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Sign of the times
21 June 2024

The United Nations Development Programme just released its second edition of the Peoples’ Climate Vote survey. Over 73,000 people speaking 87 different languages across 77 countries were asked 15 questions on climate change. Key findings for 2024:

  • Four out of five people worldwide want their governments to take stronger action on climate change, showing overwhelming support for more ambitious climate efforts.
  • The survey found that 86% of respondents want countries to set aside geopolitical differences and collaborate on addressing climate change.
  • Majorities in 20 of the world's largest greenhouse gas-emitting countries, including the US, China and India, support stronger climate action, with percentages ranging from 66% (US and Russia) to 93% (Italy).
  • In five of the main emitters (Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United States), women are more strongly in favor than men of their country strengthening its commitments. The gender gap is largest in Germany.
  • 72% of respondents globally favor a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, including majorities in countries that are among the top 10 producers of oil, coal, or gas.
  • Climate change is impacting people's major life decisions, with 69% of global respondents saying it affects choices like where to live or work, rising to 74% in Least Developed Countries.
  • Over half of those surveyed are more worried about climate change than they were last year.

Representing 87% of the world's population, The People's Climate Vote survey is focused on understanding how people experience the impacts of climate change and how they want their leaders to respond. You can find the full report here.

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Trend
21 June 2024

In conjunction with Chinese Cultural Heritage Day in June 2024, Starbucks China opened its third cultural heritage concept store in Suzhou. Following similar openings in Beijing and Shanghai, the space is designed to showcase local Suzhou culture and Chinese artisanal skills. The interior mimics a Suzhou-style garden pavilion and sports design elements based on local craft, including Su embroidery, needle brush painting techniques and Yunnan’s Wa brocades.

The latest Starbucks cultural heritage store is part of the cafe chain’s broader strategy to ride on the Guo Chao movement, also known as ‘National Trend’ or ‘China Chic.’ Chinese consumers increasingly favor brands rooted in local culture and sensibilities, and in response, both local and global brands are reinventing their offerings to meet this preference. For Starbucks, leaning into heritage is especially important to fend off local competitors like Luckin Coffee that are winning on price.

🌏 More broadly, China's Guo Chao movement is just one example of a powerful shift across Asia, where Western culture is no longer the paragon of cultural cool. Asian kids who grew up in the 1990s might have clamored for hamburgers and Backstreet Boys songs. Today, Filipinos idolize their own P-pop artists (SB19, anyone?), Thais go crazy over their Boys’ Love series, and Indonesians flock to homegrown artisan coffee brands. And we don't even need to mention K-culture.

Culture will always be a key driver of commerce. Aligning your brand with the right players, personalities and properties is a powerful way to resonate with consumers. Is your brand’s cultural compass up to date?

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AI × Trend-Driven Innovation

Innovation
21 June 2024

New mothers in operational roles within the airline industry face unique challenges related to the nature of their work. One significant example is the lack of time and private space to pump breastmilk during and between flights. As a result, many are forced to take extended unpaid maternity leave or abandon their careers altogether.

Regional carrier AirAsia announced its Moms-on-Duty kit in May 2024 to address the issue. The kit includes a nursing cover to use while on duty, designed to match the airline's uniforms for pilots and cabin crew. Also included is a practical handbook with guidance on navigating parenting-related conversations and accessing essential support. The initiative is part of AirAsia's broader DEI strategy to build a more inclusive work environment for female employees.

Launched close to Mother's Day, the Moms-on-Duty kit stands out among the usual promotions, sentimental ads and #ThankYouMom activations. Adding a nursing cover to crew uniforms demonstrates an understanding of women's lived experiences and delivers a tangible solution to a genuine problem — a meaningful step toward normalizing physical aspects of motherhood and equalizing the playing field for working moms.

Stat
20 June 2024

The latest edition of Reuters and Oxford's annual Digital News Report is out! Here are the key insights for 2024:

😓 News fatigue & avoidance: Despite a slight uptick in engagement during election years (+3% in the US), news consumption is becoming more selective. Of those surveyed, 39% now often or sometimes avoid the news, up from 29% in 2017, and 39% feel overwhelmed by the amount of news, compared to 28% in 2019.

🧐 Trust in news: Trust remains steady at 40%. Finland leads with 69% trust, while Greece and Hungary are at the bottom with 23%. Trust factors include openness (72%), accuracy (69%), fairness (65%), and lack of bias (61%).

🎥 Platforms: Facebook is losing ground (-3%), short-form video news is surging. YouTube is the top platform (31%), followed by WhatsApp (21%), TikTok (13%), and X (10%). TikTok is especially popular among 18-24-year-olds (23%) and in Thailand (39%) and Kenya (36%).

🎙️ Podcasts: News podcasts attract younger, well-educated audiences. In 20 countries, 35% listen monthly, with 13% tuning into news and current affairs.

🤖 AI-generated news: Concern about fake news is rising, with 59% worried, up 3 points from last year. It's especially high in South Africa (81%) and the US (72%), likely connected to 2024 elections. 

Whether or not you're in the media business, how will you help overwhelmed consumers navigate an oversupply of information, enabling them to find essential signals among intensifying noise?

Innovation
20 June 2024

Allowing readers to dive into the classics with renowned authors as their guides — that's the vision behind Rebind, a new publishing platform that could give well-known books an AI-fueled rebirth. To create those immersive experiences, Rebind extensively interviews luminaries like John Banville, Roxanne Gay and Bill McKibben about a literary work. That material forms the basis for conversational, AI-powered interactions.

As readers make their way through a book, they can pause at any moment to engage the expert, or 'Rebinder,' in a chat, asking questions and receiving contextual insights drawn from hours of recordings. It's like having a book club discussion seamlessly woven into the reading experience. Rebind is banking on people wanting a guided, interactive journey through potentially daunting literary texts. While some might balk at inserting technology into the natural flow of reading, Rebind believes its platform can make the classics more accessible without diluting their depth.

📚 By funneling insights from human experts into dynamic AI interactions, Rebind creates a context-rich layer for traditional books. The startup, which is currently in beta — is focused on contemporary thinkers providing commentary on older, public-domain works. But one can imagine branching out to authors expanding on their own writing or workshopping a draft, celebrities discussing their favorite reads, or stellar educators bringing textbooks to life. Competition for people's attention is fierce — Rebind hints at immersive ways for the written word to lure them back.

Related: Library uses ChatGPT to turn popular books into choose-your-own-adventure games

Sign of the times
19 June 2024

In Germany, people are turning to mini solar systems installed on their balconies to lower utility bills and contribute to the fight against climate change. These 'Balkonkraftwerken,' or balcony power plants, consist of one or more photovoltaic panels and an inverter, allowing homeowners and renters alike to generate electricity and power household appliances.

Earlier this month, Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action announced that the number of balcony power plants surpassed 500,000. Rapid uptake was driven by the energy crisis following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and boosted by a zero-percent sales tax rule for residential photovoltaic systems, which went into effect in 2023 and will run through the end of 2026. Recent changes in legislation, dubbed 'Solar Package I,' have made it even easier for Germans to install and register solar modules.

⚡️ Faced with higher energy costs and concerns about blackouts and grid instability, consumers are increasingly interested in gaining independence from centralized systems. Balcony power plants provide a degree of self-sufficiency, creating a low-stakes opportunity for people to dabble in off-grid living — one that's as accessible to city dwellers as to folks living out in the woods. Beyond electricity, what can your brand provide to help people achieve greater autonomy and resilience? 

Innovation
19 June 2024

Just in time for Juneteenth, genealogy website Ancestry has published a new resource called Articles of Enslavement that allows descendants of enslaved people to discover crucial information about their ancestors. In partnership with newspapers.com, Ancestry employed artificial intelligence to analyze and extract meaningful data from over 38,000 articles and advertisements published before 1900. 

The collection provides details like names, names of enslavers, locations, occupations, relationships and physical characteristics of more than 183,000 enslaved individuals — crucial information boosting people's efforts to track their ancestors and piece together family histories that have long been obscured. In addition to aiding personal genealogy research, Ancestry also hopes to enrich everyone's understanding of American history and the African American experience during enslavement.

Our take on the trend driving Ancestry's innovation
Innovation
18 June 2024

Fluffiest innovation of the week? Without a doubt, an announcement by Small Pet Select about its floral bedding for bunnies, guinea pigs and other pint-sized pets. The family-owned brand's bedding is made from 100% natural materials. No additives, dyes or irritants. Instead of using deodorizing chemicals or fragrance oils, the line features flower petals for non-toxic odor camouflage. Small Pet Select just introduced a marigold version, adding to lavender and rose varieties. 

The company emphasizes that its floral bedding offers not just comfort but also a natural environment for pets, promoting their overall well-being. It's a savvy move that aligns with market insights showing pet owners are willing to spend more for premium and sustainable options. Our additional, evergreen take: bunny litter and every other product under the sun can be reimagined, improved and upgraded by prioritizing the health and happiness of your customers. Whether they walk, hop or scurry.

Stat
18 June 2024

Brands are becoming hesitant about pride activations. This year, there’s been a noticeable decline in rainbow-colored merchandise and brand logos, as greenhushing appears to have extended to pinkhushing. Just as corporate fear of criticism and backlash saw sustainability claims replaced with silence, the same is now happening with DE&I initiatives. Ipsos Pride Survey 2024 predicts that just 10% of brands across 26 countries will visibly strive for LGBTQ+ equality in 2024.

According to the survey, the percentage of people who say they support brands "actively promoting equality for LGBT people" has declined slightly, with 44% expressing this sentiment in 2024 compared to 49% in 2021.

In light of this sentiment — and with brands including Bud LightNike and Target facing boycotts and backlash for aligning with LGBTQ+ issues — is it time to opt out? No! 🌈 Dive into the full Ipsos report for granular data that can guide your allyship efforts (no paywall or registration), and see the link below for relevant trend insights and innovations.

Innovation
17 June 2024

Dutch brewery Jopen has partnered with canned water brand SEA Water to create the world's first IPA brewed using desalinated North Sea water. The collaboration, dubbed Life's a Beach, aims to offer a refreshing and sustainable drinking experience while raising awareness about freshwater scarcity and marine biodiversity.

SEA Water transforms saline water into clean, mineral-rich drinking water using solar and wind energy only. Life's a Beach, a session IPA with an alcohol content of 4.5%, is the first beer brewed with SEA Water. Haarlem-based Jopen has pledged to donate a portion of the beer's sales to ReefSystems, a Dutch startup that develops artificial reefs to restore ocean biodiversity. The beer is now available at supermarkets in the Netherlands, various music festivals and — of course — bars and restaurants along the North Sea coast.

Sign of the times
17 June 2024

While worries abound about the role of AI in spreading disinformation in mega election year 2024, AI might be playing an even more central role in the form of actual candidates. In the UK, AI Steve is running for parliament in the constituency of Brighton Pavilion, while chatbot VIC aims to be elected mayor of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The central concept behind VIC — short for Virtual Integrated Citizen — is that it knows all local laws and can follow them to the letter. It also analyzes public records to identify constituent concerns and can be contacted by citizens. AI Steve, meanwhile, is recruiting at least 5,000 Brighton residents as 'creators' whose opinions will be synthesized into policy positions. A separate group of 'validators' will evaluate potential positions on a scale of 1 to 10 to determine whether they should be adopted.

Both candidates have humans acting as their meat puppets, performing the duties an AI chatbot can't, like attending meetings and enabling them to legally run for office in the first place. While their initiators believe democracy needs a new impulse and AI can better represent the needs and wishes of citizens, critics are raising valid concerns about accountability, ethical implications and the potential for manipulation. 

VIC and AI Steve might seem like gimmicks. But it's hard to deny the benefits of politicians without human egos who can effortlessly analyze hundreds of pages of documents in seconds. With sufficient safeguards in place, an approach that's data-driven, consistent and reflective of the public's needs could lead to more effective and equitable governance. The same principles might also be applied in corporate settings, paving the way for AI/human hybrid CEOs, or the ultimate customer feedback system. One to experiment with?

Innovation
14 June 2024

Grocery delivery platform Swiggy Instamart partnered with daily newspaper The Times of India (TOI) on an olfactory experience to promote India’s peak mango season. On 2 June 2024, the TOI Sunday Times front page featured a vivid, full-page visual of mangoes imbued with the fruit’s fragrance. Readers were invited to ‘read this ad with your nose’ for a complete sensory experience. Approximately 800,000 copies of the special edition were distributed.

On the surface, it's a prime example of multi-sensory marketing. In an increasingly digital world, where AI dominates headlines, physical acts like a mango-scented newspaper still stand out, adding surprise and delight to people's daily lives.

More fundamentally, the campaign taps into a significant cultural moment. Indians are passionate about their mangoes — social media often buzzes with debates about the best varieties. The fruit's limited annual availability also creates a festive feeling around 'mango season.’ Swiggy Instamart effectively inserts itself into consumer conversations through its well-timed ad, building brand affinity and potentially driving conversion.

While holiday marketing — and marketing holidays — are a longstanding practice, could your brand capture consumer attention by leveraging unique cultural moments instead?

Want all our trends, insights and innovations? Check out our world class Trend Intelligence Platform
Stat
13 June 2024

Remember quiet quitting? 😶 It’s still very much a reality. Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 2024 Report reveals that 15% of the global workforce is 'actively disengaged,' defined as actively opposing an employer's goals. Additionally, 62% is simply not engaged. According to Gallup's estimates, low engagement has a global economic cost of USD 8.9 trillion, or 9% of global GDP.

The report uncovers factors that contribute to workers not feeling enthusiastic or involved:

  • Loneliness: 20% of employees experience daily loneliness, rising to 22% among those under 35 and to 25% among fully remote workers.
  • Job hunting: 52% of global workers are watching for or actively seeking new job opportunities.
  • Stress: 41% of employees report high stress levels, and the percentage is higher for those in poorly managed companies (60%).

Signaling a path towards higher engagement is Gallup's finding that 70% of variance in team engagement can be attributed to the manager. With resenteeism on the rise, how will you help your managers and employees re-engage and thrive in their roles?

Innovation
13 June 2024

In May 2024, Shanghai techno club Heim hosted Bassbath, an inclusive clubbing experience geared towards individuals with hearing impairments. Created by curatorial collective Transparent Afternoon, the event was organized by a team comprised of both hearing and deaf members.

The club night saw music augmented with visuals and vibrations, while artists and advocates led activities designed to connect hearing and deaf partygoers, such as a sign language crash course and a sign language rap performance. And as the event's organizers point out, there's an equalizing effect when music is booming — it's too loud to talk, "so we express ourselves with body language." With plans for future events, BassBath aims to create a vibrant movement for the deaf community and its allies.

Read Acacia's trend take on BassBath
Trend
12 June 2024

Marathon du Mont-Blanc reserves bibs for runners arriving by train

Later this month, 11,000 runners will descend on Chamonix to participate in one of eight races, including the Marathon du Mont-Blanc. Among the world's most famous trail running events, they're set in stunning natural surroundings. So it's not surprising that Le Club des Sports de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, which organizes the races, is bent on minimizing their environmental impact.

Previously implemented initiatives include banning plastic water bottles and reducing food miles by sourcing from local producers. Recently, Le Club des Sports de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc announced a new measure to drastically cut transport-related emissions: in 2025, 40% of all marathon bibs will be reserved for runners arriving by train. Participants who can't show their train ticket will be disqualified from starting.

Massive Attack offers VIP access and dedicated trains

British band Massive Attack, meanwhile, is wielding carrots instead of sticks for its August 2024 homecoming gig in Bristol — billed as the 'lowest carbon emissions show of its size ever held.' To persuade ticket-holders to travel by train instead of car, the concert's organizers are partnering with Train Hugger to offer a comprehensive set of incentives.

Train tickets can be swapped for a wristband that provides access to a VIP bar and toilets; wristband wearers get a free ride back to the rail station after the show via electric bus; post-show, rail operator GWR will also reserve five 'show special' trains departing from Bristol; and each train ticket will contribute to the planting of 19,150 native oak trees on former farmland near Bristol.

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