Milan – Sportswear brand Puma and MIT Design Lab showed the potential of upgrading athletic wear with biotechnology at their Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018 exhibit. The collaboration focused on integrating living organisms into athleisure in order to enhance individual performance, allow for greater personalisation and protect the user from external factors such as air pollution.
Research findings were brought to life in four future-facing products infused with micro-organisms. The Deep Learning Insoles contained microbial cultures that monitored biochemical vitals during exercise to track and quantify performance. The Carbon Eaters featured microbially activated stickers that change colour in response to CO2 levels. Embedded into clothing, they could protect athletes from exposure to polluted air.
The projects used micro-organisms not only to enhance wellbeing, but also to improve the process of purchasing and consuming future products. The Breathing Shoe concept provided tools for customisation based on microbiome patterns and the Adaptive Packaging project aimed to make the process of consumption more sustainable through biodegradable, inflate-on-demand shoeboxes.
As forecast in the Whole-system Thinking macrotrend, brands are exploring new manufacturing processes that infuse everyday products with biotech solutions.
Breath/ng by Dassault Systèmes and Kengo Kuma, Milan 2018
Breath/ng by Dassault Systèmes and Kengo Kuma, Milan 2018
Milan – Three-dimensional software company Dassault Systèmes dissected how technology can be used to create a more sustainable future at its Design in the Age of Experience event at Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018. The brand worked with architect Kengo Kuma, inventor Daan Roosegaarde and sound artist and researcher Wesley Goatley to present work that addressed pollution affecting our cities.
Kuma created an expansive spiralling installation with an origami structure that has the ability to absorb the same amount of volatile compounds that 90,000 cars produce per year. Most interestingly, Goatley confronted the political disparity in how pollution data is communicated to the public. His reactive installation of Milan’s carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 levels emphasised the selective and biased governmental reporting of pollution, and was designed to democratise data by allowing the public to submit readings in real time. Three sets of changing graphical forms reflect how data is not a god's eye view of the world, but a subjective one.
For more on how the aesthetics around data needs to be re-assessed, look out for our forthcoming interview with Wesley Goatley.
3. Adidas shifts ambitions to e-commerce
US – Adidas is set to close some of its US stores in order to focus more on digital sales. The brand is re-adjusting its approach as a result of recent e-commerce success. In 2017, the brand’s online channel generated £1.38bn ($1.97bn, €1.6 bn) alone.
Despite concentrating on online strategies to boost sales, the brand highlights its commitment to providing a valuable user experience in a core set of stores. Kasper Rorsted, CEO of adidas, told the Financial Times, that ‘over time we will have fewer stores, but they will be better’. He further explained: ‘Ten years ago, our stores were a revenue-driver. In the future, they will also be a driver for the brand.’
Cybersmile and Chessie King Body Positivity Campaign, UK
UK – The anti-cyberbullying charity has worked with social influencer Chessie King and agency adam&eveDDB to demonstrate the damaging effects of social media and trolling.
The short film, #TrollingIsUgly, shows the influencer’s original Instagram content, which champions body confidence, being disrupted by disturbing comments about her appearance. After each message, King’s body is morphed and distorted to fit the ideals voiced by the haters. The end image features the star in an inhuman form, with oversized lips and an anatomically impossible small waist.
The campaign was created in response to real comments that King received, particularly on her video discussing her happiness in regard to her body. It comes at a time when young consumers are increasingly relying on cosmetic procedures to adapt the physical shape of their body to match unrealistic beauty standards perpetuated by social media.
5. Brand Z releases its Top 75 Brands report
Retail brands are growing their brand value at a pace that outstrips brands in other business sectors, according to the latest WPP Brand Z report: Top 75 Most Valuable Brands In Global Retail. The report shows that the most valuable brands such as Amazon, McDonald’s, Alibaba and Starbucks are all those that are responding to shifts in shopping habits, priorities and expectations.
For the first time, the retail ranking brought together brands in four categories of which traditional Pure Retail – supermarkets, e-commerce platforms, department stores and convenience stores – is just one. Other categories include luxury, food retail and apparel. ‘Shopping is a way of simply feeling good,’ said David Roth, CEO of The Store WPP EMEA and Asia, in a statement. ‘This explains why [the list] includes brands specialising in everything from business suits and bras to bath oil and burritos. Today everyone is a retailer.’
As our definition of retail expands, it could explain why retailers such as Amazon are thriving in the current landscape. Look out for our macrotrend, Store-front Salvation, to be published on 4 May, for more on the future of retail.
6. Thought-starter: Why marketers need to take VR seriously
Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam’s Department of New Realities blends speculative fiction with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to create a new medium. We spoke with the department's creative directors Anita Fontaine and Geoffrey Lillemon on why a more creative approach to these technologies is necessary.
‘We’re driven by new technologies, but led by art, to create innovative experiences that people have never had before,’ they explained.
Discussing the viability of retailers implementing VR, they believe that ‘we could be on the cusp of building a new kind of enlightened retail environment for consumers, one where you offer people more than just a product or passive media, but the chance to explore and play inside a new kind of playground’.
The pair also considered how to create genuine engagement with consumers without resorting to gimmicks. ‘As the expression evolves and the landscape becomes more saturated, the expectations of consumers will also expand. We will have more meaningful and more premium choices for the kinds of VR we want to experience.’