News 01.08.2022

Need to Know

A beauty company opens an iced tea bar, Minecraft says no to NFTs, and the World Economic Forum reports ongoing global gender inequalities.

Harmay beauty serves up hospitality

Introlemons designed by Aim Architecture for Harmay, Shanghai
Introlemons designed by Aim Architecture for Harmay, Shanghai
Introlemons designed by Aim Architecture for Harmay, Shanghai

Shanghai – Harmay, the Chinese beauty brand known for its experiential retail locations, is entering the world of hospitality. At its latest store in Shanghai, the brand will be selling beverages not beauty products.

Created by Aim Architects, the minimally designed store encourages visitors to participate in the process of iced tea-making. The interior is covered in steel panels that resemble the inside of a freight truck that would typically transport fresh lemons, while a barista counter lets customers squeeze fresh juice and prepare drinks. Upstairs, a low-light, intimate cinema space allows people to sip their drinks in sanctuary.

Here, Harmay is creating a space where consumers can meet and relax with one another, while providing a way beyond beauty purchases to connect with the brand. In the Venues with Benefits section of our Hyperphysical Stores macrtorend, we discuss how stores are transforming into venues and event spaces to offer alternative interactions.

Strategic opportunity

Retail brands have an opportunity to establish community connections through third spaces that provide room for unbranded activities, hobbies, talks or events

A sustainable cooking oil born from fermentation

Cultured Oil by Zero Acre, US Cultured Oil by Zero Acre, US
Cultured Oil by Zero Acre, US Cultured Oil by Zero Acre, US

US – The first product from food brand Zero Acre is a lab-grown fermented cooking oil – created as an alternative to environmentally damaging vegetable oils. In a bid to remove harmful oil products from global food systems, the brand’s Cultured Oil is a substitute for conventional oils that are leading to mass deforestation and biodiversity loss.

It is produced in a lab using micro-algae and other micro-organisms, using 85% less land than canola oil, emitting 86% less CO2 than soybean oil and requiring 99% less water than olive oil, according to the company. While the fermentation process remains costly, Zero Acre is paving the way for the wider industry to follow suit and develop more eco-friendly cooking oil solutions. It also hopes the Cultured Oil will take precedence in culinary contexts. ‘We want an eco-system to develop around cultured oil in the same way it has developed around olive oil,’ says Jeff Nobbs, co-founder and CEO of Zero Acre.

This innovation also aligns with consumers' growing desire to decarbonise their diets, as more people opt for foods and brands that can help them to lower their food-based carbon footprints.

Strategic opportunity

Food innovators must invest in research and processes that provide an alternative to resource-intensive ingredients or farming. Why not partner with competitors to develop solutions collaboratively?

Minecraft bans NFTs citing inclusivity concerns

US – Massive multiplayer online game Minecraft has banned the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) out of concerns that they might foster a culture of ‘haves and have-nots’.

One of the most successful games of all time, Minecraft is particularly popular among children, raising questions about whether the promotion of NFTs would be ethical on its platform. The game is in a sandbox format, meaning that players can construct complex worlds and experiences without a predetermined, overarching goal.

While many video game developers have embraced digital collectibles to create new revenue streams, Minecraft says that the adoption of NFTs would go against its values of inclusivity. ‘To ensure that Minecraft players have a safe and inclusive experience, blockchain technologies are not permitted to be integrated inside our Minecraft client and server applications,’ reads a company statement.

By promoting inclusivity and inclusion in virtual spaces, Minecraft is championing the ideas of Affirmative Avatars, empowering player creativity instead of fostering a consumerist culture.

Minecraft: Education Edition

Strategic opportunity

How can video game developers ensure that NFTs don’t foster inequalities? Consider other ways NFTs that can be earned or obtained; for example, through skills, drops or brand feedback

Stat: Global gender parity remains in crisis

4 My Girls, South Africa 4 My Girls, South Africa

Global gender parity remains a strong and growing issue, as outlined in this year’s Global Gender Gap Index – an annual report by the World Economic Forum. The research benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

In 2022, key findings reveal that at the current rate of progress it will take 132 years to reach full parity. This represents a slight four-year improvement compared to the 2021 estimate (136 years to parity), but does not account for the generational loss that occurred as a result of the pandemic. Although no country has yet achieved full gender parity, the top 10 economies have closed at least 80% of their gender gaps, with Iceland (90.8%) leading the global ranking. This is followed by Finland (86%), Norway (84.5%) and Sweden (82.2%).

While this year’s findings mark a slight improvement on the results from 2021, they also demonstrate a stark need for more nations to prioritise the development of Women Futures.

Strategic opportunity

Companies across sectors must find ways to actively work towards achieving gender parity. Consider creating dedicated training and mentorship programmes to bridge access gaps

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