Retail

Retail Industry Trends : From groceries to placemaking, retail is becoming more immersive, expressive, dramatic and hyper-personalised.

Need to Know
18 : 09 : 23

Apple’s controversial film on corporate sustainability commitments, Coca-Cola turns to AI for new recipe and why marijuana use among middle-aged Americans is at record levels.

Is Apple’s new sustainability video ad genius or greenwashing?

Mother Earth by Apple, US

Global – In a new campaign video, Apple’s environmental team, including CEO Tim Cook, sit down in a meeting with Mother Nature. On screen, the anxious-to-impress employees need to provide a status report on their 2020 pledge to reach net zero across Apple’s entire carbon footprint by 2030.

Mother Nature, played by Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, demands updates on innovations across materials, clean energy, low-carbon shopping and restoration of natural eco-systems. She is prepared to be disappointed, but is pleasantly surprised yet severe and demanding. Apple is on track to meet its targets and uses the opportunity to unveil its first carbon-neutral product, an eco-friendly Apple Watch.

A perfect example of Subversive Sustainability Ads, the video uses humour and entertainment to launch the new carbon-neutral watch and update customers on Apple’s journey to net zero. But Apple’s reputation for built-in obsolescence and rigid controls over repairs has left the brand facing accusations of greenwashing.

Strategic opportunity

Accusations of greenwashing highlight the importance of getting communication on sustainability initiatives right, with authenticity and honesty at the core

Coca-Cola asks AI to create a drink that tastes like the future

Coca‑Cola® Y3000 Zero Sugar, US Coca‑Cola® Y3000 Zero Sugar, US
Coca‑Cola® Y3000 Zero Sugar, US Coca‑Cola® Y3000 Zero Sugar, US

US, Canada – Coca-Cola has launched a limited-edition ‘future-flavoured’ cola drink, the Y3000, which was co-created using human and artificial intelligence.

The futuristic packaging was also created in collaboration with AI, and consumers can scan a QR code on the drink to access the Coca-Cola Creations Hub, where a customised Y300 AI camera will filter their surroundings to show what life might look like in the future.

‘We hope that Coca‑Cola will still be as relevant and refreshing in the year 3000 as it is today, so we challenged ourselves to explore the concept of what a Coke from the future might taste like – and what kind of experiences would a Coke from the future unlock?,’ said Oana Vlad, senior director of global strategy at The Coca‑Cola Company, in a company blog post.

The original taste version of Coca-Cola Y3000 will be available across the US and Canada, whilst the zero-sugar option will be available in selected markets across the US, Canada, China, Europe and Africa.

As explored in our Generative AI Creativity Market report, companies are only just beginning to explore AI’s creative potential, but the opportunities for packaging design, campaign copy, and even inventing new flavours, are endless.

Strategic opportunity

Find inspiration in how Coca-Cola turned to AI from start (flavour) to finish (packaging, QR code experience) with a futuristic narrative enhancing the company’s innovative and bold approach

Estée Lauder partners with Google Cloud on AI-powered consumer experience

US – Beauty group Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) has partnered with Google Cloud to pioneer new uses of generative AI, as part of its mission to transform the luxury digital experience.

Google Cloud’s generative AI systems will power real-time monitoring of customer sentiment and feedback for the conglomerate, allowing ELC to rapidly address customer concerns, identify relevant external trends and improve customer service. The beauty group is also implementing Google’s PaLM 2, an AI language computer learning model, to monitor mentions of itself on social media and in call centre operations.

‘At The Estée Lauder Companies, we aim to delight consumers with transformative products and services,’ said Gibu Thomas, executive vice-president online at The Estée Lauder Companies, in a press release.

In our EQ-Commerce macrotrend report, we examined how consumer expectations, particularly in luxury, are higher than ever when it comes to the retail experience. Generative AI will be invaluable in helping brands foster hyper-personalised services and customer care.

Estée Lauder, US

Strategic opportunity

As the technology expands quickly, consider implementing generative AI for real-time monitoring of customer sentiment and feedback as soon as possible. AI-powered tools could help you gain deeper insights into customer preferences and concerns, enabling more responsive and personalised customer service

Stat: Marijuana use among middle-aged Americans at record levels

Nebula collection by Serena Confalonieri. Photography by Stefania Zanetti, Italy
Nebula collection by Serena Confalonieri. Photography by Stefania Zanetti, Italy

US – A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health has revealed concerning trends in alcohol and marijuana consumption among adults aged 35–50 in 2022. The research found that binge drinking reached a record high in this age group, with nearly 30% reporting the behaviour, up from 23% in 2012.

Concurrently, marijuana use also reached historic levels, with 28% of adults in this group reporting usage, a significant jump from 13% in 2012. Furthermore, 4% of respondents admitted to using hallucinogens, double the figure from the previous year.

Interestingly, the study contrasted these findings with the behaviours of adults aged 19–30. This younger group reported higher marijuana use at 44%, but binge drinking had fallen to 30.5%, from 35.2% a decade earlier.

Researchers suggest that cultural shifts and changing drug regulations influence these generational substance use differences. As explored in our Sober Bars microtrend, new establishments are emerging to provide a safe space for predominantly Gen Z sober-curious consumers to enjoy drinking without the pressure to consume alcohol. Following new legislation legalising marijuana in some states, such as California, the cannabis market is also booming, with innovations in the food and drink and wellness markets.

Strategic opportunity

In regions where marijuana is legal, businesses can explore the creation of cannabis-infused products, such as drinks, edibles or wellness products tailored to a more mature demographic aged between 35 and 50

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