20 : 08 : 21 : Weekly Debrief

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Need To Know

This week: A provocative hand sanitiser, a debating app that connects polarised youth, Nike champions staff as brand ambassadors, RARIO digitises cricket fandom through NFTs and P&G’s Gen Z haircare brand.

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20 August 2021

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: Nou Haircare, US


Touchland, US

1. Touchland positions hand sanitiser as provocative

Responding to the desire for physical touch in the inter-Covid period, hand sanitiser brand Touchland is taking a subversive approach to marketing its latest product line. Its video campaign, titled Touch like in the before, shows an underground party scene with groups of people in intimate settings after applying Touchland hand sanitiser.

In this way, the brand recognises a growing sense of fatigue among consumers in relation to pandemic-induced restrictions and ongoing health anxiety. This alternative approach to communication reflects a shift in mindsets and a yearning for physical touch. ‘We want to enable people to live passionately, curiously and fearlessly, but not recklessly,’ explains Andrea Lisbona, founder and CEO of Touchland.

Such visual narratives echo the ideas we explore in Unrefined Intimacy, with brands embracing sex and pleasure as part of a new era of raw and confrontational advertising. Meanwhile, in Synchronised Care, we identify the importance of Pleasure Health as a key tenet to achieving holistic wellbeing.

Polemix, US

2. Debating app Polemix connects polarised youth

Recognising the importance of exposure to contrasting opinions among young people, debating app Polemix provides an alternative to algorithm-led social media platforms. Its video format, inspired by TikTok, includes two large buttons: ‘Respect But Disagree’ and ‘Convinced By You’. The debated point in question sits at the top of each stream, and is set by the platform’s 'Leaders' – a group of 40 young people involved in the app’s creation.

As a product, Polemix intentionally goes against the grain of most social networks to promote free discourse and opposing points of view among young people. Ian Sielecki, founder and CEO of Polemix, says the idea ‘was to create, inspired from the magic of debating, a conceptual landscape in which people would hear [and] listen to the outside by design.’

With Generation Z increasingly driven by opportunities to reform outdated societal systems, apps like Polemix provide an experimental outlet for varied discourse. And as young people seek to build resilience, such platforms act as counter-movements to familiar online echo chambers.

Ask our Store Athletes, Nike

3. Nike champions store staff as brand ambassadors

London – The activewear giant is shifting the spotlight towards its shopfloor staff in a bid to stimulate footfall across its bricks-and-mortar retail spaces. Through its Ask Our Athletes campaign, Nike focuses on the talent and expertise of seven Nike employees from across the brand’s London branches. Shown through a series of short films, each staff member showcases the ways they bring their athletic experiences into their work.

Here, Nike is promoting its workforce's expertise to inspire physical shopping after a period of digital-only transactions. ‘Nike stores aren’t staffed by your average retail worker, they’re staffed by athletes – people who love sport and love the brand, and have extensive knowledge of both,’ says Matt Lever, chief creative officer from BMB, the agency behind the campaign. ‘We wanted to showcase how their passion influences and informs the experience for every customer.’

At a time when the future of bricks-and-mortar retail remains uncertain, the decision to highlight employee expertise is likely to encourage more customers to re-embrace in-person shopping. For more, we examine why retail staff are the new influencers, in particular for fashion, food and luxury brands.

4. RARIO digitises cricket fandom through NFTs

Singapore, India & Global – While cricket fandom primarily exists in offline spaces or via, technology company RARIO is launching a non-fungible token (NFT) platform to digitise fan experiences of the sport.

The platform, which is currently in beta, enables ownership of popular cricket moments in the form of images, video or audio. RARIO is also set to launch a marketplace for trading NFTs, followed by an interactive fan club for engaging with other users.

In this way, RARIO captitalises on the medium of NFTs to elevate the experience of fandom for the cricket community. ‘We are living in a mobile-first world and all our interactions are primarily digital... but fandom is still predominantly offline,’ explains Ankit Wadhwa, founder and CEO of Rario. ‘Rario aims to change all that. We are here to make the digital collectible revolution accessible to every fan.’

While we’ve been tracking the rise of decentralised digital capital through Alternet Economies, RARIO provides an example of how content ownership can also bolster the appeal of Digital Fandom.

Rario, India
Nou Haircare, US

5. Gen Z employees co-create P&G’s textured haircare brand

US – Consumer goods company P&G is working with supermarket chain Walmart to co-incubate a youth-focused haircare brand called NOU (Next of Us). Catering for textured hair, the brand addresses the needs of 3A-4C hair types. Curl patterns on the packaging enable shoppers to easily identify which products suit their hair porosity, while QR codes on the back of bottles provide information around hair types.

P&G and Walmart internally recruited 30 Generation Z employees to create NOU and to ensure that the brand accurately responds to the needs and interests of its target audience. ‘They [young consumers] are rejecting what we could say are the norms of beauty; they want to be very expressive,’ comments Lela Coffey, vice president of haircare and multicultural brands at P&G. ‘[And they are using] hair as a form of self-expression to be as fluid and as constantly changing.’

This product line therefore responds to a gap in the market for accessible, inclusive haircare. As more beauty brands wise up to the preferences of Gen Z consumers, NOU demonstrates how youth-focused products must also respond to the requirements of diverse audiences.


To future-proof your world, visit The Future Laboratory's forecasting platform LS:N Global for daily news, opinions, trends, sector specific insights, and strategic toolkits.


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