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16 : 04 : 19

KFC mocks avatar influencers, America’s craft beer market thrives and Skylar’s new Scent Club aims to engage beauty consumers.

Solace is digitising the funeral industry

Solace Solace, Portland
Solace, Portland Solace, Portland
Solace, Portland Solace, Portland

Portland – The start-up is reinventing death care as a digital-only direct service that offers online cremation and funeral planning.

As a death care resource, Solace melds online convenience with concierge-style customer service, providing a simple and modern solution to consumers in Oregon and Washington. Customers pay a flat fee of £895 ($1,175, €1,040), which includes 24-hour access to Solace’s support team, assistance with paperwork, transportation of the deceased, cremation, return of remains and all necessary permits and fees.

With an increasing number of people choosing cremation services over funerals, Solace’s online-only offering aims to appeal to digital-first consumers. ‘Solace is born out of our own experience with the funeral industry, and the discovery that – unlike almost every other industry – it has not evolved to match market preferences for a modern, straightforward digital-based experience,’ says Keith Crawford, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

In The New Death Market, we explore how the death industry is changing. For more, keep an eye out for our updated death market, launching soon on LS:N.

KFC launches its very own virtual influencer

Virtual Influencer Colonel, KFC Virtual Influencer Colonel, KFC
Virtual Influencer Colonel, KFC Virtual Influencer Colonel, KFC

US – The fast food chain is mocking the likes of Lil Miquela and Shudu by turning founder Colonel Sanders into an avatar.

Created in partnership with Wieden & Kennedy, the campaign sees Colonel Sanders reborn as a virtual influencer, taking over the company’s social media accounts. Alongside posing with other computer-generated models, the Colonel Sanders influencer taps into the trend for long-worded, inspirational Instagram captions that include hashtags such as #humble.

The fast food chain has also created a media kit offering other brands the chance to hire Sanders for their own campaigns to drive ‘disruptive business deals’ and ‘authentic Gen Z engagement’. According to KFC, Dr Pepper has already secured a sponsorship deal.

In typical Backlash Brands style, KFC is mocking the rise of avatar marketing – in which brands pay huge sums of money to sponsor the Instagram posts of avatars such as Lil Miquela – and questioning whether this is a bubble that is about to burst.

Skylar uses subscriptions to build its community

Los Angeles – The clean fragrance brand has launched a monthly subscription model, which encourages customers to become part of its community.

By joining the Scent Club, consumers are granted access to monthly limited-edition fragrances as well as a programme of meet-ups, experiences and events. The new subscription costs £15 ($20, €17) a month and also includes a 10% discount off the brand’s full-size fragrances.

As it moves beyond samples and towards subscriptions, the made-in-USA brand hopes to better engage customers through its community. The first event is due to be held in Los Angeles this summer, but the company suggests the goal is to eventually host monthly Scent Club meet-ups in every state in the US by 2020.

With its monthly introduction of a new fragrance, the Scent Club concept also caters to consumer desire for newness. This is especially significant as the Fragrance Market shifts away from mass-market scents in favour of something more niche.

Skylar, Los Angeles Skylar, Los Angeles

Slutbot is a safe space to practice sexting

Slutbot app Slutbot app
Slutbot app Slutbot app

New York – Sex advice service Juicebox has launched a chatbot informed by the expertise of sex educators and erotic fiction writers.

Slutbot is a free SMS service that allows users to practice sexting in a safe environment, providing education and advice on issues such as consent, while also offering erotic stimulus. The service offers users the choice of interacting with a female, male or non-binary bot.

‘Sex is so much more than a physical act. People want their minds stimulated as well as their bodies, and dirty talk is one great way to do that,’ says Brianna Rader, Juicebox CEO and founder. ‘Studies, such as one from McAfee, have shown that 49% of all people sext and 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds sext.’

With many members of Generation Z engaging in sexting, there is an opportunity for brands to create safe spaces that allow these young people to explore sexuality in the digital age. For more, look out for our upcoming microtrend on Social Media Sex-ed.

Stat: America’s craft beer market is oversaturated

America’s craft beer scene continues to grow year-on-year, according to new figures by the Brewers Association from the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver.

The growth of these smaller, specialist craft brewers comes at a time when America’s beer industry as a whole is experiencing difficulty. While the market for craft beer has seen 4% growth, the country’s total beer market is down 1% on 2017.

However, as the craft beer sector expands, the risk of oversaturation increases. Therefore, beer producers are looking to territories such as China and the allure of new flavour profiles to continue driving growth. For more, read our Craft Beer Market.

Thought-starter: Why male beauty has a representation problem

Blake Rascoe and Patrick Boateng, co-founders of skincare brand Ceylon, explain the beauty sector’s representation problem and why brands must be inclusive from the inside out.

Noticing a distinct lack of products designed for the treatment and protection of non-Caucasian skin, skincare brand Ceylon launched with a range specifically for men of colour. ‘It felt like a responsibility as much as an opportunity,’ says co-founder Patrick Boateng.

‘We decided to create something that was really accessible and help a group of people take control of their skin health,’ Boateng explains. ‘Everything we’re doing is from the perspective of whether it will work, whether it will help and whether it will cater for the needs of these people,’ adds co-founder Blake Roscoe.

As to why the beauty sector has been so slow to cater to men of colour, Roscoe says: ‘I think it’s because there’s a lack of representation of men of colour in the industry. If there’s nobody there representing men of colour then those things won’t be addressed or thought about.’

Read the full Q&A here.

Ceylon Skincare. Photography by Juan Veloz Ceylon Skincare. Photography by Juan Veloz