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.

march madness

It’s every employee’s favorite season of low productivity and increased sick days; however, this month in college basketball displays more than just athletic prowess and dedicated fans. From high-tech whistles to exorbitant amounts donated in charity brackets and over 60 million people submitting brackets, the NCAA tournament offers us an unusual look at consumer trends.

High-tech whistles: This year, a ref’s blast on his whistle will instantaneously stop the game clock over the thundering noise of the crowd. The new system’s speed could add up to 30 seconds of actual playing time in a typical game, making a big difference in close matches.

Risky business: Who doesn’t love a pay-to-play office pool? While most offices keep their brackets accessible to all employees, entry fees for some corporate pools can be as high as $10,000! While chances for winning an office bracket remain low, it’s astonishing just how many people look for increased excitement by adding a competitive element to their workweek. It’s estimated that during the NCAA tournament, the US will lose up to $1.8 billion in productivity!

But … it’s for charity: Here’s an altruistic excuse for a budding gambling problem. From Justin Bieber to Michael Bloomberg, celebrities and commoners alike create March Madness pools that pledge to donate some or all of the winnings to charities. For example, ESPN’s ProBueno Charity Pickem allows contestants to enter $5 brackets and winners get to donate 50% of all entry fees to a charity of their choice. Among high-stakes brackets, entry to Bloomberg’s charity pool costs $10,000 and has 36 participants, which means a nice $360,000 check to the winner’s foundation of choice. Participants include famous hedge-fund founder Bill Ackman, AOL Chairman Tim Armstrong, and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank. As we see an upswing in the U.S. economy and a reduction in the recession mindset amongst consumers, people have increased their amount of charitable donations.

No longer a boys’ club: In NFL Fantasy drafts and March Madness brackets alike, more and more women are participating. It is estimated that almost 20% of the people involved in an NFL Fantasy draft were women. 45% of interest on Facebook in March Madness belongs to women as well. One study showed that men made more correct predictions than women during March Madness, but women were better at predicting upsets!




Southeast Asia’s major economies attracted more foreign direct investment than China for the second consecutive year: FDI in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam totaled $128 billion compared to China’s $119 billion in 2014. Over the next decade, the region will make large infrastructural strides, including plans to build a high-speed cross-border rail network. The technology sector is also making advancements as local tech companies leave a footprint. Southeast Asia has become a part of the world that not only investors, but also brands, look at with keen interest.

These macro-level shifts naturally bring about a shift in consumer expectations. Let’s look at convenience: According to The Futures Company’s annual Global MONITOR Survey, 85% of Thai and 74% of Indonesian consumers (vs. 61% globally) are very/ somewhat likely to pay for a service that provides extra convenience (e.g., home delivery) in the next year, up from 75% and 67% respectively in 2013. This is just a small taste of what’s brewing in the region. It will be interesting to see how brands approach these markets and engage with consumers in the coming years.

Here are three examples of local companies fulfilling consumers’ craving for convenience:

  1. HappyFresh: Initially available in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Jakarta, Indonesia, HappyFresh promises to blow out of the water the current expectation of next-day delivery by delivering groceries from well-known retailers within one hour.
  2. GrabTaxi is an app-based transportation network active in 16 cities across Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia; it recently announced a $65 million investment that it hopes will enable it to defeat Uber in Southeast Asia.
  3. Bridestory: Based in Indonesia, Bridestory allows users to browse from more than 6,000 wedding-related vendors, covering everything from catering to photography to hair and makeup. The site has recorded more than a million page views and 100,000 vendor interactions since its April 2014 launch.

Subscribe to read more about emerging markets and access our Global MONITOR data.

Image credit:




adi final  eli final
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


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


  5. Café Gitane – Avocado Toast @ $7.25 each

    Avocado toast




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




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



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