Need to Know
27 : 09 : 22

A plant-covered skyscraper unveiled in Amsterdam, China sets goals for the digital human industry, and growth accelerates in high-end refillable beauty.

An Amsterdam skyscraper built with community in mind

Valley by MVRDV, Amsterdam
Valley by MVRDV, Amsterdam
Valley by MVRDV, Amsterdam
Valley by MVRDV, Amsterdam

Amsterdam – The Valley, a geology-inspired, plant-covered high-rise development, has been named the world’s best new skyscraper by the Emporis Awards. The striking 75,000-square-meter building sits in Amsterdam’s Zuidas neighbourhood, with a blended design allowing for offices, shops, catering, cultural facilities and apartments in one development. The Valley’s green spaces are publicly accessible, created by developer MVRDV as a suitable response to a post-Covid world.

The pandemic's influence has raised awareness of the 'unhuman' design of metropolitan areas, with urban inhabitants now increasingly seeking spaces that prioritise wellbeing and nature. The building's smooth, mirrored exterior blends in with the area’s business district, while landscape architect Piet Oudolf designed it to host 13,500 young plants and shrubs, and 271 trees, as part of a matrix that considers temperature and other ecological factors, placing the natural world at the heart of the design process.

Valley represents a shift in values and a growing movement in the architecture world away from sterile, individualised spaces to collective living developments that are inclusive and adapt to the fluidity of modern life.

Strategic opportunity

Businesses will need to plan for changing urban environments; think about how retail spaces can adapt to blended living and become cultural hubs for localised communities

The Lacoste Ladies Open blends golf, art and fashion

Lacoste Ladies Open de France by Lacoste in collaboration with Trajectoire Studio, France Lacoste Ladies Open de France by Lacoste in collaboration with Trajectoire Studio, France
Lacoste Ladies Open de France by Lacoste in collaboration with Trajectoire Studio, France Lacoste Ladies Open de France by Lacoste in collaboration with Trajectoire Studio, France

France – Looking at golf through a new lens, the refreshed Lacoste Ladies Open aims to elevate the golf tournament experience and to appeal to a new generation of golf fans.

To mark Lacoste’s sponsorship of the Ladies Open de France golf tournament, the brand has launched a series of activations celebrating women’s golf – but also involving art, fashion and culture. Lacoste has refreshed the tournament’s branding and called on creative agency Trajectoire Studio to create 360-degree experience merging sports and art, with a strong focus on interaction and accessibility.

When Golf Inspires comprises several art installations designed to challenge spectators and surprise them by breaking away from the traditional reputation of golf, while paying tribute to the sport’s heritage.

The Lacoste Ladies Open is a great example of how an activation can bring inclusivity, accessibility and culture to sports, which we explore in our Sports Rebranded report. In addition, the intersectional branding of the tournament is catering for new generations of female golfers.

Strategic opportunity

As Lacoste did with golf, brands can weave arts and culture into sports to reach broader and more diverse audiences

Beijing regulates the virtual idol industry

Beijing – In China, digital influencers and virtual pop stars are becoming a vital part of youth culture and entertainment. Now, the Beijing municipal government has introduced a four-year plan to regulate what it calls the ‘digital human’ industry while boosting investment in the sector.

The plan does not currently define what the term 'digital human’ means, but Chinese tech analysts suggest it refers to anything from player-controlled avatars on gaming platforms like Roblox to digital pop singers like Ayayi. Importantly, the plan identifies digital humans as an area of significant potential growth and lays out how virtual assistants will help with banking, shopping and travel services in the near future. Revenue from the virtual idol industry could reach £6.7bn ($7.3bn, €7.6bn) by 2025 in the capital city alone, according to the plan.

Allegations of low wages and unpleasant working conditions have marred the virtual idol industry recently, however. With this new initiative, the Chinese government shows it wants to improve working practices in line with the principles of The Betterverse.

Moxy Universe, Play Beyond by Marriott International Asia-Pacific

Strategic opportunity

Now that consumers feel more comfortable speaking to bots and even using digital therapy tools, how is your business preparing for the rise of digital human interfaces?

Stat: Demand for premium refillable beauty products takes off

Myro, US Myro, US

Through tracking the refillable premium beauty market in the UK from January to July 2022, global analytics and data provider The NPD Group has identified a shift in British consumers’ purchasing habits. Over this seven-month period, the market for refillable prestige beauty products was valued at £34m ($36.6m, €38m) and performed better than non-refillable prestige beauty.

In the refillable market, the best performing sub-category has been product refills that consumers buy to use alongside previously purchased exterior packaging. Sales of these products grew the fastest, increasing by 79% in the period, hinting at growth in loyalty and repeat consumers. ‘As consumers become more conscious of the importance of sustainability and their role in promoting it, we have seen a corresponding rise in sales of refillable prestige beauty products,’ explains Emma Fishwick, account manager at NPD UK Beauty.

These figures indicate that Refined Refillables, a market we started tracking in 2019, are becoming more mainstream as consumers are warming to the refill concept applied to premium products.

Strategic opportunity

Consumers are finally willing to adopt refillable luxury cosmetics. These products still account for a small proportion of beauty sales, making it an attractive market opportunity

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