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Innovation
19 July 2024

Siam Kubota, a manufacturer of tractors and other machinery, has partnered with Thai streetwear label Greyhound Original to launch an upcycled clothing collection made of rice straw. Left over after harvesting rice, the straw is an agricultural waste product that's typically used for livestock, compost and biomass fuel (if it's not burned on fields). Siam Kubota collaborated with Rajamangala University of Technology and with local collectives of rice growers, silk farmers and weavers to create a new fabric made of rice straw and silk.

Each piece in the ‘Turn Waste to Agri-Wear’ capsule collection was created using the resulting material. Launched late June 2024, the collection includes shirts, pants, jackets and hats. Prices range from THB 1,500 to THB 6,900 (USD 41 to USD 191), comparable to regular Greyhound Original items.

🌾 In Asia, where most consumers still see sustainability as a novelty or a luxury instead of a must-have, education and accessibility are paramount to driving mainstream behavior change. Appealing to consumers through a vertical with an existing cultural identity — in this case, streetwear — lowers the barrier to adoption. Of course, one upcycled capsule collection will not make Thais turn into sustainability advocates overnight. But it’s an eye-catching step towards long-term change.

It bears repeating that Kubota — which was founded in Japan in 1890 — makes tractors and mini excavators. That's miles upstream in the supply chain for venturing into innovations for end consumers. If an agricultural brand can create cool streetwear capsule collections, there's no excuse for any other brand not to develop their own creative spin on sustainability.

Daily is TrendWatching’s free feed of innovations, trends and insights, selected by our analysts — so you can create meaningful innovations of your own 💚

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Innovation
19 July 2024

South Korean event agency Nominom hosted the 'Best Dream Concert,' the first sleep concert in Korea. Designed to help those suffering from insomnia and sleep deprivation, the event featured artists performing soothing, slow-tempo music live over 12 hours from 7 pm to 7 am. Attendees could also participate in a light yoga class to unwind before bedtime. Instead of seats, beds and pajamas were provided for each concertgoer. Held in Q2 2024, the event sold out quickly, with tickets priced at KRW 70,000 (approximately USD 50).

What's the one thing that comes to mind when you think of South Korea? K-pop, most likely. However, the global success of K-culture is just one facet of the country’s meteoric growth. One study estimated that between the 1960s and 1990s, South Korea’s economy grew by 1,500% while per capita income increased eightfold. That economic miracle isn't without a price — the push for progress has fostered a hyper-competitive society, and the nation is now grappling with a mental health epidemic and the highest suicide rates among OECD countries.

However, South Koreans, predominantly younger generations, are hitting back and making a stand for wellness. Counter-culture movements like ‘hitting mung’— the notion of sitting somewhere to space out — became popular in the early 2020s. There’s also an annual competition for who can be the best at ‘doing nothing’ (the irony there is not lost on us).

The pursuit of wellness isn’t limited to South Koreans — in China, young people are checking themselves into ‘junior nursing homes’ to reset and find respite from demanding urban lifestyles. In cultures that chase betterment at all costs, being the master of your own time and (head)space is now the ultimate luxury.

The opportunity for brands here is clear: how might you promote and foster a counter-culture that normalizes prioritizing self-care and wellness?

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Thought-starter
18 July 2024

1 August 2024 marks this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, arriving a day earlier than in 2023. According to the Global Footprint Network, humanity has consumed more resources in just seven months than our planet's ecosystems can regenerate in a year. And if everyone lived like the average American, we would need 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎 Earths to sustain annual demand...

📈 The relentless pace of economic and population growth is depleting our planet’s resources at an alarming rate, harming both environmental and human health. Meanwhile, Kuwait just announced a 'giant' oil discovery, Guyana wants to be the new Qatar and the hunt for new oil and gas drilling sites is far from slowing down.

So, we need to act now to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day. To get started, check out 🌿 Power of Possibility: 50+ existing solutions that are ready to scale. Looking to place resource depletion, biodiversity loss, air pollution and climate breakdown in the context of consumer trends? 👀 Dive into our ecology macro-trends and related sub-trends, and get inspired by impact-driven innovations.

Innovation
17 July 2024

Bird Buddy, the tech-for-nature startup, has unveiled a new AI feature called Name That Bird. The technology allows people to identify and name individual birds visiting a smart feeder in their yard. Using Bird Buddy's high-resolution camera, the AI can recognize unique elements of each avian visitor, enabling bird enthusiasts to form deeper connections with those who regularly stop by.

This personalized bird identification system not only lets users name their favorite visitors but also notifies them when a specific bird returns to the feeder. For instance, users can name a Northern Cardinal 'Bob' and receive alerts whenever Bob flies in for a snack. While still experimental, this non-invasive approach to tracking individual birds could massively benefit conservation efforts as it becomes more accurate over time.

Name That Bird is part of Bird Buddy's Nature Intelligence suite. Another feature detects sick or injured birds and tells users how they can help, while Pet Alert warns users of the presence of pets (read cats 🐈) near a feeder. Bird Buddy has also extended its species recognition capabilities, enabling identification and recording of butterflies, raccoons and other backyard creatures.

Insight
17 July 2024

The redefinition of globalization continues to present unique challenges for international B2C brands. Geopolitical tensions and ever-increasing polarization make operating globally more of a tightrope act than ever, and multinationals seeking to win consumer trust need to ramp up their multi-local approach — without compromising their brand values.

So, what are the best routes to establishing local trust? The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brands and Politics surveyed over 15,000 people in 15 countries. When respondents were asked to pick one or more ways "a foreign brand will earn my trust", their answers lined up as follows:

🏢 Creates good jobs locally (49% agree this earns trust)

📜 Follows local laws (47%) and respects government policies (33%)

🤝 Works with local suppliers (44%)

🌍 Addresses societal challenges (31%)

🎨 Adapts products to local cultures — consumers in India (49%), South Africa (45%), Indonesia (45%), Brazil (43%), and the UAE (43%) particularly interested in this

One common thread? The Global South craves recognition. Historically underrepresented and stereotyped, these regions increasingly see their cultural capital as a source of pride. Brands aiming to resonate with consumers in these markets need to move far beyond a one-size-fits-all approach by adapting to, celebrating and empowering (hyper)local communities. One example of a brand getting it right? Adidas partnering with Mexican artisans to create hand-embroidered national soccer jerseys.

Innovation
16 July 2024

It's hard to believe, but athletes have never had access to a dedicated space for spending time with their babies and young children while competing at the Olympics. The 2024 Paris Olympic Games will see the first-ever Olympic Village Nursery, courtesy of Pampers and designed for children of diaper-wearing age.

Located in the non-residential area of the Olympic Village Plaza, the nursery will be open daily from 9 am to 9 pm, providing a calm space to care, nurture and bond. In addition to comfortable seating and a play zone, there's also a private area for breastfeeding. Naturally, Pampers diapers and wipes will be on offer, too. 

One of the athletes helping launch the initiative is US Track & Field legend Allyson Felix, who is both an 11-time Olympic medalist and a mother. Felix explained to NBC, "I had the experience of coming back to competition with my daughter, and it was really challenging. [...] It was even hard in ways I didn't expect, like staying in hotels, washing bottles, all the things you have to bring, feeding your baby in stadiums, who's going to watch your baby."

The nursery is part of the IOC's commitment to pro athletes who are also parents, recognizing the unique challenges they face while balancing extremely demanding careers with raising young children. Within or beyond sports, what's a longstanding pain point your brand could solve? Before you get started, find your Allyson Felix — a knowledgeable advocate with first-hand experience of exactly what needs fixing. 

Innovation
16 July 2024

Taking a confrontational stance against the oil industry, sustainable printer Teemill has joined forces with British comedian Joe Lycett to raise cash for Greenpeace's legal fund. The collaboration riffs on a statement Lycett made that he was suing Styles over a Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter as payment for a painting. Later, after retracting the lawsuit, Lycett pointed out that it would've been a ludicrous case to bring to court — much like Shell suing Greenpeace to silence protests against new oil and gas drilling. The oil giant's litigiousness, unfortunately, isn't a joke. Says the NGO: "Shell is threatening to sue Greenpeace for a staggering USD 1 million plus legal costs that could spiral into millions because we dared to challenge their reckless oil expansion plans."

Known for its circular approach to fashion, Teemill has printed t-shirts and tote bags featuring Lycett's tongue-in-cheek portrait of Harry Styles. All profits will go towards Greenpeace's legal defense against Shell. Admittedly silly, the campaign takes a cleverly roundabout approach to soliciting donations. Faced with countless requests for contributions, consumers naturally tune out. Lycett hooks viewers with a seemingly unrelated story before driving home his point. A circuitous route is worth exploring next time you want to deliver a message your audience is apt to ignore ;)  

Insight
16 July 2024

When Sam Altman and Arianna Huffington announced the launch of Thrive AI Health in an op-ed in TIME, they opened with an alarming statistic: 129 million Americans have at least one major chronic disease. The startup wants to tackle that with a hyper-personalized AI health coach that offers precise recommendations in real-time. Trained on peer-reviewed science and incorporating behavior change methodology used by Huffington's Thrive Global, Thrive AI Health Coach will offer suggestions related to sleep, food, movement, stress management and social connection. No word yet on pricing or a release date, but the service will be available as a mobile app.

All about prevention
This isn't the first AI-powered health innovation that promises personalized support (see Nvidia's partnership with Hippocratic AI and the NHS's forthcoming rollout of Flok). However, the emphasis here is on preventative healthcare. Thrive AI Health's big promise is that it will 'scale and democratize' customized health nudges, empowering people who want to be healthier without placing more demands on overstretched healthcare systems. Preventative care is much needed.

OPTI-BOTS
Recent research found that 31.3% of the global population (around 1.8 billion people) failed to meet recommended physical activity levels, up from 26% in 2010. That number is projected to rise to 35% by 2030. Smart companions that encourage people to adopt better habits — a trend we've dubbed OPTI-BOTS — could help provide motivation and guide those who don't know where to start.

Not just for better health
Implications ripple beyond healthcare. Once people are accustomed to bots offering a personalized route to better health, they'll look for similar services that coach them through DIY phone repairs, help prepare for job interviews or understand their savings goals. Which knowledge gaps prevent your consumers from reaching their full potential? Can you build AI-powered solutions that meet those needs?

Data control and consumer trust 
A final thought: the promise to provide customized insights needs to be accompanied by privacy assurances, which could hold back adoption. When Edelman surveyed people across 12 countries about trust and health, 55% said that, over the next five years, technology will have a negative impact on healthcare, up 8 percentage points from Q1 2018 📈. Unwanted information and compromised health privacy were cited as concerns. Thrive AI Health emphasizes users will have control over data they share, but will that be enough to allay concerns? And how should these uncertainties factor into your own OPTI-BOTS?

Innovation
15 July 2024

After struggling to attract enough teenagers to stock shelves and price goods, Dutch drugstore chain Kruidvat reimagined the application process for after-school jobs. Recognizing that first-time job interviews can be intimidating, the company now encourages teens to apply together under its apply with your bestie initiative. Friends, cousins, neighbors — after responding to an opening as a team, young job seekers are also interviewed jointly, making the experience less daunting and more fun.

If the BFFs are hired, store managers do their best to schedule them to work the same shifts. Additionally, the AS Watson-owned brand has streamlined its process by allowing candidates to apply via WhatsApp, promising to connect applicants with a recruiter and a nearby store within 24 hours. Kruidvat has also simplified employee contracts. For part-time positions under 12 hours per week, it condensed a previously lengthy document to a single sheet of paper.

Kruidvat started allowing friends to apply together in 2022. Following positive feedback from employees and store managers, it recently launched an extensive marketing campaign spotlighting the option, which saw the number of applications by twosomes jump by 83%.

Read our trend take on Kruidvat's Gen Z-friendly recruitment
Insight
12 July 2024

The beginning of July marks school graduation season in China. In Shanghai, language learning app Duolingo joined Xiaohongshu’s University of Life pop-up event, an initiative welcoming graduates to the ‘school of life’ and encouraging them to embark on continuous learning. Armed with a (fake) kitchen knife, Duo, the brand’s iconic owl mascot, chased raced attendees around the event and playfully compelled them to create a 10,000-day language-learning plan. Hilarity ensued.

On the surface and in isolation, this might seem like a silly brand activation. However, it aligns with a running joke among the app’s users. Duolingo's wildly successful approach to user engagement centers on gamification and the daily streak system. This has given rise to a community of regular users committed to maintaining their streak. For them, Duo the Owl is regarded as a half-hilarious, half-tyrannical figure who will make you complete your daily lesson, often with progressively passive-aggressive reminders.

While we doubt that the Duolingo marketing team originally intended to paint Duo as an unhinged taskmaster, the brand has done extremely well by running with the organic community response. Official Duolingo social media accounts lean into the persona and reply in character to user-generated content online, while offline, the brand stages activations such as this one at the Xiaohongshu event.

Duolingo demonstrates that one of the best ways to build an authentic brand community is to center it around shared behaviors and responses that arise organically when users interact with your brand. What common user experience can you lean into? 

Innovation
12 July 2024

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will introduce an on-demand electric boat taxi service this July to enhance transportation and boost tourism. Managed by Krung Thep Thanakom Co (KT), the BMA's business arm, the service will initially operate in Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem and its surrounding canals, with plans to expand to major canals like Khlong Lat Phrao. Passengers can hail boats via a dedicated app, with fares calculated based on travel distance. KT is finalizing the design and pricing for six- to ten-seat electric boats, starting with two prototypes for a trial phase this month.

Since the on-demand ride-hailing concept gained mainstream adoption in the mid-2010s, Asian startups have applied the model to the region’s myriad informal transportation modes — from motorcycle taxis to rickshaws. However, the BMA’s latest app is the first to introduce it for non-road-based public transportation.

Bangkok is notorious for its nightmarish traffic jams, so encouraging commuters to get off the streets and take to the waterways could help alleviate an urgent urban problem. By introducing an on-demand, app-based service, the BMA makes it as frictionless as possible for users to adopt a sustainable alternative. And the appeal of the electric boat service goes beyond convenience and eco creds; boat rides offer an element of delight, especially to a city's visitors.

Can you encourage the adoption of sustainable alternatives by cranking up both the friction-free and FREEDONISM dials?

Insight
11 July 2024

YouTube’s annual Culture & Trend Report is out, revealing ‘how fans have shifted from consumers to creators — and how they brought viewers along with them.’ Here are our top survey insights ▶️

💰 Monetization: A whopping 85% of online users aged 14-44 identify as fans of someone or something, and 8% of Gen Z describe themselves as 'professional fans' who earn money from their passion.

📅 Devotion: 80% of fans use YouTube to consume content about the person or thing they’re a fan of at least weekly.

🌟 Individualization: 47% of Gen Z report belonging to a fandom that no one they know personally is a part of.

These fans may not be super fans of your brand, but 74% of Gen Z fans appreciate seeing brands engage with their fandom. As consumers increasingly derive their identity from (online) pop culture rather than from the brands they buy, consider how your brand can position itself within these communities, and who you can connect with.

Want all our trends, insights and innovations? Check out our world class Trend Intelligence Platform
Sign of the times
10 July 2024

A few weeks ago, we wrote about two AI bots running for office. Now, joining AI Steve in Brighton and chatbot VIC in Cheyenne is Pedro Markun in São Paulo. Markun, a self-described hacker, technology activist and political innovator, has launched a pre-campaign for São Paulo's city council. He's doing so in partnership with a large language model called Lex, which was developed specifically for this campaign. The human/AI hybrid candidacy aims to deliver unprecedented governance skills by combining Markun's experience in civic technology with Lex's data analysis and policy formulation capabilities.

The campaign presents Lex as the first legislative AI in Brazil, designed to analyze data, draft public policy, monitor contracts and interact directly with citizens. The AI promises to enhance various aspects of city governance, including access to municipal resources and transparency in public spending. Markun and Lex's joint candidacy, running under the Sustainability Network party, seeks to bring innovation to São Paulo's politics to ensure all voices are heard and decisions are based on in-depth, objective analysis. The pre-campaign is currently seeking financial backers and will offer contributors early access to test Lex.

Innovation
10 July 2024

Someone Somewhere and Adidas have teamed up for a collaboration that celebrates both Mexican artisanship and soccer culture. The spark for this partnership? A LinkedIn post by Antonio Nuño, Someone Somewhere's cofounder and CEO, just five months ago. Nuño highlighted a compelling opportunity: Adidas sold a staggering 2.9 million Mexican national team jerseys during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Looking ahead to 2026, when Mexico will co-host the World Cup, Nuño proposed a game-changing idea: what if those jerseys featured hand-embroidered elements?

"Assuming that each t-shirt has a patch with an hour of embroidery (for example, the three Adidas lines), the product would generate six months of fair work for more than 3,000 artisans (out of the 10,000 we have on our waiting list), and allow more than 15,000 people, including families, to break the cycle of poverty." Nuño supported his vision with AI-generated images and asked followers to share the post. Fast forward to today, and the dream is becoming reality. Maybe not for millions of shirts (yet), but Adidas is launching a new collection of jerseys meticulously hand-embroidered by women artisans from the Sierra Norte de Puebla region, with each piece requiring over 11 hours of intricate needlework.

Someone Somewhere was established to connect brands with artisans to produce clothing and accessories that create stable, fairly paid jobs. The collaboration with Adidas showcases Mexico's rich heritage and craftsmanship while providing economic growth in underserved rural areas. Other brands: time to explore similar partnerships that celebrate and sustain local skills and culture?

Innovation
9 July 2024

Copenhagen's tourism board is launching a new initiative called CopenPay, which will see local attractions offering rewards for green behavior. For instance, visitors arriving at the National Gallery of Denmark with plastic waste are invited to a workshop to turn it into a piece of art, while taking public transport or a bike to Copenhagen's iconic CopenHill grants a unique experience of skiing down the slope on the building's roof. 

The program is open to residents, too, who might opt for a free kayak rental in return for fishing litter out of the water, or a complimentary vegetarian lunch after volunteering on an urban farm. By incentivizing eco-friendly choices, CopenPay aims to bridge the gap between people's desire to act sustainably and their actual behavior. First running as a pilot, from 15 July – 11 August 2024, CopenPay currently lists 24 participating attractions. Depending on how the initiative is received, Visit Copenhagen plans to roll it out as a year-round program.

Read our trend take on CopenPay
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