News 06.06.2024

Need to Know

ByoWave unveils gaming controllers for all, Erewhon’s sunscreen-inspired smoothie and why teen employment is rising in the US.

ByoWave unveils highly customisable controller for gamers with disabilities

ByoWave, US
ByoWave, US
ByoWave, US

Ireland – ByoWave and the Designed for Xbox team have joined forces to launch the Proteus Controller, a modular device tailored for gamers with disabilities. This innovative controller offers more than 100 configurations, enabling users to choose the best for their needs.

Unlike traditional controllers, the Proteus Controller is highly adaptable. It can be assembled to sit flat on a table, be used as a hand-held device or split into two separate controllers. This flexibility ensures that it accommodates a wide range of mobility limitations.

Each Proteus Controller kit includes snap and play parts, such as Power Cubes with built-in batteries and Analog Cubes featuring left and right analogue sticks, D-pads and essential buttons. The controller is compatible with Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows 10 and 11.

It is discounted at £200 ($255, €235) for a limited time, but ByoWave is only currently accepting pre-orders, with shipments expected to begin this autumn. This development marks a significant step forward in making gaming more accessible for everyone.

We have previously discussed how brands are increasing their inclusivity in the gaming industry by creating accessible games, products and experiences in our Virtual Accessibility Market report.

Strategic opportunity

Develop products with modular and customisable features to cater for diverse user needs, enhancing accessibility and consumer experience for all

Erewhon launches sunscreen-inspired smoothie with Vacation

US – Erewhon has introduced a new addition to its smoothie line-up, but this time it’s in collaboration with skincare brand Vacation. The Sunscreen Smoothie, inspired by Vacation’s Classic SPF 30 Lotion, features a tropical blend of coconut, banana, Tahitian vanilla syrup, aloe and sea salt.

Notably, the £7 ($9, €8.30) Sunscreen Smoothie is complimentary for Erewhon members until 14 June, adding a more accessible option to its often pricier menu.

‘While inspired by Vacation’s World’s Best-Smelling Sunscreen scent, this smoothie does not, in fact, protect your skin from the sun,’ Erewhon notes in a press release.

Erewhon’s celebrity smoothie range typically includes exclusive ingredients from beauty and wellness brands, but the Sunscreen Smoothie sets a new precedent.

This collaboration also marks Erewhon’s first beauty brand-backed smoothie without celebrity endorsement. In our new macrotrend, Functional Feasting, we analyse how brands must solve the New Novelty-Nostalgia Equation  to retail cultural relevance.

Vacation and Erewhon, US

Strategic opportunity

Explore partnerships between food and beauty brands to create unique, cross-promotional products that attract customers from both industries

Researchers develop healthier chocolate concept using the whole cocoa fruit

Voyage Foods. Photography by Andria Lo Voyage Foods. Photography by Andria Lo

Switzerland – Researchers at ETH Zurich have collaborated with sustainable cocoa-fruit cultivation start-up Koa and Swiss chocolate manufacturer Felchlin to develop an eco-friendly chocolate concept with enhanced nutritional value.

While traditional chocolate only uses cocoa beans, cocoa-fruit chocolate is made by processing cocoa fruit flesh and parts of the fruit shell into powder and mixing it with pulp to create a cocoa gel. The gel is extremely sweet and can substitute powdered sugar to produce chocolate that is about 20% more fibrous and contains around 30% less saturated fat than the average European dark chocolate.

The resulting product is also a more sustainable alternative to traditional chocolate as it leaves only the cocoa shell as waste, which can be easily repurposed as fuel or compost material. Cocoa-fruit chocolate also presents a valuable opportunity for small-scale cocoa farmers to diversify their income streams beyond cocoa beans.

In our Adaptive Appetites macrotrend report, we explored how inflation and supply chain fragility mean food manufacturers must adopt unfamiliar flavours and unusual ingredients, such as cocoa gel, in order to meet consumer demand for endangered crops.

Strategic opportunity

Consider the waste products created in your manufacturing process. Can these be repurposed or find value somewhere else in your supply chain to reduce waste and improve your brand’s sustainability credentials?

Stat: US teen employment soars to highest levels since 2008

After Hours by Shauna Summers via DTS, Germany After Hours by Shauna Summers via DTS, Germany

US – The US labour market remains steady, with notable strength in sectors typically attracting teenage workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the teen participation rate in March 2024 hit 36.7%, the highest since 2008. Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc (CGC), an outplacement firm, projects that teenagers will secure 1.3m jobs this summer, driven by robust consumer demand and teen interest in employment. This forecast surpasses the estimate of 1.1m in 2023 and the 1,034,000 actual jobs added in summer 2023. In March, teen employment reached 5.6m, the highest since 2007, marking a 2% increase on the previous year.

‘Inflation is not only hitting employers’ labour costs. It’s also hitting teens’ pockets, as well as those of their families,’ said Andrew Challenger, senior vice-president at CGC, in a statement. ‘Amusement parks, pools, restaurants, libraries, summer camps and stores most certainly have employment needs and would be great places for teens to gain valuable skills.’

Despite these opportunities, the average duration of unemployment has increased, posing challenges for job-seekers. Nevertheless, the economic landscape and high consumer demand suggest a promising outlook for teen employment. ‘High inflation is driving up labour costs, which may mean employers raise prices without adding workers. That said, with a solid economy and high consumer demand, teens have opportunities,’ added Challenger.

For more insights on teens’ behaviour in the US, head to our Gen Z Now and Next: From Vision to Contradiction macrotrend report.

Strategic opportunity

Develop and enhance programmes specifically targeting teen employment. These could include internships, summer job fairs and partnerships with local schools to provide job training and employment opportunities

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