Need to know 15 : 08 : 17

15.08.2017 Food : Travel : Retail

In today’s daily digest: Turing, Air China, Morrisons, Ikea, connecting with consumers outside of London and building around Amazon’s infrastructure.

1. Turing unveils smartphone with concierge service

Appassionato by Turing Robotic Industries

Global – The service – included in the cost of the phone, which starts at £770 ($1,000, €849) – is a luxury version of Siri or Cortana, and can solve much more complicated requests such as making a restaurant reservation, searching for and booking flights, managing paperwork and providing advanced legal and HR assistance.

Described as a ‘next-generation step ahead in terms of intelligence amplification’, the service promises to provide human-driven intelligence rather than computer-driven lists.

‘Utilising Sir ALAN, the Turing phone Appassionato will incorporate human intelligence, which will reference previous consumer preferences as well as personal idiosyncrasies that only a human would interpret intelligently,’ says Syl Chao, CEO of Turing.

Luxury brands will have to embrace artificial intelligence if they are to keep pace with other brands. For more on the potential of Luxury AI, buy our Luxury Futures report.

2. Air China and Ritz-Carlton offer gourmet in-flight food

First-class in-flight menu by Air China and The Ritz-Carlton Beijing First-class in-flight menu by Air China and The Ritz-Carlton Beijing
First-class in-flight menu by Air China and The Ritz-Carlton Beijing First-class in-flight menu by Air China and The Ritz-Carlton Beijing
First-class in-flight menu by Air China and The Ritz-Carlton Beijing First-class in-flight menu by Air China and The Ritz-Carlton Beijing

Beijing – Introduced via a collaboration with Ritz-Carlton, the four-course, seasonal menu is provided for passengers on a variety of long-haul flights. The menu was designed by Amadeo Ferri, chef de cuisine of Barolo at The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing, and includes options that remain true to the hotel’s signature Italian dishes.

The move follows another initiative by Air China offering food options tailored to particular flight destinations.

As we outlined in our First-class Flight market report, airlines are finding it harder to differentiate their offerings between first class and business class. Carriers are working hard to provide a more thought-led, luxury experience for first-class passengers, particularly when it comes to food.

3. Morrisons pledges support for British farmers

UK – Following a backlash from the National Farmers’ Union and consumers, the supermarket chain has pledged to not sell products that feature the names of fictional farms on their packaging, demonstrating its Civic Brand credentials.

According to a survey by Morrisons, 70% of UK adults say they object to the use of ‘fake farm’ branding and only want genuine place or farm names on packaging. Some 52% of UK consumers do not know how the food that they buy is grown.

Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency in food and drink labelling, and some brands are redesigning their packaging in a bid to tackle the lack of clarity in the industry.

Morrisons British Farming, UK Morrisons 24 Hours in Farming campaign imagery

4. Ikea introduces solar storage batteries for the home

Solar battery storage by Ikea and Solarcentury, UK Solar battery storage by Ikea and Solarcentury, UK

UK – Supplied by the UK’s largest solar power company Solarcentury, the batteries are designed to work with existing solar panels or Ikea’s combined solar panel and battery storage system.

Prices start at £3,000 ($3,890, €3,300), but both Ikea and Solarcentury claim that the combined system can save users up to £560 ($730, €615) each year. Consumers increasingly favour brands with sustainability credentials that promote a Whole-system Thinking mindset.

‘We know that our customers want to live more sustainably, and together with Solarcentury we will help them to get more value from their solar panels,’ says Hege Sæbjørnsen, sustainability manager for UK and Ireland at Ikea.

5. Brands struggle to connect with customers outside London

UK – A study by Trinity Mirror and BDRC Continental has produced a relevance score for major brands such as Tesco, Asda and John Lewis. It found that 46 of the 56 brands studied come out with a negative score, showing they are deemed not relevant outside of London.

This response reflects a growing rift between London and consumers from smaller cities and more rural areas, something we found while speaking to people in the run-up to the general election in our series An Uncertain Future. Read the report for more on how your brand can look beyond London when engaging with consumers.

6. Thought-starter: Stores are integrating Amazon systems

Building a store around Amazon’s technology and fulfilment infrastructure might seem like an attractive proposition for new brands, but there may be long-term consequences for consumer engagement, reports LS:N Global senior journalist Peter Maxwell.

Amazon is ‘eating the retail world’, says Rob Sanderson, an analyst at MKM Partners, who recently released data that suggests that Amazon’s rate of growth will rapidly outpace that of physical store sales in the US, despite the e-commerce platform only accounting for 5% of total US retail sales in 2017.

This already rapid rate of growth is likely to increase if companies adopt the approach taken by US mattress brand Tuft & Needle, which has announced plans to integrate a range of Amazon technology into its Seattle store to offer visitors a more seamless experience. But what do brands sacrifice when they allow a mega-system such as Amazon to co-opt their in-store experience, and is it possible to build a truly sustainable business model on such a symbiotic – or parasitic – relationship?

Read the full opinion piece here.

Tuft & Needle rendering, Seattle Preview of Amazon-powered Tuft & Needle store, Seattle