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28 May 2024

Sustainable Australian fashion label Madre Natura recently broke from tradition by choosing not to debut a new collection at this year's Australian Fashion Week. Instead, the brand took a stance against wasteful practices by presenting The Last Season Collection — its previous line, which it is committed to selling out entirely before launching new designs. With Australians sending 500 million kilograms of clothing to landfills annually, Madre Natura declined to contribute further.

The brand live-streamed the runway show for The Last Season Collection on TikTok, where viewers could shop the looks in real-time as models walked. Its use of TikTok drove the show viral while emphasizing that Madre Natura's new collection would not appear until every piece from the previous season was sold. 

Madre Natura has already made a name for itself as an impact-driven, slow-fashion label; its clothing is made locally in Sydney, for example, and each piece comes with free lifetime repairs. But the brand's decision to opt out of showing new designs at AFW24 is a powerful demonstration of putting sustainability claims and values into direct practice. One for other designers and retailers to consider?

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28 May 2024

Hyatt is teaming up with Peloton to motivate guests to prioritize their wellness while traveling. The partnership aims to be the first global hotel loyalty program incentivizing members to exercise by rewarding them with points. Guests at participating Hyatt properties will have access to Peloton bikes and rowing machines in fitness centers and to Peloton workout classes streamed directly to their room's TV. 

Good behavior isn't just its own reward

By doling out points to World of Hyatt members for completing Peloton cycling and rowing classes during their stay, Hyatt is tapping into an enduring trend we call CURRENCIES OF CHANGE. It's the notion of appealing to people's desire to save money (or accumulate valuable points) while simultaneously working toward self-improvement goals.

As travelers increasingly prioritize their mental and physical health, hospitality brands have loyalty-building opportunities to move beyond tangible amenities and position themselves as partners in guests' overall wellbeing journeys.


AI × New Consumer Expectations

27 May 2024

Created by the National Library Board of Singapore, NLB Playbrary transforms classic books into interactive adventure games using generative AI. First, readers/players visit the Playbrary website, select a book and receive a custom prompt to use with ChatGPT.

Starting with a selected moment in the storyline, players act as the protagonist and choose from three options that shape the plot. ChatGPT responds based on the book's established universe, while users can introduce twists and explore new story elements through their own prompts. Playbrary is available across 1,000 books for ChatGPT Plus users, with a smaller selection available to free users.

Read Acacia's trend bite for this innovation
27 May 2024

A 2024 study called The ABC of Mobility shows that 51.4% of commuters across 794 cities in 61 countries travel by car. Although the negative impacts of congestion and combustion engine cars are undisputed — air and noise pollution, GHG emissions and inefficient use of public space, to name a few — the transition to more sustainable options is slow.

The study finds considerable differences between cities, correlating with income and region:

  • In cities with twice the average income, 37% more trips are made by car.
  • In cities in Asia, a significant portion of trips are by public transport. In cities in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, trips are mainly by car, regardless of city size. Within Europe, there are notable differences in the share of different modes of transport, from cities with predominantly active mobility (like cycling in Utrecht) to cities where public transport plays a crucial role (the subway in Paris or London), to cities where more than two out of three trips are made by car (such as Rome and Manchester).
Sign of the times
24 May 2024

French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain has released its first fully AI-generated campaign, consisting of photos introducing the team's 2024-25 home kit. None of the players were photographed for the images and none of their faces were photoshopped; the images were entirely generated by AI. The only parts that were tweaked in post-production were the logos on their shirts.

Says the campaign's creator, Benjamin Benichou of Drop: "In this case, using AI wasn't about replacing human creativity but enhancing it. It was also a busy period for the players, so shooting with them wasn't an option." He trained local generative AI models on existing images of the players, the new jerseys and various PSG brand elements. Benichou asks a question that's rapidly becoming a common refrain: "If I wouldn't have told you, would you have spotted that it was made with AI?"

AI-generated image of a PSG soccer player

24 May 2024

In May 2024, Tencent and China Library for the Blind jointly launched Barrier-Free Theater, a free online movie-streaming service for visually impaired users. The accessible versions of films function like radio dramas, providing detailed narration and spoken descriptions to help people visualize what they can't see. Tencent Video’s large-scale AI model boosted production efficiency, reducing the time it takes to make a film accessible from 30 to 10 days. Barrier-Free Theater is set to release over 600 popular titles, including YOLO, The Long Season and The Three-Body Problem.

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23 May 2024

Lil Miquela 🇺🇸 Shudu 🇿🇦 Lu do Magalu 🇧🇷... AI influencers aren't new, but AI tools allow for a speedier and cheaper creation of AI personas, driving demand for the role on freelancing platforms like Fiverr. Global searches on Fiverr for 'AI influencer' flew up by 6,305% over the past six months.

In addition to AI mega influencers, new AI niche influencers like Spanish gamer/model Aitana and 23-year-old Kant reboot Manu are joining the AI creator economy. They won't replace human influencers, but they're yet another competitor for followers and marketing spend. While Gen Z-ers are excited about AI influencers, they also worry their dream career as an influencer is no longer feasible... 💸

So, why not support them in becoming what we've dubbed M.E.O.s, the one-person, maker C.E.O.s of tomorrow? Take a cue from Ariel Marie, who (unlike Scarlett Johansson) actually gave AI companies full consent to use her persona for AI-generated content.

Video screenshots showing AI influencer Ariel Marie talking inside a car

23 May 2024

Rotary clotheslines — the kind with a pole in the center, folding out like an umbrella — offer a cheap and sustainable way to dry laundry outdoors. But until now, households without a yard or patio have been out of luck. While indoor drying racks provide a viable alternative, they occupy precious floor space. And on damp days, laundry can take a day or more to fully dry.

Dutch inventor Ans Clements, who started developing new products twelve years ago at age 60, alongside her career as a hairdresser, came up with a solution. The SpeedDryer is a rotary clothesline designed for indoor use. It features a small motor that gently spins the lines to speed up the drying process. Most loads of laundry will be ready in just two hours — comparable to a tumble dryer's cycle. When not in use, the device folds up for storage.

Tumble dryers rank among the most energy-intensive home appliances, using an average of 230 kWh annually and adding EUR 260 to a household's utility bills. By contrast, the SpeedDryer consumes just EUR 6.50 worth of electricity per year. Priced at EUR 219, it's an innovative adaptation of a familiar product that will appeal to consumers seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs. One to bring to apartment dwellers near you?! We're guessing it might do double duty as a cat entertainment device, too ;)


22 May 2024

PwC just published its first Global AI Jobs Barometer, analyzing AI's impact on jobs, skills, wages and productivity in 15 countries. One of the report's key findings? "Sectors most exposed to AI — financial services, information technology and professional services — are experiencing nearly five times higher labor productivity growth than sectors less exposed to AI."

That surge in productivity is paired with a rapid change in the kind of know-how required from workers. Parsing 500 million job ads, PwC found that skills demanded by employers evolved 25% faster for occupations most able to use AI than for roles that are less AI-enabled.

While skills that can be complemented by AI are in demand, so are those that are hard for AI to perform. Examples listed by PwC include laser hair removal, yoga instruction and ecological restoration — careers that lean heavily on inhabiting a human body. For now, at least 🙃

Sign of the times
21 May 2024

In Q4 2024, Nestlé will launch Vital Pursuit, the first product range by a major food brand designed specifically for consumers taking GLP-1 weight loss medications. Since Ozempic, Wegovy and similar drugs work by decreasing appetite, Vital Pursuit's 12 frozen meals and snacks will come in smaller portions. They'll also contain extra protein to counteract the muscle loss commonly associated with the drugs. 

Meanwhile, Abbott repeatedly referred to GLP-1 medications when releasing its new high-protein nutrition shakes, and Daily Harvest created a GLP-1 Companion Food Collection.

According to the American Pharmacists Association, one in 60 adults was prescribed a GLP-1 medication in 2023, and that number is expected to jump this year. Morgan Stanley estimates approximately 10% of the US population could be on the drug by 2034 — that's around 35 million people no longer experiencing constant cravings for processed foods... 

20 May 2024

In April, May and June 2024, IKEA is turning many of its store parking lots into consumer-to-consumer marketplaces with a series of flea markets and car boot sales. The retailer is inviting IKEA Family members to clean out their homes and garages and sell any furniture, toys or knick-knacks they no longer need. IKEA will also sell its own 'last chance' and secondhand items.

Following successful pilots in 2023, IKEA is hosting flea markets in various European countries, from Switzerland to the UK. Pricing varies per location. In Cardiff, for example, sellers are requested to make a GBP 5 donation to support a local charity. In France, all events are organized as 'solidarity garage sales,' with EUR 10 fees benefiting various non-profits. In Belgium, IKEA is organizing 'the country's largest flea market,' with eight stores participating on 8 June 2024. Admission to all markets is free. 

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20 May 2024

Unexpected recurring payment from an unknown brand name showing up on a bank statement? That happens regularly, with 36% of Brits spotting a scamscription or payment trap in 2023. Considering that inflation ranks as the number one concern for the 25th consecutive month, this is becoming more of a concern.

From LatAm to Asia, the subscription economy is booming, with consumers appreciating the convenience, cost-effectiveness and personalization these services provide. Yet many people don't realize they're signing up for a recurring payment: per Citizens Advice, 13 million Brits (26%) accidentally signed up for a subscription in 2023. Auto-renews, free trials and unclear terms are the most common reasons.

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17 May 2024

Earlier this month, Nokia launched an all-new 3210 4G feature phone, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the original model. Within two days, it was completely sold out in China. The reboot incorporates modern features, including a 4G connection, a larger screen, built-in music apps and support for Alipay. The phone also has a two-megapixel camera that produces results similar to old-school point-and-shoots, now regaining popularity on Xiaohongshu.

Most notably, the model released in China does not support WeChat, which strengthens the product’s value proposition as a stripped-down yet stylish option for consumers actively choosing to eschew smartphones.

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Sign of the times
17 May 2024

We know England can be prone to the odd spot of rain ☔😉, but wet days are becoming more than a mild inconvenience. Three in five English adults say extreme weather affects their ability to be active. According to the UK's Football Association, 30% of community pitches are flooded for two months of the year, resulting in an estimated 120,000 lost soccer matches annually.

Recognizing the impact of flooding and unusually heavy downpours, UK sporting body Sport England has announced Every Move, a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the effects of climate change. Planned initiatives include restoring flooded pitches and making swimming pools more environmentally and financially sustainable. Sport England has also warned of funding cuts to organizations without robust sustainability measures in place by 2027, stating: "It's time we moved from informing and encouraging to enabling and requiring."

Findings from Sport England's recent survey of sports clubs and other stakeholders underscore the need for change: 4 in 10 organizations are already affected by disruptions to play caused by weather events, and 59% state that funding for environmental initiatives is the type of support they want most. As Sport England says, "While it might not be convenient or easy, we have to act now."


P.S. The accompanying image isn't a random cute pic. Since harvest mice are suffering from a loss of habitat, Wimbledon tennis balls are donated to conservation programs around Britain to serve as spherical mouse homes.

16 May 2024

In a bid to redefine the home climate industry, California-based startup Quilt just unveiled a heat pump that packs energy efficiency into a smaller, sleeker design. Its compact indoor units come with front panels in either white oak veneer or plain white; the latter can be painted or wall-papered to match any interior. The units also feature built-in lighting that can be dimmed and color-adjusted.

Price before rebates is USD 6,499 per room, including the outdoor unit, permitting support and installation. Quilt will start installing units in the Bay Area this summer, with Los Angeles to follow.

Closer view of Quilt's indoor unit

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