of relationships. ‘The printing on Sweethearts isn’t always perfect. This is our way of embracing those imperfections in a way that taps into pop culture,’ explains Evan Brock, vice-president of marketing for parent company Spangler.

The activation not only shows understanding of the current dating landscape, but it also delivers a product that is highly conducive to user-generated content in the TikTok era.

Strategic opportunity

Take cues from Sweethearts’ clever seasonal activation, using a limited-edition drop as a way to tap into pop culture and engage the Gen Z audience

Stat: Recent US graduates are leaving a poor impression on potential employers

Wet Beast Office. Design by Studioninedots. Photography by Maarten Willemstein, The Netherlands Wet Beast Office. Design by Studioninedots. Photography by Maarten Willemstein, The Netherlands

US – A survey of 800 managers, directors and executives has revealed that recent US college graduates are struggling with many aspects of professional life, making them less suitable to hire.

Commissioned by student life magazine Intelligent.com in December 2023, the study found that 39% of employers surveyed avoid hiring recent college graduates in favour of older candidates, with 60% saying they would be willing to offer more benefits to secure experienced workers over graduates. More than half of employers (53%) complained that younger candidates struggle to make eye contact during interviews, 50% say they ask for unreasonable compensation and 19% say a recent college graduate had brought a parent with them to a job interview.

The employers surveyed were equally despondent about young employees’ temperament and attitude. Some 63% say recent graduates are entitled, 58% say they are offended too easily and nearly 60% say they are unprepared for the workforce. But as Gen Z increasingly enter the workplace, avoiding hiring graduates isn’t an option. In Work States Futures, we explored how employers need to create human-centric places that champion cross-age diversity and find ways for intergenerational teams to learn from one another instead.

Strategic opportunity

Consider launching an intergenerational mentoring system pairing experienced employees with recent graduates to foster a culture of collaboration and promote mutual learning and understanding

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