Need to Know
12 : 08 : 19

Obsess creates immersive virtual stores, Neal’s Yard pioneers a beauty refill scheme and how Trump’s Chinese tariffs will hit the retail sector.

Squish wants Generation Z to be acne-positive

Squish Squish
Squish Squish
Squish Squish

New York – Body positivity activist Charli Howard has created a beauty line aimed at young women.

Squish Beauty is founded on the principle of celebrating diversity and beauty quirks. The brand, launched by Howard, an author, model and activist, features a range of playful beauty products including a cherry-shaped eye and cheek mask, floral acne patches and jelly lip gloss.

The eye and cheek mask contains collagen, hyaluronic acid, lavender oil and aloe vera to de-puff the under-eye and cheek areas. In the shape of a cherry, the mask offers a kitsch take on typically clinical-looking skincare products. The acne patches are disguised as flowers, designed to be worn overnight to gently absorb the fluid. The campaign features a diverse range of models including those with acne to encourage girls to make light of their blemishes.

Young people and brands such as Squish are leading a movement towards the acceptance of acne, a skin condition that has long been steeped in stigma.

A pop-up store where plastic waste is traded for products

Exchange by Miniwiz, Sardinia Exchange by Miniwiz, Sardinia
Exchange by Miniwiz, Sardinia Exchange by Miniwiz, Sardinia

Sardinia – Miniwiz, a circular economy engineering company, has opened a concept store that accepts plastic waste as a form of currency.

Located in Porto Cervo in Sardinia, Exchange by Miniwiz stocks a range of products made from upcycled, single-use plastic and packaging waste. Instead of cash, the pop-up accepts post-consumer waste in exchange for products such as colourful tiles and lampshades, which are made on-site from recycled materials.

The store is equipped with Miniwiz’s Trashpresso machine and its Robin smart rubbish bin that tracks and sorts waste into types. This information is then converted into points that the consumer can save within the proprietary Robin app and use to buy items in the store. In addition to displaying the types of waste that Miniwiz is transforming, the store features a range of furniture made from discarded materials and will host various workshops on upcycling.

Other innovators such as Plastic Bank are also looking to turn waste into currency. For more, read our round-up of the 2018 edition of Stockholm’s Me Convention.

Neal’s Yard Remedies is making beauty refillable

UK – The brand’s Refill Initiative encourages customers to bring their empty bottles into stores.

Neal’s Yard Remedies is offering customers a £2 ($2.40, €2.15) discount when they refill a bottle instead of buying a new one. The initiative, which is being trialled in 10 stores across the UK, makes two of the brand’s most popular products available for refill – the Geranium & Orange Hand Wash and Bee Lovely Bath & Shower Gel.

The programme follows the success of previous initiatives to reduce plastic waste, such as the brand’s recycling scheme in June and being the first high street retailer to roll out free water refill stations in-store in 2018.

For more on the new re-usable and refillable concepts innovators are creating to reduce the environmental impact of plastic packing, read our Re-usable Packaging Market.

Neal's Yard in-store refill station Neal's Yard in-store refill station

Obsess wants to refresh the e-commerce experience

Obsess Obsess
Obsess Obsess

New York – The fashion software company has launched a new e-commerce platform that re-invents product discovery online.

Shop Obsess comprises a collection of virtual stores, which collectively provide a unique, immersive and contextual 360-degree shopping experience. Rendered in CGI, the stores contain a range of products spanning fitness, travel and wellness, with each designed to move online shopping beyond the traditional grid of thumbnails.

Previously, Obsess used augmented and virtual reality to create engaging e-commerce experiences for brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Levi’s, but Shop Obsess is the company’s first own e-commerce destination. ‘We aim to be a shopping destination bringing together the values important to the new generation of consumers and new generation of brands, all in the context of beautiful, inspiring, visual discovery experiences,’ says founder Neha Singh.

As the lines between e-commerce, entertainment and socialising continue to blur, retailers need to continue exploring ways to make online shopping more engaging.

Stat: Anxious Americans are stockpiling goods

About 60% of American shoppers have said they would adjust which retailers they shop with if the Trump administration’s proposed 10% tariff on Chinese imports comes into effect on 1 September, according to a study by Shopkick.

As many as 44% said they would cut back on shopping, while a further 25% would switch to buying products made in America. This demonstrates the potential opportunities for locally made products, something that we explored in our report The American Middle. With toys, fashion and electronics most affected by the tariffs, a significant 29% of consumers are stockpiling their favourite items already. According to the study, retailers such as Walmart, Target and Costco, which sell low-cost items, could be the most vulnerable if prices increase.

As political and environmental uncertainty drives consumers to stock up on goods, we question whether this fetishisation of disaster is damaging for society. Read more here.

Thought-starter: How can fintech speak to Generation X?

Clare Gambardella, chief customer officer at Zopa, on using design to ensure longevity in a fast-paced sector and improve financial wellness for all.

Zopa, which describes itself as ‘the Feel Good Money company’, has recently become a bank. According to Clare Gambardella, the company has evolved in line with changes in people’s financial needs and expectations.

I think that people’s expectations of financial services have been shaped by the standard that they see in other industries,’ she explains. ‘If you think about the way that we consume media, the way that we use transport, the way that we get food, it has set the bar very high in terms of immediacy, ease and openness of transaction. We’re keen to do the same for finance.’

One way Zopa is differentiating itself is through its branding and design. ‘Because Zopa has 14 years of heritage, the brand has evolved over that time and where we are at the moment is something very simple, very clean. We have less of a pure London focus than perhaps some of the other fintech companies, so it’s important for us to find a look and tone of voice that can appeal to a broad spectrum of people.’

Read the full Q&A here and download our Fintech Futures report here.

Zopa, UK Zopa, UK
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