Wyndham Updates App for Easier Pandemic Travel

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts updated its mobile app to provide features meant to make guests more at-ease during the pandemic. This includes offering mobile check-in and checkout to 6,000 hotels, up from 300 hotels previously.

The app will allow for keyless room entry at select locations, and a gamified “passport” that tracks in-app actions around their loyalty program, like booking a stay or redeeming points. There will also be a “Lightning Book” feature to reserve a room quickly, designed for people on-the-go who want to find the nearest hotel and complete a booking in as few as three taps.

While upscale hotel chains have led the way in investing in mobile capabilities, this move by Wyndham, the parent of brands like La Quinta, Days Inn and Super 8, suggests such features are a must-have for a broader group of economy and midscale hotels. As these brands are largely servicing guests who are traveling by road rather than air, they’ve been holding up better than other chains. While the revenue per available room, a key metric for the hotel industry, fell 81% at luxury hotels in the U.S. in the second quarter, budget hotels experienced only a 44% decline over the period, according to data from analytics firm STR cited by The Wall Street Journal.

Why It’s Hot

The new contactless features along with stronger personalization and gamification of the loyalty program can be a differentiator that helps people return to traveling.

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Hard-hitting New Zealand campaign shows how seat-belts save lives

Transport agency in NZ transforms car crash survivors into advocates for seat-belts.

Body image for Graphic New Zealand campaign shows how seatbelts save lives

Body image for Graphic New Zealand campaign shows how seatbelts save lives

The campaign saw a 74% perception shift for its target audience (young men). The campaign had a recall almost three times higher among young males than the general population, and nearly four times higher than previous seat-belt campaign recall.

Recognizing that the seat-belt was regarded by young males as a symbol of weakness, NZ Transport Agency carefully selected survivors with heavy seat-belt marks to show that a seat-belt will save you, but it will also leave its mark on you. The dark bruising in each of the survivors’ portraits conveys just how hard a seat-belt works to save a life, re-framing it as a symbol of strength, rather than weakness.

A cast of young, macho, tattooed men, proves that even the most physically fit and imposing people are saved by seat-belts, and that wearing one is not just for kids or the elderly.

Why it’s hot: It’s easy to become desensitized to even graphic PSA campaigns, but NZ Transport Agency chose to feature real people who survived car crashes because of seat-belts, thus having a greater impact on their target demographic.

SOURCE

Working Den Helps Prevent Burnout

One-third of workers globally are experiencing increased burnout during the pandemic. Although burnout has been a topic for decades, with livingrooms becoming conference rooms, the lack of separation between work and life has become the #1 workplace stressor.

Yet even though burnout is pervasive and can result in everything from insomnia to high blood pressure, it’s one of those issues employees often feel they can’t talk to their employers about.

Source: Trendwatching

Filled with tools to help remote workers maintain healthy routines, Working Den has launched as a free service. Designed to be used throughout the workday, at launch, the service includes:

  • Exercise and stretching guides
  • Calming nature videos
  • Playlists of background noise
  • Mental health assessment quizzes
  • Pomodoro productivity timer
  • Eye-strain reduction notification system

New features like the ability to pair users up with one another to answer questions and as a way to combat loneliness are on the way.

Additional source: Fast Company

Why it’s hot: Although the site still has some rough edges, the site offers great value to those thrust into the deep end of working from home.

 

Good American changes the sizing conversation, again

Imagine a pair of jeans that magically adjusted to your body as you wore them day after day, year after year, even as your body changed. After an indulgent holiday meal, they’re not too snug; nor are they too loose on days when you feel your best. It seems like the stuff of a teen movie, but denim startup Good American may have found a way to turn this dream into a reality.

Today, the company, cofounded by Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede in 2016, launched Always Fit, which does away with traditional denim sizing. Instead, it has five categories—A, B, C, D, and E—each of which covers four sizes. (The sizing goes from 00 to 32.) If you traditionally wear a size 8, for instance, you’d be in the B category, which encompasses sizes 6 to 12. This means that if you go up a size or two over the next few years, the jeans should still fit comfortably. The jeans start at $139 and come in six washes.

[Photo: Good American]

Grede, Good American’s CEO, says this new collection came out of conversations she and her team had in the office. “Many of us have jeans for good days, and jeans for days when we feel bloated,” says Grede. “And then there’s the fact that our jean size seems to change over the course of the month, and over the span of years. This creates such a pain point for women.” Indeed, Grede’s research found that the average woman’s jean size fluctuates 31 times over the course of her adult life. (With men, it’s only 24 times.) The solution, she believed, was to create a jean that was stretchy enough to expand across several sizes.Of course, the market is flooded with stretchy pants, particularly with the rise of athleisure. But Good American wasn’t interested in making another pair of jeggings. Grede says it was important to design jeans that felt like real denim, which meant giving the fabric the heft and weight of cotton, along with all the traditional fixtures, such as the zipper, buttons, and pockets. “These are not jeggings,” says Grede. “If I could, I would banish that word.”

To create the Always Fit jeans, the Good American team explored a wide range of fabrics and did extensive wear tests. While leggings tend to be made largely of synthetic materials, these jeans are made from 90% cotton and 10% lycra and polyester. But thanks to the way the fabric is woven, these jeans have a lot of give. While most stretch denim on the market can expand by 50%, this can stretch by 100%, which means it can effectively double in size when stretched.

The Always Fit jeans align with Good American’s broader efforts to become more eco-friendly. Denim is a notoriously unsustainable product, because it requires a lot of water and dye to create. With this line, the company is increasing its use of more sustainable materials, including 5% recycled cotton. But more broadly, Grede believes that producing fewer sizes has the potential to reduce waste, since women won’t need to buy as many pairs of jeans. And from the company’s perspective, there’s likely to be less unsold stock at the end of the season, since each size will target more customers.

Ultimately, though, it seems like comfort will be the jeans’ main attraction. And the timing couldn’t be better. Over the last six months, consumers have gravitated toward sweats and loungewear, and as we reemerge into society, Grede believes we’ll have no tolerance for clothes that don’t feel good. “I believe that fashion will make a comeback,” says Grede. “We’ll want to get dressed and get together with other people again when we can. But we’ll just expect a higher level of comfort than ever.”

Why it’s Hot:

  • Good American continues to innovate to solve problems and pain points for women, especially when it comes to buying jeans.
  • They are an example of a brand committed to their brand values of helping women feel better and sustainable fashion.
  • As people continue to stay at home and the athleisure market continues to grow, they are finding their place in the market that will be relevant even after people go back to work.

Source: Fast Company

Why American Eagle is the last mall brand standing

When COVID-19 arrived in the United States, the fashion industry took a major hit. In April, clothing sales fell by 79%, the largest drop on record. By the end of the year, revenues are expected to drop by a third, equal to $640 billion in losses.

At a time when many retailers are hemorrhaging money and closing stores, Aerie saw a 32% rise in revenue and is on track to open 70 new stores this year. The company also launched two new brands during the pandemic, Offline and Unsubscribed.

How did AEO become one of the last successful mall brands in America? The answer seems to be the company’s single-minded commitment to its target customer: Gen Z, the oldest of whom are now in their midtwenties. AEO has invested heavily in focus groups, consumer research, and even an in-house council made up of teens and twentysomethings who help with the corporate decision-making. All of this has given the company a clear sense of this generation’s values, aesthetics, and shopping preferences. “We’re gathering feedback from customers at every step,” Schottenstein says. “We’re reading comments on social, we’re getting feedback in stores.”

A GENERATION OBSESSED WITH COMFORT

So what does Gen Z want from a fashion brand? The answer is important, not just for AEO, but for the rest of the industry, as its spending power is set to increase by 70% by 2025, making its members key to the global economic recovery. Jennifer Foyle, AEO’s chief creative officer and Aerie’s global brand president, says: Today’s young people want comfort, and she means that in every sense of the word. “They want their clothes to be soft and comfortable, but they also want marketing campaigns to make them feel comfortable in their own skin,” she says. “This is now at the forefront of everything we do.”

This clothing assortment turned out to be ideal for the pandemic, when people around the world began sheltering in place and their wardrobes shifted. In April, the sale of sweatpants in the U.S. went up by 80%, and AEO was ready to meet this demand. AEO was already selling a lot of sweats, hoodies, and leggings, but in February, as COVID-19 loomed, Foyle says the company began ordering more of these items. “We got early reads on the crisis because we have factory partners in Asia,” she says. “We moved fast. We did not wait.”

And in July, the company released Offline, a new brand focused on activewear that had been in the works for nine months.

Foyle says AEO also works hard to create branding and marketing that makes customers feel comfortable in an emotional sense. She believes that for Gen Z, physical comfort is connected to a deeper sense of well-being and ease. “Our customer wants to feel like herself when she’s wearing our clothes,” Foyle says. This aligns with research from McKinsey showing that Gen Z tends to see consumption as a manifestation of individual identity and is drawn to brands that celebrate diversity and authenticity. To that end, back in 2014 Foyle spearheaded a campaign called Aerie Real, which focused on body positivity and inclusivity. The brand began using a wide array of real women as models, going beyond race and body size to include trans women and differently abled women. And it banned photoshopping.

THE “COME TO YOU” STRATEGY

While AEO’s products were a good fit for pandemic life, the company still had to think creatively about how to reach customers. For one thing, it has 1,095 stores across the country, all of which had to shut down early in the pandemic. Foyle says that AEO had been investing more in e-commerce and social media, but when the crisis hit, these channels became crucial.

The company poured marketing dollars into online spaces like TikTok, in what Foyle calls a “come to you” strategy. For instance, Aerie partnered with Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s most popular user with more than 80 million followers, to launch a “positivity challenge” in which she invited users to share things they were grateful for in quarantine. “We knew our customers were on their phone more and engaging in social more,” Foyle says. “We decided that we’re going to be where our customer is at, serving them with products they want to wear.”

All of these efforts drove customers to shop online. In the second quarter, AEO saw a 74% increase in revenue through digital channels across all brands. Foyle knows some segment of customers may increasingly shop online even after the pandemic, which might mean closing less-profitable stores. American Eagle already has plans to close 45 stores.

But at the same time, she believes strongly that brick-and-mortar retail isn’t dead, it’s just evolving. While many suburban malls have been dying for some time, she sees opportunities to expand into shopping streets in smaller towns and into outdoor lifestyle centers, which are increasingly popular. “We just need to be very smart about our real estate strategy,” she says. “It’s about being in the best locations and the best new markets. It’s about innovating the in-store experience.”

THE FUTURE OF AEO

Unsubscribed, AEO’s newest brand, is an experiment that will allow the company to explore creative in-store experiences. It launched with a single boutique in East Hampton, New York, and doesn’t even have an e-commerce presence for the time being. Its clothes are more expensive than AEO’s other brands, with outfits ranging from $40 to $550. And while American Eagle and Aerie focus on delivering affordable, trendy styles to customers quickly, Unsubscribed is focused on creating smaller collections of classic, durable garments, designed to be worn season after season. The brand is designed to appeal to an older, slightly wealthier clientele. “It’s an entirely different business model,” Foyle says. “It’s teaching us a lot.”

In many ways, Unsubscribed is a way of thinking about what Gen Z consumers may want in the next decade, when they have more disposable income. AEO is betting that big-box mall stores won’t be as compelling as intimate neighborhood boutiques and that they’ll care about sustainability and buying fewer, better clothes. “It’s a conceptual project,” Foyle says. “We’re asking ourselves: What is our customer going to be thinking about down the road?”

Source: FastCo