News 18.04.2024

Need to Know

A daily recap from World Retail Congress, shifting consumer sentiment on sex robots and the worrying decrease of youth’s physical activity.

World Retail Congress 2024 daily recap: Redefining retail, The Zalpha Reckoning and engaging UHNWIs

The Collab by Claire’s, US

France – On its second day, World Retail Congress 2024 in Paris explored everything consumer – strategy, content and community. Guiseppe Stigliano, Professor of Retail Marketing Innovation and CEO of Spring Studios redefined retail for attendees, declaring that the traditional B2C (brand to consumer) structure is wavering in an age where customers themselves can be a retailer.

One retailer blurring the lines between brand and consumer is Claire’s. European brand president Richard Flint unpacked how to engage Gen Zalpha. In February, the brand launched The Collab, a platform handing over the mic to the community, acting as a product development tool. Claire’s is recognising that this generation connects with brands addressing issues relevant to them, something we explored in our macrotrend – The Zalpha Reckoning.

In a panel on the future of department stores, Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods touched on how the heritage British brand has reached its global community of UHNWI’s through the launch of private members clubs in locations such as Shanghai. He stressed how building close knit relationships with luxury consumers in their home country is important to make sure your flagship destination is a priority on their next international trip.

Another department store innovating to connect with its consumers is Printemps. With a new identity and ‘personal omnichannel’ strategy in place, the brand is blurring its physical and digital spaces, live streaming shoppable content from within the store and building an immersive digital twin. Furthermore, the flagship's newly opened restaurant with seasonally changing decor taps into our Hyperphysical Stores macrotrend.

Strategic opportunity

Use the power of your consumers – involve them in the process of product development, community-building and marketing to build an authentic brand

The Hear My Last Wish initiative transforms organ donation culture

Hear My Last Wish by Publicis Groupe and Leo Burnett Taiwan

Taiwan Publicis Groupe and Leo Burnett Taiwan have introduced Hear My Last Wish, a project addressing the reluctance of families to consent to organ donation during times of grief.

Hear My Last Wish brings technology in to allow prospective organ donors to record their final wishes in a personalised ‘voiceprint’. These voiceprints are securely stored in Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Database and can be presented to family members in the 36-hour window when consent is needed. Grieving families often refuse to give consent for organ donation, mainly due to cultural beliefs that favour leaving bodies intact after death. This has resulted in a significant gap between the demand for organ donations and the actual number of procedures carried out.

‘These very personal voiceprints resolve the biggest challenge facing organ donation in Taiwan: family consent,’ said Kevin Yang, CEO and chief creative officer at Leo Burnett Taiwan.

We have previously discussed the convergence of technology and posthumous care in Digital Afterlife Market.  

Strategic opportunity

Explore untapped opportunities to integrate technologies into your business that can create positive social impact, whether it is by spreading awareness on overlooked issues or combatting long-standing stigmas

New research reveals attitudes to robosexuality

Lay Me Down installation by Mariko Juna, made of ceramic casts of the body, highlights the beauty and diversity of human curves, The Netherlands Lay Me Down installation by Mariko Juna, made of ceramic casts of the body, highlights the beauty and diversity of human curves, The Netherlands

Canada – New research by Connor Leshner and Jessica Johnson at Trent University in Canada delves into robosexuality. It explores attitudes to, and interest in, sexual relations with robots. The study reveals that inclination towards sex robots is influenced by broader attitudes, shedding light on deeper societal issues.

Contrary to expectations, the researchers found that those with more open sexual attitudes showed less interest in getting intimate with robots. This may be because, for some, adventurous sexual experiences already fulfil their needs, making robot sex less appealing. On the other hand, people exhibiting sexist behaviours expressed more interest in engaging in robot sex. In parallel, individuals with a stronger inclination towards maintaining status differences between social groups also ranked higher, showing how societal attitudes to gender and power dynamics influence perceptions of robosexuality.

As revealed in our AI Pleasures Market, users can create and enjoy new tech-enabled pleasures, and this research suggests, that for some, robots offer an alternative to human intimacy – but one that reflects complex societal dynamics surrounding gender, power and sexual relationships.

Strategic Opportunity

Manufacturers should proceed with caution and consider ethical concerns surrounding the development and use of sex robots, including issues related to consent, objectification, and perpetuation of gender stereotypes

Stat: Gen Z are exercising less than their elders did at the same age

Dajlien collection by Ikea, The Netherlands Dajlien collection by Ikea, The Netherlands

Global – Asics Corp’s latest Global State of Mind Study underlines the enduring connection between physical activity and mental health. The survey of over 26,000 individuals across 22 countries reveals a significant correlation between exercise habits in adolescence and adult mental wellbeing.

Active respondents boasted higher state of mind scores, averaging 67/100 globally, compared to 54/100 for inactive individuals. Crucially, those who maintained physical activity during their teenage years reported better mental health outcomes in adulthood, emphasising the formative role of adolescence in establishing life-long exercise habits. Some 57% of the Silent Generation (aged 78+) said they were active daily in their childhood, compared to 19% of Gen Z (aged 18–27). This exercise generational gap is cause for concern. ‘It is worrying to see this decline in activity levels from younger respondents at such a critical age, particularly as the study uncovered an association with lower wellbeing in adulthood,’ explained professor Brendon Stubbs, a researcher in exercise and mental health from King’s College London.

As explored in our Boomers Now and Next: From Ageing to Becoming macrotrend report, physical activity is at the core of this cohort’s retirement strategy. Breaking stereotypes, Boomers are leaving Zumba and power walking behind to focus on resistance work at the gym.

Strategic opportunity

Consider using the popularity of gaming culture to create interactive and gamified experiences that encourage physical activity among less active young people. This could involve developing fitness apps with game-like features, organising fitness challenges with rewards or incorporating virtual reality technology into exercise routines

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