From groceries to placemaking, retailers are reinventing their post COVID conversation with shoppers as retail itself becomes more immersive, expressive, dramatic and hyper-personalised.

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12 : 07 : 22

Lightyear accelerates solar-powered mobility, Balenciaga’s Parisian store democratises couture, and gamers feel positively towards brands.

This EV can run for months on solar power

Lightyear 0 by Lightyear, The Netherlands
Lightyear 0 by Lightyear, The Netherlands
Lightyear 0 by Lightyear, The Netherlands

The Netherlands – Electric vehicle (EV) start-up Lightyear is driving sustainable innovation with the launch of its first solar-powered car. The production-ready vehicle, Lightyear 0, features five square metres of solar arrays that allow it to charge itself when being driven or parked in the sun. It has a range of 388 miles from traditional charging methods, but solar power can increase that by 44 miles a day.

While different climates will result in varying charge results, Lightyear claims that the vehicle could conceivably run for months without needing to be recharged. ‘In climates such as The Netherlands, it would be two months and, in Spain or Portugal, as much as seven months,’ says the brand. Although this model will initially only be made into 946 units, the innovation represents great leaps in climate-friendly automotive design.

The Lightyear 0 points to a future when more vehicles will be powered by natural or renewable energy sources. For more new directions in this space, discover our Mobility series.

Strategic opportunity

Technology brands can take inspiration from this innovation and similarly work towards solar-powered products that reduce reliance on harmful or finite energy sources

A floating island city is emerging in Maldives

Maldives Floating City by Dutch Docklands, Maldives Maldives Floating City by Dutch Docklands, Maldives
Maldives Floating City by Dutch Docklands, Maldives Maldives Floating City by Dutch Docklands, Maldives

Maldives – With the Maldives islands on track to becoming uninhabitable by 2100 due to rising sea levels, the nation is taking action to protect its residents by building a floating city. The development, in partnership with architecture studio Waterstudio, will house 20,000 people in a lagoon near the country’s capital, Malé.

Set to be fully completed by 2027, the floating city will comprise a series of hexagonal islands, taking inspiration from the geometric shapes of a local coral species called brain coral. There are also plans to add hotels, restaurants and other hospitality venues to the city.

While other destinations have previously released conceptual plans for floating residencies, this project provides a realistic example in terms of its technical and logistical efficiencies. ‘As a nation at the front lines of global warming, Maldives is perfectly positioned to re-imagine how humankind will survive – and, indeed, thrive – in the face of rising seas and coastal erosion,’ said Dutch Docklands, the developer behind the project.

Looking ahead, more nations will need to prioritise the development of such resilient residencies, as we prepare for a future when homes will be increasingly affected by the climate crisis.

Strategic opportunity

With many residential areas facing environmental threats, property developers must work closely with climate experts to future-proof new buildings

Balenciaga’s latest store is a gateway to couture

Paris – Usually the preserve of top-tier clients, the luxury fashion brand is opening its latest couture retail destination to a broader audience of Parisians and tourists. The store, located at 10 Avenue George V street, offers clothing, accessories and objects that the brand describes as ‘ranging from artisanal to highly technological’. All items sold at the store are exclusive to the location and available in limited-edition runs, and can be personalised and made-to-measure.

Balenciaga’s couture store is open to the general public from Tuesday to Friday, but remains appointment-only on Mondays and Saturdays. In this way, the brand balances its aims of democratising couture, while also retaining a level of exclusivity for its existing couture audience – something we explore in our Appointment Abodes trend, as part of Hyperphysical Stores.

Cédric Charbit, CEO of Balenciaga, described the location as a ‘gateway to couture, which remains a very closed universe, especially for new generations’. Here, the brand is cleverly expanding its services to reach more diverse audiences, while still aligning with the growth of Gated Retail.

Balenciaga 10 Avenue George V, Paris

Strategic opportunity

How might luxury brands create accessible spaces and experiences, while also balancing the needs of VIP shoppers? Consider how cultural programming can appeal to broad audiences

Stat: Gamers favour brands more than non-gamers

Red Bull Gaming Sphere, London Red Bull Gaming Sphere, London

With gaming spaces ripe for branded activations, research by Newzoo reveals that gamers have more favourable attitudes to brands than their non-gaming counterparts. The market intelligence company conducted an online survey earlier in 2022 covering more than 75,000 respondents from 36 markets around the world to assess perceptions of 13 different sport, car, drink and luxury fashion brands.

The most significant gap in attitudes was for energy and fizzy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster Energy, Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola, in that order. Some 52% of gamers said they had a ‘very positive’ or ‘positive’ attitude to Red Bull, compared to just 28% of non-gamers. For Monster, the figures were 46% and 23%, respectively. Interestingly, alcohol brands such as Budweiser and Ballantine’s showed the most minimal discrepancies between gaming and non-gaming audiences.

These figures point to new opportunities for brands – especially those in the alcohol sector – to create in-game campaigns or activations to appeal to gaming audiences. To discover examples of branding for this sector, delve into our Gaming series.

Strategic opportunity

Brands that are popular with gaming audiences should consider partnering with developers to design immersive in-game content. Aim to promote your products or services without detracting too much from game play

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