04 : 08 : 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: Snapchat moves towards retail, pizza-scented Xbox controllers, a palm oil-free soap bar, weaving Omani heritage into haute perfumerie, the hard truth’ about cement, and AI to revolutionise IVF treatment.

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4 August 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: Amouage Muscat Duty Free, Oman


Wait’ll You See This by Snapchat

1. Brand Innovation Debrief: Snap's Retail Play

Launched in 2011 as a social media platform dedicated to ephemeral pictures and messages, Snapchat has seen its Stories format imitated by Instagram and its revolutionary augmented reality (AR) filters move to TikTok. But the app remains relevant, with 397m daily active users reached in the second quarter of 2023 – an increase of 14% year on year.

According to the company, most of that growth came from outside the US in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where 68% of the population uses the app at least once a month.

Predominantly used by Gen Z and Millennials –45% of Snapchatters in the UK are 25 years old or older, according to the company – the platform is still essential for the media and entertainment industry for promotion. In 2023, a variety of business and organisations – from the Barbie movie to the Women’s World Cup and Vogue – collaborated on immersive AR activations with Snap.

In August 2023, Snap will co-host ZCon, the first conference with only Gen Z speakers on stage unpacking the creator economy, social impact and the future of business. But the company is facing multi-faceted challenges.

With a decline in advertising revenue stemming from intense competition from rivals like TikTok and Instagram, changes to Apple’s app privacy policies and rising global inflation, Snap had no choice but to downsize, laying off 20% of its workforce in 2022, and curtailing several projects including its Pixy camera drone. Searching for new revenue streams, the company is now repurposing its expertise in AR as a B2B service provider while betting on in-app artificial intelligence to retain advertisers. 

Read the full article.

‘Snapchat is still setting trends, but it is no longer the same business tool that it used to be, compared to Instagram, which completely ripped its Stories feature off, and TikTok being even bigger now’

2. Microsoft unveils limited-edition Xbox controller infused with pizza aroma

Global – In a surprising blend of gaming and pizza nostalgia, Microsoft introduced a limited-edition Xbox Series X/S controller inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) in July 2023. The unique controller features graffiti-style art of the four turtles along with their respective weapons. But the real twist is the attachable diffuser that allows gamers to infuse the controller with a pizza-scented liquid, filling their gaming room with the aroma of a freshly baked New York pizza. In the event that the user tires of the smell, they can remove the diffuser and game scent-free.

The promotion marks the launch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a highly anticipated 2023 game of the year contender. Xbox is giving fans a chance to win these pizza-scented controllers through a contest by following the Xbox Game Pass Twitter account and retweeting the sweepstakes post.

Xbox’s pizza-scented controller aligns with our Gastro Gaming Market in which we assessed how food and drink brands are turning to gaming to offer tastes, skins and experiences that transcend the screen.

TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Pizza-Scented Controller by Xbox, US
The Rewild Body Block by Haeckels, Pangaia and C16 Biosciences, UK and US

3. Haeckels, Pangaia and C16 Biosciences introduce a palm oil-free soap bar

UK – In a joint effort, Haeckels, Pangaia and C16 Biosciences have developed a soap, swapping palm oil for a ground-breaking blend formulated with torula oil.

The Rewild Body Block is a collaboratively crafted innovative product, designed as a better-for-the-planet alternative to palm oil-based soap. To make the palmless torula oil soap possible, British future-forward beauty brand Haeckels has teamed up with materials science company Pangaia and New York-based climate-tech start-up C16 Biosciences.

The bio-designed proprietary palm oil substitute harnesses the power of naturally occurring microorganisms and fermentation. Haeckels then manufactures the soap in its UK lab in Margate, mixing the blend with seaweed extract from local shores and natural ingredients such as aloe vera, mandarin peel and vetiver root. Given real palm has a destructive impact on the planet, the palmless soap bar is ironically infused with natural oils that mimic the smell of rainforests burning down.

In our Neo collectivism macrotrend, we explored how brands such as Haeckels and Pangaia are shunning individualism in favour of alliances that are favouring empathy and community.

Amouage Muscat Duty Free, Oman

4. Augmenting Beauty with Generation Z 

After a decade spent between luxury leather goods (Delvaux, Louis Vuitton), beauty (Dolce & Gabbana) and fragrance (Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs), Renaud Salmon was appointed chief creative officer of Omani fragrance brand Amouage in 2019. The Belgium-born creative has made it his mission to convey the rich history of the Sultanate perfume house through techno-craft touchpoints and store designs that focus on the brand’s majestic heritage.

Amouage was created in 1983 by Qaboos Bin Said, the Sultan of Oman, as a ‘gift of kings’ to spread the country’s scents to the world. Since then, the company has garnered a worldwide reputation associated with the Arabian art of perfumery.

Debuting a new role in Amouage’s leadership team as chief creative officer and chief experience officer, Salmon was charged with steering the company’s re-imagined global journey via a focus on discovery retail. He is responsible for the design and execution of all consumer touchpoints, including product development, in particular the digital and social elements.

When considering the brand's retail presence, Salmon started at home and opened two flagship boutiques in Oman – one at Muscat Duty Free, Muscat International Airport, in May 2023 and another in the Mall of Oman in April 2022. Both are positioned to make lasting connections with Middle East luxury consumers as they discover the haute-perfumery brand in its native Oman, on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, where 4.52m Omanis live.

Biozeroc. Identity by How&How, UK

5. Bio-concrete company Biozeroc spreads ‘the hard truth’ about the cement industry

UK – Biomaterials science company Biozeroc worked with How&How for a rebrand, playfully nicknaming the bio-concrete manufacturer as the House of Hard Things.

While conventional concrete is reportedly responsible for 8% of global emissions, Biozeroc is leveraging biotechnology to create a carbon-negative version of the construction material. The start-up commissioned How&How to create an impactful brand identity that will stand out in the low-attention category that is concrete and other hard materials – while raising awareness of its carbon footprint.

Instead of opting for classic environmentalist aesthetics, How&How decided to opt for humour. The result is a brutalist visual language with colourful accents and playful messaging. Biozeroc’s mission has inspired the tagline House of Hard Things – appropriate for a company undertaking the hard mission to reinvent the core components of the world’s hardest materials. The company is also ‘spreading hard truths’ by sharing unspoken dirty secrets about the cement industry.

The use of subversion in sustainability messaging is proliferating. This creative strategy can draw attention to topics that the wider public is tired of hearing about, or doesn’t care for much, to initiate a climate conversation.

Photography by Amina Filkins

6. AI to revolutionise IVF treatment and offer hope for infertility

UK – The landscape of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is undergoing a remarkable transformation driven by the power of artificial intelligence (AI). With one in six people experiencing infertility, AI's potential to improve IVF outcomes could help swathes of patients. The technology can analyse vast datasets and provide personalised recommendations for lifestyle adjustments and medication, optimising each patient's chances of success. AI could also boost early and precise diagnoses of infertility.

In London's Centre for Reproductive & Genetic Health, AI is already playing a vital role in selecting the most viable embryos for transfer. Through an AI tool called CHLOE, embryologists can assess embryo viability more efficiently, potentially enhancing IVF success rates.

Automating specific tasks within the process could allow healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients throughout their IVF journey and foster more human interaction. As explored in our AI Optimism Market report, the planet could also benefit from the technology as personalised AI-powered treatment plans may reduce medication waste – contributing to a more eco-friendly and cost-effective approach to IVF treatment.

7. Webinar : 3 Critical Strategies for Supercharging Growth in China

Join us on 30 August for a detailed look at three key strategies crucial for accelerating business growth and innovation in the Chinese market

With 2023’s return to consumer confidence in China, the market offers greater commercial opportunity than ever before – yet the route to success is unclear for most.

Using the combined powers of The Future Laboratory and our China specialist sister agency, Hot Pot China, we will present some of our latest findings and research, and invite a panel of leading industry professionals to delve deeper into what this means for businesses in the Chinese market in the years to come.

The session will take place on 30 August from 3:30pm to 4:15pm AEST.

Register for the webinar.

Hot Pot China 2023

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