Need to Know
07 : 06 : 19

Waitrose trials refillable products, Thingtesting takes a community-driven approach to product discovery and Americans face a healthcare crisis.

Bee & Kin launches a programmable handbag

Bee & Kin, US
Bee & Kin, US
Bee & Kin, US

US – The start-up is selling leather bags equipped with smart buttons for tasks such as ordering an Uber.

The luxury collection of bags, which start at £394 ($500, €445) for a cross-body bag, have in-built smart buttons as well as interior lights. Bee & Kin worked with Swedish company Flic to design the smart system, creating an app that lets customers program their own tasks, such as find their phone, start a playlist or send a pre-written email.

To develop the range, founder Tracey Hummel spoke to nearly 100 women to understand what needs the smart bags could meet, with many women highlighting the difficulties in finding their keys or phone. ‘We wanted to make the technology as flexible as possible, because we realised women have very different needs,’ Hummel told Fast Company. ‘Our goal was to allow women to customise the experience as much as possible.’

Apparel brands are increasingly developing products with intelligent capabilities to find solutions for everyday problems.

Space10 and Effekt re-imagine communal living

Effekt Architects for Space10 Effekt Architects for Space10
Effekt Architects for Space10 Effekt Architects for Space10

Copenhagen – Ikea’s research lab Space10 and Effekt Architects have collaborated to create a vision for how to design, build and share future homes, cities and neighbourhoods.

The Urban Village Project is a proposal for subscription-based housing that aims to make cities more liveable, sustainable and affordable. Building on Space10’s earlier research into shared living, the project proposes a number of ways to unlock the benefits of living communally by combining flexible housing with shared facilities, including childcare and transport.

In order to democratise home ownership, the proposal suggests a modular building system, monthly rates for essentials such as rent and utilities, in addition to subscriptions for food, insurance and transport. To access ownership progressively, residents would have the option of buying shares of property. In time, the property would be owned by the community, who could swap living spaces between themselves as their needs change.

Explore our Smart Cities vertical for more ideas helping to shape the future of the urban environment.

Waitrose unveils a packaging-free refill station

Oxford – The supermarket group is trialling a dedicated refill zone and a pick-and-mix option for frozen goods.

Waitrose hopes to save thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging with the trial, which is branded as Waitrose Unpacked and will run for 11 weeks. The Unpacked concept includes 160 loose fruit and vegetable products, frozen pick-and-mix fruit, detergent and washing up liquid refillables, and the option to refill wine, beer, coffee and dry goods.

The supermarket will also be the first in the UK to allow shoppers to borrow a box from the store to take home with them and return on their next visit. ‘We are determined to build on the work we’ve already done to reduce packaging – and this test will take our efforts to a whole new level as we help the growing number of customers who want to shop in a more sustainable way,’ says Tor Harris, head of CSR at Waitrose.

As well as showing how supermarkets can proactively reduce their plastic waste, Waitrose is demonstrating that refillable goods can be relatively luxurious.

Waitrose & Partners

Thingtesting is powered by personal recommendations

Brightland on Thingtesting

US – The review platform showcases new brands and the stories behind them, as well as giving paying members discounts on products and access to events and meetings.

Promoting the concept of ‘no ads, only reviews’, Thingtesting takes a community-driven approach to product discovery, powered by users’ personal recommendations. Reviews are free to access via Thingtesting’s Instagram account and monthly newsletter, but members – called Close Friends – can pay a one-off fee of £78 ($100, €88) for discounts on products, unboxing videos and behind-the-scenes content, in addition to invitations to meetings and events.

The majority of brands reviewed on Thingtesting are also direct-to-consumer (DTC). ‘I’ve realised that there is a new internet-born generation of brands emerging, and they grow in a different way than their predecessors,’ says founder Jenny Gyllander, noting that these online-only brands are driving new consumer behaviour and transforming e-commerce.

Thingtesting is part of a wave of peer-led platforms helping consumers to make educated and confident purchasing decisions. For more, read our Community Commerce macrotrend.

Stat: America is facing a primary care crisis

The American healthcare sector is under threat in the coming decade, according to a new report by WD Partners. The study reports that, by 2030, American consumers may need between 40,000 and 120,000 physicians who simply won’t exist. There is a particularly significant shortage of primary care physicians – in the next decade, the country will feel the pain of a shortage of up to 50,000 primary care physicians.

With 59% of consumers visiting one of these physicians in the past 12 months, the government and healthcare brands must take steps to ensure the country’s rural areas have access to the care they need. One way of doing this is by employing a Doctor on Demand, with brands like Forward launching primary care subscription services.

Thought-starter: Will epigenetics transform wellness?

Dr Tom Stubbs, co-founder of Chronomics, explains why giving consumers visibility of their DNA will be key to influencing positive lifestyle choices.

‘Epigenetics is the science of how your DNA is controlled and how it is affected by the environment you live in and your life choices,’ explains Stubbs. The co-founder of Chronomics, a subscription-based, at-home epigenetic testing kit, believes that providing consumers with information about how specific lifestyle and environmental indicators influence their health will encourage them to take a proactive role in their wellbeing.

‘What is exciting is that unlike the genetic information that’s fixed from birth, epigenetics is dynamic, so if you find out about this information in advance, you can take steps to avoid future ill health,’ he says, adding that Chronomics allows for greater visibility of health, which can be both daunting for consumers, but also empowering.

‘As a company, we believe that epigenetic testing is going to become the norm in combatting age-related diseases and chronic conditions. We’re striving to ensure that this is something that might eventually be offered on the NHS – it’s something everyone should have access to.’

Read the full Q&A here.

Chronomics, UK
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