News 31.05.2024

Need to Know

What happened at the Pulse eCommerce Summit, senior foresight analyst Marta Indeka’s Foresight Friday and 'digital ghosts' are on the rise in the US.

Pulse eCommerce Summit: personalisation in the AI age

Carolina Carballo for The Future Laboratory

UK – Yesterday marked the third edition of the Pulse eCommerce Summit, an event from London-based e-commerce consultancy Vervaunt.

The company’s co-founders Paul Rogers and Josh Duggan opened with an overview of the trends disrupting online retail. They highlighted the importance of account-based journeys in harvesting first-party data and increasing personalisation. An example of this is streetwear label Hoodrich which enlisted Rebuy (Shopify’s e-commerce personalisation platform) to implement a smart cart feature: products are suggested to users to complete their look, leveraging data from their profile. Hoodrich's e-commerce manager, Natalie Tobias, explained that ‘customers don’t want to think’ about what to purchase, but instead want to be told what to buy’.

Vervaunt returned to the stage to further explore the potential of integrated artificial intelligence and augmented-reality powered retail. The speakers revealed that brands aren’t only using generative AI to power their chatbots but are allowing consumers to customise products in real time. Lingerie brand Adore Me enables people to generate AI patterns for their underwear sets in seconds, allowing them to become a co-creator of the product – something younger generations value, as explored in our World Retail Congress 2024 coverage. However, in a panel discussion, Anton Johansson, CEO of e-commerce design agency Grebban, warned luxury brands that integrating AI into their online customer service could be off-putting to wealthy individuals looking for high-quality service.

Strategic opportunity

To engage consumers, retailers must utilise AI and first-party data to create optimum personalisation on their e-commerce platforms, something we explore in our retail macrotrend EQ-Commerce

Seed Health introduces innovative vaginal symbiotic

Seed Health, US Seed Health, US
Seed Health, US Seed Health, US

US – Microbial sciences company Seed Health has launched VS-01, a first-of-its-kind vaginal symbiotic. Crucial for gynaecological, urogenital and reproductive health, VS-01 leverages three proprietary L. crispatus strains, identified for their efficacy in promoting vaginal health, to restore an optimal vaginal microbiome.

Developed from research by Dr Jacques Ravel, a professor and director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, VS-01 is proven to establish and maintain an optimal vaginal microbiome dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus, the vagina’s most protective bacteria. The VS-01 tablet is inserted into the vagina using an applicator, similar to a tampon. The two-month starter kit retails for £77.84 ($99, €91.50) with refills available for £31.44 ($39.99, €36.96) per month.

Women’s health is undergoing a long overdue period of innovation. In The Future of Women’s Health, we interviewed Dr Somi Javaid, founder of HerMD, about how research and investment in women’s health innovations can help close the gender health gap and fix a broken healthcare system.

Strategic opportunity

Brands producing sexual health and menstruation products such as tampons and condoms should collaborate with Seed Health and Dr Jacques Ravel to optimise their products for vaginal microbiome health

Foresight Friday: Marta Indeka, senior foresight analyst

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

Every Friday, The Future Laboratory team offers an end-of-week wrap-up of the topics, issues, ideas and virals we’re all talking about. This week, senior foresight analyst Marta Indeka shares musings on our fast fashion and fast food obsessions.

: After attending the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen earlier in May, I cannot stop thinking about this SNL skit, a fictional ad promoting Shein’s doppelgänger Xiemu. The Subversive Sustainability Ad echoed the key takeaway from the summit – fashion’s big sustainability issue doesn’t need a publicist anymore. What is needed? Less talk, more action. More on that in our upcoming event debrief on LS:N Global

: This week, I was lucky to attend an event centred on biodiversity at the Tate Modern in London. On stage, Zoe’s co-founder Tim Spector and Natoora’s CEO Franco Fubini stressed that three crops (wheat, rice and corn) provide half of the world’s calorie intake. A good reminder that nurturing diversity in our guts and gardens can restore resilience of soil and immune systems – ideas we touch on in Adaptive Appetites

: Speaking of fast(er) food, Axios reported that the number of limited-time offers at restaurants has grown 53% in the past four years. It makes me wonder why restaurateurs not leaning into our desire for exclusivity and scarcity to push seasonal, local produce to consumers more. À bon entendeur.

Quote of the week

‘We continue to create problems at a faster pace than we create solutions. Less bad is still bad

Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, campaigner and co-author of Net Positive, speaking at the 2024 Global Fashion Summit

Stat: Digital ghosts are multiplying in the US

Photography by Ketut Subiyanto Photography by Ketut Subiyanto

US – A May 2024 Socure study highlights that 35% of Gen Z and nearly a third of legal immigrants in the US are so-called ‘digital ghosts’, lacking sufficient financial history for online identity verification. These demographics find it hard to access critical services such as bank accounts, student loans and government aid.

Despite being digital natives, Gen Z delay starting their financial footprints due to regulations, such as the requirement in the US for under 21s to have a cosigner, proof of income and other verification to apply for a credit card. Financial literacy also poses a significant issue, with half of Gen Zers feeling unprepared to enter the financial ecosystem at 18. This could become even more problematic for those due to inherit properties and assets as part of The Great Wealth Transfer.

Legal immigrants face similar hardships, with 31% unable to verify their identities to access jobs or government services. ‘Too many consumers today are locked out of the digital economy because identity verification systems rely on outdated data sources and methods,’ said Josh Linn, SVP of product and GM of compliance at Socure.

For insights on how Gen Z deal with their finances, head to our Money Market: Generation Z report.

Strategic opportunity

Service providers should consider developing advanced AI and machine learning systems to create more robust and inclusive digital identity verification methods that do not solely rely on traditional financial histories

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