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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: Audio to Watch, Estée Lauder teams up with Manchester United, a NASA+ streaming service, Decolonising Data Privacy, Modem develops memories locked in a timepiece, and AI-powered image search engine for designers.

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11 August 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: AI imagery by The Future Laboratory, UK


Bang & Olufsen

1. Micro Trends : Audio to Watch

According to the Engaging with Music 2022 report by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), music is hitting the right note. People are listening to more music than ever for an average of 20.1 hours per week. This marks an increase from 18.4 hours in 2021, equivalent to the addition of 34 extra three-minute songs each week. Based on responses from over 44,000 individuals in 22 countries, the report also highlights that more than three-quarters of the respondents enjoy music through various formats, such as video and audio streaming, radio, television, film and gaming. On the sound market, podcasts and audiobooks have also struck a chord with consumers seeking various audio narratives and experiences. But listeners are now asking for more.

Podcast hosts are witnessing a surge in their fanbase via video platforms, as 57.8% of listeners opt for YouTube as their preferred podcast listening app (source: Voices). The once audio-only format has evolved toward a hybrid model of distribution that often prioritises video (YouTube, live paid events) and promotion via snippets shared on short-form video platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. In 2022, 46% of podcast listeners said they prefer consuming them with video, compared with 42% who said they would rather listen without video (source: Morning Consult). The same study states the preference for video podcasts is much higher among Gen Z and Millennial listeners.

This need to embody and give substance to voices also applies to music. TikTok disrupted the music industry thanks to its robust algorithm and normalising the dissociation of songs from artists, tying them to a versatile visual identity. A few words from Carly Rae Jepsen's The Loneliest Time can become a source of random comedy content. Forgotten songs like Lady Gaga's 2011 Bloody Mary can be sped up and turned into a soundtrack for a Wednesday Adams make-up transition. An album launch now has to include an attempt to start a viral challenge with the artist asking (sometimes against their will) their audience to use the sound when recording their own videos.

Spotify announced a new interface design that blends audio and video to encourage discovery in March 2023. According to a report conducted by Spotify and Neuro-Insight Sonic Science in 2022, Spotify content already drives 38% more visual attention than an all-media benchmark. The same report stated that Spotify ads generate 27% more visual attention. Investing more in the visual user experience (UX) was self-evident. The new home screen now focuses on imagery and vertical scrolling, transforming the UX into a feed akin to TikTok, Instagram and YouTube – simplifying music, podcast, audiobook and video exploration. More innovators are now diving into this space, hoping to attract and retain the right eyes and ears in the oversaturated market for attention.

Read the full article.

‘It’s so important to have the assets for Instagram and TikTok, and even Twitter. It performs better if there's a visual element. You can do an audiogram with waveforms, but that doesn't perform as well as when there's human faces’

2. Estée Lauder teams up with Manchester United to tap into Asia's male beauty market

China – Beauty and skincare behemoth Estée Lauder announced an exclusive partnership with Manchester United in July 2023 to tap into the club's fanbase in China and the wider Asia Pacific region. With Manchester United boasting a staggering 250m fans in China alone, the collaboration comes as an intriguing strategy for Estée Lauder, considering its forte lies in the beauty realm.

Erica Kwok, senior vice president of integrated marketing at Estée Lauder, explained that male consumers, who are often passionate about sports, are a big target market for the brand. This alignment with China's football frenzy holds the potential to not only address Estée Lauder's current challenges but also carve out a substantial market share in the long term. Feigua data shows that in the first half of 2023, the GMV of men’s makeup on popular Chinese social media app Douyin surged by 364.6% year-on-year.

The focus of this pioneering partnership will be on Estée Lauder's iconic night serum, encapsulated in the signature little brown bottle. The announcement, featuring Manchester United stars including Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw, will emphasise the shared values between skincare, sports and competition.

'As one of the most followed sports teams in the world, we understand the importance of educating fans on a healthy lifestyle, and skincare is an integral part of that process,' said Manchester United’s CEO of alliances and partnerships, Victoria Timpson. 'In the same way our athletes prepare the night before a match with regular training rituals, healthy skin also requires a consistent and effective regimen.'

Our Men's Beauty Market report previously explored how a new kind of male beauty consumer, from China and Korea to Europe and the US, disagrees with traditional masculine ideals and is driving demand for grooming and skincare products, as well as gender-fluid makeup.

Photography by Sunny Ng, China
NASA+, Global

3. Nasa enters streaming space with NASA+

US – NASA has stepped into the entertainment arena with the announcement of its new on-demand streaming service NASA+. The service will provide live coverage of upcoming launches, documentaries and series programming. Although currently in development, NASA+ will be accessible through the NASA app on iOS and Android, and via streaming media players including Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku and the web. Despite the name, the streaming service will remain ad-free and open to all users without the need for a subscription.

Jeff Seaton, chief information officer at NASA’s headquarters, stated, ‘Our vision is to inspire humanity through a unified, world-class NASA web experience.’ The launch accompanies a redesign of NASA’s flagship and science websites, as well as an enhancement to the NASA app, aimed at making content more accessible.

The platform will also introduce new original video series alongside NASA’s existing collection. In our Extraterrestrial Innovations Market, we looked at how brands are recognising the potential of space to be used as a testbed for innovation. NASA+ can prove to be an important platform in this market as it is already an established and trusted voice of authority for all things extra-terrestrial.

Blue Man in a Red Space by Isaac Udogwu, US

4. Big Ideas : Decolonising Data Privacy

In the digital age, data has become the modern equivalent of gold. But in the race to collect, own and analyse data, organisations are face growing distrust and fear. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal shook public faith in how personal data was handled back in 2018, when data from 87m people was used without their consent to inform political campaigns. This event shed light on how corporations, even the most high-profile ones, can fail to protect the users who trusted them enough to give away their data. Massive data breaches from companies including LinkedIn (in 2021) and Alibaba (in 2019), impacting millions to billions of users’ personal information, have left many questioning who they can trust with their data.In 2023, those who are either somewhat or very concerned about their privacy online represent 68% of people worldwide – signalling a shift in how they think about their personal digital information (source: International Association of Privacy Professionals).

From the most digitally savvy consumers to those who have only recently realised how logging in on an app means giving away data, the importance of data privacy and its risks are now mainstream concerns for all.

'We're moving in this era of trust, and privacy is just one slice of that,' Jodi Daniels, founder and CEO of Red Clover Advisors, an Atlanta-based agency aiming to simplify the complexity of data privacy, tells LS:N Global. 'People are trying to trust companies, and those need to prove they can be trusted by being good stewards of user data.'

Modem, UK

5. Modem developed code-enhanced timepieces to store and pass on memories

China – In our digital epoch, reliance on cloud systems to store data is ever-growing. Modem’s Heirloom Hardware presents a tangible IRL alternative to preserve and pass down memories locked in a timepiece.

Cloud platforms brought us cost-effective and convenient data storage, to the point that many users turn into ‘data hoarders’ archiving pictures, emails and screenshots beyond measure. Modem lifted the idea that behind this convenience lies a paradox – while our lives are more documented than our ancestors', whether the data will outlive us is not certain.

As a response, Modem teamed up with industrial designers HB-AS to develop Heirloom Hardware. This range of IRL storage devices secures each user’s personal memories in the form of photos, videos and documents they can pass on to future generations. Heirloom Hardware offers a tangible alternative to transient cloud services, coding in the data in objects such as a pendant or canister.

In our Paralysis Paradox macrotrend, we have highlighted that businesses will begin safeguarding futures, ensuring that legacies can be rediscovered, re-learned and re-explored. We expect initiatives to preserve legacy, such as Modem’s Heirloom Hardware, to multiply in the upcoming years.

Trimble SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse, Global

6. SketchUp debuts an AI-powered image search engine for designers

Global – Trimble SketchUp is introducing an improved version of 3D Warehouse, an extensive free 3D model library, leveraging AI to make visual research easier and faster for designers.

Most image search engines, from Google Images to e-commerce sites, require people to use words to describe what visual they are after. This process ads a language barrier between the ideated image and the available image stock. Trimble SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse Image Search cuts out the middleman, improving accessibility and accuracy thanks to a new AI-powered visual search functionality. Instead of typing keywords, users upload a photo into the search bar. AI then sifts through millions of pre-built models to pin down ideal matches.

‘Image Search removes some of the tedious and time-consuming aspects of conceptual design while also giving clients access to real, purchasable objects that can be easily incorporated into their project,’ explains Sumele Adelana, senior product marketing manager at Trimble SketchUp.

The feature, which enables architects and designers to easily source 3D models and find alternatives for picky clients, makes the case for AI as Augmented Intelligence that speeds up workflows and eases everyday tasks.

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

There's still time to sign up for our upcoming webinar on 30 August, as we take a detailed look at three key strategies crucial for accelerating business growth and innovation in the Chinese market.
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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