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.

louie

“Awkward” is a funny thing. While it can be painful to watch, sometimes it has a way of reconnecting us with the real world—not just one of clichés, stereotypes, and formalities. Awkwardness is intriguing because not all of us are socially appropriate, which can remind us of what being human really means.

The popularity of awkwardness is reflected in the viewership of YouTube channels like LAHWF, Simple Pickup, Whatever, and many more. These channels show anything from starting odd conversations with pedestrians to asking out people at the park while wearing a superhero costume. With each video typically surpassing 500k views, it’s clear that socially disruptive behavior is entertaining. Shortly after stumbling upon LAHWF, I was inspired to shed my own fear of public ridicule and ask out a complete stranger. She said yes … but it didn’t work out. (Seriously? Who doesn’t like barbeque sauce?)

I think this rise of Awkward is a great example of how consumers—particularly Multicultural Millennials—are creating their own definitions of cool. The media is quick to pick up on these trends with characters like Zooey Deschanel in New Girl and Louis C.K. in Louie, but it’s the consumers who are the gatekeepers of cool.

Check out our U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR to learn more about Multicultural Millennials.

Image: Louie, FX Networks

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07/22/2014

cupcake

Crumbs closed their doors for the last time earlier this month. Started as a husband-and-wife business in 2003, Crumbs rode the cupcake mania wave, expanding to 65 stores nationwide. But what happens when a company’s raison d’être is built on a craze? When lines stretched round the corner at their single Manhattan location, Crumbs cupcakes were rare and delightful. Once the business expanded, though, it could no longer rely on limited availability to build excitement. Its success depended on a bottomless appetite that would not go unchallenged by other sweet treats. (Cronut, anyone?)

Once cookie-dough cupcakes became readily available, people’s appetite for them dwindled. Rather than evolving and diversifying their business, Crumbs rested on their laurels and prayed to the cupcake gods for a resurgence of interest.

This sharp fall from grace not only signals an end to the cupcake’s reign, but also serves as a potent reminder of the importance of remaining ahead of marketplace shifts, and of being prepared to innovate and recalibrate in order to remain relevant in this ever-changing consumer landscape.

Photo: Matt Sayles/Associated Press

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07/21/2014

floating

Much of Makoko, an outlier district of Lagos, Nigeria, that has been home to fishermen since the 18th century, is constructed on stilts above a lagoon. The urban infrastructure problems it presents are altogether unique. Architect and urbanist Kunlé Adeyemi of NLE’s ingenious design solution paints a buoyant future for Makoko with the award-winning Makoko Floating School. The new structure is made of reused water barrels, wood and nails and will be replicated to create a series of interlinked floating homes and shared spaces in the next few years.

Low-tech innovation in Africa always seems to break convention to create something altogether new and delightful. It’s also encouraging to see solutions emanating from highly skilled professionals who are running energized startups close enough to the problems to understand how to solve them.

Link: nleworks.com
Photo credit: 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia via flikr

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07/16/2014

watchdogs

Watchdogs, the newest release by French videogame developer Ubisoft, explores the future of smart cities, delving into complex questions around privacy and personal property in the Internet of Things.

For Millennials, the primary audience for this game, the importance of privacy and personal data protection cannot be overstated. In 2013, 85% of Millennials agreed that, “our society has become too dependent on technology, and doesn’t know how to function without it” while agreement that “I am concerned that the information I put on social-networking sites will be misused by others” jumped from 58% to 70% between 2012 and 2013 (The Futures Company, U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR Study). Despite their obsession with technology and smart devices, this group is keenly aware of the potential implications of an interconnected world.

Set in a not-too-distant future Chicago, now fully integrated into a single computer system called “ctOS,” Watchdogs protagonist Aiden Pierce, a hacker with a violent past, is out to avenge the murder of his family. A player can hack into ctOS through Pierce’s cellphone and gain instant access to manipulate anyone’s digital life, including bank accounts, phone calls, personal photos, and more. The game leaves the decision making entirely up to the player, allowing them to develop Pierce into an archetypal Batman-like superhero or a crime lord. With an action-oriented, open-world environment and over 60 different hacking skills incorporated, the opportunities for manipulation and control seem endless.

Watchdogs left E3 this year with over 90 awards and nominations and is touted as one of the hottest game releases of 2014. While the graphics and high-intensity play contributed greatly to its success, the game’s complex subject matter speaks to a deeper question around the sovereignty of personal identity in a world controlled by the Internet of Things.

Links: watchdogs.ubi.com

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07/14/2014

petitionwomen

With tension mounting as the Tour de France enters its 5th stage, the announcement of a special women’s race on the final day of the Tour has been met with enthusiasm by the women’s cycling community.

Le Tour Entier is a campaign that has generated over 97,000 online signatures in support of a full three-week tour, but there’s still a huge gap to be filled before women receive equal representation. This sends a confusing message to younger women reaping the benefits of cycling. The Futures Company 2013 TRU Youth MONITOR data reveal that 63% of U.S. girls aged 12-29 who participate in bike-based activities say they have fun every day, while only 53% of those who aren’t pedaling (or doing any sport) say the same!

As Le Tour Entier campaign gains momentum, forward-thinking brands will be getting in on the sponsorship and partnership game. The question is, who will come out on top and claim le maillot jaune?

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07/11/2014

reggaeton

Reggaeton—a mix of reggae and hip-hop—is one of the most popular rhythms in Latin America, especially among young people, who are mindlessly and frenetically dancing to these tunes, the lyrics of which are sometimes extremely degrading to women.

Concerned by this, a group of Colombian photographers created a campaign aiming to stop misogynistic music in a macho culture. To raise consciousness, they used the tagline “use your reason, don’t let music degrade your condition” and some powerful images depicting literal representations of what some of these reggaeton anthems say.

The representation of women in reggaeton music continues to be a rather overlooked issue in a continent that—despite having one of the highest number of female politicians—still struggles with an alarming amount of gender-based violence.

Link: latimes.com

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07/10/2014

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