Cost of Living Crisis

How organisations and brands are flexing their business operations to cater for customers facing a global cost of living crisis.

Need to Know
02 : 08 : 23

Pizza-smelling Xbox controllers, devastating heatwave casualties in Arizona and why US male workers return to the office faster than women.

Microsoft unveils Xbox controller infused with pizza aroma

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Pizza-Scented Controller by Xbox, US

Global – In a surprising blend of gaming and pizza nostalgia, Microsoft introduced a limited-edition Xbox Series X/S controller inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) in July 2023. The unique controller features graffiti-style art of the four turtles along with their respective weapons. But the real twist is the attachable diffuser that allows gamers to infuse the controller with a pizza-scented liquid, filling their gaming room with the aroma of a freshly baked New York pizza. In the event that the user tires of the smell, they can remove the diffuser and game scent-free.

The promotion marks the launch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a highly anticipated 2023 game of the year contender. Xbox is giving fans a chance to win these pizza-scented controllers through a contest by following the Xbox Game Pass Twitter account and retweeting the sweepstakes post.

Xbox’s pizza-scented controller aligns with our Gastro Gaming Market in which we assessed how food and drink brands are turning to gaming to offer tastes, skins and experiences that transcend the screen.

Strategic opportunity

Smell is a powerful sense that helps invoke nostalgic memories and can help people transport themselves outside of their environment. When used well, scent can create longing, which is powerful when marketing products or services

Heat casualties are crowding Arizona’s emergency rooms

US – At the end of July 2023, the UN warned about the beginning of a global boiling era. This escalation of the climate emergency has certainly been felt by residents in Phoenix, where temperatures exceeded 43.3°C (110°F) for 24 consecutive days in July 2023.

Besides breaking the city’s heat records, this dire situation is responsible for a surge in patients suffering from burns and needing emergency hospital treatment. The Arizona Burn Center has recently raised awareness about the dangers of extreme heat in the state and how it affects people’s health in its Streets of Fire report. At the time of writing (August 2023), the 45-bed centre reported being at capacity, citing patients burning themselves after falling on scorching hot asphalt as a cause of the facility’s crowding. In 2022, seven of the centre’s patients died from heat-related burn injuries, and this year’s aggravated heat is a call for action to prevent identical or worse casualties.

From regenerative solutions to cool cities and protective attire, we supply businesses with inspiration to reduce the impact on the environment and protect people.

Desert X AlUla 2022. Photography by Lance Gerber, Saudi Arabia

Strategic opportunity

There are countless ways to enhance heat management, whether through retail, hospitality or public spaces – and even footwear and protective gear design. Can your business play a role in alleviating the climate threat?

Stat: US male workers are returning to the office faster than women

Photography by Anastasia Shuraeva, Global Photography by Anastasia Shuraeva, Global

US – An annual survey published in July 2023 by the American Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests male workers are returning to the office faster than women workers. The share of men who worked at least partly at home on an average day dropped to 28% in 2022 from about 35% the year before. The share of women working at least partly at home fell only slightly, to 41% from 41.5%.

On average, 34% of Americans said they worked at least partly at home in 2022, down from 38% in 2021. The slower return to offices by women is mostly due to the additional responsibilities expected from them because of their gender. According to the survey results, women manage housework and childcare on top of their full-time jobs. On an average day, 47% of women reported doing housework, compared with 22% of men. Women living in households with children under the age of six spent 1.1 hours providing physical care, such as bathing or feeding a child, while men spent only 31 minutes on such tasks.

As explored in our Work States Futures macrotrend, employers must answer their team members' demands for more flexibility. Although some men happily return to the office, imposing a back-to-the-office policy would mean ignoring women workers’ specific needs.

Strategic opportunity

If employers wish to encourage a return to the office, they should consider how to invest in childcare solutions to make their employees, especially women workers, feel supported. Can you provide staff-only daycare in your office building, partner with nearby nurseries or offer vouchers for childcare services?

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