Pushing forward with purpose: Jacqui Hocking talks storytelling & sustainability ahead of her appearance at our Singapore Trend Event

Photo credits – feature, VSS; profile below, Mathew Lynn

The list of speakers for our 2016 Consumer Trend Events just keeps getting stronger (and longer!). Each city will see leading innovators join our own trend gurus as we get to the heart of consumerism’s most pressing topics – from AI to big data, demographics to Big Brand Redemption. 

We’re super excited to invite Jacqui Hocking, a visual storyteller and social entrepreneur currently working on a new project, VSS (more on that below ;), to our sold-out event in Singapore. We managed to grab some time with her to shed some more light on what we can expect as she pulls up a chair to our Branded Infrastructure panel – exploring how smart brands are making Asia a better place to be. 

Jacqui Hocking

Can you tell us a bit about your day-to-day life? What do you enjoy the most, and what do you find the most challenging?

My day-to-day life is always a total adventure! Everyday is a new story. I live and travel all over South East Asia, so I spend a lot of time in transit. When I’m not filming, editing or writing new stories, I work every day using
ASANA to manage my team and projects. Coordinating shoot dates, locking in content schedules or pulling the pieces together for Singapore’s first Eco Film Festival; it can all be done remotely… as long as I have my laptop and a strong wifi connection!

As someone that’s speaking at our Singapore event, what do you find about the region that make it such an important place for innovation?

Singapore is my favourite city in the world. It gives me so much hope to see such a fast-moving urban city take its environment into consideration so much. Things like water and waste are topics that need innovation as fast as possible – and Singapore is really leading the way.

Being a hub for the rest of Asia, Singapore is really the testing ground for social entrepreneurs to come up with new technologies and scale them fast throughout the region. It’s such an exhilarating place to live!

Without giving too much away, what topics, issues, trends or challenges are you excited to share with our audience at the Singapore Consumer Trend Event?

I’m SO excited to share more about the B Corp movement into South East Asia. It’s something that’s really made HUGE waves throughout Europe and the US, so to feel it making an impact here is so exciting. The only question is: which companies in Asia will lead the way?!

BettrBarista

You feature on our Branded Infrastructure panel. Can you share a favourite innovation or initiative that you feel embodies this subject matter?

Purpose has been a driving factor for me my entire career, and it’s so awesome to see that “brands with a purpose” are starting to really become the leaders throughout the world. I think integrating more sustainable innovation, humanizing your brand and becoming more authentic – all these things are really driving a paradigm shift in the corporate world. For example, brands in Singapore like Bettr Barista (above) are making such a huge positive impact while at the same time creating a solid brand for themselves – “changing lives through coffee”.

What trends do you feel that your organization are pursuing in your work? They don’t have to be TrendWatching trends! They might be very broad trends such as ‘the sharing economy’ or ‘the rise of artificial intelligence’. How do you think those trends are set to evolve, and what challenges lie ahead for you?’

My new company VSS (Visual Story Strategy.com) is focusing on discovering the authentic human stories behind the world’s most exciting innovation. This means that we are closely following all the new trends in innovation and storytelling!

Every trend that touches on solving the global goals is something I’m keeping an eye on too. Whether that’s helping companies get their B Corp Certification, building new platforms to fight for gender equality, or finding ways to connect with my clients consumers in a more authentic way. I also love the technological trends in Visual Storytelling such as VR and 360, which is something I’m playing with right now.

If you had to pick one trend that you think everyone should be paying attention to now, what would it be?

Getting B Corp Certified!

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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

Back to Naked: The resurgence of nudity as mainstream non-conformity

Pooja Solanki, one of our Star Spotters from tw:in, TrendWatching’s Insight Network, got in touch with us recently about an emerging theme she’d seen around the world. It appears that, despite the best efforts of the more conservative sections of society (or perhaps even because of them ;) the freedom and liberation of stripping off in public – for a cause, of course – is making a resurgence.

But how? Over to Pooja to, ahem, reveal all…

After the #freethenipple movement took over social media last year, and Instagram accounts were filled with strategically placed photographs, something changed and it was the people’s perception of nudity – in public. Handling nudity in the open and seeing semi-nude bodies which leave little to imagination triggered a chain that turned something very private into a more public and general concept for people. The acceptance of this idea, however, is what is intriguing: people striving to become artists and coming forward to embrace the natural form of human body.

Bunyadi

One such chain of events started when London’s first nude restaurant named “Bunyadi” was announced. The restaurant is now open and the waiting list to eat there extends to several months. Shortly after, Japan got in on the act, with “The Amrita” set to follow in its bare footsteps. (Side thought – it’s interesting to note that both restaurants have Indian names, though I don’t think this could be an accepted idea in the country; it is most likely to cause a ban from even an announcement). Unsurprisingly, Paris – the world’s most romantic city, no less – is the next spot for one to be announced, indicating a huge acceptance of this concept. 

nude-yoga-girl

The Nude Yoga Girl, 26, has more than 370,000 followers on Instagram thanks to her photos of phenomenal poses and now she stars in videos featured by Harper’s Bazaar Magazine where she performs her moves totally naked with strategic lighting and photgraphy to conceal her ‘private parts’. The goal she says is to combine her passion for photography and yoga, but also to tell people to love their bodies. 

Art, being one of the fields where nudity occupies a special space, also seems to be influenced as the content turns more graphic and visual. The fact that Betty Tompkins, an artist whose series of work entitled ‘Fuck Paintings’ were banned all over the world in 1969, became revered in 2013 speaks volumes about a movement toward thinking more openly about sex, porn and art.

Mirror Box

Quite interestingly, nudity with a sexual bend is not accepted as widely. A street artist performed a nude act called ‘mirror box’ where the performer Milo Moire lets strangers touch her intimate parts in a mirror box on streets of Europe. Ms Moire was arrested amidst the show, the police arguing that her show didn’t fall under art, but prostitution.

The announcement of the world’s first sex theme park, “Eroticaland” – to open in Brazil by 2017 and complete with a nudist pool and slide, was also met with an outrage from locals in Brazil claiming they were concerned what kind of people it would attract to the area.

eroticaland

And yes, I don’t know where Kim Kardashian falls in this list with her nude internet-breaking selfies ;), but here’s a list of activities you can do naked in public (without breaking the law). I’ve got a feeling that it will definitely have more options by the end of the year!

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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.

Celebrity spotting, elite-sourcing and social media: Inspiration & challenges from spotting trends in Turkey

TrendWatching has been making a number of trips to Turkey recently, including for a recent event with Idea Bakery, a local partner who have been applying TrendWatching’s content and Trend-Driven Innovation methodology to their communications work with clients.

Here, Neslihan Kohen — Idea Bakery’s Brand Communications Consultant — runs through spotting trends and the challenges that innovators across Turkey face (and how to overcome them).

Neslihan Kohen-2

Passionate Curiosity

I am a long-term ‘sufferer’ of wanderlust, but it’s international travel that feeds my curiosity and passion in life. I’m always hungry to explore new places within my hometown — undiscovered neighborhoods, unusual tastes and shops hidden in corners. Anything that hasn’t been commercialized yet attracts my undivided attention. I firmly believe that the future belongs to the curious eye…

The Magger

Social Media

Although Turkey has a very young population (20% are 15–24 years old) with high Internet penetration rate (according to the ‘We are Social’ digital usage report released in January 2016, 60% of the Turkish people are active Internet users, 53% are active social media users, and 90% have a mobile connection), there are no publications dedicated to local trends.

Bloggers, publications and Socially Important People (S.I.P.s) spot bits of trends here and there in an unstructured, mild manner — sometimes without even noticing that they have actually caught a future “it-thing”.

However, I’m always keen to use them as inspiration to spot future local trends, as their international lifestyles mean they often share pictures and posts about things that will soon be coming to Turkey. An example of this would be the third wave coffee-shop expansion in big cities across Turkey.

Crowdsourcing

I regularly visit the biggest crowd-sourced platform of Turkey, “ekşisözlük” — translated as ‘sour dictionary’ :) — a major authority to follow up the trends and current agenda. This is an open platform with no membership requirement (like reddit.com).

The only striking fact that makes it a recognized authority is that all content creators are granted writership by a special counsel of founders.

Ekşisözlük is not a unique platform format, but it is infamously edgy due to the diversity of recorded thoughts and ideas, directly reflecting the polarized population. So, just a daily 10-minute dose of eksisozluk.com will help you to dive into the daily agendas and different perspectives of Turkish youth.

TW: What are some challenges you and other Turkish innovators face when it comes to working with trends?

One of the challenges of working with trends is the Turkish consumers’ fear of adopting them into daily life. Although Turkish people love novelty, they are also very attached to the known and familiar. This often makes them skeptical and fearful about abandoning the proven and familiar in favor of the untried and new.

Moreover, Turkish people by nature are a little whimsical. When they adopt a new trend, they over-consume it and it becomes a fad quicker than usual, leaving them unenthusiastic and already looking out for the next big thing. Therefore, I wouldn’t be mistaken if I said they are more fad-driven than trend-driven.

As a result, the aspect of novelty and development is not easily acknowledged and adopted by the majority of the population. This is a setback for the innovation business in Turkey. However, when a brand takes these aspects into consideration and innovates accordingly, success is inevitable.

Arcelik Telve

Example: Arçelik created an innovative coffee machine, designed to replicate the traditional Turkish coffee drinking experience: mimicking the ‘slow-cooked’ brewing process & creating the all-important foam. This is a great example of how a Turkish company can grab the familiarity aspect at the core and then inject innovation in it.

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Idea Bakery is a consultancy and training company with expertise on brand and business building equity and communications, based in Istanbul with network members in Frankfurt, Geneva and Atlanta. You can find more about them right here.

Is a globalized world making people assert their identities?

Cover image sourced from Digg; Author image courtesy of author; Featured images sourced from, in order of appearance: Urban Glasgow, ViceF&B News

Alongside – or in reaction to – globalization, it appears that the social ideologies of people all over the world are becoming more isolationist. From Brexit and Donald Trump to battles for independence waged everywhere from Scotland to Spain, the politics of identity are undeniably becoming more pronounced. 

In the latest in a series of posts from one of our longtime partners Taan Worldwide – a global network of carefully selected independent advertising & communications agencies – Taan member and Director of Levy McCallum and Root & Toot John McCallum discusses the roots of these tensions, and what they mean for brands in the future. 

John McCallum, TAAN member, on globalization

When I was asked to contribute this piece, I was pretty sure I was going to write about Pokemon Go.

I’m a father of three young children who have developed something close to an obsession with this game. Its combination of Augmented Reality with ‘collecting’ (something all children and quite a few adults have always done) was so simple it really interested me. But I’ve a feeling a lot will be written about Pokemon and its grip on current culture by people a lot more qualified than me.

When I was the age my children are today, video games were in their infancy. Pong had been invented but was still a few years away from ubiquity and Space Invaders were still a couple of lightyears away from making a splash in the playgrounds I frequented.

Indeed, everything seemed different then. The main street of the north Glasgow suburb I was raised in consisted of a row of around 30 shops, most of them locally owned by people who lived within a couple of miles of there. Two newsagents were part of bigger chains, but these chains were both Scottish owned. I attended the local school and my school uniform, bought every summer, was made in the Scottish borders and sold by a couple of shops in the main street.

Today, my children also go to their local school, but their uniform is made in Bangladesh and sold by Yorkshire based ASDA who are owned by Walmart. A glance at that same main street shows fast food outlets, national and international chains have replaced the locally owned shops. This isn’t some rose-tinted walk down memory lane though, nor am I going to point out that globalization is alive and well in Western Europe and beyond – you’ve probably already noticed that.

Glasgow-1970s

What’s been catching my eye is the reaction to this globalization.

As our high streets, shopping malls, media consumption and popular culture becomes increasingly homogenised so our politics and, more tellingly, our electorate, becomes increasingly nationalist. Now I can’t say for sure these two phenomena are connected, but both seem to be on the same upward trajectory.

In the 70s, my father drove cars made in the English midlands; today his car is made in Germany. Not just his, either – over 800,000 new cars were exported from Germany to the UK in 2015, there were 2.6 million new cars registered in the UK in 2015 but only 14% were produced in the UK. We clearly really like German engineering, just not enough to want to be in the European Union with it. 

June’s Brexit vote caught many observers by surprise, yet it’s been clear for a while now that European electorates were increasingly rejecting traditional left-wing right-wing politics and replacing it with identity politics.

Living in Scotland I’ve seen this first hand. Although outright independence was narrowly rejected a couple of years ago nationalist politics now dominates the political agenda, nationalist politicians control the Scottish Parliament and the vast majority of Scottish MPS in the UK parliament are now Scottish nationalists whose raison d’etre is to break up the United Kingdom. There was no coup; these are democratically elected politicians.

The Brexit vote was another manifestation of this. A feeling that politicians ‘elsewhere’ have too much control over the everyday lives of ‘ordinary’ people and a general unhappiness with how globalization is affecting some people’s lives.

The rise of nationalism isn’t peculiar to the UK.

Spain has two very strong secessionist movements in Catalonia and the Basque country. In Belgium the split between the Flemish and French speaking populations is increasingly pronounced, the split between the ‘North’ and the ‘South’ is once again being discussed in Italy, Corsica retains a desire for increased autonomy from France and whilst thankfully violence is now rare various strands of nationalism continue to dominate Irish politics.

European countries without strong internal nations or regions are not immune to this either. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, France, Greece, Switzerland, Hungary, Turkey and Austria have all experienced recent elections where parties who self-recognise as nationalist have enjoyed significant popular support. This is before you even consider the countries formed from former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.

scottish-independence-activists-in-catalonia-poll-283-1415636857

It’s not only confined to Europe either. In the USA Donald Trump’s policy of building a near 2,000 mile long wall along its southern border together with his stated desire to renegotiate international trade deals and long standing pacts with allies has resonated with a significant percentage of the American population.

It feels counter intuitive that as cultures and experiences become increasingly similar so the desire to self-identify as ‘different’ increases. 

Where does this leave local and global brands (very few of which will want to get involved in politics after all)?

Well, many brands are already closely identified with ‘nations’ – at least with a small ‘n’. Guinness is arguably as recognisable a symbol of Ireland as the shamrock or the harp, and is anything more American than McDonalds in the eyes of the rest of the world?

I’ve already mentioned the high regard for German automobiles. Add in Italian food, wine from France, Australia or Chile, minimalist designed flat-pack furniture from Sweden or indeed whisky from Scotland and it’s clear the shifting sands of geo-politics aren’t of immediate concern to brands for whom country of origin is an important part of their brand story. Ironically the European Union has worked hard to introduce, and police, its PDO and PGI programme. Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication have become increasingly important for certain brands and products in the food and drink sectors in particular. 

Will this always be the case? I’m not sure.

I smiled a few years ago when visiting the United States for the first time and seeing Bacardi rum marketing. There was no mention of Cuba at all. Yet in Europe, the brand’s Cuban heritage was a huge selling point and the focus of much of its advertising.

Bacardi-US

Brands will find it increasingly difficult to run different campaigns in different markets in the future; globalization and the internet make that virtually impossible. If you’re espousing nationality in one market there’s no way that won’t seep into a different market where it might not be as attractive a message.

There are recent brands that have made no attempt to overtly associate with their original home. Red Bull springs to mind, the hugely successful challenger product and leading energy drink is a global brand, but not one you associate with its country of origin: Austria. Likewise, although I know Pokemon is Japanese, my children don’t – its country of origin is entirely irrelevant to them and plays no part in their enjoyment of the game.

I also know for a fact, having spent decades in marketing, that consumers in this country at least will discard a locally owned brand for an international one in a heartbeat if it has any benefits the local one doesn’t. Something new is always attractive at least at first. There is very little sentiment in consumerism at times.

So, as the world becomes a smaller, more connected place so many people in Europe – and perhaps other countries – increasingly embrace identity politics in favour of other ideologies. They feel a need to proclaim their identity in places they perhaps no longer recognise as being ‘theirs’. Whilst people have largely embraced the perceived benefits of globalization they are increasingly rejecting any centralising of power or authority.

It seems that brands can be global but politicians shouldn’t be; pop culture can be borderless but social ideology can’t.

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John McCallum is a partner and director of Levy McCallum and Root & Toot, a food and drink specialist marketing agency. With offices in Glasgow and Belfast, they work across the UK and Ireland. John is also a European Governor of Taan WorldwideOperating since 1936, TAAN exists to enhance the intelligence, expertise, reach and effectiveness of their members, through cooperative learning and shared capabilities

How to disrupt a problem like skin cancer: L'Oréal on setting a precedent through (almost!) invisible innovation

In a recent edition of our Featured Innovators series, we chatted with MC10, who partnered with L’Oreal to create My UV Patch – an adhesive patch that monitors UV rays, with smartphone-accessible results.

But, as we’re all aware, each side of a collaboration presents different challenges and sources of inspiration. We spoke with Guive Balooch – Global Vice President of L’Oreal Technology Incubator – to hear how one of the world’s most popular cosmetics companies approached tackling a problem as prominent as skin cancer. 

Guive Balooch, L'Oreal

What was the inspiration behind My UV Patch?

Skin cancer is the most prominent type of cancer in our nation, and UV exposure is a huge concern for our customers. We were interested in finding a way to leverage new technology to help educate consumers about their exposure levels.

My UV Patch was born in our San Francisco labs from the idea that connected technologies have the potential to completely disrupt how we monitor the skin’s exposure to a number of external factors. Our goal was to design a sensor that was thin, comfortable and pretty much weightless so people would actually want to wear it.

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

One of the hardest things was creating the design itself. Wearables have historically been clunky, which isn’t an ideal user experience. Wearables that blend seamlessly with the day-to-day—including shirts woven with microsensors, stretchable “second-skin” patches like ours, and even ingestible health sensors—are the future. With My UV Patch, we wanted to set a standard for what the future of wearables should look like. I think we accomplished that!

While we announced My UV Patch at the beginning of 2016 at CES, it just recently became widely available. La Roche-Posay is L’Oréal’s dermatological skincare brand that’s recognized for its best-in-class sunscreen products, so it was a natural fit to collaborate with them on this project. The patch is free and available at select dermatologist offices, some Women’s Dermatological Society skin check events and through key e-commerce retail partners.

MyUV-Loreal-1

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

Make innovation a key part of your business. Have people at your organization whose job it is to think about not only where the world is going but what that means for the consumer and their evolving needs.

You’re featured in our briefing that addresses our IMPACT INDICATORS trend – covering instant and useful real-time feedback on health and wellness impacts. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

We need to get smarter about how we, as the creators of wearables, provide data to consumers that provides real value to their lives. More data isn’t always better; the key is for it to tie back to the end goal. For example, it’s great that someone knows how many steps they take each day, but it’s also important for them to understand how that is impacting their health.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why? 

My UV Patch of course! We are also really excited about augmented and virtual reality, customization and exploring new technologies to bring new experiences to our consumers. Like a lot of companies, we’re thinking hard about how we can innovate to provide value and improve the customer experience.

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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.

How do you adapt yoga for a POST-DEMOGRAPHIC society? Moon & Son on filling a void, going it alone & staying unique

Our Featured Innovators series once again returns to the FUTURE OF BETTERMENT, this time talking to Stephen Watson – former Fashion Director at Men’s Vogue and creator of Moon & Son, a new brand of yoga clothing and equipment especially designed for men. We discuss the POST-DEMOGRAPHIC nature of his new venture, as well as the challenges and frustrations that come with changing the context of the conversation about yoga leisurewear in general. 

Stephen Watson, Moon & Son

What was the inspiration behind Moon & Son?

Moon & Son was really born out of my own personal frustrations in finding the right kind of mens clothing for practicing different types of yoga — especially hot yoga. The conditions of heated yoga are so unique, I found it difficult to find simple, modest, functional gear, made especially for the extreme temperatures.

I also wanted clothing that avoided the usual yoga cliches — hippy patterns, mandalas, sacred symbolism — something that would appeal to the cool city guys I see in my classes here in Brooklyn. The clothes are very serious in their technical make and fabrications — but with a sense of fun in color and design.

I wanted things to wear that could enhance my practice instead of creating the usual distractions — like glued seams or strange fit. I also thought there was potential in marketing this idea to men directly — especially in a field dominated by women with products usually made for women.

Moon & Son - 3

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

Honestly, the hardest thing is getting the word out. I created Moon & Son on my own, with the intention of starting out small with e-commerce and taking my time to grow the business slowly. Getting press, managing all the necessary social media, and creating web traffic, has been extremely difficult to maintain by myself. I created the business while doing other freelance work, and managing everything has been tricky and time consuming — not to mention expensive. 

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

The best advice? Fill a void, go with your guts, be brave, and go for it. A perfect example: I created a very simple black yoga short because I thought it was a necessary ‘basic’ that would be an immediate best-seller. I found that the customer came to me because Moon & Son was different, a simple black short could be purchased from anyone. Discover what makes you and your brand special and capitalize on those unique details. 

Moon & Son - 2

You’re featured in our briefing, falling under our POSTDEMOGRAPHIC BETTERMENT trend covering the throwing out of old preconceptions when it comes to gender and health behaviors. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

In terms of trends, I see activewear filtering into all types of daily wear more and more. Guys are discovering the benefits of yoga and I’m finding that many of my customers are wearing my gear all day, not just to class.

In the past few years, I’ve seen the number of guys in class increase steadily, and these guys need mats, towels, and clothing, with specific needs. There is tons of yoga stuff out there for ladies, and I wanted a line that spoke to this growing group of guys directly. Yoga clothes only for guys – I figured the niche was probably small, but possibly worth trying to go to market as one of the first.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

My favorite innovations, especially for a small business owner, has to be all the amazing technological developments available online like shopify or squarespace. The idea that I could easily open a virtual retail store, customize it, make it look totally unique, accept credit cards, create various shipping options  — all on my own — is completely mind-blowing. 

Reaching customers directly online, avoiding the typical retail channels, using my own site and through social media is totally fantastic. The fact that I can sell Moon & Son stuff around the world, simply and easily, never ceases to amaze me.

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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.

Putting your best foot forward: Wiivv Insoles on integration, creative control and the personalized economy

Our FUTURE OF BETTERMENT Global Trend Briefing, released in April 2016, featured Custom Fit 3D-Printed Orthotics (formerly known as BASE) – customised fit orthotics designed by Wiivv. Consumers use the Wiivv app to take five pictures of their feet, and Wiivv then use the images to design insoles that perfectly fit the contours of each foot – something that the company’s co-founder, Louis-Victor Jadavji, believes is set to revolutionise the industry.

We caught up with him (pictured left, below) to talk biomechanics, integrating your brand’s solutions into real-life activity and the importance of the personalized economy.

LV and Shamil Promo Shot

What was the inspiration behind BASE?

The orthotics and insoles industry has been problematic for consumers for a long time. It’s a shame because proper footwear can benefit many people – I experienced this first-hand after a high-jumping injury led me to use foot orthotics.

At Wiivv, we put our brains together and came up with a very innovative solution that takes minutes (not weeks) to get fitted, is built on sound principles of biomechanics (not one person’s opinion) and, at $79, it doesn’t break the bank. It’s 100% digital – you just need your smartphone! I don’t think I’d be exaggerating when I say this is one of the biggest leaps for custom footwear technology in many decades.

WIIVV INSOLES - CALIBRATED HEALTH

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

The industry itself is highly fragmented, and we had to learn a lot about the diverse preferences and methodologies used. After we had spent over a year fulfilling through certified pedorthists who loved our product for its accuracy and repeatability, we learned how to make BASE and the Wiivv App a superior product and measuring experience.

It’s during this period that we developed unique design features, like our patented hole-in-the-heel to rest the foot in a neutral position without the discomfort caused by a raised heel. The materials we used were also carefully chosen to address the need for rigidity for some parts of the foot and flexibility for others. We even found that before 3D printing, we could adjust the material properties of the insole in software so that it would move more dynamically with the foot.

The industry’s fragmentation required a standalone solution to make buying and getting a custom orthotic easy – like we always intended. We do not rely heavily on doctors, manufacturers, distributors, and so on. We own our channel, production, design and technology! That’s a big step for us ;)

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

I would encourage other professionals to try to build vertically-integrated solutions. Nowadays, it’s not enough to solve one piece of the puzzle. Consumers expect to be held by the hand throughout the process of accessing a service and getting a product…with the same hand! It’s also nice to know that we’re in full control of our product experience. We pinpoint the cause of any dissatisfaction and crush it in short order.

Custom Insoles

You’re featured in our briefing, falling under our CALIBRATED HEALTH trend – looking at how expectations created online are converging with those created by new health tech to drive demand for health and wellness products, services and experiences that are personalized around the individual. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

We’re in the thick of an on-demand and highly personalized economy for services. If health and wellness products can’t catch up, then I see consumers just avoiding some product categories altogether. If you think of foot orthotics, they are often the solution of choice for foot, leg, back, and overall body pain – that’s a big opportunity! Then you look at the size of the industry and realize that it could be much much greater if we prioritized the customer experience.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

UnderArmour’s 3D Architech. There’s been a lot of news on large footwear companies, like UnderArmour, adopting 3D printing technologies. This new direction excites me because it’s a sign that more mass-scale 3D printed product applications are on their way. 3D printing is no longer a prototyping technology.

I’m also excited because for Wiivv it means that our customization engine (what allows us to generate fully custom products in seconds) will be sought after by these companies. I think that we’re on the cusp of several huge breakthroughs that will make custom footwear the only kind of footwear you’ll want to buy.

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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.

Temporary tattoos, epidermal electronics & seamless solutions: How to integrate wellness into our everyday lives

MC10, a healthcare company whose mission is to redefine the boundaries between humans and electronics, featured in THE FUTURE OF BETTERMENT, April 2016’s Global Trend Briefing. We managed to catch up with Rooz Ghaffari, the company’s co-founder and VP of Technology, to discuss the unique technology behind My UV Patch – an adhesive patch that monitors UV rays, with smartphone-accessible results.

Roozbeh Ghaffari, MC10

What was the inspiration behind My UV Patch?

MY UV Patch represents several years of advanced research in the design and development of ultrathin, stretchable electronics, which we call ‘epidermal electronics’. We set out to create an entirely new class of a skin-mountable wearables in the format of a child’s temporary tattoo with sophisticated sensing and wireless capabilities. The My UV Patch embodies these key technical attributes and design principles, and has commercial utility in the skin health marketplace.

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

Developing new supply chains and leveraging existing ones were challenging endeavours for a small company like MC10. It takes time to build prototypes and transfer those prototypes to manufacturers with minimal hiccups — high yield and low cost constraints. Our partnerships with L’Oreal Inc. and PCH International have helped us establish this unique technology in the cosmetics/skin health marketplace with an existing customer base, which has quickly gravitated towards the vision of epidermal electronics. 

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

The ever-changing landscape of consumer products is challenging for product companies to navigate around. We listen to the voice of the customer through our partnerships with leading brands. We try to keep the voice of the customer in mind throughout the research and phases of development. Often, the simpler solutions win and serve as the platform to develop further advanced versions of our core technology.

You’re featured in our briefing, falling under our IMPACT INDICATORS trend – covering instant and useful real-time feedback on health and wellness impacts. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

As the digital health technology adoption curve continues to grow, consumer solutions in the wellness/wearable industries will continue to mature and the trend will move towards better comfort and enhanced signal quality. We will seek solutions that seamlessly integrate into our lives, unobtrusively, and with high signal fidelity.

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How Impossible Burger’s ‘Tesla strategy’ also shows you how to spot the trends of tomorrow.

Crispy on the outside. Lip-smacking saltiness. A little pink inside. A hint of the usual juiciness. The Impossible Burger ticks all the boxes. Which is a pretty big deal, given that this isn’t your usual burger. That patty described above? It’s entirely plant-based.

The company has a pretty ambitious aim: to help solve (or at least massively reduce) the environmental and ethical issues related to eating meat, by creating a healthy, humane, low-impact alternative that tastes as good as the ‘real thing’. Impossible Burger 3

In a recent appearance on the The Ezra Klein Show, Klein and Patrick Brown (Impossible’s founder & CEO) discussed how the company was following the ‘Tesla strategy’ to launching its product: starting small; not asking customers to compromise on quality; downplaying the company’s environmental mission; preparing to compete in the mass-market on all the usual metrics (i.e. by being just as tasty).

The Tesla strategy is an effective playbook for those launching products that shatter industry conventions. But it’s also more than that: it’s a powerful way to spot the trends that will define your customers’ future expectations.

Trends and the Expectation Gap

Startups such as Impossible Burger and Tesla often kickstart and accelerate new trends by setting customer expectations about what is possible.

Impossible Burger shows that a tasty burger doesn’t have to be environmentally destructive. Tesla shows that buying a sports car doesn’t have to leave you feeling guilty about its impact.

The next time a customer eats a ‘normal’ beef burger they can’t help but feel an underlying tension: “why does this burger have such a large environment impact? I know there’s a burger out there that doesn’t!”

This is the Expectation Gap. What happens next is other brands adapt and also take steps to resolve this tension. New products come into the market that don’t leave customers with such a sense of unfulfilled expectation.

But it’s more interesting than that. Expectation Gaps aren’t simply limited to adjacent products within a category. Perhaps you’re thinking it already:

If Impossible Burger and Tesla can create high-performance, guilt-free versions of fast food and fast cars, why can’t other products and experiences that have a negative impact be similarly guilt-free?

Switched-on innovators will be thinking the same thing. And the brands, products and experiences they create will reduce or eliminate consumer guilt around endless indulgences, from sushi to smartphones (of course, this trend wasn’t started by Impossible Burger! We featured Tesla wayyyyy back in our 2013 Trend Briefing on GUILT-FREE CONSUMPTION). And the more startups that successfully achieve this holy grail, the more obvious and painful the tension will be for customers still using legacy products that fall on the wrong side of this Expectation Gap.

Which is why our entire approach to spotting consumer trends is grounded in the counterintuitive truth described above. In summary: to anticipate what people will want next, stop looking at customers and start to look at businesses.

Look around. Look at the pioneering brands, startups or novel innovations that are setting customer expectations around what is possible, desirable or simply ‘normal’ and use these — and the insights you can draw from them — to anticipate what your customers will want next.

Look for Expectation Gaps. Resolve them!

Easy, right? ;)

Side note:

The Impossible Burger is a perfect innovation to show an Expectation Gap in action. In presentations, we’ve long used the image below to illustrate the how the Expectation Gap manifests itself to customers (from a McDonald’s Canada campaign addressing why the burgers you get served don’t look like the ones in the ads).

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This post was inspired because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to Momofuku Nishi and try the Impossible Burger for myself while on a recent trip to check in with our New York team.

For the record, my Impossible Burger didn’t score too badly compared to the promo pictures. It genuinely was a little ‘bloody’.

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However, this was my second burger (in the same sitting!), as the first one was a bit overcooked.

If you get a chance to try the Impossible Burger, I’d highly recommend it. If you didn’t know it wasn’t meat and weren’t thinking too hard about it, I don’t think you’d realise. But do make sure to ask for it rare (why not: you can’t get ill from it being undercooked!).

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TrendWatching’s content and tools give business professionals in 180+ countries the actionable foresight and inspiration to create successful trend-driven innovations.

Join the 250,000+ people who receive our free monthly Trend Briefings at trendwatching.com, learn more about our Premium Service, join us at our 2016 global events, or get your hands on our end-to-end methodology in our new book, Trend-Driven Innovation.

Trend Safaris: Exploring the natural habitat of consumer trends

Experiencing trends in the real world is a great alternative to yet another Power Point presentation. It helps people understand one of TrendWatching’s core beliefs: trends aren’t mystical abstractions but are around us at all times. We just need to keep observant and when you see something novel or innovative ask the right questions: Why is this happening? What new consumer expectations will this trigger? And so what? What is the innovation potential it presents to my business?

I recently had the pleasure to run trend safaris in two of the most exciting cities in Europe: in Berlin for Autogrill and in London for Marriott Hotels.

Innovative retail experiences, culinary concepts, exhibitions, sensory installations, quirky design shops, startups and local entrepreneurs, new client service and promotion approaches, innovative products etc. made up some of our stopovers.

Stops were chosen as demonstrations of the consumer trends previously identified as most relevant for the client’s business. Different routes throughout the city are created for different teams, each being guided by a team leader. The participants have short chats with the business owners to get more insights, learnings, and find out about challenges in running their businesses.

In their trend safari kits, besides a map, a pen and information about the stopovers, each participant also received Inspiration Cards. These help them document and translate the insights they get from each stopover into potential ideas for their business. These ideas are shared and built on in the group, during dinner or the next day when the safari could also be followed by a workshop.

At the same time, participants take pictures and upload them on Instagram with predefined hashtags. At the end of the day, the team has a visual wrap-up of the safari and everyone can see which areas were the other teams exploring. Here are the wrap-ups from Berlin/Autogrill and London/Marriott Hotels

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Chris Stephenson, Director – Design and Development

Global Operations, Europe at Marriott International explains why they turned to a trend-driven workshop and trend safari for their Operations Academy when 20+ directors of operations met in London:

What role did trends play in solving the business challenges you set for your teams? 

We were inspired by the trends session as it provided examples  from other industries that enabled us to consider our own business challenges differently. As a result, the concept ideas presented by the teams were much more ambitious and represented a bigger stretch for each of our brands.

What was the biggest benefit of the trend safari for you & all involved? 

Learning about innovative concepts developed by local entrepreneurs in other sectors was a critical part of helping us to think about how to take a different approach to problem solving within our own business.

 What was the most surprising aspect of the trend safari for you?

Finding out how well networked local entrepreneurs are; by collaborating together they get to take risks on innovation that they may not otherwise be able to do alone.

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TrendWatching’s content and tools give business professionals in 180+ countries the actionable foresight and inspiration to create successful trend-driven innovations.

Join the 250,000+ people who receive our free monthly Trend Briefings at trendwatching.com, learn more about our TW:Premium service, or get your hands on our end-to-end methodology in our book, Trend-Driven Innovation.

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