Missed our webinar on THE FUTURE OF LUXURY? Don't panic - we got you!

Following the publication of our September Briefing, THE FUTURE OF LUXURY, it’s clear we all know that luxury is no longer simply about the supercar, the designer handbag or the expensive holiday. After all, who needs a car when your phone enables on-demand access to your own private driver?

The takeaway? Mass affluence and the amazing lifestyles enabled by ubiquitous connectivity are pushing the frontiers of luxury ever outwards. So, where are the expectations of luxury consumers heading in 2017?

Taking place on Tuesday 28th September, David Mattin, our Global Head of Trends & Insights discussed how mass affluence and the amazing lifestyles enabled by ubiquitous connectivity are pushing the frontiers of luxury ever outwards. And, through real-world innovations from brands including Bvlgari, Louis Vuitton and Hunter VIII Hunter, showed that you can too!

But what if you missed the webinar first time round? Don’t panic! A recording of David’s presentation is available below (or via our YouTube channel). 


Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

The Pink Bra: A local solution to a universal problem

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month taking place all over the world throughout the month of October, we took some time to catch up with some of the innovators truly changing the game when it comes to preventing the disease. 

In the first of a two-part series, we asked the team at Tonic International – the Dubai-based agency that worked with Pink Ribbon Pakistan to create the PinkBra, a bra designed to help underprivileged women detect early signs of breast cancer.

They first featured in our INNOVATION CELEBRATION briefing back in June, and embody our (F)EMPOWERMENT trend – looking at how brands are empowering females and thinking beyond gender stereotypes, not just those they help. 


The Pink Bra was inspired by the desire to find a local solution to a universal problem. Our own families have suffered from Breast Cancer, so we knew first-hand the problems of communication about the disease in Pakistan.

Here, every time you speak to an underprivileged woman about breast cancer, you will be met with silence.

The taboo on women speaking openly about their health is so strong that majority of lives lost can be attributed to the fear of speaking up.  Early diagnosis is the difference between saving a life and losing it. So we knew we had to enable women to find the symptoms themselves, without trying to break down cultural barriers but rather work around them. The task was to reach and educate women in the privacy of their own homes.


An insight gave us the opening we so needed. It’s common to see underprivileged women tuck money inside their bra. This is because the traditional outfit ‘shalwar kameez’ does not come with pockets.

This gave us a chance to turn that action into a self-examining exercise.

We remodeled the bra that women from the lower socio-economic group wore. It looked like an ordinary bra, but it came with pockets. Inside the pockets were raised tactile outlines that guided a woman’s hand and told her where exactly to press to self-examine. Easy-to-understand illustrations inside the cups of the bra educated women on each step of the self-test in detail.

It took into consideration that our target audience was mainly illiterate and could read only a few words and numbers. Our product offered a discrete telephone hotline where women who followed the instructions and suspected they had breast cancer could call to get free advice on how to tackle the disease. Often one-to-one personalized and practical advice matters much more than long brochures and documentaries.


Finding a client with the guts to use a bra as a medium of communication wasn’t easy. Luckily, Pink Ribbon Pakistan came through with their young, bold team willing to embrace the crazy idea of using a bra as a behavior change tool.

We are hoping that others benefit from our learning.

It’s always important to open your eyes and ears to existing behaviors and local insights when trying to work with behavior change and awareness of complex or taboo subjects. Don’t try and break down barriers, instead work around them within the cultural context. This means taking more time to be inspired by what’s already there rather than unnecessarily imposing something new and alien.


Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

'If customer is King, engage the King!' - The neuro-science secret we can use to explore the Expectation Economy

In our latest post in our partnership with TAAN, we delve into the realms of neuroscience to explore the questions raised by the ever-increasing expectations of the modern consumers – from emotional bonds to tried-and-tested research.

Engaged customers are a company’s richest resource. They bring in higher sales and profits, are tolerant of your flaws and are less likely to switch to the competition.

According to Gallup’s research, fully engaged customers lead to a 23% increase in business income, as opposed to customers who are not engaged or are actively disengaged, who in turn account for a revenue drop of 1% and 18% respectively. Furthermore, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability with as much as 75%.

However, engaging customers is easier said than done.

There are multiple reasons for which customers are increasingly disengaged with brands: from the increase in online shopping, to the decrease in innovation gaps between brands and to the fact that companies just can’t keep up with the expectations of ever-demanding customers. Therefore, as customers develop shorter attention spans and have higher expectations, they will find that brands become less relevant to them and will therefore fuel the disengagement trend.

With “millennials”, the figures are grim: they have the lowest level of engagement, both as customers (around 75%) and as employees (71%), according to a Gallup study. But, on the other hand, engaged millennials are more profitable and loyal than the other customer groups, states the same study. Therein lies the challenge and the opportunity. Giving up on engagement and focusing on transactional efficiency is not therefore the answer. The key lies in creating new strategies and effective tactics to reach this elusive goal.

One of the top challenges with building customer engagement comes from the lack of accurate customer insights, according to a study performed by Microsoft last year. Without knowing what your customers want from your products or services, you simply cannot make them happy. Gone are those days when, if you had this truly great product that satisfied a customer’s needs, long-term loyalty would be implied and secured. Today, it is so easy to find new and better alternatives, to products and services, and most times a customer doesn’t have to look too far to find them either. As a result of being part of the global digital ecosystem, customers are actively setting different consumer trends, while companies and brands are busy trying to keep up with them.

And the irony of it all? Despite all these efforts, most companies end up losing customers anyway, and in the end, they still don’t know why!

Therefore, in-depth customer knowledge allows you to craft your offers in a compelling manner that will draw their attention and convince them to give you a try.

Then, what differentiates engaged or loyal customers from merely satisfied ones? Loyal customers have an emotional bond with the company or brand which translates into turning a blind eye to the company’s flaws. Additionally, loyalty has this amazing property of creating an exit barrier that practically helps you retain customers, particularly when they are approached and “bribed” by other companies into jumping ship. 

This emotional bond, however, is difficult to measure via traditional research methodologies that use rational constructs to evaluate emotional connections and declarative answers to assess non-conscious reactions.

Enter Neuroscience

By using cutting edge neuro tools, neuroscience provides deep, accurate and unbiased consumer insights that constitute the starting point of any customer engagement journey. It does so by recording and interpreting brain and biometric reactions that are collected using specialized equipment like EEG, fMRI, eye-tracking, GSR and facial recognition, to name just a few. These reactions represent the physiological substrate of the non-conscious processes that take place in customer’s minds when they interact with a brand or product. They are unbiased and accurate, as they are not subject to conscious evaluation and filtering.

Customer engagement in banking

Marketing theory is rife with examples of how in any commoditized industry, exit barriers for incumbent customers are pretty much non-existent. And the banking industry is a good example, being highly competitive and commoditized. If there ever was designated an industry in need of higher engagement, it would surely be retail banking.

Customers’ attitude towards money, debt, savings, security have undergone deep changes during the last years. Their expectations about a bank’s role in their lives has also consequently changed. Despite this reality, banks still persist in an obsolete approach to customer engagement, where transactional efficiency combined with high powered message assailing equals engagement. These strategies developed in the past are outdated and banks end up spending huge budgets on devising loyalty strategies to keep their customers engaged.

Customers desire unique experiential relationships with their banks. Relationships that are rooted in their own individual contexts and not some standardized one-size-fits-all approach that is currently strategy du jour! Such deep context-driven expectations do not fall in clearly defined demographic groups, but they rather transcend age and gender. Therefore, the classical demographic segmentation fails to provide an accurate image of the customers’ desires, contexts, needs and wants.

Segmenting customers on experiential dimensions, on the other hand, and using these experiential segments to map customer journeys will lead to the design, blueprint and delivery of unique and relevant customer engagement strategies. Given the richness of insights and outputs, such an approach also serves as an excellent input for the bank’s own internal operational challenges, shortcomings, re-designs and for the subsequent internal re-orientation required for a truly customer-centric approach.

Neuro-powered Customer Engagement

Customer Engagement, if thought through and leveraged well, can truly serve as a sustainable competitive advantage. Great customer engagement starts with unbiased, deep, rooted insights, not just about the product or offer, but also about customers’ contexts. For these are personal and drive decision-making. Contexts that even customers are unaware of when they make those decisions.

Neuroscience has the ability and the means/resources to deliver these insights.

Coupling such deep non-conscious insights with experiential segmentation, allows organizations and businesses to craft and deliver on great customer engagement.


About the authors


Dr. Ana Iorga, right, is a consumer neuroscience expert who has spent over a decade in working with business as well as academia. Having founded one of the fastest growing full service advertising agencies in Romania, she has deep expertise in the world of design, communication, branding and the creation of marketing campaigns for brands across diverse industries such as Consumer Goods, Retail, Finance and Media.

Spanning a professional career of over two decades, Anil Pillai, co-founder of Terragni Consulting, is an experienced engagement strategy expert. He currently heads the Customer Consulting practice at Terragni Consulting, a People & Customer engagement strategy organization, part of the team that has seen the company named as one of the 25 most promising consulting companies in India.


They are both members of TAANOperating since 1936, TAAN exists to enhance the intelligence, expertise, reach and effectiveness of their members, through cooperative learning and shared capabilities

Heading towards the light: Philips, Starbucks and the innovative fight against dark, winter mornings

In April, our FUTURE OF BETTERMENT unpacked the five trends shaping health and wellness. One of the key innovations that featured? EnergyUp cafes – where Philips introduced their daylight lamps to local Starbucks branches to offer a revitalising, two-pronged top-up for visitors. We picked the brains of Raúl Santamaría Learte, the Global Product Manager at Philips, as he shed some light on therapeutic qualities of the technology.  


What was the inspiration behind the EnergyUp cafes?

The inspiration for this collaboration was born in our Philips Nordics’ offices. It was the month of September when our marketing manager was looking for ideas to make people understand that there are no reasons to feel low on energy on dark, winter mornings.

We all know that coffee can boost your energy levels at the beginning of the day, but there is a complementary and more natural way to do so: light therapy!

This is when we reached out to a local marketing specialist at Starbucks to present the following idea: “What if Philips and Starbucks partner up for a short collaboration, in which Starbucks visitors get a double energy boost by having a nice latte in combination with a session of light therapy?”

The idea was well received and it was then rolled out to other Starbucks locations across Europe (i.e. France, Benelux and Germany). To make it even more impactful, we decided to kick it off on one of the saddest days of the year: “Blue Monday”.


What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

Even though we are one of the top players in light therapy worldwide, we still struggle with increasing the awareness of our EnergyUp range. This is the reason why we always try to come up with inexpensive and creative ways to get the word out. On the other hand, our short-term expectation is that new players will join us in the marketplace, and that people all over the world will keep making an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives. These two elements will definitely help us in making the energy-by-light concept more and more accepted among the population (as it should be ;).

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

I believe that the best way to know what consumers want is by talking to them. Just with a quick online survey / social media campaign you can ask your (potential) consumers how they feel and what their pains are. Once this information is in your power, it is much easier to infer how to help them satisfy their needs.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

I was very impressed with the portable oxygen devices that Philips has recently launched. These devices allow people with COPD respiratory problems to turn their dream of singing in a choir into reality.

Another innovation that caught my eye in the past weeks is GravityLight. This device is aiming at solving the electricity problem in developing countries, where the average household spends around 10-20% of their income in kerosene lamps. With this small lamp, you just need to get some sand or rocks at the bottom to get 20mins of electricity. Frankly impressive!


I mentioned the above two innovations because they are simple and attempt to improve peoples’ lives. In my opinion, these are the two goals every new innovation should aim for.


Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

Get Through & Get READ! Our 7-step framework for creating marketing emails people actually open, read and like!

Whether you like it or not, email marketing is still the number one marketing channel. But, as email fatigue increases and attention spans continue to plummet, how do you cut through the flood of promotional emails cluttering inboxes? Here’s a look at the framework we developed over the last year and a half (and some 1,202 email campaigns later!).


After a lot of email campaigns (326 to be precise over the last year alone) and a lot of analysis, we identified the seven components that were common to our most successful campaigns. What do we mean by “successful campaigns”?

Yes, they’re the ones with the highest open, click-through and conversion rates. But they’re also the ones where we’ve had people proactively get in touch with us to thank us for sending them (!!!) because they found the campaign inspiring, valuable or simply because it made them smile. People contacting us to thank us for sending them a marketing email? It does happen. And that’s pretty much the ultimate success metric as far as we’re concerned!


So… Sometimes The Best Cats Can Gyrate Excitedly! We came up with this simple and very random mnemonic to help keep us focused on the seven key elements we identified that make for successful campaigns. Have we lost it? Probably. Does it work? Most of the time!

[1] S

Is the email SCANNABLE? – If you weren’t reading any copy or text, would the key message(s) be effectively relayed by glancing at section headers, images & bolded text? 

[2] T

Have you woven in TOPICAL elements? –  This can range from topical references to news, events or other ‘recognisable & relevant’ events going on in the world (Brexit, Valentines Day, etc.), or topical to the user by being PAIN-POINT driven (ie. lack of time, Senior leadership buy-in, etc.)?

[3] B

Is the marketing of any product features BENEFITS-LED? – Vs. Features-led. Spend time truly understanding how your product helps solve your customers’ problems, then SPELL IT OUT. 

[4&5] CC

Is the tone of the email CONVERSATIONAL and CONSPIRATORIAL? – Vs. overly formal, and littered with internal or industry jargon? Does it feel like you’re on the recipient’s side and “in-it-together”? The tone of your copy will vary from product and industry – but keeping things easy to read & digest (conversational) and truly understanding what makes your readers tick (or shudder!) will mean a conspiratorial tone follows naturally. 

[6] G

Is the tone and content of the email GENEROUS? ie. Are you giving away genuinely valuable free content and insights (note genuinely valuable, the last thing we all need is more content and more clutter)? Same applies to discounts and promotions – be generous, it’ll pay off.  

[7] E

Is the concept, content and copy of your campaign EXCITING? This is the trickiest one to get right, and you can’t really fake it or force it (genuinely nothing worse – #cringe).  The times we’ve got it right, its been on campaigns we’ve genuinely had fun creating. From concept to copy, we’ve been excited about it…and that translates.


Broadly, we send 5 types of emails. I’ve split these out below. See if you can spot any Cats Gyrating Excitedly as you skim through them. And be gentle – whilst they may not be perfect, a marketer or two most likely aged a few years racing against the clock trying to get these right (and out!).

1) TOPICAL/HUMOR-DRIVEN: These are emails centred around TOPICAL issues and PAIN-POINTS using a CONVERSATIONAL and CONSPIRATORIAL tone. They generally weave in playful gifs or images. 

Exhibit AExhibit BExhibit C, Exhibit D, Exhibit E


2) PURELY VISUAL: These are emails are highly VISUAL and SCANNABLE, conveying the core message primarily through imagery. [Sidenote: you need a killer design team to execute these – kudos to ours – they rock.]

Exhibit AExhibit BExhibit C, Exhibit D


3) FEATURE ANNOUNCEMENT EMAILS: These are highly VISUAL, easily SCANNABLE and introduce the new feature via BENEFITS-LED messaging. 

Exhibit A


4) SAMPLE CONTENT-LED CAMPAIGNS: These are highly GENEROUS through the sharing of exclusive content (that could be a webinar, a sample of exclusive TW:Premium content, etc.) 

Exhibit AExhibit B


5) URGENCY-BASED CAMPAIGNS: These are focused on building urgency through the use of BENEFITS-LED messaging, positioned in an easily SCANNABLE and VISUAL way, all the while using a CONVERSATIONAL tone :) 

Exhibit AExhibit B, Exhibit C



Seriously, some people are awesome. Instead of cursing us for clogging up their inbox with yet another promotional email, every now and again we get a thumbs up. Yes, we know its just an email campaign and not a public service announcement. But us marketers obsess over these mailshots – so when we get a thank you instead of an unsubscribe, that sure as hell makes it worth it ;)

Screen Shot 2016-09-22 at 17.11.11

Screen Shot 2016-09-22 at 17.09.01 Screen Shot 2016-09-22 at 17.13.53


Marina and the marketing team at TrendWatching help make sure our free Monthly Trend Briefings reach the 250K+ subscribers who read them each month, get the word out about TrendWatching’s online trend intelligence platform, TW:Premium, and help get bums on seats across TrendWatching’s global Trend Event series.

Bridging a cultural divide: How Tunga mobilized coders in East Africa (and built a community in the process)

In areas where connectivity is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity, it’s up to innovators to find ways to utilize an emergent, hungry workforce. We caught up with Ernesto Spruyt, Founder of Tunga – an online social network that connects young African programmers with tech companies looking for help with software that appeared in our 16 Innovations from 2016 briefing in June – to talk us through community, culture and restoring the confidence of consumers. 


What was the inspiration behind Tunga? And what have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

I am an experienced social entrepreneur and was facing a problem that many software companies face: flexible access to affordable software expertise. Not being satisfied with the available solutions, and as someone who is always looking for opportunities to create social impact, I teamed up with social innovation studio Butterfly Works to create what is now Tunga.

In the year 2000, Butterfly Works had set up NairoBits – a digital design school in Kenya, providing youths (50% female) from disadvantaged backgrounds with relevant technical, creative, business and social skills. The concept has been replicated across East Africa and South Asia under the name of Bits Academy, resulting in a community of more than 7000 trained youths of which 80% now have a job or is a business owner.

My idea from the start was to open up the market for African software programmers by developing a new kind of marketplace, one that includes social network functionalities: a market network. From the outset it was easy to find clients and also to mobilize coders from Uganda and Kenya with sufficient programming skills to successfully complete assignments for them. Our real challenge was to bridge the cultural divide in communication and working methods, as not many African developers have a lot of experience working in western environments.

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

Tunga has tackled the challenge I just described in a number of ways: providing training & workshops, community building, and most importantly, by constantly translating feedback and experiences from the pilot projects into functionality on its online platform. And as far as I’m concerned this the best way to stay on top of changing customer behaviour: to literally stay on top of the customer. We are in constant contact with our clients and developer community, track user data, engage with stakeholders and have a policy of continuously introducing, testing and evaluating features.

You’re featured in our INNOVATION CELEBRATION briefing, falling under our ENTREPRENEURIA trend – showing how businesses that dive into and fuel this endless rush toward entrepreneurialism will attract love and attention from all consumers, not just those they help. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

I think marketing and advertising in the past have gotten a bad reputation because they have been misused to deceive consumers instead of to serve them. Now, there seems to be a whole new generation of entrepreneurs that are once again putting the consumers’ needs first. In the end brands are about trust. So in the longer run, entrepreneurs who are able to create a customer-centric and consistent culture within their company are definitely bound for success.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

In the end, I believe that the best innovations come from trying to address real problems of real people in a way that business-wise makes sense. That’s why I love BitPesa, a company that uses blockchain technology to provide Africans with easy and affordable access to international payments. They really seem to succeed in putting a new technology as the blockchain to good use for both business and society.


Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

Working with Trend-Driven Innovation in a Latin American country, right after an earthquake – the Ecuador diaries

Featured image source: The Independent 

As our Lead Trend Strategist for South & Central America, Luciana Stein works with some of the most forward-thinking organizations in the region. Just before a recent trip to Ecuador, however, catastrophe struck – an earthquake registering 6.1 on the Richter Scale. Here, Luciana describes her consistent appreciation for the commitment to Trend-Driven Innovation in the country (whose population is smaller than the metropolitan area of Sao Paolo), even in the aftermath of such a devastating disaster. 


Recentemente a TrendWatching SCA visitou Guayaquil para ajudar um banco e um grupo de empresas de comunicação a identificarem e adaptarem tendências de consumo à sua região.

Guayaquil é a segunda cidade mais importante do Equador – país com população total menor do que a da região metropolitana de São Paulo – e com um cenário criativo e de negócios crescente em importância na região. No fim de 2016, um dos nossos clientes, a Insights, realizará um super evento que trará alguns dos nomes mais importantes da inovação mundial como Jessica Walsh e Cindy Galop – veja REINVENTION.

É surpreendente encontrar tanto em um pais tão pequeno – e que passou por um terremoto em abril de 2016. No entanto, se você ê um pesquisador de tendências ou um designer, àvido por tropeçar em inovações vindas das marcas quando viaja, é importante receitar certa paciência. Em geral você tem de procurar mais atrás de inovações de produtos e serviços na América Latina – as inovações nāo caem no seu colo como quando viaja mais para o norte do mundo. 

E a direção do seu olhar investigativo talvez tenha de ser outra para encontrar muitas inovações no continente. A inovação na América Latina está frequentemente no comportamento dos latino-americanos que se adiantam às marcas naquilo que eles precisam do mercado de consumo. Na América Latina, alguns consumidores são mais ágeis do que muitas empresas. Eles estão constantemente hackeando produtos e serviços – veja o exemplo do taxista que trocou o estofado do carro por uma cadeira de praia para driblar o calor equatoriano em um automóvel sem ar condicionado. Pode parecer apenas um exemplo isolado, mas ele contem uma cultura – e os taxistas são fundamentais para ajudar você a decifrá-la (em todas as cidades do mundo, creio)


Em Guayaquil, esqueça os taxímetros dos taxis. Eles estão ali, mas não funcionam. No taxi, é frequente encontrar um “botón de pânico” do lado do motorista – para proteger contra a violência urbana. Não sabemos se os passageiros estão também protegidos e pelo o que averiguamos, na maioria das vezes pagamos um ou dois dólares a mais por um percurso. Mas os taxistas são os guias espirituais de todo o pesquisador de culturas, então vale a pena. Em Guayaquil, taxistas podem perguntar o que você comeu em um tal restaurante e dividem com você o que eles gostam de fazer no fim de semana.


Como muitas outras cidades Latinoamericanas, a cidade parece um povoado tranquilo com vegetação farta – mas tudo impressão idealizada de brasileiro. Quando você viaja pela America Latina, você se dá conta que muitas vezes o Brasil e os brasileiros agem e pensam como se fosse os Estados Unidos diante da América Latina.

Guayaquil não é tranquila, é intensa. O público das nossas sessões no Equador foi uma galera cativante, participativa que transformou uma sessão de 2 horas de tendências em uma apresentação de 4 horas. Quem esteve presente nessas sessões escutou ativamente  complementando as tendências da TrendWatching com expressões de consumo locais.


”E, as inovações dos participantes a partir das tendências de consumo fluíram?”

Ao trabalharmos com as ferramentas Consumer Trend Radar e Consumer Trend Canvas, as ideias afloraram e elas eram reveladoras sobre o quanto ainda podemos fazer (com ou sem a ajuda da tecnologia) para melhor a vida dos consumidores latino-americanos. Assim, talvez consigamos ser mais ágeis e inovar tanto quanto os taxistas de Guayaquil.


Through our content and tools, Trendwatching continues to offer professionals in more than 180 countries better predictions for the future and the best inspiration to innovate based on trends.

In 2015, we gave 79 presentations, 32 workshops and five innovation Trends Safaris in more than 30 countries! Our conversations and events “live” full of inspiration sessions provide a high level analysis to update your team in the main consumer trends.

Not only comprehensive, but also location, showing examples and innovations in the industry. Definitely the best tool to broaden horizons and apply successfully trends. Learn more at trendwatching.com/live

Michelin-star street food and queueing up for Kanye: Singapore's workforce is changing. But how?

Image sources in order of appearance: LaborMe, The Malay Mail.

Following on from our recent look at the development of NEW LABOR – our consumer trend exploring the new demands of a disrupted workforce – we hand over the reins to Dennis Rotairo, a FMCG expert (and esteemed member of TrendWatching’s Insight Network) based in Singapore. From the advent of P2P to celebrity-endorsed initiatives focusing on a new type of worker, he unpacks the changing landscape of the city-state. Dive in!

Singapore, being a small nation with booming businesses and low population depends on a high ratio of foreign workers and technology. In 2014 we saw the start of a foreign manpower curb in the country, which paved the way for reliance on technology and automating business processes. Customer satisfaction was at risk. Long checkout queues, unattended customers, poor merchandising were just some of the qualms in the retail and F&B field.

Despite of the staffing crunch, consumer demands are ever increasing in this vibrant nation. With high mobile connectivity, Singapore is turning the page, from the being relatively dependent on permanent staffing to run business operations into one-click-away freelance solutions. The Peer-to-Peer (P2P) era began. The playing field is pretty colourful with FoodPanda and Deliveroo in food delivery; Uber and Grab in transportation; and Honest Bee in grocery shopping, changing the game and upping the ante.


In April 2016, Singapore came up with its own P2P brand, LaborMe. A homegrown label and described as the brainchild of two visionary Singaporeans, LaborMe wishes to become the smartest, fastest way to get instant help. This P2P app that offers concierge service is dubbed as the smart solution for businesses or individuals who are facing manpower or time constraints. From manual tasks and couriers jobs, to helping celebrate durian season with a tropical fruit delivery services, to waiting in line for clients at Kanye West’s Pop Up, it seems any job can be requested, offered and accepted all via the single app.


The demand for the service rose just very recently when Michelin Singapore Guide awarded 1-star rating to popular hawker style restaurants. These hot-spot eating-places are small-scale and are not providing delivery services. Not even local food delivery apps covers them. For one to get a bowl of famous noodle, you have to endure a queue that lasts for an hour to three. This is where the next level of P2P business shows its strength by catering to all eventualities; from supplying someone to wait in line, collect food or even just supplying information on business hours. This is just one signal that people are willing to pay premium in exchange of the time and resources lost in the process of physically getting to the hawker-style restaurants.

Some famous brands and personalities have also turned to LaborMe. The app boasts delivery of thousands of cheese tarts from a well-known local manufacturer and hundreds of meals from Michelin-starred restaurants, doing furniture assembly for a local celebrity disk jockey and many more.

What transpires in these innovations? By looking closely to clients’ comfort and discomfort zones, businesses can craft a top-of-the-line approach towards quality products and services using the available resources (even how scarce those are).


TrendWatching’s Insight Network, tw:in, is a global community of marketing and business-savvy spotters. Think you’ve got what it takes to become part of the trend revolution? Apply to join today.

Travelling from the tips of your fingers: Pockettour's battle to turn Ukraine's conservative market against traditionalism

Pockettour, a travel agency founded in Ukraine, are the first in the industry to run their booking operations entirely through messaging app Viber. After appearing in our GLOBAL BRAIN briefing as a prime example of our ALL-ON MESSAGING trend – exploring how messaging apps are becoming feature-packed controls for everyday life – we managed to catch up with Alexandr Dovgopol, the company’s owner and CEO, to discuss developing such an innovative concept in a climate as conservative as Ukraine’s. 


What was the inspiration behind Pockettour?

We were inspired by a wish to make the booking process easier and more comfortable than it was before. We noticed that from one side, people are less interested in visiting traditional travel agencies and from another side, well – no-one likes complicated booking forms that you can see on any online booking page. Pockettour’s story is about simplicity and comfort.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

Ukraine is still very conservative country when it comes to e-commerce, especially when we talk about online payments. The most difficult thing is to convince people that payments through Pockettour are absolutely safe.

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

I think that the most important is keeping in touch with your clients. More often you don’t need to invent anything – you just need to listen carefully.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

Without doubt, it’s the launching of unmanned taxi services in Singapore! Technologies completely change lives and consumer behavior. I’m going to Singapore a month later and definitely I’ll take a ride!


Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

Ahead of our Amsterdam Trend Event, we posed a crucial question to the city's inhabitants: Can big Dutch brands be redeemed?

Image sources in order of appearance: Citinerary, EUtweets, Fairphone, The Post

This month, TrendWatching is partnering with Citinerary, an international network of passionate citizens who observe and share, how we live, how a city functions and how it continues to evolve. This blog series is part of the upcoming TrendWatching Global Trend Event series landing in Amsterdam on November 23rd. Mio van der Mei, an Amsterdam-based Citinerary correspondent, explains how big and local brands redeem themselves or the industries they’re operating in, and the impact it has on the city and its local communities.


‘Corporate’ is often used as a dirty word, tainted with connotations of pollution, exploitation, of risking people’s health for the sake of profit. Amsterdam is home to many major multinationals that have been criticized for one (or more) of these practices at some point in the past. But, as a city, Amsterdam has great ambitions to become a green metropole and embrace the circular economy, and is keen to become an attractive location for sustainable companies to set up shop.

Brands are helping people to help others

Not only is the government pushing for a greener and more prosocial corporate climate, citizens in Amsterdam want brands to go beyond conventional CSR. Mark Woerde, co-founder of award-winning Amsterdam-based advertising agency Lemz, conducted a global study that showcased how people are waiting for brands to help them help others. Woerde is helping businesses to transition into prosocial brands, and believes big brands could win Nobel prizes in the near future. His research became a bestselling book called ‘How advertising will heal the world and your business’. This city in particular, has the people, the expertize, the creativity, and the wherewithal to make the transition to sustainability and ethicality.

Take G-star for example, a company that was criticized for human exploitation back in 2007. The brand has since signed an agreement ensuring the safety of factory workers. But G-star truly redeemed itself two years ago with its ‘RAW for the oceans’ line, produced in collaboration with Pharrell Williams. It’s a sustainable jeans collection made from recycled plastic soup. G-star used over ten tons of ocean plastic to produce its first RAW line meaning that simply by purchasing a pair of jeans, people could help to keep the oceans clean.

Although a brand like G-star is from Amsterdam, it has little direct impact on the local communities within the city. So who are the ‘big brands’ in Amsterdam?


The societal meaning of the rise of startups

As mentioned above, the capital city of Holland is home to countless corporate brands, but it’s also home to hundreds of innovative startups. Despite being a relatively small city, with a population of just 800,000, Amsterdam is well on its way of becoming the startup city of Europe and was named ‘startup hub to watch’ in 2014 by Inc.com.

The difference between regular corporate brands and startups? Startups can have an idea today, process it tomorrow and have the result the day after; whereas corporate brands often consider ideas internally for relatively long periods. Startups have the ability to make positive changes now. According to serial entrepreneur and founder of Rockstart, Oscar Kneppers: “it’s easier to start your own company and change the world than to exercise influence from within the government.” Many startups in Amsterdam rely on their communities, and the customers’ inclusiveness is key.


Take Fairphonefor example: an ethical and sustainable smartphone brand that’s been made possible through crowdfunding. They are offering a solution to consumers who don’t want to buy products that are manufactured through exploitation and child labor, and sourced from conflict minerals (as 99% of electronic companies do). Fairphone integrates materials in the supply chain and supports local economies. They invest in factory workers’ wellbeing, safe working conditions, and pay fair wages. Fairphone was established in 2012 and is delivering 150,000 smartphones this year. The backers of Fairphone have a sense of ownership by fighting the often unethical and unsustainable electronic industry by purchasing a counter-product. Fairphone has an engaged online community, including many young successful city dwellers.    

Then you also have Moyee Coffee, the world’s first Fair Chain brand, superseding Fair Trade. Coffee farmers earn very little money from their beans alone. Coffee beans increase 99% in value once they are processed and roasted in the West. Moyee Coffee is tackling this economical disproportion by roasting the beans in their country of origin and equally sharing the added value of the beans amongst the local communities. Buyers are aware that they’re joining Moyee’s Fair Chain revolution with every purchase they make, and feel like they contribute to a fairer world.

Although there are many more examples that I could elaborate on, I will leave you with a short list of startups that already are, or are still on their way to becoming, the new big brands in this city:

Tony Chocolonely, the only chocolate available that’s 100% slave free (and whose Marketing Manager, Pascal van Ham, will be featuring on the ‘Do Brands Have a Future?’ panel at TrendWatching’s Amsterdam event – editor ;)


Vandebron, who offer wind, water, sun or bio energy, directly sourced from local farmers.

Roetz-bikes, durable designer bicycles made from recycled discarded bike parts. Around 1000,000 bikes are thrown away each year in the Netherlands.

The new big brands

You could say that startups are the new big brands in Amsterdam; they contribute to a sharing- and circular economy, but also help people to help shape a better world. Startups are redeeming certain industries by being the solution themselves.


TrendWatching’s 2016 Consumer Trend Events head to Singapore (27 Oct), Sydney (3 Nov), Chicago (10 Nov), London(16 Nov) and Amsterdam (23 Nov). Ready to unlock and experience the trends set to shape 2017 (and beyond)? Find out more here.

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