Retail

From groceries to placemaking, a wide-ranging exploration of the retail industry

Need to Know
07 : 08 : 19

Funan embodies the future mall, researchers trial virtual reality as an immersive therapy, and the UK’s workforce values flexible working more than salary.

Outdoor Voices’ editorial content celebrates the outdoors

Sophie Koella on The Recreationalist by Outdoor Voices Sophie Koella on The Recreationalist by Outdoor Voices
Sophie Koella on The Recreationalist by Outdoor Voices Sophie Koella on The Recreationalist by Outdoor Voices
Sophie Koella on The Recreationalist by Outdoor Voices Sophie Koella on The Recreationalist by Outdoor Voices

US – The technical apparel brand has unveiled an editorial platform dedicated to ‘informing, inspiring and providing an outlet for all things recreational’.

The Recreationalist is a digital and print publication with a focus on community, culture and outdoor recreation, which aspires to further the brand’s efforts to ‘get the world moving’ and to ‘free fitness from performance’. Inspired by the brand’s hashtag, #doingthings, content will include product recommendations, playlists, city guides and in-depth profiles of people of note.

By focusing on recreation rather than performance, Outdoor Voices is differentiating itself from other athleisure and activewear brands. To emphasise this point, Outdoor Voices founder and CEO Ty Haney also calls for customers to submit their stories about outdoor recreation in a letter accompanying the launch of the platform. Positioning the brand as more than a retailer, the idea is to create a hub for content provided both by and for users, as well as a resource for customers.

To learn how outdoor activities are attracting a new consumer, read our microtrend The Elevated Outdoors.

Funan Mall is a hyper-connected retail playground

Funan mall, Singapore Funan mall, Singapore
Funan mall, Singapore Funan mall, Singapore

Singapore – After three years of development, the shopping centre has re-opened as a phygital, community-focused experience.

CapitaLand is repositioning Funan Mall as a bricks-and-mortar social experience, seamlessly supported by numerous digital elements. Convenience and personalisation are at the heart of the project, which includes features like the use of facial recognition at the mall’s entrance, fitting rooms with augmented reality (AR) walkways, the option to make food orders through social media, cryptocurrency payments, and personalised smart directories with responsive wayfinding that can be used to navigate and engage with the environment.

The overall aim of the mall, explains CapitaLand managing director Chris Chong, is not to overstimulate visitors with technological gimmicks but to champion better service. The venture hopes to dedicate more attention towards ‘growing a responsive and vibrant community, powered by an eco-system of sensors and analytics to deepen consumer insight’. The Funan Mall blends technology with retail, entertainment, office and co-living elements to ultimately create an all-encompassing community experience.

For more on how malls can future-proof themselves, read our dedicated listicle.

Virtual reality is being used to treat mental health

Hong Kong – Researchers in China are exploring virtual reality (VR) as an immersive therapy to help mental health patients overcome social anxiety.

The project, called Yes I Can, seeks to prove whether VR can be used to improve people’s mood and anxiety levels by helping them to feel more comfortable in social situations. The partnership between Oxford VR and The Chinese University of Hong Kong uses the technology to recreate everyday scenarios, such as visiting a café, convenience store, or a doctor’s waiting room, in order to enable subjects to safely engage in situations without fear or social withdrawal.

As many as one in eight Hongkongers polled by the researchers said they felt unable to discuss their mental wellbeing because of the social stigma attached to seeking professional help.To make it easier for Hong Kong residents to access treatment for a range of mental health issues, the study aims to position VR as a technological solution.

As the Mental Health Market grows, there is an opportunity for brands to think about how to provide people with access to the support they need.

Rebranding Mental Health for Refinery29, photography by Flora Maclean Rebranding Mental Health for Refinery29, photography by Flora Maclean

Watching brainwaves could send you to sleep

Inter-Dream, RMIT University and pluginHUMAN Inter-Dream, RMIT University and pluginHUMAN
Inter-Dream, RMIT University and pluginHUMAN Inter-Dream, RMIT University and pluginHUMAN

Melbourne – Researchers at RMIT University have found a way to induce sleepiness using our own brainwaves.

The multi-sensory experience, created by PluginHUMAN and dubbed Inter-Dream, uses an interactive bed, ambient music and kaleidoscopic visuals controlled by the user’s brainwaves. Each brain frequency is assigned a different colour and the brain’s intensity is tied to movement, meaning each person’s brain generates unique imagery. This is then fed through the VR headset.

By creating a visual feedback loop, users can recognise and modify their thoughts in a way that could help them to relax and eventually fall asleep. Analysis from a recent trial found that participants recorded a 21% drop in general negative emotion and 55% decrease in feelings of fear after using Inter-Dream. ‘EEG readings were also indicative of restorative restfulness and a clear mind, while interview responses described experiences of mindfulness,’ says Natahan Semertzidis, PhD researcher at RMIT University.

As examined in our Experience 2020 report, neuroscience is gradually being integrated into consumers’ everyday activities, whether for entertainment or wellbeing purposes.

Stat: Flexible working is a priority for professionals

Demand for flexible working arrangements continues to grow among the British workforce. In a survey conducted by ETZ Payments, nearly half (43%) of Brits now cite flexible hours as the most important consideration when choosing a job.

To further prove this, as much as 35% would choose flexible working options over a pay rise and 22% said they had already switched from a traditional 9-5 to working freelance in order to achieve greater flexibility, and find a greater balance between life and work. In the near future, 58% think flexible working will be the most popular method of working.

For more on how brands, institutions and consumers are seeking new metrics of progress, read our Post-growth Society macrotrend.

Thought-starter: Is Instagram promoting unsustainable consumption?

As more brands strive to be sustainable, deputy foresight editor Kathryn Bishop argues: it’s time to re-think social platforms that promote incessant newness and instant in-app purchasing.

Shopping on Instagram. Sure, I’ve done it. In fact, in recent months I’ve probably made five purchases directly or indirectly by discovering an item on Instagram. And Instagram has made shopping even more seamless, debuting its in-app checkout with brands such as Zara, Nike and H&M. I’d go as far to say that the social side of things is now secondary – Instagram has transformed into an e-commerce platform.

But as someone who – like over 50% of consumers in the UK and the US – wants to see and buy more sustainable fashion, the green credentials of the brands I’m browsing is increasingly front of mind. And this is where the ease of shopping on Instagram becomes a sticking point.

Absolutely, sustainable brands are doing their part to change how the fashion industry functions. But if your brand is all about encouraging people to take a more considered approach to the products they buy, does it make sense to exist and engage in a space that’s leaning so heavily towards incessant newness and impulsive purchasing?

Read the full Opinion here.

Allbirds Instagram, US Allbirds Instagram, US
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