News 04.03.2024

Need to Know

Day three at Mobile World Congress 2024, Gymshark’s inclusive headband and why wealthy Millennials are getting into debt to keep up appearances.

Mobile World Congress 2024 daily recap: 5G versus 6G

Mobile World Congress 2024. Photography by Howard Sayer, Spain Mobile World Congress 2024. Photography by Howard Sayer, Spain

Spain – Should we be looking forward to 6G or focus on advancing 5G opinions? wondered panellists on stage at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2024. Manish Singh, chief technology officer of Telecom Systems at Dell Technologies, suggested that while 6G will provide high efficiency and reliable connectivity on a massive scale, ‘AI is already taking off without 6G and moving at a rapid pace’. During a session entitled Can AI Take Off Without 5G?, Singh argued that the telecommunications industry still needs to decide what the 6G network is going to look like. The panel ubiquitously agreed that buzz terms like ‘AI native network’ are already being used without much thought to what they mean.

A session on mindfulness in technology was the perfect end to three days of non-stop talks on connectivity, hardware and business. Olivia Ellice-Flint, brand lead of NoWatch, a premium smartwatch encouraging healthier habits over metrics and optimisation, spotted by LS:N Global back in 2022, discussed how NoWatch aims to ‘convert attention into intention’. The device ‘re-connects the mind and the body’ by sending small vibrations through the watch whenever cortisol levels spike. Lisa Raggiri, chief marketing officer of FitXR, a virtual reality fitness app, was adamant that its immersive service can encourage social virtual experiences and enable physical activity from anywhere, ultimately contributing to a healthier life.

The event closed with a summary session hosted by Peter Jarich, head of GSMA Intelligence. He concluded that while MWC 2024 largely focused on B2B connectivity, 5G is more important than ever when it comes to consumers – to support a growing preference for video content. Jarich also pointed to gaming and sports streaming as key drivers of increased demand for faster connectivity.

Keep an eye on our Global Events section for our upcoming analysis of Mobile World Congress 2024.

Strategic opportunity

Recognise the importance of 5G for consumers and focus on optimising content delivery. Can you develop strategies to support the increasing demand for video content, especially in areas like gaming and sports streaming, where faster connectivity is crucial?

Gymshark launches inclusive diffuse sweat headband for textured hair

Diffuse Sweat Headband by Gymshark, UK Diffuse Sweat Headband by Gymshark, UK
Diffuse Sweat Headband by Gymshark, UK Diffuse Sweat Headband by Gymshark, UK

UK – In February 2024, fitness apparel specialist Gymshark introduced the Diffuse Sweat Headband, a ground-breaking solution tailored to meet the unique needs of the Black community during workouts. Crafted with a double-layer construction and a stretch-to-fit design, the headband accommodates various textured hairstyles, including wigs and box braids, ensuring a one-size-fits-all approach. The headband retails for £15.80 ($20, €18.45).

The key innovation lies in its advanced sweat-wicking technology, which provides comprehensive coverage for the wearer’s head and effectively manages moisture during exercise. Nichola Harris, senior designer of headwear and accessories at Gymshark, said in a statement: ‘We designed the headband to help break down the barriers that people with textured hair might have from working out.’

Gymshark has collaborated with Love Island star and hair brand owner Whitney Adebayo, who serves as an ambassador for the product. Adebayo insisted on the necessity to address the gap in the fitness market for people with textured hair.

In our analysis of the Inclusive Fashion Market, we previously explored similar initiatives dedicated to marginalised communities who are demanding more clothing tailored to their needs.

Strategic opportunity

Gymshark’s advanced sweat-wicking technology is a prime example of how technological advances can set a brand apart. How can you apply your research and development to create advanced products and services that can bring innovative solutions to common challenges?

Neuralink’s first human patient controls computer mouse with thoughts

Neuralink, US Neuralink, US

US – Elon Musk revealed in February 2024 that Neuralink’s first human patient, who received a brain chip implant at the start of the year, had fully recovered and could control a computer mouse using their thoughts. On X (formerly Twitter), Musk stated: ‘Progress is good, and the patient seems to have made a full recovery, with no ill effects that we are aware of. The patient is able to move a mouse around the screen by just thinking.’

Neuralink, the brain chip start-up founded by Musk, aims to revolutionise medical treatments by facilitating surgical insertions of its chip devices. The initial success involves enabling patients to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts. Despite facing scrutiny over safety protocols, Neuralink has ambitious plans to treat conditions such as obesity, autism, depression and schizophrenia.

While Musk expressed optimism about the patient’s recovery, concerns have emerged about Neuralink’s animal experiments. Inspections by the US Food and Drug Administration revealed quality control problems at the California research facility, raising questions about transparency and ethical standards.

In our Innovation Debrief 2023–2024 report, we highlighted emerging tech innovators designing for inclusivity – from inclusive video game controllers to smart make-up applicators for people with limited mobility. Neuralink embodies the next stage of this movement, where tech is used to treat debilitating conditions in ways we’ve never seen before.

Strategic opportunity

Proactively address ethical concerns and transparency issues in research and development processes – especially in the healthtech market. How can you establish clear standards and communicate them openly to build trust?

Stat: US Millennials endure the cost of keeping up appearances

Wise. Identity by Ragged Edge, UK Wise. Identity by Ragged Edge, UK

US – Millennials grapple with formidable financial burdens stemming from housing costs, student loans and mounting credit card debt, yet they remain fixated on showing their affluence. A Wells Fargo study in the US reveals that over half of affluent Millennials are significantly affected by the cost of living crisis, yet 59% prioritise appearing financially successful. This phenomenon, which has been termed ‘money dysmorphia’, sees individuals obsess over perceived wealth, blurring financial realities.

The study, targeting some 1,000 affluent Millennials earning at least £198k ($250k, €231.2k) annually, reveals that over 40% prioritise visible signs of affluence like luxury purchases. Despite their wealth, more than 40% resort to credit cards or loans, accumulating debt.

The study underlines a cultural shift, with affluent Millennials feeling compelled to keep up appearances, even amid financial strain. Despite their high incomes, financial insecurity prevails, with 30% overspending to fit their desired lifestyle. In addition, 33% fabricate or exaggerate their financial status to maintain appearances.

This dichotomy highlights the complex interplay between perception and reality in Millennial financial culture, revealing a generation grappling with societal pressures while navigating significant economic challenges – a topic we explore further in our upcoming Generations report. To delve more deeply into this subject, you can RSVP to hear from our in-house team of experts and guest panellists at our Generations: Now and Next 2024–2025 webinar on 19 March 2024 from 2:00pm to 3:00pm GMT.

Strategic opportunity

Should Millennials prefer loud luxury over quiet luxury, consider creating products or services that offer the perception of affluence without the hefty price tag – think innovative finance options, subscription models or partnerships with luxury brands to provide affordable alternatives

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