Need to Know
14 : 10 : 19

Strange Bird combines Chinese skincare with wellbeing mantras, M&S plants IoT-connected vertical farms in stores, and tech leaves a bad taste for diners.

Topshop turns care labels into wellbeing manifestos

Topshop and Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) collection, campaign by Havas London
Topshop and Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) collection, campaign by Havas London
Topshop and Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) collection, campaign by Havas London

UK – Coinciding with World Mental Health Day, clothing retailers Topshop and Topman have launched a series of garments promoting self-care.

Targeting younger consumers, the brands have partnered with mental health charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) on a range of T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. The designs take cues from clothing care tags that normally provide washing instructions; instead the oversized labels encourage wearers to take better care of themselves by sharing problems, taking time to ‘iron them out with a mate’, and if they’re ‘feeling completely spun out’ to call CALM's helpline.

Priced from £16 to £35, a donation of £5 from each item purchased will be given to CALM to support its helpline and webchat service. The clothing collection is part of the wider campaign led by Havas London, #LetWhatsInsideOut, urging people to reach out to friends, family or CALM’s services.

Topman in particular is demonstrating how a men’s retail brand can help to destigmatise notions of the sad boy, using fashion as a marker of progress and openness.

Alchemic skincare with a spiritual edge

Strange Bird Strange Bird
Strange Bird Strange Bird

US – Emerging skincare brand Strange Bird unites consumers’ rising interest in spirituality with traditional Chinese beauty regimes.

Created by life coach Tina Rudolf, the brand aims to turn skin cleansing into a daily wellbeing ritual – something she calls Positive Impact Skincare. The range, which includes the Inner Clarity Cleanser and Inner Balance Serum, takes inspiration from the skincare routines of Rudolf’s Chinese mother and grandmother. Its ingredients include ginger, ginseng and goji berries, alongside mineral essences from rose quartz, amethyst and clear quartz crystals.

To elevate skincare routines ‘into a ritual of self love’, each product is inscribed with a mantra and a spiritual prompt. ‘Strange Bird combines ancient Chinese beauty traditions with high vibrational alchemy to help women create a daily practice that supports their skin goals and their life goals,’ Rudolf explains.

With traditional Chinese medicine tipped to be a growth market in the 2020s, Strange Bird represents a new direction in Ritualistic Beauty.

Vertical farms to grow Marks & Spencer’s services

UK – Retailer Marks & Spencer is planting intelligent vertical farming units in a number of UK stores, providing customers with access to fresh, shop-grown herbs.

With the aim of reducing food miles, the retailer is working with Infarm, a vertical farming specialist that uses machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to create the optimal growing conditions.

The consumer-facing units allow M&S Food customers to hand-pick Italian, Greek and Bordeaux basils, mint, curly parsley and mountain coriander as they shop. The units will adjust the light, air and nutrients provided to the herb plants, using a cloud-based platform to continuously learn and ensure each plant grows better than the last.

Explaining the launch, Paul Willgoss, director of food technology for M&S Food, says: ‘We operate as part of a complex global food supply chain and want to understand the emerging technologies that could help provide more sustainable solutions.'

Infarm’s vertical farming will roll-out to a further six London M&S stores by the end of the year, demonstrating New Urban Farms in action.

Marks & Spencer Urban Farm, Clapham Junction

Stat: Technology leaves American diners cold

The presence of order kiosks and contactless ‘wallet payments' in restaurants is spoiling hospitality, according to fresh research from Mintel.

In a survey of American consumer attitudes, 28% agree that technology is ruining hospitality. In terms of specific technologies that are leaving diners cold, nearly half (48%) have not used and are not interested in trying mobile wallet payment options, while two in five (40%) who are not interested in using kiosks to order food say they avoid using kiosks because they prefer human interaction.

‘The majority of Americans are not interested in fully-automated restaurant concepts mainly because they prefer human interaction,’ notes Jill Failla, foodservice analyst at Mintel. ‘However, on-premise restaurant technology offers operators multifaceted solutions to growing labour challenges and consumer demand for speedy service.’

As we look to a future in which convenience-led technology becomes ubiquitous in hospitality and retail, human service could be transformed into the ultimate luxury.

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