First of it’s kind medical gym to debut in London

Leading medical spa operators Lanserhof Group has partnered with The Arts Club, a private members club in central London, to develop a state-of-the-art medical gym.Expected to open in May 2019, the new facility is billed as the ‘ultimate medical and gym facility’, and will be the first of its kind to open in the UK.

Designed by Dusseldorf-based firm Ingenhoven Architects, the six-storey gym will be the first facility of its kind to offer club members an MRI scan as part of its tailored training programme. Members will also have access to additional personalised services and offerings such as cardiovascular screening, body metabolism analysis, and two physical therapy labs.

The facility will also feature a world-class gym, class studios, consulting and treatment rooms, cryotherapy treatment chambers and high-end diagnostic and medical facilities, as well as a carefully crafted menu of healthy food options.

Why it’s hot:

Two reasons:

  1. Experiences today define brands and categories – is it time for a luxury experience for healthcare testing and treatments? By mixing the experience of a gym, spa and a diagnostic center, it redefines what treatment and diagnostic centers should look like and may alleviate some anxiety.
  2. On the other hand, it offers advanced testing to highly health conscious consumers who want to quantify their progress and are hyper aware of their health metrics without having to leave the gym.

 

 

Advantage: Walmart?

What’s Going On

Not a day passes when we are not more acutely aware of Amazon impacting and possibly winning the business of retail. Let us not forget the first competitor in the mega sales business, Wal-Mart. As Fast Company puts it, “[Wal-Mart is] currently locked in a battle for consumers’ dollars with Amazon that dominates online shopping.”

We’ve known Wal-Mart to change the game of business and it appears they’re thinking that way still/again. Using this one key fact, Wal-Mart hopes to leverage that to their advantage to beat Amazon.

  • Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store

What They’re Doing

Walmart has realized the importance of this fact, the increasing consumer empowerment and are leveraging it into many different ways to help consumers get what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

1. Fast, customized deliveries: In order to do this, Walmart plans to have their stores double as warehouses. So users create shopping baskets online and schedule them for delivery whenever they want, adding items up until the night before the scheduled time.

  • Plus: Walmart plans to use a machine learning algorithm to predict which items frequent shoppers will want every week. Apparently our habits make customization easy as a Walmart executive says that shoppers order the same items they ordered the previous week 85% of the time.
  • Bonus: Given that most of the cost in e-tail is shipping, the proximity of a Walmart to most homes in the U.S. really helps solve that cost of the last mile that plagues many retailers.

2. Convenient pick up: If you’re the type of customer who would rather click and collect, Wal-Mart can support that control and expediency that you want. Walmart stores now feature large vending machine-like towers where you can pick up an online order, and lockers for even bigger delivery items.

  • Bonus: Sure this sounds a lot like the Amazon lockers placed in convenient locations like 7-11. The problem for Amazon is that they have to rent that space the lockers are located on. Walmart owns their land, so there’s another area of profit advantage for them in the convenience game.

3. The stock problem: By making their stores double as warehouses, Walmart runs the risk of running out of a particular item faster than if it were just a store. But of course, they’ve thought of this. Walmart is rolling out a robot that is designed to look at inventory on shelves. Equipped with cameras and a map of what’s supposed to be on the shelf, the robots stroll around hunting for missing items. If it finds one, it alerts a store employee to restock the item or alerts logistics to bring more items in.

https://images.fastcompany.net/image/upload/w_596,c_limit,q_auto:best,f_webm/wp-cms/uploads/2019/03/i-2g-90319615-the-clever-way-walmart-is-trying-to-beat-amazon.gif

Why It’s Hot

While the increasing demands from consumers usually means more expense to businesses, Walmart realized that something true about their brand (their presence) could be an advantage. And their profits are trending upwards. In 2018, Walmart’s online sales grew 40%.

Fast Company sums it up perfectly, “By using technology to put the company’s colossal retail footprint to work for online deliveries and orders, Walmart is showing how tech can transform traditional retail into something of a hybrid.” [Heads up USPS team.]

[Source: Fast Company]

Breaking the Bias One Translation at a Time

The words we use daily can directly affect our perception and the way we think. For example, the effect of gender bias on language can influence how both women and men see certain professions. The terms cameraman, fireman and policeman, for example, are perceived as more masculine, while words like midwife are more stereotypically feminine.

Source: https://www.contagious.io/articles/what-do-you-mean

Released on International Women’s Day 2019, ElaN Languages has created The Unbias Button, to translate biased words, such as job titles, into gender-neutral ones.

Why it’s hot: This is a subtle way to change our awareness of the words we use on a daily basis.

Everyday items in reusable packages

Recycling company TerraCycle has partnered with global FMCG brands to create Loop: a platform that offers customers everyday items in reusable packages.

Loop provides customers with branded FMCG goods, such as Häagen-Dazs ice-cream, Crest mouthwash and Tide detergent, in sturdy containers. When the customer is finished with the product, they return the packaging to the company, which then sterilises and re-uses it, creating a zero-waste cycle.

Loop aims to replace single-use plastics in the home by giving households the option to reduce the amount they have to recycle. In an interview with Bloomberg, founder Tom Szaky said, of the risk to the planet caused by pollution: ‘We can’t recycle or clean our way out of this. We have to stop the waste from entering the system to begin with.’

Loop was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019. So far, 24 global FMCG brands have signed up to support the program, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola and Danone.

Loop will begin a pilot in Spring 2019 in Paris, where customers will be able to purchase its products online through supermarket Carrefour’s website. and in New York.

TerraCycle will also distribute products through Tesco in the UK later in the year and is looking to reach Tokyo by 2020.

Around 300 products will be available through Loop, ranging from shampoo to washing powder. Each brand has worked with packaging designers to develop the re-usable containers. Häagen-Dazs ice cream, for example, has designed a double-walled stainless-steel container that keeps the contents cold throughout an entire evening, while Oral-B’s new click toothbrush design allows a user to detach the head from the handle, reducing waste by 60%.

Why its hot?
Research has also shown that one of the most common barriers to recycling is consumers feeling uncertain about which plastics can be recycled. With Loop, consumers wouldn’t need to worry about which products are or are not recyclable. The initiative unloads any supposed hassle that comes with the current recycling model in a simplistic way.

 

 

Stories by the route

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

To make children’s car journeys more entertaining, Volkswagen has created a location-based app that tells personalised stories based on what kids can see out of the back window.

The Snelweg Sprookjes (Road Tales) app detects ordinary objects such as tunnels, windmills, pass overs, gas stations, and electricity poles and transforms them in real-time into story elements. For example, a tunnel turns into a rocket launcher.

Why its hot?
Other than stories that adapt to your surroundings in real time, Road Tales gives children a reason to put their tablets way and look outside the window instead.

Going Retro To Be Green

A new initiative by a small company has compelled more than two dozen of the world’s biggest brands to begin testing reusable packaging.

Loop, launched this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has amassed a blue-chip roster of companies, all of which are piloting a new system of high-quality packaging that can be returned and refilled again and again. In essence, it changes the ownership model of packaging from consumer to producer.

How It Works

Simply put, Loop brings back the old “milkman model,” where products are delivered to customers at the same time empties are picked up, washed, refilled and restocked for delivery to another customer. The customer gets the product but the company owns the package.

The reality is somewhat more complex.

Loop initially will be an e-commerce play. Consumers can order goods from the Loop website or that of a partner and have them delivered like traditional products ordered online. But there’s a twist: Customers pay a small deposit for a package that has been designed for 100 or more use-cycles. When the container is empty, customers place it in a specially designed tote for pickup or, in some cases, can bring it to a retailer. They can choose whether they want that product replenished; if not, their deposit is returned or credited to their account. The empties are sent to a facility where they are washed and refilled.

Why It’s Hot

Since the dawn of the recycling movement about 30 years ago, companies have tried a number of schemes to enable consumers to use packaging over and over.

But none of these has caught on beyond a tiny niche. Consumers, outside of a precious few hardcore greenies, don’t really want to be inconvenienced, much as they may be seeking to avoid wasteful practices.

Loop’s approach seeks to overcome those obstacles. The key, said Szaky, is trying to mimic the way consumers already buy, use and dispose of packaging.

You are what’s in your fridge

According to Samsung, all our social media profiles are so shallow and edited now, that finding a date based on the contents of your fridge could be the way to find love.

Samsung Electronics Nordics’ “Refridgerdating” service lets users upload a photo of the inside of their fridge, and then swipe left or right to like or dislike others. To connect with other single people, two people need to match, meaning they both have to like each other’s icebox innards.

The campaign promotes the company’s smart kitchen technology, such as its Family Hub for refrigerators.This features a camera inside that shows you what needs to be bought on the way home so that you can add items on your grocery list, and also reminds you of expired dates. There’s also a Meal Planner application that delivers recipes based on your preferences and the food that’s in your fridge.

Samsung’s argument is that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” when it comes to dating, so the impression given by our fridges “will be more representative for who we really are,” according to Mathias Johansson, Nordic Training and Communications Manager Home appliances, Samsung Electronics Nordic.

If you’re the kind of person who likes a neat, well-organized fridge, or if you love a colorful mess, there could be worse ways to match with a partner. However, we’d argue it’s equally easy to edit your fridge’s contents to make you look better–so if it’s filled with salad, sparkling water and fresh fruit rather than ready meals, out-of-date jars and beer, be suspicious.

Why its hot?
A very unique approach to using a foundational human insight to promote a refrigerator.
I was going to write Tinder for fridge but that seemed very cringeworthy

The State of D2C Brands

DNVBs

A smattering of Direct to Consumer brands

The growth of direct-to-consumer brands have been one of the major disrupting trends for clients over the past few years (across many categories, but particularly CPG). Think Allbirds, Casper etc (they’re also known as Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs), Instabrands, Digital Private Label etc…)

A conference report from last week shows some of the struggles these phenoms may now be facing. Essentially the model of plastering the L Train in posters, buying a load of Instagram ads, and sticking a subscription service for toothpaste/underwear/vitamins/whatever on the back, really may not be sustainable. As the panelist from General Catalyst says:

“At the end of the day, as glorious as this sounds, underlying economics often come down to a simple equation, which is: ‘What is the lifetime value and what does it cost to acquire?'” he said. “And if there is a story and there is a community and there is a movement, that has a significant impact on the lifetime value and the customer acquisition cost. And if there isn’t, it’s much more likely that it’s like a one hit.”

Why it’s hot…

This is pretty important because a huge number of clients have been grappling with these disruptors (think GSK struggling with Quip toothpaste subscriptions) and figuring out how to emulate them. If the model is starting to creak it may be time to reassess what’s working and what isn’t from the approaches D2C brands adopted.

Jordanian Airlines ups the sarcasm, succeeds bigly

Royal Jordanian Airlines came up with a campaign ahead of the 2016 election encouraging their Muslim travelers to “Travel to the U.S. While You’re Still Allowed To,” in response to Trump’s proposed travel ban on Muslims. It was just supposed to be a clever ad, but it turned out to be prophetic.

Why It’s Hot

The tag line obviously resonated with a cynical population that probably believed that he would win more than the average American voter. It is truth well told.

Why bedding brand Buffy isn’t playing by the direct-to-consumer rules

Buffy is part of a growing cohort of digitally native brands that are prioritizing longevity over fast growth out of the gates. It’s a sign that the category’s maturing: In the past, brands saddled with millions in VC-funding could squash competition by outspending them on flashy marketing campaigns and brand awareness. With customer acquisition becoming prohibitively expensive, young brands like Hims and Rothy’s, in addition to Buffy, are turning their attention to loyalty plays and long-term growth plans.

Additionally, Buffy isn’t afraid of Amazon like most brands in the direct to consumer category. Instead they see the ecomm giant as an ally to strengthen their brand awareness and complement their owned channels. Buffy’s goal is making sustainable bedding more readily available and affordable for their customers, so they’ve taken the unpopular route of selling through Amazon to quickly gain awareness and volume.

“What Amazon represents is a way to get the word out and get product into people’s hands. If you look at it just from a business standpoint, Amazon is the world’s marketplace and they do so much so well, and they represent a door into everyone’s home in a way,” said Shaked. “For us, I think recognizing those opportunities as non-threatening to our brand is important. It’s not something that gets in the way of people going to our site, so I don’t see it as a problem. It’s a way to leverage technology.”

Why it’s hot?

This shift among DTC brands signifies a new perspective on how brands in this category are focused on fulfilling their brand’s mission by leveraging competitive giants to their advantage and focusing on retention versus fast scale growth. This requires a shift from traditional acquisition strategies to retention and loyalty focused demand gen strategies.

We don’t have enough time left

A Spanish liquor brand has created a holiday campaign to remind people how little time they have left to spend with those they love.

Ruavieja’s seasonal campaign is called Tenemos Que Vernos Mas (We Have To See More Of Each Other).

The campaign is led by a four-minute online film that is framed like a social experiment. Friends and family members are asked about their relationship, how often they see each other and their respective ages. The interviewer then uses this information to calculate how much time they will spend together before (statistically) one of them will die. When the answers are revealed in days and hours many of the participants are shocked and begin to cry.

At the end, the ad then juxtaposes the time people typically have left to spend with loved ones with how long they will spend doing meaningless activities. For instance, over a 40-year period, people on average spend six years watching TV and eight years on the internet (admittedly, the internet figure could also encompass communicating with loved ones), according to the ad.

Ruavieja has also created a website where users can enter their details and see how much time they have left to spend with their loved ones.

Why it’s hot

A human insight brought to life with data. It’s the perfect marriage of data and emotion as they used data that moved people to tears.

Source: Contagious

 

Yeti’s Wild 10-Year Party

Yeti celebrated its Tundra coolers’ 10th birthday by throwing a party. But it wasn’t your average, expected, self-referential brand party full of champagne and celebrities. Instead, Yeti set out on a ten city tour where they featured a film about stories from the wild.

Yeti’s heritage has always been serving their customers, the wild ones, as they call them — the outdoors men and women who live for the adventure in life by spending a lot of time outside. And this film series hero’ed these ambassadors, how they live their lives and what makes them come alive. It’s a tactic Yeti uses often, a story well told, but it’s one that works and is now an essential element their brand.

Why It Was Hot 

The idea of this birthday celebration is so perfectly Yeti. It’s not just about their brand, it is their brand made into a birthday celebration.

But the bigger story, I think, is the word-of-mouth-marketing aspect of it. It’s an anecdote from my own life, but I think it’s a strong point that I heard about this film tour from a friend of mine who has seen me carry a Yeti rambler for the better part of a year. And simply, she just thought I would like to know about it.

There’s something so interesting about being a strong, modern brand that lives an analog life on purpose to include every part of the customer’s journey with the brand.

What is in a Word?

“The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance,” Oxford stated in a post on its website.

 

With a 45% increase in searches, this year the word “toxic” takes the prize. In combination with chemical first and masculinity second, the word is top of mind for people. With the rise of the #metoo movement, it’s no surprise this year word searches seem to be all about strained relationships between men and women with spikes in searches for words like:

incel”—an involuntarily celibate man who holds hostile views towards women; “gaslighting”—a form of psychological manipulation that makes the victim doubt their own sanity, made famous by a movie in which a man does this to his own wife; and “orbiting,” which is when a person ceases communication (i.e: “ghosts”) but continues to lurk via social media, maintaining “an online presence in the subject’s life without any promise of meaningful interaction.”

To give some perspective, 2018’s word of the year is in great contrast with 2015’s, when the word of the year was:

Image result for smile cry emoji

Why it’s hot:

It’s sad, but also optimistic. It means we live in toxic times (sad) but at least we’re trying to educate ourselves and hopefully make a change (optimistic).

Chalk and Soap

Soap company Savlon started with a problem: Kids in India eat with their hands but often don’t wash them with soap, and it’s one of the leading causes of illness and school dropouts.

Since most primary grade students in rural India still use black-slate and chalk sticks to write in schools. This led to the idea of Savlon’s Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks – made with a mixture of chalk powder and soap granules. Before lunch break when kids put their hands under the tap, the chalk powder on their hands turned into soap on its own. This simple innovation by Ogilvy, Mumbai automatically turned washing hands with soap into an everyday habit.
For the first phase, Savlon identified 100 rural schools across India based on health data analysis. Under ‘Healthy India Mission’ these special chalk sticks were provided to 150,000 students for free. Owing to a great response and demand from schools and NGOs across the country, distribution models were set in place for NGOs whose requirements exceeded over 50,000 boxes.

Once implemented in 100 schools, on Children’s Day, this innovation was released as an online video to start a conversation about the importance of hand hygiene in children.

Why its hot?
Didn’t create anything new or spent much to create a powerful innovation. A simple idea that turned a tool already being used (chalk) into the solution (antiseptic soap chalk)

BMW Ringtones

BMW Financial Services wanted to interact with drivers more often than just at the beginning and end of their auto loan or lease. Pulling sounds from a real BMW 3 Series “driving machine,” BMWFS created a website that lets visitors design and download from a library of ringtones, even giving drivers the option to design their own.

The site designer from Partners + Napier describes it as, “… truly deliver(ing) a positive brand experience – every time your phone rings.”

How do drivers find these ringtones? In addition to buzz in BMW forums and social media, the ringtones are delivered to each BMWFS account holder on his or her birthday, far different any crummy canned message or expected discount you might get from other brands on your birthday.

Take a listen to the ringtones here.

Why its hot?
1) Surprise and delight meets long-term usefulness: BMW drivers know the brand for sending surprise and delight swag, but this one also delivers value. Unlike a hand-drawn image of your car series or a discount for your birthday, this is one drivers will likely use for awhile, keeping the brand top-of-mind without being intrusive.

2) Insight: The brand knows its customer (they call them drivers) well. BMW drivers love the sounds of their car (or even the car they aspire to have). BMW knows this and acted on it.

Coughing and tweeting bear

Toxic air is London’s silent killer and is linked with more than 9,400 premature deaths a year – that’s 40 times as many deaths caused by car accidents.

raise awareness of the city’s poor air quality and put pressure on the government to do something about it, air pollution monitoring company BreezoMeter set up roadside memorials in the most toxic locations.

The main feature of the memorials, which are designed to look like those typically laid out after a roadside death, is an animatronic soft toy called Toxic Toby. Every time pollution levels get dangerously high, the furry bear starts coughing and, simultaneously, posts a Tweet to the local MP, urging them to address the problem.

Why its hot
Made the invisible visible. Turns out London’s air quality is as bad as Beijing and Delhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper books sell a digital solution

Google Cloud wrote fictional biographies detailing the future of ten French business leaders and sent them to the executives as part of a prospecting campaign. The idea is called the Biographies of Tomorrow to help Google Cloud win the attention of French business leaders and promote the brand’s enterprise solutions services.

They researched 10 of France’s most important executives, as well as the industries in which they worked. It then commissioned authors from Cherche Midi publishing house to write short, fictional biographies detailing how these leaders digitally transformed their businesses after employing the services of Google Cloud. The nature and content of the biographies also emphasized the predictive qualities of Google Cloud’s service. Economist Jacques Attal wrote a foreword for each of the 10 biographies and artist Alix d’Anselme drew portraits of the subjects for the front covers. Google Cloud then hand delivered the biographies to the business executives.

2 of the 10 executives that received a biography have signed deals with Google Cloud

Why its hot?
Business buyers don’t go to work and forget what they want as human beings

get paid when you get delayed…


It seems solving the pain points of delayed air travelers has become one of 2018’s hottest challenges. The latest brand to take it on is insurance brand AXA, via “fizzy”, it’s smart travel insurance.

Here’s how it works – “AXA’s blockchain-powered insurance plan, called Fizzy, covers travelers for delays of up to two hours or more. When customers purchase insurance using Fizzy, all details and contract agreements are recorded publicly, on the Ethereum blockchain. The contracts, which are connected to global air traffic monitoring databases, automatically trigger compensation payouts when a delay of more than two hours is recorded.”

In otherwords, you get paid (automatically) when you get delayed.

Why it’s hot:

First, it’s one of the most simple and practical, yet smart uses of blockchain and smart contracts we’ve seen yet. There’s plenty of chatter about the potential of blockchain, but considerably fewer actual things consumers can currently do that are blockchain enabled.

But more importantly, it’s a beautiful example of human-driven innovation – and not just because it helps in a situation most of us are likely all too familiar with (delayed flights, more than 150k in the last 30 days just in the US).

One of the biggest headaches with insurance can be having to make claims and waiting to be compensated. fizzy automatically knows when you should be compensated and does so “by the time your flight lands”. So, a matter of hours instead of days.

[Source]

Dating meets baby sitting

Meetic, a French dating company that also owns Match.com in Europe, is offering childcare vouchers as an incentive to attract more single parents to its platform.

Any single parent in France who subscribes to Meetic’s dating service before 31 October will receive a voucher for three hours of childcare through Yoopies, an online hub that connects parents and babysitters, and includes reviews and recommendations.

The free childcare is provided in the form a €30 ($35.11) voucher for Yoopies, and is based on the €10 ($11.70) per-hour average cost of a babysitter on the platform. The three hours figure was arrived at after research by the dating company showed that a typical date lasted 163 minutes.

In addition to the babysitting vouchers, any single parent that subscribes to Meetic during the promotional period will get free access to Yoopies’ premium service for two months.

Why its hot?
Matching two of the most important human needs of single parents
(25% of children in Paris lived with a single parent and 70% of single parents said they didn’t have time to find love.)

From discarded flowers to paint

 

Paint company JAT Holdings has created a new line of colourful paints made out of the waste from Buddhist flower offerings.

One way Buddhists express their devotion is by placing flowers at temples or shrines. This act symbolises the impermanent nature of life, or samsara.

Ordinarily, the flowers are thrown away. JAT Holdings collected kilos of the discarded flowers and used their pigmentation to create new paints.

The Petal Paint comes in five shades, each one designed to reflect a different ring in the Buddha’s halo. The colours include Lotus Red, Pigeonwing Blue, Trumpet Yellow, Marigold Orange and Temple Flower White.

JAT is selling Petal Paint in its own stores and is also donating the product to temples for local artists to restore the colourful art on the ceilings and walls.

The packaging imitates temple artwork, so that when the cans are stacked in store it creates the impression of a temple wall.

‘We created Petal Paint to give something back to Sri Lanka’s heritage and culture,’ Richard Gunawardene, head of marketing at JAT Holdings, told Sri Lankan newspaper Lankadeepa. ‘Petal Paint combines the best of our traditional culture – the use of pigments from nature – with the most advanced technology in paint manufacturing, to create a paint that matches the traditional temple mural colours and also provides a more long-lasting solution to temple artists.’

The death of Don Draper

The advertising industry is currently enthralled by a prophet of its imminent demise. Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and founder of a marketing consultancy. In a much-shared YouTube video, he delivers a talk entitled “The Death of the Advertising-Industrial Complex” to an audience of young marketers. In it, he argues that businesses can no longer rely on advertising to compensate for mediocre products.

Until the 1990s, says Galloway, the path to success lay in taking “an average beer, average car, or average suit” and wrapping it in appealing associations – this one makes you feel more elegant, this one makes you feel younger. Now, we live in an age in which the intangible haze of soft-sell is no longer necessary, and the battle for market share comes down to the raw strength of your product. “The sun has passed midday on brand,” he says.

The ad industry, run by people who pride themselves on creativity, is being displaced by the ad business, which prides itself on efficiency. Clients are spending less on the kind of entertaining, seductive, fame-generating campaigns in which ad agencies specialize, and more on the ads that flash and wink on your smartphone screen.

More here.

Why it’s HOT:

Modern media technology, more educated consumers, and the democratization of information have transformed the advertising business like no other. Today’s advertising agencies may not be able to help clients market mediocre products like they could have in a much simpler time.

“Don’t feed the trolls,” but maybe…

A new piece from The Verge questions whether our approach to trolls online has been wrong all along. The article makes a convincing argument: by refusing to engage with trolling behavior, are we as brands and people doing the internet and society at large a huge disservice?

It all harkens back to Cliff Pervocracy’s analogy of the “missing stair,” where everyone works around the obvious dangers of a situation because they are so used to “dealing with it” by outright ignoring it. If someone speaks up about the danger, they are dismissed. Why complain when you can “just hop over” the missing stair? But on a systemic level, it all adds up to something so much more than a mere missing stair. For many people on the internet — especially women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community — it is an entire broken staircase, full of loose nails, jutting floorboards, and impossible leaps. And there are so many others who don’t notice it because they either get to use the elevator or are already on the top floor.

Not only does this sort of ignorance function as a kind of tacit permission, but it also ignores the inherent threat of the troll’s true intent. What the troll, the stalker, and the abuser really want out of the situation is to feel powerful and in control. And they will not stop until they feel it. Therein lies the most horrible aspect of the “don’t feed” mantra: rather than doing anything to address the trolls, the more tangible effect is to silence the victim and the reality of their abuse, or worse, to blame them for it. For far too many who promoted this idea, the true goal was silence, to avoid facing what is happening and the impossible responsibility of it.

Of course, there are the one-offs that do simply go away when ignored. But the big picture is complex and worrisome. Although brands and companies play a small role, there’s clearly a continuing need to set and enforce boundaries about what conduct is acceptable and what is not.

The powers that be in social media can’t just make it about who is saying bad words, try to algorithm their way out of the problem, or play every side in the name of “fairness” when it leaves so many of us to the wolves. They have to make an ethical choice about what they really believe and what ideology they want to represent moving forward. Because they cannot reap the reward of what they have built without taking on the responsibility and the cost of it, too.

Why it’s hot: We talk a lot about brands and their values. Those values need to translate to social media policies and general online rules of engagement wherever these brands have presence. “Don’t feel the trolls” as a blanket statement may dismiss winning opportunities to stand for something.

Revolve: The Billion-Dollar Clothing Company for Millennial Women

The fashion industry is not for the undisciplined–or the slow-moving. Customers change their preferences seemingly as fast as they can scroll through their Instagram feeds. Case in point: Once-hot brands such as Nasty Gal and American Apparel are worth a fraction of what they once were.

All of which makes the story of Los Angeles-based e-commerce clothing brand Revolve especially noteworthy. Founded in 2003 by Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas, the company is reportedly on track to pull in more than $1 billion in sales this year. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Revolve–known for its daring, trendy clothing–may be preparing for an initial public offering late this year. (The company declined to comment on its plans.)

The company scouts for niche designers that can’t be found at Barneys or Macy’s and analyzes how the brands perform on the site. Revolve can tell the designers exactly what customers are looking for, such as more mid-length dresses or a particular shirt color. The company says that designers who are receptive to this data often will see their sales improve.

“Everything the company does stems from data,” says Gerona.

The company’s inventory process is another example. Revolve’s reordering platform automatically pushes out a notification to buyers on a daily basis when an item is selling quickly. A tagging system–which tracks every detail on a piece of clothing from its length to its buttons–allows the team to easily distinguish or collect data on the designer, look, and cut. While the automation helps, humans ultimately step in to make the decisions. “If we take a risk on a trend and can see it doing extremely well, we can qualitatively distinguish how future styles will sell,” she says.

Revolve manufactures and designs 18 of its own brands, a move that helps it stay nimble and ahead of trends. The clothes are manufactured in China and India as well as locally in L.A. Gerona says the company can ask its 40 or so designers to create something around what’s trending and can expect the garments to arrive on its site in weeks. Revolve says it can target exactly what customers want.

“This marrying of data and buyers and the designers has been incredibly successful for the business and it continues to grow exponentially year over year,” she says.

Scroll through Revolve’s Instagram–with its 2.4 million followers–and you’ll see photos of these influencers, clad in the company’s clothing, taking tropical weekend getaways, brunching with friends on Sundays, or attending Coachella. The attraction is not just the clothing but also the aspirational lifestyle that caters to the Millennial audience. “Our customer wants a piece of that lifestyle,” Gerona says.

Why It’s Hot:

Revolve has designed a bullet-proof strategy grounded in the millennial audience. They found a way to build a a data informed fast-fashion company that harnesses the power of influencer marketing. Thus far, it’s been a winning combination.

Source: https://www.inc.com/michelle-cheng/how-revolve-has-built-a-billion-dollar-fashion-company-for-millennial-women.html

When Exactly Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is Lying

It’s not news that telltale nonverbal signs can reveal when someone’s being deceptive, especially when you see several of the signs together.

Body language experts analyzed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s  behaviors and identified times when she lied.

Behavior 1: Emotional Fluctuation

Lying about whether Trump has thought about stepping down in light of the turmoil of the Russia investigation.

In this video, “Sanders shows “substantial emotional fluctuation,” from contempt to high anxiety-fear-regret, back to contempt, and then back to anxiety, said Brown. This is a textbook example of emotional dissonance, or having trouble aligning one’s true thoughts and feelings with one’s words.” (The question begins at 9:28 in this video.) 

Behavior 2: Talking Out Of The Side Of Her Mouth

Lying about about Stormy Daniels

In this video at 12:15, “she talks out of the side of her mouth, a sign of either “bravado and hubris, or insincerity and deception” that Sanders displays often.” Facial asymmetry also showed she was lying. According to body language experts, when someone “habitually feels one thing and says another, or keeps their true feelings in.” There is a disconnect between your limbic brain, where emotions are, and the neocortex, or the thinking brain — “where you can consciously control thoughts and words and create lies.”

Behavior 3: Misspeaking

In the same video above, at around 12:26, Sanders pronounces “outside” — as in “outside counsel” — as “out-cod.” While almost every public speaker makes small mistakes like this, the fact that she hardly ever corrects herself is “a sign of a lack of objectivity and sincerity,”

Behavior 4: Smiling Out Of Context

Around 5:20, Sarah starts to show a partially suppressed smile, showing her “subconscious mind is taking pleasure in fooling people, a behavior frequently exhibited by children.”

Behavior 5: Touching Her Face

Around 10:06 in this video, Sarah lifts her hand to cover her mouth and brush the underside of her nose. This kind of facial touching means there’s a high likelihood someone is lying.

Behavior 6: Avoiding Eye Contact

“When people lie, their eye contact either goes into a stare — to overcompensate — or they look away,” Brown said. “One thing Sarah does a lot is look at her notes and pretend she’s reading them, so she doesn’t have to look at the journalist.”

Behavior 7: Unnatural Pacing

Sometimes she delivers rehearsed quips, revealed by “her speed, her ultra-quick, unnaturally paced delivery.”

Why it’s hot: Body language could be something researches pay attention to while conducting in-person audience research.

Source: Refinery29

Study shows participants recall information more in VR

A new study at the University of Maryland shows that people remembered information better when in VR versus on a desktop.

Participants were first handed a print out of faces. They they had 5 minutes to a explore a scene and remember where all the faces were located.

“Half the faces were positioned in different locations within the interior setting–Oprah Winfrey appeared at the top of a grand staircase; Stephen Hawking was a few steps down, followed by Shrek. On the ground floor, Napoleon Bonaparte’s face sat above majestic wooden table, while The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was positioned in the center of the room.”

After 5 minutes, the scene went dark for two minutes and then reappears. This time though, the faces were replaced with numbered boxes. The participants were then asked to recall what face was in each box.

After they finished answering, they were asked to remember new faces and explore another scene, but this time on a different platform. The 40 participants were split into two groups. One went that went through the study in VR first and then desktop, and another group that explored it on desktop first and then in VR. All but 2 participants said they were confident with their answers on both platforms, but preferred VR.

The results? There was an 8.8% improvement in recall accuracy when the participants used VR over desktop.

“Many of the participants said the immersive “presence” while using VR allowed them to focus better. This was reflected in the research results: 40 percent of the participants scored at least 10 percent higher in recall ability using VR over the desktop display.”

“By showing that virtual reality can help improve recall, it opens the door to further studies that look at the impact of VR-based training modules at all levels–from elementary school children learning astronomy to trauma residents acquiring the latest knowledge in lifesaving procedures. We believe the future of education and innovation will benefit greatly from the use of these new visual technologies.”

 

Why It’s Hot:

  • Shows more potential for VR as a platform for educating users

 

Links:

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/uom-pri061318.php

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Virtual-Memory-Palaces%3A-Immersion-aids-Recall-Krokos-Varshney/a9b76f2f18f10e5305234cdc526ea13d803cbb6b

Birthual Reality

The irony of being called “expectant parents” is that many actually have little idea what to expect from childbirth.

While they certainly understand the general process and medical procedures involved, one can’t really understand the full experience of birth until you’ve witnessed it first-hand. Given that childbirth is a relatively private moment—at least in terms of the number of people on hand—most people don’t have that experience until it’s time to meet their own newborns.

The uncertainty about the birth experience can create anxiety for expectant moms and dad alike, so one insurer came up with a compelling way to help.

Sweden’s Gjensidige Insurance worked with a hospital to film a childbirth in 360-degree video, creating a VR experience that anyone can watch. In fact, you can watch it right now as a 360 video on YouTube.

Luckily, it’s a rather uneventful pregnancy in the sense that the process goes smoothly. (And the birth itself is shot at a respectful angle that makes you feel you’re standing alongside the mother rather than in the place of the doctor.) But it still conveys the physical and emotional struggle of childbirth, along with the singular joy.

Why its hot?
-Preparing people for something that has been almost impossible to prepare for
-Great strategy to be top of mind child insurance provider (without selling insurance)
-A very real, authentic human gesture from an insurance company

Source: Adweek and https://www.gjensidige.se/birthualreality

Latest Pew Research Teens & Social Media Study confirms concerns of negative effects

Pew Research just refreshed its survey of Teens on Social Media (last conducted in 2015) and reports that things have markedly changed just in the last three years.

While none of this may sound surprising, Teens report mixed feelings about the effects of social media (both positive and negative) and 45% report that they are basically never not online (which I’m sure most of us can relate to).

In terms of the platforms teens use, Pew reports, “it is clear the social media environment today revolves less around a single platform than it did three years ago.”2   

While Facebook had the clear majority in 2015 (71% of teens reported), today there is no clear majority and FB has fallen from prominence.

It’s worth noting that YouTube and Reddit were not even included in the 2015 survey.

For the most part, teens tend to use the same platforms regardless of their demographic characteristics, but there are exceptions; Lower-income teens are far more likely than those from higher income households to say Facebook is the online platform they use most often (22% vs. 4%).

WHY IT’S HOT:

While many of the findings may already be well reported at this point (Facebook has slipped), it is telling to note how self-aware teens are of the more problematic effects of social media use– potentially more so than their adult counterparts on the same platforms. It will be interesting to see whether the market continues to fragment or whether we will see the re-emergence of a single leader in the months and years to come.

 

Preying on Facebook Groups

Thanks to a confluence of rising rates of opioid addiction and the availability of insurance dollars for rehabilitation service, vulnerable people affected by addiction are increasingly being targeted with misleading marketing communications, making disingenuous claims and failing to disclose ties to for-profit addiction centers. In particular, members of Facebook groups are being directly contacted by marketers looking to pull them into these treatment centers. Marketers are compensated with anything from a flat pay rate to bonuses attributed to the number and quality of patient referrals.

Rehab marketing has been under scrutiny in various ways for making false and misleading claims targeting vulnerable individuals, but the infiltration of Facebook Groups takes the shady to a whole new level. Marketing scams used by unethical treatment centers involve private messaging group members in an attempt to get a client to their treatment center, absent of any clinical consultation or assessment.

This article from The Verge dives into detail around one such group, Affected by Addiction.

Marketers from the treatment center had to approve every post in the group, which gave them the first opportunity to privately message good candidates for their rehab and try to talk them into going to Windward in California.

Why it’s hot: If it continues, what impact will this bad apple behavior will mean for the future of Facebook Groups, a community-builder that Zuckerberg has been all-in on? (Communities seemed to be one of the saving graces of the platform during all the #deleteFacebook convesration). Will this and similar activity happening in other communities cause people to further lose trust in Facebook? Will they leave en masse (in favor of darker dark social) or again change how they use the tools? If it continues unabated and has negative impact on user engagement, there could be significant ripple effects felt by brands who rely on Facebook Groups for social listening insights as people move to experiences that are more difficult to monitor or maintain.

Maple Syrup and Honey Producers are Pissed at the FDA

The FDA is in the process of updating nutrition and serving size labeling requirements for packaged foods, a move that is overwhelmingly positive in terms of providing increased transparency for consumers. But one part of these new requirements is causing a huge backlash in the seemingly idyllic circles of maple syrup and honey producers.

According to the FDA’s new rules, nutritional labels on all honey and maple syrup must list the sugars in the product as “added sugars” even though some of the products themselves are entirely naturally produced. This is a huge deal for these natural producers, since the unique selling point of their products is that they are naturally made and do not have any added sugar.

Don’t freak out yet though, the law is not set to go into effect until 2020 and Senator Sanders is totally on it.

Why It’s Hot: A particularly egregious example of applying rules too broadly and without sufficient flexibility. At what point is “helpful to most” not a good enough justification?

Learn More: USA Today | Burlington Free Press

Currency for women only

For the launch of its first womenswear collection, fashion brand Paisley has created a currency that addresses the gender pay gap.

The new FEM notes are worth 21% more than any other currency – a nod to the 21% gender pay gap in Germany. This means that whenever customers use FEM currency, they get 21% more for their money.

The notes have been designed with special security features to avoid misuse and highlight a number of iconic female figures who have helped pave the way for equal gender rights.

Customers can exchange their money for FEM notes by visiting the Paisley flagship store in Hamburg. Paisley is also looking to partner with other companies which want to make FEM currency part of their brand.

Why its hot?
Using a cultural insight they dressed up a run of the mill coupon / discount as a movement

Read more: https://www.femcurrency.com/