Need to Know
24 : 01 : 22

Metakey introduces virtual fandom to the Australian Open, a hyper-curated app to elevate Gen Z job searches and soaring cognac sales in China.

These meta-tennis balls track real-time play

Metakey and The Australian Open, Australia Metakey and The Australian Open, Australia
Metakey and The Australian Open, Australia Metakey and The Australian Open, Australia
Metakey and The Australian Open, Australia Metakey and The Australian Open, Australia

Australia – Universal token Metakey is working with the Australian Open tennis championship to offer a collection of generative non-fungible token (NFT) tennis balls. Called Art Balls, the NFTs combine real-time match and ball-tracking data. Each NFT represents a 19 x 19cm plot of tennis court surface, which are assigned randomly at purchase.

When any of the 11 championship points land on an NFT owner’s plot, they will be rewarded with the tennis ball used in the physical match – complete with a display case and a certificate of authenticity. Art Ball owners will also gain access to limited-edition wearables, Australian Open merchandise and other future benefits. In this way, Metakey shows how NFTs can complement physical events to bolster the appeal of investing in digital assets.

Such a dynamic item points to future opportunities for sports fandom to enter virtual realms through immersive digital innovations.

Strategic opportunity

Looking ahead, there will be increasing demand for dynamic NFTs that complement physical events from sports to game shows and award ceremonies. The entertainment sector should consider innovating to elevate digital fandom experiences

An architectural column made from mycelium

Blast Studio, UK Blast Studio, UK
Blast Studio, UK Blast Studio, UK

London – Using 3D printing technology, coffee cups collected around the city, and mycelium, sustainable design practice Blast Studio is creating an architectural column that provides structural support while producing edible mushrooms.

To create the Tree Column, Blast Studio mixes coffee cup waste with mycelium into a blend. Then, this mixture is fed into a custom-made cold extruder that prints the material into a column. Once the material has been processed and printed, the mycelium begins to consume the paper pulp of the cups, taking over the column and producing edible mushrooms in the process. After this, the column is ready to be dried to produce a load-bearing architectural column that provides natural insulation and has fire-retardant qualities.

Offering architectural strength while providing food, this innovative column strives to replace environmentally harmful materials like concrete. ‘Our vision is to start a new type of living architecture that could self-repair and be harvested to feed people,' explains Paola Garnousset, co-founder of Blast Studio. Elsewhere, we have explored how eco-materials like algae can improve the urban environment with their air-purifying properties.

Strategic opportunity

Consumers are eager to embrace recycled materials. Why not start an initiative to collect used packaging that can then be repurposed into something else?

The Eric app targets out-of-work Gen Z talent

UK – The hyper-curated careers platform has unveiled its first app, improving the experience of searching for work opportunities for Generation Z. Aimed at audiences aged 16–25, Eric uses audio-visual content to display careers advice in an engaging format. Currently focusing on the creative and technology industries, the app connects its users to job listings, events, articles, podcasts and videos.

Companies can also create profiles to attract Gen Z talent. Here, the app improves the outdated system of careers education in schools – and presents information to young people in a familiar and easily digestible way. Co-founder Samantha Hornsby comments: All the information about every career option and pathway is out there on the internet. We just have to organise what’s out there and allow people to search for what they want.

As we explore in Out-of-work Networks, there is a growing shift towards more connected and empowered methods of finding jobs among young audiences.

Meet Eric, Global Meet Eric, Global

Strategic opportunity

Brands across sectors can work towards improving early career experiences for young people, creating engaging events and services that help people to identify their work aspirations

Stat: Cognac sales soar in China

Marc Newson for Hennessy, Global Marc Newson for Hennessy, Global

It’s been a robust year for cognac sales, with strong demand in different regions across the world. In 2021 alone, cognac sales in China leapt by 56%, with 34m bottles shipped.

After experiencing stronger sales than expected, spirits group Rémy Cointreau increased its full-year profit forecast in November 2021. Driven in large part by Chinese demand for old vintage bottles, the surge in sales reflects a shifting consumer preference towards premium liquor. Elsewhere, in the US – cognac’s biggest market – sales were up by 11%, with 115m bottles shipped in 2021. European markets also enjoyed rising sales, up by 8% to reach 37.1m bottles shipped. ‘This growth reflects a real recovery of cognac, as well as new consumption habits,’ explains the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).

As demand for cognac surpasses pre-pandemic levels, the outlook for the drink remains positive. With sales of premium products soaring in China, it’s a good occasion to revisit this article about the Premium Spirits Defying World Borders.

Strategic opportunity

With cognac sales in Chinese markets rising, consider the benefits of a pop-up that pays tribute to specific regions' heritage

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