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News 01.03.2023

Need to Know

3D-printed airless basketballs, nepo babies star in Got Milk ad homage, a dating app for couples, and large-scale layoffs destroy young people’s trust in firms.

Wilson creates an airless basketball prototype

Wilson Airless Prototype Basketball, US

US – American sports good manufacturer Wilson has created an airless 3D-printed basketball. Official supplier of National Basketball Association (NBA) basketballs, its Airless Prototype has been created to meet NBA specifications although – unlike the official game ball – it does not contain air or use leather. A highly engineered structure of hexagonal holes gives the ball its bounce and a 3D lattice replicating the typical binding pattern of a leather ball gives it its feel.

The playability of the prototype was demonstrated by Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin in a slam dunk contest at a recent NBA All-Star game.

Wilson’s Airless Prototype was produced in collaboration with 3D design specialists General Lattice, EOS and DyeMansion, and showcases the growing potential for material innovation in sports goods. The leather industry has faced strong criticism for its practices and consumers are always eager to welcome alternatives, especially those that are pioneering and which bring sustainability to the fore.

Strategic opportunity

Sports goods businesses should see consumers’ growing demands for sustainability as an opportunity to update and innovate their materials, products and processes

Silk Nextmilk enlists nepo babies in Got Plant-based Milk campaign

Silk, US Silk, US
Silk, US Silk, US

US – Plant-based Silk Nextmilk recreated an iconic 1990s pro-dairy advert by replacing the celebrities who first posed with a milk moustache with their children.

David Beckham, Shaquille O’Neal, John Travolta and model Christie Brinkley helped rebrand milk and dairy produce via the Got Milk campaign created in 1994 by advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board. Their children are now following the same path, except they are promoting Danone’s plant-based milk brand, Silk.

We’ve previously covered how upcoming brands are making the dairy aisle more sustainable. As consumers (especially Gen Z and Gen Alpha) seek a balance between sustainability, health and taste, the plant-based food and drinks industry has to keep innovating.

Strategic opportunities

The next step for alternative milk companies is to reach new markets (from skincare to pet food) that value sustainability and the fight against animal cruelty. Don’t underestimate the craving for nostalgia; revamping 1990s pop culture references to make them more palatable to a younger audience also feeds into nostalgia among Millennials and Gen X

Flamme is a dating app designed for couples

US – Where dating apps focus on matchmaking, newly rebranded app Flamme puts the emphasis on keeping the spark alive throughout a relationship.

Initially launched under the name Sparks in October 2022, Flamme has unveiled a rebranded app and revamped interface. The platform is described as a relationship app rather than a dating app, setting itself apart from the recurring ‘meant to be deleted’ narrative. The app caters for existing couples who are seeking new ways to connect and to strengthen their relationship.

Flamme tackles common relationship challenges, from communication to clashing schedules. The app is designed to help keep the spark alive through daily discovery questions, shared bucket lists, memories calendars and other tools to brings users closer. Flamme also provides a date-planning feature and an AI-powered Ask Me Anything tool, offering advice on anything from date locations to proposal ideas.

Just as Generation Z are reshaping the dating app landscape, their appetite for digital social hangouts is giving rise to new platforms, like Flamme’s relationship support app.

Flamme, US

Strategic opportunity

Digital hangouts that blur the line between social app and functional service continue to hold more value for users

Stat: Large-scale layoffs destroy young people’s trust in companies

Photography by Fauxels Photography by Fauxels

US – Tech firms have reportedly cut over 100,000 jobs in the past three months. As the number of mass layoffs multiply, a US survey by Morning Consult has examined the wider implications for the future of these workplaces.

News about tech giants like Amazon, Twitter and Meta slashing jobs have been dominating the headlines. While mass layoffs effectively cut costs in the short term, Morning Consult has investigated the long-term impacts of these drastic moves. Tech companies which are experiencing a post-pandemic slowdown are justifying large-scale redundancies by citing the recessionary economic climate. But many young adults reject this narrative and call it over-precautionary; fewer than a quarter of Gen Zers and a third of Millennials think recent layoffs were unavoidable.

The research also points to more permanent reputational damage to corporate trust and future hiring efforts. A majority of US adults (58%) say they are unlikely to consider a new position at a company that has recently reduced headcount. Such practices also change how consumers perceive companies, as shown by the recent rise of Anti-provocation Platforms at the expense of big tech-owned sites. Ultimately, companies can learn from The Paralysis Paradox, and make use of challenging times to demonstrate fair leadership.

Strategic opportunity

Supporting employees and showing strong leadership during tumultuous times goes a long way. This is especially true for young workers, who can make or break an organisation and reshape work culture and expectations

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