Phygital theme park start-up HyperSpace is revitalising retail spaces
Saudi Arabia, UAE – Saudi Arabia has invested millions in digital theme park start-up HyperSpace, in the Gulf Kingdom’s latest attempt to reduce reliance on oil profit and become a global gaming hub.
Riyadh Season, Saudi Arabia’s government-backed entertainment initiative and annual arts and culture festival, provided the majority of the £45m ($55m, €52m) in debt and equity raised in the start-up’s latest funding round.
HyperSpace designs, builds and operates ‘future-forward’ theme parks in shopping centres that mix physical and digital entertainment, including gaming. The company’s first site, AYA, opened in Dubai’s Wafi Mall in December 2022, with House of Hype set to follow in The Dubai Mall at the end of 2023.
A new space is set to open in Riyadh soon, but HyperSpace hopes to expand into the US and beyond in due course.
‘Shopping centres must find that ‘cool factor’ to draw consumers in,’ HyperSpace co-founder and CEO Alexander Heller told the Financial Times. ‘Today, within that eco-system, you’re looking at something that’s much more experience driven.’
HyperSpace’s vision for the future of entertainment and shopping experiences ties in with our The Rise of Retail’s Third Space Storefronts travel report. Brands are increasingly commodifying retail destinations to foster play, exploration and community in an attempt to revitalise in-person shopping experiences.
Transform your bricks-and-mortar store into an immersive phygital experience that seamlessly blends entertainment, community-building and interactive exploration to amplify brand awareness in a fun and creative way
Shell promotes petrol to young gamers through Fortnite island
US – Shell, the global oil industry giant, has ventured into the world of Fortnite, unveiling its own Ultimate Road Trips island in October 2023. The game is not the result of a partnership with Epic Games, but a creative endeavour by Shell within Fortnite's commercial guidelines.
The island offers players a unique experience centred around speed, acceleration and performance, all powered by Shell V-Power NiTRO+ Premium petrol. Created with the help of an actual Fortnite creator, it features a thrilling car-based stunt course and includes a fully fledged Shell petrol station where virtual vehicles can be refuelled. While not a paid collaboration, this move reflects a growing trend of brands seeking to engage with younger audiences within the Fortnite universe.
Climate activists have criticised Shell's promotion in Fortnite, arguing that it encourages younger gamers to associate with fossil fuels despite growing concerns about climate change. Shell’s marketing campaign has involved collaborations with influencers on platforms like Twitch, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, raising questions about the environmental responsibility of such partnerships.
But, as explored in Not Your Parents' Car, Gen Z’s interest in electric vehicles continues to grow – a gaming activation might not be enough to persuade a generation of eco-anxious young drivers to buy more petrol.
Advertising in a community like the one Fortnite has without authority must make sense for your brand to avoid a backlash and accusations of youth propaganda as faced by Shell. How can you make your gaming activation authentic?
Future Society’s perfumes revive scents of extinct flowers
US – Future Society, a pioneering perfume brand, is turning to science and DNA sequencing to recreate the scents of extinct flowers. Developed by Arcaea, a Boston-based beauty biotech firm founded by MIT-trained scientist Jasmina Aganovic, Future Society is launching with six genderless fragrances.
This innovative approach involves using DNA sequencing to recreate the scent molecules produced by extinct flowers. Distinguished perfumers collaborating with Future Society were given creative briefs and with DNA sequencing as a starting point, they embarked on a search for scents. Its Invisible Woods fragrance, for example, is from a flower native to the western mountains in India that became extinct in 1917 due to drought.
Aganovic emphasised to Forbes that these fragrances are not entirely accurate, and it isn’t possible to precisely assert what extinct flowers smelled like. But, these scents become a creative project that allow consumers to engage and play with aromas through unique formats, showcasing the potential of Digital Conservation in the future. Its scents also show how Biotech Can Drive Beauty Beyond Plant-based Ingredient-sourcing.
Future Society’s use of DNA sequencing to recreate scents can be seen as a sustainable alternative to traditional ingredient-sourcing methods. As manufacturers face resource scarcity due to climate change, can you explore opportunities for digital conservation to recreate and preserve elements of the past, whether in scent, art or other sensory experiences?
Stat: Women use over 100 ingredients in their skincare routines globally
Global – Beauty rituals are not only becoming hyper-personalised, but also more extensive. New research suggests that, globally, women use an average of 168 ingredients across 12 products during their beauty regimen every day. The data was compiled by ClearForMe, an online platform dedicated to helping consumers decode and understand ingredients in their cosmetics.
By tracking consumer enquiries across different markets, ClearForMe was also able to map out the fastest-growing skincare ingredients by region. American women look out for moisturising natural ingredients, with almond oil, aloe vera and avocado oil most in demand. In Europe, women seek out chemicals over natural ingredients on the platform. The report suggests that tighter regulations in Europe compared to the US could explain why consumers have a higher confidence in using chemical products. In East Asia, medicinal and anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginseng and bamboo extract topped the searches.
These findings reveal the high extent of ingredient literacy, a consumer trend we highlighted in our Accredited Beauty macrotrend.
Businesses in the health, wellness and beauty spaces can use these stark contrasts in regional ingredient preferences to their advantage. Besides tailoring products to meet expectations, how can you educate your clients about less popular ingredients?