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Catch up on the latest analysis on LS:N Global, Universal Standard’s inclusive-chic swimwear, and why China is leading duty-free sales in Asia-Pacific.

What’s new on LS:N Global in Q3?

Carolina Carballo for The Future Laboratory Carolina Carballo for The Future Laboratory

Global – The Future Laboratory continues to offer LS:N Global members new benefits and features to improve the usability of the platform, as well as market-leading insight, foresight and strategy.

For a more seamless experience, we’re introducing self-service memberships to anyone who would like to subscribe to the platform at the click of a button. Account holders can now also easily increase the number of team members who access the platform and can customise their business preferences according to sector, location and demographic.

Among the new reports and events launching this quarter and available to members are: our latest Beauty, Health and Wellness macrotrend, Longevity Lifestyles; our exclusive Innovation Debrief 2023 webinar on 18 July; and an upcoming Demographics hub featuring interviews, trends and research dedicated to each demographic group, from Gen Alpha to Baby Boomers.

Don’t forget, members are eligible for a £100 discount on this year’s Trend Briefing 2024 event. Join us on 19 October as we explore the overarching trends for 2024 and beyond, setting our focus on the emotional, behavioural and spatial uses of the future home.

Strategic opportunity

Download our latest What’s New on LS:N Global PDF to discover the new benefits, features and exclusive research available to members of LS:N Global

Universal Standard launches truly inclusive swimwear

Universal Standard, US Universal Standard, US
Universal Standard, US Universal Standard, US

US – Universal Standard, a clothing brand best known for the most inclusive sizing in the market, has responded to consumer requests for a swimsuit range with a new collection to fit everyone from size 00 to 40. The new line comprises eight swimsuits, priced between £69 ($88, €80) and £195 ($248, €226).

The brand took its time researching and developing designs that not only look good but have practical applications when both dry and wet. It conducted extensive customer focus groups and relied on its proprietary design process that goes beyond the standard industry practice of grading. Instead, it adjusted the cut and design across a range of sizes. Most businesses in the industry don’t make this effort for larger sizing. They design clothes to fit a US size 6 fit model and then proportionally increase every measurement, often distorting the shapes of garments, with ill-fitting results.

In Adaptive Fashion Market we assessed how fashion brands are tackling the sector’s ableist design history and representation issues. Universal Standard’s innovative swimwear line shows how thoughtful design can move the industry closer to an inclusive future.

Strategic opportunity

Brands can pioneer truly inclusive design by investing in extensive research, customer feedback and innovative design processes. Challenging industry norms that offer genuine, diverse solutions will be rewarded with customer loyalty

Mercedes-Benz to integrate ChatGPT into in-car voice assistant

US – Mercedes-Benz has announced its collaboration with Microsoft's Azure OpenAI Service to incorporate the language model ChatGPT into its in-car voice assistant. Supercharging the existing Hey Mercedes voice assistant, this update allows some 900,000 Mercedes drivers in the US to opt into a three-month beta programme.

Through ChatGPT, drivers will move away from pre-programmed commands like 'volume up' and engage in natural conversations, including follow-up questions. The company says the update will push drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road while benefiting from a safe and distraction-free interaction. Conversations will be stored in the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Cloud, anonymised, and analysed for training and data purposes.

In a press release, Mercedes also said it is exploring ChatGPT plugins to enable tasks like making restaurant reservations or booking movie tickets through a simple in-car prompt.

In Autonomous Vehicles: Moonshot or Reality? we discuss the viability of personal robot chauffeurs – but a robot valet supercharged by AI and facilitating only parts of the driving experience will soon be a reality.

Mercedes-Benz and Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, Germany

Strategic opportunity

Players in the hospitality and entertainment industry should consider how to update their current booking system – are you reactive enough to collect orders generated by a smart car’s voice assistant?

Stat: The majority of Asia-Pacific’s duty-free sales will be in China by 2027

Penhaligon’s, China Duty Free Group Penhaligon’s, China Duty Free Group

China – A new report from Euromonitor International predicts that China will account for 87% of domestic duty-free sales in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region by 2027. The global duty-free market is set to be worth £132bn ($168bn, €155bn) by 2027, with APAC generating nearly half of this at £64bn ($81bn, €74bn).

Australia, South Korea and India top the list of the highest-spending destinations per arrival when it comes to inbound duty-free shopping, but Chinese consumers have a far greater propensity to seek out luxury brands and ultimately spend more in duty-free shops.

In China, in addition to Hainan, an island province where Chinese nationals could go on duty-free shopping sprees while international travel was banned during Covid-19, cities such as Shanghai, Guangdong and Guangzhou are home to a rising number of duty-free outlets. ‘Many Chinese visitors opt for domestic shopping destinations rather than global hubs such as Paris, London and New York,’ Prudence Lai, senior analyst at Euromonitor International, told Jing Daily.

In State of Luxury: Post-lockdown China, we previously highlighted how high-net-worth consumers now demand local alternatives dedicated to luxury shopping. But Chinese shoppers should remain the predominant target customers for retailers as they resume overseas trips – as explained in our report on the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition and Conference 2023.

Strategic opportunity

Chinese luxury clients’ expectations for customer experience and retail service are high, regardless of whether they are buying in China, in a duty-free outlet or internationally when travelling. Luxury brands should deliver excellent online and offline experiences seamlessly to stay relevant. For instance, do your CRM tools work effectively across borders?

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