Need to Know
13 : 05 : 19

Walgreens trains pharmacists in mental health, an AI that helps senior citizens record their life stories and what younger consumers want from loyalty programmes.

This store uses AR to create a futuristic retail experience

Hipanda flagship store designed by Curiosity studio, Tokyo
Hipanda flagship store, designed by Curiosity studio, Tokyo
Hipanda flagship store, designed by Curiosity studio, Tokyo

Tokyo – Chinese streetwear brand Hipanda has opened a futuristic flagship store in Japan that fuses technology, visual effects and striking interior design.

Named the Ghost House, the brand’s first store in the country uses AR (augmented reality) and AE (augmented experience) to create an immersive experience. The main room features a dynamic play of light, while the gallery space uses AR to highlight continually changing product displays. Visitors are also invited to look for the host of the house, who is revealed through different digital and analogue interactions.

The space was designed by Curiosity, a multidisciplinary studio based in Tokyo. ‘The challenge of Curiosity was to bring street fashion into new territories, breaking the boundaries beyond culture, age and gender into an experiential space, accessible and inspirational for all, which redefines our expectation of retail experience,’ says the studio. For more on how retailers are reconsidering the purpose of bricks-and-mortar shops, read our Storefront Salvation macrotrend.

Coca-Cola launches mixers for dark spirits

Coca-Cola Signature Mixers Coca-Cola Signature Mixers
Coca-Cola Signature Mixers Coca-Cola Signature Mixers

Western Europe – The brand has created four distinctive mixers designed specifically to be paired with dark spirits.

Coca-Cola Signature Mixers build on the brand’s 134-year history as a mixer. The brand enlisted a handful of leading mixologists to take the unique flavour of the soft drink and experiment with more than 200 contemporary and traditional ingredients, creating four mixers with more complex flavour profiles. The four varieties are: Smoky Notes by Max Venning, Spicy Notes by Adriana Chia and Pippa Guy, Herbal Notes by Antonio Naranjo, and Woody Notes by Alex Lawrence.

By re-inventing the soft drink as a premium mixer, Coca-Cola shows how the category is evolving from an afterthought to become an essential part of the drinking experience. In a similar vein, our Tonic & Tonic microtrend explores how new tonic water brands are offering unusual flavours as they seek new markets beyond gin.

Walgreens is giving pharmacists mental health training

Illinois – The pharmacy chain has announced a new initiative to provide pharmacists with mental health first aid training.

As part of its commitment to workplace wellness and the wellbeing of its customers, Walgreens is joining forces with the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) to make the specialist training available for certain staff. The company will begin the training with human resources team members and pharmacy staff focused on health outcomes, enabling them to spot and manage crisis and non-crisis situations.

‘With the growing need for services and resources to help those living with mental health conditions, as well as substance use and addiction, we can play an important role by giving our pharmacists and certain team members the training to help those who may be in crisis,’ says Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

As consumers continue to embrace non-traditional care, brands and retailers are assuming new roles in their customers’ lives. For more, read our Prescription Supermarkets microtrend.

Rebranding Mental Health for Refinery29. Photography by Flora Maclean

Memory Lane helps seniors record their life stories

Memory Lane by Stockholm Exergi, Sweden

Stockholm –The Memory Lane project aims to spark deeply personal conversations between humans and artificial intelligence (AI).

The project, created by Accenture Interactive in collaboration with Stockholm Exergi, explores how voice assistants such as Google Home can become more conversational and improve the lives of those living in unwanted loneliness. In a bid to combat the harmful effects of isolation, Memory Lane invited elderly citizens in Stockholm to share their memories and life stories with a reverse-engineered voice assistant, which is able to ask personal questions and drive meaningful conversations.

The AI asks questions such as ‘where are you from?’ and ‘where did you grow up?’ in order to piece together a detailed account of participants’ lives. These conversations can either be turned into an audio recording, or a printed book that can be shared with family and friends. Highlighting technology’s potential to address societal issues, Memory Lane also suggests the extent to which more fluid and complex forms of kinship are emerging, with technology not only helping to run households, but also becoming part of them.

Stat: Expectations of loyalty programmes are changing

New research suggests the success of loyalty programmes relies on experience rather than rewards. Rewards only account for a quarter of loyalty member satisfaction, according to Bond Brand Loyalty’s 9th Annual Loyalty Report. Younger consumers in the US are not only the most likely to be influenced by loyalty programmes, but more than half are interested in paying a fee to receive enhanced benefits.

‘Many brands are still focused on the myopic points versus the moments that matter most along the entire member journey,’ says Sean Claessen, executive vice-president of strategy at Bond Brand Loyalty. ‘Essentially, for younger consumers, it’s all about the experience.’ Read our Loyalty Market to learn more about how brands are redefining customer retention.

Thought-starter: Are influencers the next sex educators?

Generation Z are taking control of their sexual education, turning to social media, YouTube and Insta-influencers for realistic, inclusive perspectives on sex.

Young people today are exposed to sexual content from an early age, and are becoming sexually active earlier than ever. There is, however, discordance between the provision of sex education in school and the sex lives of teenagers. Most schools fail to cover contemporary issues like consent, porn and sexting, as well as non-heteronormative identities and relationships.

As a result, the internet is helping to normalise traditionally taboo topics and information relating to sex, such as sexually transmitted infections, orgasms and virginity. Online platforms including Amaze and Bish, alongside Instagram accounts such as @birds.bees and the app Real Talk are providing safe, democratised spaces, communities and products to help Generation Z achieve a healthy, rounded perspective of sex.

For more, read the full microtrend here.

Killer and a Sweet Thang
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