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.

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By Adi Kurian and Elijah Johnston

As a child, I (Elijah) didn’t understand when my grandmother told me that everything comes back full circle. I thought she was messing up the words to the Lion King’s catchy tune, “The Circle of Life.” Some decades later and I find myself identifying resurgences disguised as anomalies.

Before the supermarket business model, specialized shops selling goods in a single category was the norm. A shift in the early- to mid-20th century and these shops found it nearly impossible to compete with larger retailers’ economies of scale. Now the arrival of a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker in a neighborhood is seen as an emblem of urban gentrification in many western economies.

So why the resurgence? Simply put, artisans provide a level of craft and specialization that commands a premium and differentiates their goods. Claims of craft and provenance boost their brand, but leave us questioning whether this intrinsically limits their ability to scale. Brands like Brooklyn Lager that have gone from provincial to global while keeping the artisanal feel hint that this might not be the case. What is the future of consumer perceptions as these brands continue to expand?

Here is a list of our top five artisanal shops and products here in New York:

  1. Bedford Cheese – Manchego Oveja Negra @ $32/lb.

    Bedford Cheese

  2. Empire Mayonnaise – Artisanal Mayonnaise @ $8 for a 9-oz. jarEmpire Mayo
  3. Dough – Dulche de Leche Donut @ $2.75 each

    doughdulce2

  4. Mast Brothers – Origin Dominican Republic Chocolate @ $45 for five bars

    origin

  5. Café Gitane – Avocado Toast @ $7.25 each

    Avocado toast

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02/27/2015

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Virtual reality is taking a fashionable turn … on the runways of New York Fashion Week. If you were one of the lucky few to attend Rebecca Minkoff’s show, you may have noticed two unusual fixtures on the catwalk: virtual reality cameras set up to capture a 360° view of the event that will become an interactive, virtual fashion-show experience.

Minkoff is known for embracing high-tech in the store, in the media and on the runway. She hopes that by leveraging new technologies such as Snapchat unveilings and connected fitting-room mirrors that suggest items to complement your outfit, she will be able to build brand loyalty and enhance the shopping experience. Her efforts have been paying off: Minkoff reports that the connected mirrors in her flagship store have tripled sales.

Links: mashable, WSJ
Image: Rebecca Minkoff’s Instagram via techtimes

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02/25/2015

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To learn more about The Futures Company’s TRU Youth MONITOR, contact Kate Turkcan.

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02/10/2015

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Being the ever-vigilant market researchers that we are, we watch the Super Bowl as much for the ads and halftime show as for the game. Above, the unexpected star of Katy Perry’s performance: left shark.

Our reflections on this year’s ads:

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Brittany Beisner on where to see em’ all

NBC put together a Tumblr site featuring all of the ads that played during Super Bowl XLIX. It’s no secret that the commercials are just as important as the game itself, which is a rare occurrence in the entertainment industry. The Tumblr page makes it easy to find and share your favorite ads with your friends, giving advertisers more bang for their buck around reach and frequency … which is exactly what they expect after spending roughly $4.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime during the big game. The hype behind Super Bowl ads opens up a desire for viewers to have on-demand access to commercials in a world of DVR and time-shifted TV viewing where commercials have to fight the fast forward button for your attention. Bravo NBC for giving both viewers and advertisers exactly what they’re looking for.

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Callie Henson on Chevy, Nationwide, and Disney

The Chevy Colorado Blackout commercial was genius. Totally fooled everyone at the Super Bowl party I was attending when the screen went black as if we had lost cable. Digital connectivity is so important to consumers—a necessity. The thought of losing TV connection during the Super Bowl is probably some folks’ worst nightmare, and Chevy made that nightmare a reality for a quick second. Touché, Chevy, touché— very clever attention grabber that didn’t involve dead children and ruining the mood (talking to you, Nationwide … thanks for the real downer with the Make Safe Happen ad).

Mindy Kaling is one of my favorite people ever, and she was hilarious in the Nationwide Invisible Mindy commercial. The ad played on the idea of how you can feel invisible to other people (or to your insurance company), so Mindy believes she actually could be invisible, and does the things she’s always wanted to do. This was a smart commercial because it humanizes Nationwide in a funny, upbeat way, showing that they do see each of their customers as the priority. I didn’t want to kiss you either, Matt Damon, so …

We got more of a glimpse of Tomorrowland, a new film from Disney coming out this May. Disney has been very secretive about this film and very selective in how much they show from it, keeping us intrigued and wanting more.

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Michelle Court-Reuss on all of the things!

Dove Men+Care: Great sentimental ad focusing on the importance of dads in children’s lives. Dove’s campaigns are usually aimed at empowering women, so their change of gears was not only refreshing, but definitely a tear-jerker (in a good way). The ad also reminded me a lot of the legendary P&G Olympic campaign geared towards mothers.

Snickers with Danny Trejo: Impeccably executed commercial in the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign. Danny Trejo was an excellent choice to represent Marcia, and although the Steve Buscemi cameo may have been unnecessary, it did not detract from the spot. I highly recommend watching the “Making Of” video which demonstrates how they recreated scenes from the Brady Brunch including animation of Carol and Mike and reconstruction of the set to resemble an American classic.

Like a girl – Always campaign: Although a brand that specializes in feminine products may have made the men I was watching with rather uncomfortable, the placement of this commercial right around halftime was crucial for exposure. Always’s message is powerful, and the commercial packs a punch (and so did the great actresses). I was happy to see this spot appear again, especially since many overlook the fact that almost half of Super Bowl viewers are women.

Doritos’ Middle Seat: This was the ad that made me laugh the most, most probably because I can definitely relate to the scene. Everyone knows what it feels like to watch passengers come down the aisle, analyze the probability that they will fill the seat next to you, and determine—by a five-second glance—how they will influence your traveling experience. Doritos did an amazing job of toning down the sexual nature of the commercial and kept it clean and fun.

Kim Kardashian for T-Mobile: Maybe I’m biased because I am a T-Mobile user, but I really enjoyed this commercial. The spot’s play on philanthropic cause commercials (think ASPCA) may have rubbed some the wrong way, but in its entirety, the commercial was very well thought out. I’m no Kim Kardashian fan, but watching her make fun of herself was entertaining and resonated well with T-Mobile’s message: more data, more Kim-stalking!

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Lauren Grady on McDonald’s “Pay with Lovin'”

Creator of “the golden circle” Simon Sinek always emphasizes that why a company does something is the key to business success. The how you do it, the sleek processes and bigger-than-life features, follows and then comes the what you do, your product.

In McDonald’s spot “Pay with Lovin’,” the chain deviates from showing juicy Big Macs and golden fries, to bring the focus to why it exists. Since 2003, the Golden Arches has used the tagline “I’m Lovin’ It.” Now, the tagline takes a turn: “I’m Lovin’ Them”—customers, families, friends and everyone in between.

McDonald’s busts the cheap food, cheap customer stereotype by featuring diverse hungry diners and employees. By setting an end-date for the campaign, McDonald’s urges customers to enter the doors, order a Big Mac and hope that they’re one of the randomly selected people to Pay with Lovin’. Hugs work a lot better than grease at getting people to buy a Double Quarter Pounder. Good work, Mickey D’s.

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Erin Bell: Editor’s Pick: Dove Men+Care

Care makes a man stronger! Check out our MONITOR Download on Men to learn more about how masculinity in the U.S. is evolving (available to U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR subscribers).

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02/05/2015

dragon

As the internet of things continues to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical, one family is using a medium often reserved for leisure—video gaming—to spur action around a very real physical issue: cancer.

That Dragon, Cancer is not your average video game. The game’s developer, Ryan Green, began working on it when his four-year-old son Joel was diagnosed with brain cancer. He was hoping to write a heroic tale of his little boy battling to stay alive and overcoming that scary dragon, cancer. Ryan never got to complete this story because, despite the fact that his son did battle and fight, the dragon was stronger and Joel died.

That heart-wrenching reality did not stop Joel’s parents from pushing to finish the game. Instead they reframed it to be about battling the dragon rather than slaying it. The goal of the game is not to win, but rather to be present in a very ordinary, very real situation and experience the battle despite knowing its ending. The project is not designed to be a solution—it’s about using technology as a call to action for a real-world problem.

Through their Kickstarter campaign, Ryan and his wife Amy are collecting and incorporating into the game stories and experiences from the wider community of people who have battled childhood cancer. Backers can send in ink prints of hands and feet or 50-character messages about their own child’s battle; these are then layered onto the virtual hospital’s walls and tiles to be seen by players.

Dragon’s designers talk about the challenge of building such a game on a Kickstarter budget. With pixel-rich epics like Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed and The Witcher 3 dominating the gaming space, Dragon’s simplistic art doesn’t look “real” by comparison. Yet, this type of crowdsourcing creates within the game a real community of real people with real stories fighting this battle together.

Ultimately the only way to win the game is to stop playing it and find a cure for childhood cancer in the real world. This is the social element which links the gaming environment back to the players’ own lives more seamlessly than any shockingly realistic virtual reality ever could. Ryan sums up the technological/physical linkage perfectly in the game’s promotional video, “What happens when the stories we want to write are different than the stories that are written on us?” That Dragon, Cancer is currently set to be released in 2015, produced by Steam for the OUYA console. You can follow their progress at #whygamesmatterlivestream.

Link: thatdragoncancer.com

To learn more about the convergence of our digital and physical lives, check out Andrew Hawn and Jeff Yang’s January LIVE webinar: The internet of things is here. What Now? (available to U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR subscribers).

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02/02/2015

no wifi

The Internet of Things means consumers are connected all the time. But what happens when they’re not?

The ubiquity of mobile technology allows us to stay linked to our things almost all the time. And increasingly, many emerging technologies — especially those related to the Internet of Things — depend on that constant connectivity. After all, what good is a smoke detector that can text you when it goes off if you can’t receive that text? Which means that in the always-on paradigm, downtime — however brief — is both unexpected and problematic. Connected products and services need to solve this “last minute” problem to allow us to harness the best of what today’s technology has to offer…and that means finding robust, redundant means of transmitting information (cloud syncing? mesh networks?), staying powered up (solar panels? backup batteries? wireless power?) and reducing the burden on consumer wallets (upcycling and software-equivalents-of-hardware-devices).

“Hooked” observations at CES

Want to learn more? Join our next MONITOR LIVE — Technology 2015: The Internet of Things is here. What’s next? (available to U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR subscribers) and learn why today’s consumer is concerned about getting Hooked, Fragmented and Compromised, and how your brand can provide them with the bridge they’re looking for to the Digital Continuum. Presented by Jeff Yang, SVP, Consulting; Global Knowledge Lead, Consumer Technology and Andrew Hawn, VP, Consulting; Global Knowledge Lead, Media & Entertainment

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01/14/2015

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01/13/2015

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