01 : 09 : 23 : Weekly Debrief

need to know
product design
health & wellness
category - fashion
category - female futures
sector - food & drink
type - need to know
Need To Know
category - design
category - mobility
category - sustainability
sector - health & wellness
sector - youth

This week: Emerging Youth in China, bringing fictional female football players to life with AI, tennis-scented fragrance, the future of ethical banking, EQ Commerce, and Ralph Lauren’s latest outlet raises the bar for virtual retail.

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1 September 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: AI imagery by The Future Laboratory


Left: Miss by Chuqiao Liu, Beijing. Right: Jianghu by Chuqiao Liu, Beijing

1. Emerging Youth : China

For Chinese youth, Covid-19 has brought about more than lockdown limitations; it has redefined their outlook on life and their expectations for the future. For nearly three years, campuses implemented stringent zero-Covid measures nationwide, severely limiting students’ movement and activities – shattering the conventional college experience, and making nights out, internships or even trips home increasingly challenging.

This change in lifestyle is also reflected in the job market. Chinese youth unemployment has surged, with an alarming 21.3% unemployment rate among those aged 16–24, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. But there is more to the issue than these figures suggest. Peking University economics professor Zhang Dandan, in a now-deleted article for the financial magazine Caixin, argued that China's unemployment rate calculation, focusing solely on active job-seekers, could be concealing a much higher unemployment rate, possibly as high as 46.5%.

The result is a generation facing unforeseen challenges. Some young adults are turning to unconventional roles, leaving their jobs or returning home after graduation to become carers for their parents, leading to the rise of hashtags like full-time daughters (quánzhí nǚ'ér), full-time children (quánzhí érnǚ) and NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training or kěn lǎo zú) on social media.

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‘The reason why this trend was born [in 2023] is largely driven by the slow economic recovery and high unemployment rate after the pandemic. I hope it is a fad, not a lasting trend, as it is perceived as poison for societal development, which is the least that the government wants to see’
Itaú, Brazil

2. Itaú turns to AI to bring fictional women football players to life

Brazil – In a campaign released in August 2023 entitled Mas Que Una Copa (more than a cup), financial services firm Itaú revealed the faces of women football players who might have represented Brazil in the 1959, 1963 and 1971 Women’s World Cups. But this would not have been possible then, as Brazilian women were legally banned from playing football for nearly 40 years, from 1941 to 1979.

Joining forces with creative agency Galeria.ag, Itaú consulted with former players, historians, sociologists and other experts before feeding their insights and historical data to a generative artificial intelligence tool. The result is hyper-realistic and suggests to the audience that the national team that competed at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup owe their participation to their elders. The ad closes with a message reading: ‘Our team got this far because many women thought it was possible and fought for it.’

With this campaign, Itaú created imagery for invisible warriors, making this World Cup more than a cup for Brazilian players. As explored in our AI Optimism market report and our op-ed on AI and emotionally driven brands, generative AI can help brands express emotions and nostalgia in previously impossible ways.

3. DS & Durga develops tennis-scented fragrance

Global – Tapping into the ever-growing racquet culture, fragrance brand DS & Durga has introduced a new scent taking inspiration from the tennis courts.

The perfume is playfully named Crush Balls and was launched as part of Brooklyn-based DS & Durga’s Studio Juice limited-edition line just as the 2023 US Open kicks off. Co-founder and perfumer David Seth Moltz explains that the scent was imagined to capture ‘the vibe of tennis’ and its intricacies, rather than simply mimicking how a tennis ball smells. Crush Balls transports the wearer on a sensory voyage to the courts, combining notes of rubber, glue, grass, rosemary and citrus.

This playful yet sophisticated tennis scent is a savvy way to tap into the popularity of tenniscore. While Racquet Culture has been making waves on social media and influencing, DS & Durga’s fragrance offers tennis fans a sensorial and novel way to engage with the sport.

DS & Durga
Left: Photography by Ketut Subiyanto. Right: Algbra, UK

4. Viewpoints : The Future of Ethical Banking

Banking is an industry that has been slow to accept disruptive changes. The advent of financial technology (fintech) companies like Monzo and the crypto revolution has stirred businesses to launch digital platforms and rethink future strategies, but financial systems have mostly remained unaltered. More importantly, however, banks have not primed consumers to think about the role they can play outside of managing funds.

Most banks also follow western-centric structures that fail to cater to consumers with different cultural and religious requirements. The lack of financial Sharia compliance, for example, led to the creation of Algbra, a UK-based fintech founded in 2020 with the mission of creating not just a bank, but a social movement. ‘There was an opportunity to create the world’s first digital Islamic bank,’ Marten Möller, Algbra’s ESG manager, tells LS:N Global. The bank’s ethical principles, however, move past being just Muslim-friendly, instead showcasing the possibilities of creating a profitable bank for both the people and the planet.

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‘We’re not trying to build a bank that is Muslim exclusive, just one that is Muslim inclusive’
Marten Möller, ESG manager, Algbra

5. Why are AI and algorithms a blessing for emotional retail?

Global – Innovative retailers are using technology to create intelligent and empathic journeys where every touchpoint is a learning opportunity. But what can all businesses learn from them? According to Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory, the true potential lies in merging e-commerce and social commerce for greater impact. ‘Social commerce has become a go-to shopping destination in its own right,’ he observes.

In the landscape of Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, Commerce, it's not just about the transaction but about the journey itself. Watch Martin’s brief overview of our EQ-Commerce macrotrend, which shows how innovative retailers are using technology such as artificial intelligence and natural language processing to provide hyper-personalised, empathic experiences for their consumers.

The 888 House by Ralph Lauren

6. Ralph Lauren’s latest outlet raises the bar for virtual retail

US – To mark the launch of the RL 888 handbag line, Ralph Lauren has revealed its first virtual store, inviting customers to discover the new collection in the immersive gamified landscape.

After four years, the American fashion house is gearing up for a return to the New York Fashion Week schedule in September 2023. Ralph Lauren is whetting the fashion crowd’s appetite with new launches ahead of the show – the RL 888 collection, available from the brand’s first 3D immersive digital store, The 888 House. Set in a landscape inspired by the Californian desert, the virtual shopping experience features a high-resolution surrealistic decor, allowing visitors to wander, discover products and place orders.

While virtual immersive stores have been proliferating in the luxury fashion landscape, for iconic brands like Ralph Lauren, they are a great tool to engage new audiences. Using tech-forward craftsmanship to highlight brand storytelling and exhibit know-how is a strategy we explore further in our upcoming luxury macrotrend.

7. Webinar : Luxury Futures 2023

Our Luxury Futures online event takes an in-depth look at industry-specific trends, exploring everything new and next in the sector that is set to affect the future consumer in the next 3–5 years. 
Join us for a packed programme of practical insights, exclusive debates and discussions and an executive summary of our latest macrotrend. Guest speakers will include industry leaders and innovators who will present valuable insights in a rapid-fire Q&A session. 
Luxury Futures 2023

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