Need to know 16 : 08 : 17

16.08.2017 Retail : FinTech : VR

In today’s daily digest: Lush adopts Bitcoin, Mazda revolutionises the petrol engine, how airlines are engaging Millennials and other top stories.

1. American Apparel relaunches with price segmentation

American Apparel website American Apparel website
American Apparel website American Apparel website
American Apparel website American Apparel website
American Apparel website American Apparel website

US – The American Apparel website has been relaunched following the acquisition of the brand by Canada-based clothing company Gildan. An accompanying capsule collection comprising eight garments features two variants of each product – ‘Made in USA’ and ‘Globally Made’, in a nod to American Apparel’s past practice of producing all of its products locally. The two styles are identical, but the US-made pieces cost between £3.10 ($4, €3.40) and £7.80 ($10, €8.50) more to account for the higher production cost.

‘Both are sweatshop-free, identical in quality, ethically made regardless of location and different in price,’ reads the website, which enables consumers to opt to pay more to support domestic industry. As explored in our Affirmative Fractions microtrend, brands such as Gildan are enabling consumers to make purchasing decisions aligned to their values.

2. Lush is accepting online Bitcoin payments

Lush, UK Lush, UK

Global – The cosmetics retailer has announced that it will accept Bitcoin as an alternative online payment method. The decentralised cryptocurrency is not subject to fluctuations in exchange rates or bank charges, enabling customers to pay the same price for products regardless of their location.

Renowned for its cruelty-free approach, the move is expected to strengthen the brand’s ethical credentials by offering greater transparency.

‘Cryptocurrencies are the future of global trade and we want to ensure that we are prepared to move into this new digital era,’ says Mike West, finance business partner at Lush. Read our opinion piece for more on cryptocurrency’s move into the mainstream.

3. Neurable launches brain-controlled experiences

Massachusetts – Brain-computer platform start-up Neurable has developed an interface that enables users to control their on-screen interactions using the power of their mind. The wearable product uses a combination of hardware and software including a modified HTV Vive with electroencephalography (EEG) sensors to monitor users’ brain signals and translate them into commands in real time.

Neurable has launched Awakening, a new virtual reality (VR) game in collaboration with Estudiofuture that uses the technology to augment the gaming experience. The player assumes the role of a child with telekinetic powers who uses their abilities to manipulate objects and fight enemies.

A range of companies such as Facebook and Elon Musk’s Neuralink are investing in the future of brain-computer interfaces, and the US Department of Defense has invested heavily in the technology.

4. Mazda cars set to become more petrol-efficient

Global – With Volvo’s recent announcement that all of its cars will be electric or hybrid by 2019 and the UK government’s pledge that the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040, the world is undeniably moving towards electric vehicles as a more sustainable mode of transport.

While the technology is available, the current infrastructure is inadequate to support the transition. Mazda recently revealed it has developed a car that uses compression to start the engine rather than spark plugs, reducing fuel consumption by up to 30%.

Although not a long-term solution, the new system should help reduce the effects of pollution in the interim. For more on consumers’ increasing concern about pollution, see our Smog Life series.

Mazda Mazda

5. Millennials favour CEOs that take a stand on topical issues

The rise of social media has given CEOs a platform to voice their opinion, and a willingness to take a stand on social and political issues online is increasingly valued by Millennials, according to a study by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research. The study suggests that CEOs who take a Brandstanding approach can help to improve their business’s image and boost employee morale.

6. Thought-starter: Do Millennials need their own airlines?

Joon by Air France

With youth-focused airlines taking off this year, LS:N Global picture researcher Holly Friend argues that brands need to avoid surrendering to stereotypes when marketing to Millennials.

This year, new airlines aimed at Millennials from Air France and International Airlines Group (IAG) will hit the skies. With Millennials numbering almost a quarter of the world’s population, we are constantly reminded that members of this generation prefer experiences to products and live transient lifestyles, making them a lucrative target for the travel market.

Although these new carriers will embrace the borderless mindsets associated with modern New Bricolage consumers, they are also in danger of oversimplifying their needs. We know that young people are visually led and digitally connected, but do they really want novelties such as on-board access to Instagram and flight attendants in sneakers?

Modern airlines that prioritise lower fares and diversify the offer from the aviation industry are certainly needed. But by marketing so explicitly to those aged 18–35, brands are alienating older consumers and reducing their prized – but nuanced – Millennial consumers to clichés.

For more on how new airlines are trying to engage younger travellers, read the full op-ed here.