News 29.05.2024

Need to Know

Walmart Realm brings groceries to the metaverse, a new electric spoon simulates saltiness and why self-expression in gaming is driving profits.

Walmart unveils 3D e-commerce platform for Gen Z shoppers

Walmart Realm, US

Global – Walmart has launched a new e-commerce platform, Walmart Realm, featuring digital doubles of selected products available in real-life stores. The virtual bazaars, designed by virtual store specialist Emperia, are set in fantastical worlds including So Jelly, an underwater universe, and Y’allternative, a Wild West/Gothic hybrid.

Justin Breton, Walmart’s director of brand experiences, notes that Realm is an experimental step toward the future of immersive commerce. He said in a statement: 'It’s not going to replace a website or our app, but it will be complementary.'

Walmart Realm targets Gen Z, offering items curated by influencers such as Mai Pham and Nava Rose, with most products priced under £39 ($50, €46). It includes gamified elements to incentivise lingering, akin to real-world store browsing.

Realm’s launch follows Walmart’s previous ventures into the metaverse with platforms like Roblox. Looking forward, Breton hopes to expand Walmart’s immersive shopping into other virtual spaces such as Fortnite and Minecraft. 'We would love the opportunity to be the partner they choose to introduce [real-world commerce] to their communities,' he added.

For more insights on the metaverse, head to our Metaverse topic.

Strategic opportunity

Establish a presence in popular gaming platforms such as Fortnite, Minecraft or Roblox to reach broader and younger audiences. Can you develop branded virtual items, stores or experiences within these platforms to enhance brand visibility and drive sales?

Kirin Holdings launches saltiness-enhancing electric spoon

Electric Salt Spoon by Kirin Holdings, Japan Electric Salt Spoon by Kirin Holdings, Japan
Electric Salt Spoon by Kirin Holdings, Japan Electric Salt Spoon by Kirin Holdings, Japan

Japan – Kirin Holdings has unveiled the Electric Salt Spoon, an enhanced piece of cutlery that can elevate the umami and salty taste of low-sodium foods.

Developed in collaboration with Meiji University’s Dr Homei Miyashita Laboratory, the spoon works by controlling the movement of sodium ions – these form the basis of saltiness and are typically dispersed within the mouth, meaning they can go undetected by the tongue. The spoon draws these sodium ions towards the tongue by passing a weak electric current around the tongue through the food, giving the illusion of enhanced saltiness.

The spoon was designed to help reduce salt intake in Japan, without sacrificing popular high-sodium dishes such as miso soup and ramen. Initial sales of the Electric Salt Spoon are limited to 200.

In our upcoming Food & Drink Futures 2024–2025 macrotrend report, we dive into the ‘nutrition recession’ and how consumers are looking to innovations beyond their five a day to hit their micronutrient needs. The Electric Salt Spoon could help bridge the gap between satisfying people's taste buds and their functional health needs. Sign up for our members-only webinar where we will unpack the macrotrend report.

Strategic opportunity

The climate crisis is leading to resource scarcity, including of certain foods. Consider how you can use technological innovation to simulate flavours, such as those of coffee or cocoa, that regular consumers could become priced out of

New research alerts on healthspan gender gap

AI imagery by The Future Laboratory, UK AI imagery by The Future Laboratory, UK

US – Women live longer than men but experience more years in declining health, a gap that researcher Maddy Dychtwald explores in her book Ageless Aging: A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Healthspan, Brainspan, and Lifespan.

While women in the US typically outlive men by six years, they often spend the final 12 to 14 years of life in declining health. This disconnect between lifespan and healthspan is a major concern, Dychtwald told the LA Times. She is also the co-founder of Age Wave, a think tank addressing the far-reaching impacts of longevity and our ageing population.

The reasons behind this gender gap are not fully understood, though Dychtwald points to declining estrogen levels in older women as a possible factor. Her book offers a holistic approach to longevity, covering areas such as sleep, nutrition and fitness. Research shows that common risk factors affecting health, such as physical activity and smoking status, are among those that can often be controlled. Dychtwald believes a proactive, multi-faceted approach can help women extend both their lifespan and healthspan.

In our Longevity Lifestyles macrotrend report, we look at how the health, beauty and wellbeing sectors are embracing longevity as people awaken to the possibility of living longer, and healthier, lives.

Strategic opportunity

Develop and expand healthcare services that prioritise extending healthspan alongside lifespan. This could include specialised clinics focusing on preventive care and hormone therapy along with holistic health assessments tailored explicitly for women

Stat: Gaming for self-expression is fuelling growth in gaming

AI imagery by The Future Laboratory, UK AI imagery by The Future Laboratory, UK

Global – According to online fan community Fandom’s Inside Gaming 2024 report, almost half (46%) of gamers list creation, imagination and self-expression as key motivations for gaming, up by 10% from the previous year.

Surveying 5,000 entertainment and gaming fans globally, Fandom also found that 60% of gamers claim self-expression through gaming is more important than ever before. Moreover, players who look to gaming as a place to be their true selves are 30% more likely to want to spend more time gaming than in previous years.

The fourth iteration of the annual survey revealed that half of respondents claim they’d prefer to be more like their in-game personality in real life and 72% would feel more favourably towards brands that help them achieve this.

These insights align with those documented in our Women Who Play report, which analysed how female gamers are shaking up the sector by engaging in gaming as a form of self-care by prioritising in-game and offline appearances along with mental health considerations, and actively engaging with their communities.

Strategic opportunity

Avatar customisation options are more important than ever. Consider establishing a WhatsApp chat (or other accessible channel) to empower users to suggest avatar updates and enhancements that will make them feel authentically represented in virtual realms

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