Your daily mix of foresight & futures

You can scour the Internet in search of the latest consumer trends and cultural shifts, or you can let us do it for you. T&T provides a daily snapshot of the world’s most intriguing happenings and what they mean for the marketplace tomorrow.

China Stocks Close Up On Tuesday

Unprecedented gains and name-changes are two traits of the world’s best performing stock market this year: China. The stock exchanges of Shenzhen and Shanghai reflect the magnitude of consumer confidence as equity is being marketed and consumed like consumer-packaged goods.

The Gains
The Shenzhen and Shanghai stock exchanges are up 55% and 27% respectively since the start of 2015, with no strong signs of slowing down as trade volumes soar. According the The Wall Street Journal, the Shenzhen market has been driven by quick trades from retail investors who buy and sell based seemingly on what they read in state-owned media and on discussions with friends. They’re trading China’s hottest young companies, and in this respect the Shenzhen exchange is beginning to look like a younger version of the U.S. NASDAQ Index. Trading on these two exchanges seems to be an emerging trend and topic of casual discussion among Chinese Millennials.

“I’m just dabbling. If all your friends are buying stocks and talking about it, and you don’t buy, then you have nothing to talk to them about,” said 32-year old Liu Wei, who works in real-estate management in Shenzhen.

The Names
This month a property development firm (Shanghai Duolun Industry Co.) issued an annual report saying it had experienced a 90% drop in revenue. A couple of days later, the stock rose 10% after the company announced a name change to P2P Financial Information Service Co. Last July, there was a Hunan-style restaurant chain that renamed itself Cloud Live Technology and pledged to focus on cloud computing software; however, 90% of its revenues still come from restaurants. Strange? Not this year. So far in 2015 in China more than 70 public companies have changed their names. Popular terms that seem to attract investors include environmental protection, technology, entertainment and finance. If a company even sounds like it has potential, consumers believe that it will increase in value. If something as simple as a name change can repair a 90% drop in revenue, maybe I can turn into an overnight celebrity if I go by ‘Vlad Pitt.’

Takeaways
China’s collectivist culture is shown through the equity markets, with buy/sell decisions seemingly made on a social basis without much research; even those with six-figure portfolios will invest based simply on a friend’s advice. According to our Global MONITOR data, just over half (56%) of consumers in China strongly agree/agree with the statement: “I am increasingly likely to spend time researching a product before making a purchase (compared with 68% in U.S.).” This is also seen in attitudes towards the market, with a much higher chance of being right than wrong at the moment. Chinese consumers’ activity with equity markets, unseen virtually anywhere else, reflects consumer confidence in their country as a whole. A whopping 87% of consumers in China believe that things are going very/fairly well in their country these days (compared with 38% in U.S.). How’s that for confidence? Even so, this could very quickly take a turn for the worse if the market reverses with Chinese retail investors taking out ever more loans from their brokers (referred to as ‘margin’).

Want to know more about Global MONITOR? Contact our Head of Global MONITOR, Michelle Singer.

Sources:
Shenzhen’s Overshadowed Stocks Surge
What’s a Buzzy New Company Name Worth?

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05/26/2015

AreYouBeachBodyReady

Controversy over a billboard on the underground has sparked a backlash amongst angry Londoners. A company called Protein World launched a campaign for its Weight Loss Collection featuring a bikini-wearing model asking “Are you beach body ready?” in bold capitals.

Criticised for relying on judgement and shame to sell their product, Protein World attracted a mini wave of activism, with commuters snapping the ads on social media and responding with their own slogans: #Everybody’sReady #EverydaySexism.’ Other brands including Carlsberg launched their own responses to the campaign in a bid to cash in on the viral action.

Protein World Global Head of Marketing Richard Staveley admitted that reactions to the campaign had been mixed. Nonetheless, it has been a commercial success, attracting 30,000 new customers and earning £2 million in sales.

BeerBody swimsuitsforall

05/14/2015

TheFuturesCompanyApril15infographic

To learn more about The Futures Company’s U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR, contact Ryan McConnell.

 

04/20/2015

Youth is no longer wasted on the young

With older people living well for longer, working until later in life, and keeping an active and positive mindset, we can’t continue thinking about aging the way we used to.

Older consumers are involved, active and eager to live new experiences. The numbers speak for themselves:

32% of the U.S. population is 50+ (AOA)

64% of Americans agree that there’s no reason that you have to feel less vital and energetic as you get older (Global MONITOR, U.S. Sample)

27% of new businesses in 2011 were launched by entrepreneurs between the ages of 55 and 64 (AARP)

One need only look at the media to see the new place older men and women now enjoy. They are described as “chic”, “sassy” or “fun” and engage in conversations about sex, clubbing or tattoos.

And while some brands are increasingly including models in the “golden years” in their campaigns, many others are failing to see that this growing segment of active consumers with diverse and sophisticated needs can lead to huge opportunities.

Want to know more? Contact libia.billordo@thefuturescompany.com to get access to our comprehensive report about the aging consumer.

04/17/2015

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By Ann Clurman and Kaley Mullin

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Charting women’s aspirations, transformations, satisfactions – and dissatisfactions  –  is a significant and ongoing focus of The Futures Company.  “Capturing Our Imagination” is a new channel for sharing with you a cultural development we find intriguing and important. Spearheading this effort are Ann Clurman, EVP and Kaley Mullin, Consultant.

In 2013, as part of our ongoing Future Perspective Series, The Futures Company published “Women in 2020: How women’s actions and expectations are changing the future.”  Rather than take an all-too-familiar view of how social and economic conditions exert changes on women’s roles and identities, Women in 2020 flipped that approach, exploring how women themselves act as catalysts for fundamental changes that shape their world … and everybody else’s as well.

Following this thread, “Enough is Enough” highlights some notable, even remarkable, pushbacks by women against the status quo.  There’s evidence across the globe and across lifestage that many women have reached their boiling point. As this attitude gains traction and women galvanize their peers in thought and action, they will expect institutions, companies and brands to play a role as well. In many cultures, women—and men—have come to expect brands to take a stand on issues and to join even the most controversial conversations.

Brands, of course, need to consider with care the appropriate magnitude and volume of their voice as they enter the discussion. As more brands make their stances known, they must also weigh the downside of silence and assess where, when and how to show their beliefs.

Irrespective of a brand’s decision whether to take a stand, it’s imperative that marketers understand that, for many women, realities once perceived as unfair are now seen as intolerable, and situations once called unfortunate are now deemed inexcusable. In other words, enough is enough.

 

1.) No More Street Harassment (New York)

NoMoreStreetHarassment(NewYork)It’s no longer surprising to hear that #YesAllWomen have been catcalled at some point in their lives. But rather than accept it as benign or as a compliment, many women are fed up. Urban women everywhere, particularly in New York City, have been gathering behind initiatives to educate people about the dangers of street harassment and to stop it entirely. The most prominent discussions around this issue came after this video of a modestly dressed woman getting repeatedly catcalled went viral. From communities like Hollaback! mapping out incidents of street harassment to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daughter selling T-shirts with the hashtag #stopsexualASSault, women have had enough and are fighting to take back the streets.

 

2.) No More Complicit Consent (Ontario, Canada)

NoMoreComplicitConsent(Ontario)In a climate where 1 in 4 Canadian women experience at least one incident of sexual assault in their lifetimes, two junior-high girls decided to push for change. After learning that the Ontario health curriculum was being updated, Toronto eighth-graders Tessa Hill and Lia Valente pressed the province’s Ministry of Education to include a discussion of affirmative consent in high school sex-ed classes. And their call was heard. After tweeting that the girls’ campaign was important, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that consent would be added to the updated curriculum.

 

3. No More Invisible Women (Arab Region / Afghanistan)

NoMoreInvisibleWomenOn the heels of Malala Yousafzai becoming the youngest-ever Nobel laureate, women and girls in the Arab world are coming together to demand more. Women now make up more than half of the student body across the Arab world, a proportion which will likely continue to grow. And rather than being relegated to the more traditionally feminine subjects, Arab universities are encouraging women more than ever before to enroll in STEM fields. In addition to universities, independent projects like the Afghan Women’s Writing Project are supporting women’s educational ambitions. The AWWP encourages “Afghan women to have a direct voice in the world, not filtered through male relatives or members of the media.” Through initiatives like this, it’s clear that women in this part of the world have had enough of being silenced and suppressed and are pushing for their voices to be heard.

 

4. No More Red-Carpet Objectification (Hollywood)

NoMoreRedCarpetObjectificationFrom Cate Blanchett calling out a cameraman for panning down her dress to Reese Witherspoon and Julianne Moore rejecting E!’s “mani-cam,” some female celebrities have had enough. Rather than standing for more inane “who are you wearing?” questions by the Ryan Seacrests of the world, savvy celebs are pushing back. And slowly, the media is starting to listen—or at least one news outlet is. Responding to The Representation Project’s campaign to #AskHerMore, The Daily Share recently compiled a montage of celebrities answering questions like “What inspires you?”, “What have you learned from your character?” and “What female character would be your dream role?” While these questions may be the exception to the rule for now, it may not be long before more stars join the campaign to #AskHerMore.

 

5. No More Domestic Violence (New York, NY)

NoMoreDomesticViolenceAfter an embattled season of bad press and questionable decisions around issues of domestic violence, the NFL released a Super Bowl ad to raise awareness and make amends. The striking commercial captured a real-life call to a 911 dispatcher by a woman being threatened in her home. The ad is part of a larger campaign titled “No More” which seeks to raise awareness of domestic violence. While it’s unclear what impact the commercial or the organization will have on helping curb domestic abuse or helping to repair the NFL’s tarnished reputation, it is clear that women refuse to continue to take the NFL’s lenient policies lying down.

 

6. No More Judgement (U.S.A.)

NoMoreJudgementSimilac, makers of the top baby formula in the U.S., recently released a hugely-popular ad campaign that pokes fun at judgmental parents. The “funny because it’s true” commercial pits factions of parents (breastfeeders, lesbian moms, working moms, etc.) against each other in an all-out grudge match to find out whose parenting techniques reign supreme. The commercial ends on a sweet note, however, with all of the parents coming together to save a baby in danger. The commercial strikes a powerful chord precisely because women are feeling the effects of the rampant culture of judgment between and among parents. Similac’s on-target campaign captured exactly how many mothers are feeling: fed up! The message here is clear, with mothers saying “Enough is enough. Stop judging my parenting!”

 

7. No More Excuses (Turkey)

NoMoreExcusesIt’s not just women agitating for gender equality. In Turkey, men have recently taken to the streets to protest the sexual assault and murder of 20-year-old Özgecan Aslan. In a show of solidarity, Turkish men are wearing miniskirts to express that women’s clothing choices do not excuse sexual violence. The skirt-clad protesters are just a small part of the larger grassroots effort to push Turkey’s government to act against sexual violence. Both men and women across Turkey are expressing frustration over their government’s ineffectual response to sexual assault and are pushing for change, but few are doing it in quite so spectacular a fashion.


Questions about what you’ve just read? Contact our Global Knowledge Lead on women, Ann Clurman.

 

04/14/2015

Stock-Tradingapp

With confidence in the U.S. economy strengthening, people are starting to invest again. For years, stock trading seemed to be a pastime for those with money to blow and was deemed “gambling for adults.” Some of the more burdensome barriers for young investors included $10-per-trade fees and unsustainable account minimums. Enter new app Robinhood. Its sleek design makes it incredibly easy for experienced traders and newbies alike to get their feet wet investing in equities. What makes it more attractive to young investors is no fees and no account minimum. No surprise, then, that the average Robinhood account holder is aged 26.

According to the U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR, 49% of consumers agree that they “are more open to spending money now,” up from 42% in 2013. The launch of Robinhood also aligns with a transition from economic inequality to democratization. (Even the name resonates with this.)

According to a Merrill Lynch study, more than 70% of respondents describe themselves as being “self-directed” in their investment choices; this application gives them the choice of where to invest. Another data point states that 55% of consumers are “happy to take some risks for the chance to enjoy greater rewards”. With no brokerage fees, both Millennials and experienced investors can easily take on risk (and potentially a lot of rewards) with Robinhood.

Links: Merrill Lynch, Robinhood

03/31/2015

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