Need to Know
18 : 03 : 19

A direct-to-consumer shopping district, Neste encourages staycations to reduce carbon footprints and the retail opportunities for meal kits.

Loyalty becomes currency at Nike’s virtual pop-up

Nike Air Virtual Store

Global – The sportswear brand has launched a virtual store where shoppers can only access limited-edition items with credits earned from previous purchases.

Accompanying the launch of the Air Max 720, the online store is open to all, however items only become available to buy once shoppers enter the order number from a previous Nike purchase. This is generated into Air Credits, which are deposited into a virtual wallet. Following on from Nike's recent SNKRS pop-up, the brand is continuing to create engaging experiences that leverage and reward customer loyalty.

Hosted on a Netstalgic microsite, all merchandise in the store – including water bottles, socks and stickers – has been developed with the brand’s network of collaborators. Meanwhile, avatar versions of London-based designer Mini Swoosh, England footballer Raheem Sterling and DJ Peggy Gou are on-hand to assist customers in the shopping journey, rotating on a weekly basis.

In our Digital Store Fronts microtrend, we explore how the future of online shopping is being shaped by visual-first digital experiences.

New York’s newest shopping district spotlights digital-first brands

Hudson Yards, New York Hudson Yards, New York
Hudson Yards, New York Hudson Yards, New York

New York – Hudson Yards, the new commercial and residential development on the city's West Side, includes a 1m-square-feet retail centre with an entire floor devoted to digital-first brands.

Combining culture, commerce and cuisine, the development brings together a range of cross-category shopping experiences, including the first brick-and-mortar stores for several direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. The mall’s second floor, for example, spotlights DTC companies such as online beverage brand Dirty Lemon and men’s fitness apparel label Rhone.

The space is also allowing these brands to explore the more experiential sides of their business, with the parent company of Dirty Lemon opening the Drug Store, a cocktail bar and cashier-less shop that sells lemonade drinks with charcoal, matcha and turmeric. ‘We want to showcase their brand in a way they can’t do behind a screen,’ Esty Ottensoser, retail specialist at The Related Companies, the firm developing Hudson Yards, tells WSJ.

As the relationship between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail evolves, new multi-brand retail formats are emerging and bridging the gap between digital first products and physical spaces.

Cult Beauty launches a vertical for sex care

UK – The online beauty destination has launched a sexual pleasure and wellness category, the first of its kind in the UK.

Launched with the hashtag #Vulvalution, Cult Beauty hopes to imbue women with the anatomical awareness that many feel they are lacking. The category will provide sexual wellness content alongside products such pH-balanced cleansers and lubricants, pelvic floor trainers, sex tech and libido-enhancing ingestibles.

‘[Women] are starting to own their sexual health and fulfilment and search for solutions and guidance that don't come from the NHS, porn sites or sex shops. From menstruation to masturbation, female wellness and intimate health now exist under beauty's umbrella,’ says Alexia Inge, co-founder of Cult Beauty.

As female personal care sheds the stigma it once had, sex care is increasingly being redefined as a beauty category.

Cult Beauty Sexual Pleasure and Wellness category Cult Beauty Sexual Pleasure and Wellness category

The Zero Vacation pitches local travel as sustainable

Neste Zero Vacation, Sweden

Lidö, Sweden – Renewable diesel company Neste has launched The Zero Vacation, a travel experience designed to reduce consumers’ carbon footprint.

Taking place on the Swedish island of Lidö, vacationers can stay in the Zero Cabin, a cottage built with durable materials that has minimal impact on the environment. Every aspect of the travel experience, from dining to transportation, aims to produce as few emissions as possible, in line with Sweden’s aim to become fossil fuel free by 2045.

The Zero Vacation initiative hopes to show travellers who are conscious of their environmental impact that they do not need to travel to the other side of the world to enjoy a break, and should consider opting for a staycation instead.

The project taps into the flygskam – or flying shame – movement permeating in Sweden, as consumers boycott air travel in favour of transport with lower carbon emissions, such as trains. Read our Conscious Tourism Market to explore the growing opportunity for eco-travel.

Stat: Grocery store meal kits grow in popularity

Meal kits are not only growing in popularity as US-based consumers seek increasingly convenient food options, but expanding from web-exclusive subscription services to meals that customers can buy from their local grocery store. According to a new report by Nielsen, some 14.3m US households purchased kits in the last six months of 2018, an increase of 3.8m households compared to 2017.

Sales of in-store meal kits, which can often be bought in supermarkets, reached $93m last year, according for 60% of all meal kit user growth. The report also found that US retailers introduced 187 new meal kit options in 2018.

As convenience culture continues to dominate, consumers are increasingly searching for dining options that deliver in terms of speed and cost. For more, read our Eating In and Dining Out report.

Thought-starter: Will tomorrow’s brand experiences be in constant flux?

The rise of reactive new materials and technologies means that future physical consumer touchpoints will no longer be set in stone… or any other solid matter.

Consumers are entering an era of fluid interaction that will dramatically alter every element of branded experiences. Driven by the power of human imagination and machine learning, new tools are extending our experience of the world and facilitating an entirely new way of engaging with products – and with each other.

Our perception of new realities is being influenced by both the simulation of our visual field and ‘the power of data, machine learning and algorithms to respond to us and our desires in highly personal, reflexive ways,’ Mike Walsh, author of the book The Algorithmic Leader, tells LS:N Global. While we’ve previously seen immersive interfaces and neuro-experiences emerge on a much smaller scale, now these adaptive, hybrid realities are being played out in real time for every one of us.

As we race towards this future of advanced creativity, brands will need to harness the potential of this real-time, phygital fluidity and embed it into every aspect of their offering, to sculpt, engineer and redesign versions of reality that cater for a consumer who is in constant flux.

Read the full Programmable Realities macrotrend here.

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