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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: L’Oréal Professionnel expands its metaverse presence, meet the AI believers, the coolest brands for Gen Alpha in 2023Dining Deluxe, the future of responsible AI, and Dolce & Gabbana collaborates with Sky.

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25 August 2023

Author: The Future Laboratory

Image: AI imagery by The Future Laboratory


Odyssea by L'Oréal Professionnel, Global

1. L’Oréal Professionnel expands its metaverse presence with new hair collection

Global – Professional haircare brand L’Oréal Professionnel has unveiled its latest move into the metaverse with the launch of its new range, Odyssea: Creatures of the Sea. Teaming up with its agency Ok C’est Cool, the brand presents five avant-garde looks inspired by the underwater world. Following previous metaverse initiatives, this collection pushes the boundaries of hairstyling possibilities and self-expression.

In a collaboration with hair designer Charlie Le Mindu and 3D artist Evan Rochette, L’Oréal Professionnel aims to transcend the limitations of reality and foster creativity within the metaverse. The collection is accessible on platforms such as Ready Player Me, Roblox and Zepeto, providing users with immersive and imaginative ways to assert their online identities.

The launch is designed to pioneer the integration of hair inclusivity in the virtual world, aligning with our Affirmative Avatars Market, which reveals how socially conscious netizens are seeking digital fashion that reflects their values.

Left: AI Concept by Angelo Formato, Naples, Italy. Right: AI Astrology Machine by Co-Star, New York, US

2. Micro Trend : AI Believers

Shaped by the pandemic, escalating living costs and the urgent environmental crisis, today’s youth are confronting a continuous state of permacrisis. Amid these challenges, more young adults are seeking spiritual and religious grounding. A study from the Springtide Research Insitute highlights this shift, with one-third of 18–25-year-olds professing belief in a higher power, up from the one-quarter who embraced this belief in 2021.

Raised in a digital epoch, they are finding solace in the virtual realm instead of traditional sanctuaries. Their spiritual quests and existential ruminations are now mediated through algorithms, and as challenges intensify, the tendency to rely on code rather than human expertise is becoming evident, hinting that this might also apply to existential queries. 

Yet a divide exists. Even though more than one-third of Gen Z are religiously unaffiliated (source: American National Family Life Survey), churches are rebranding and new spirituality apps are emerging, many are integrating AI into their offerings. As this shift intensifies, the digital manifestations of spirituality bridge both tradition and contemporary needs.

Read more.

‘By harnessing the potential of AI and working hand in hand, we can develop solutions rooted in compassion and empathy’

3. Stat : Beano Brain reveals Coolest Brands list for Gen Alpha in 2023

UK, US – Beano Brain, a kids insights consultancy from Beano Studios, has compiled a 2023 Coolest Brands list for Gen Alpha based on observations and panels. With over 120,000 responses from children aged 7–14, the list showcases brands that resonate with Gen Alpha’s sophisticated preferences and pragmatic adoption.

YouTube, Netflix and McDonald’s continue to lead as last year, with Netflix edging YouTube for the top spot this year. Nike made a significant jump from eighth to fourth place in the top 10. Brands equally appealing to both gender, like Nike, are unsurprisingly favoured. Similarly, Nintendo’s successful attraction of girl gamers through pastel colour options and games like Animal Crossing and Super Mario Bros puts it in sixth place out of the UK’s top 25. Within gaming, the research also finds that 61% of UK girls think Roblox is cool, versus 54% of boys, showing the growth of the girls’ gaming market.

Overall, 29% of the coolest brands were food and drink, 26% retail and 23% gaming, tech and social, highlighting the brands that are successfully aligning themselves with Gen Alpha values, something we look at in The Zalpha Reckoning.

The Grill by Tom Booton at The Dorchester, London, UK

4. Big Ideas : Dining Deluxe

London’s The Dorchester hotel has unveiled its latest restaurant and bar rebranding with The Grill by Tom Booton, which joins a range of new and refreshed luxury dining concepts.

‘It’s unusual for an existing hotel to do the whole shebang,’ says Construct’s founder Georgia Fendley of The Dorchester’s multiple new restaurant and bar developments, sitting alongside its existing branded dining offers including Alain Ducasse and China Tang. ‘It shows how they are looking at the experience beyond the bedroom and the hotel itself.’

It’s a strategy that marks a new direction in the world of luxury hospitality. Guests, when they stay three to seven nights, want multiple dining experiences. Diversity has never been more important,’ she says – and The Dorchester’s new outlets certainly lead in defining a new era of luxury food and beverage hospitality.

Fendley is keen to stress how Construct’s same reframing future heritage approach to The Dorchester’s recent rebranding has been applied to its new food and beverage destinations, each individually looking forward as much as they draw on the location’s rich past, by focusing primarily on experience. ‘It’s about understanding today’s guests and not getting trapped in the past,’ adds Fendley.

Read more.

5. Are we getting it all wrong when it comes to hybrid working?

Global – While the majority of employees believe the future of work is a hybrid one, most CEOs believe it’s a matter of getting back into the office. But we’re all getting it wrong, according to The Future Laboratory co-founder Chris Sanderson. ‘We focus on presenteeism when we should be focused on presence,’ he explains. Watch Chris’s brief overview of our Work States Futures macrotrend, which explores the value of purpose over productivity and looks at the ‘when’ and ‘how’ of work rather than the ‘where’. We view these as work ‘state’ issues rather than work ‘place’ issues.
Post 2023 by Sander Coers, The Netherlands

6. Opinion : The future of responsible AI

The use cases of AI are continually evolving. We have seen a recent explosion in large language model (LLM) capabilities that have barely scratched the surface. But alongside an exploration of how AI can help us in our daily lives, significant investments are being made across new areas, such as AI for military capabilities. The future of responsible AI, however, cannot exist without humans.

The time spent thinking we may become obsolete provides the perfect opportunity for humans to realise how vital we are to the future; to exercise all the things that make us human such as reflexivity and reflectivity, critical thinking and emotional cognition. We must understand that the harms and biases proliferated by AI are a mirror of the existing fractures that exist already.

AI is a tool and if extra efforts are not taken to amend the existing biases which it may have picked up through design, training data or lack of robustness, it could result in harm at unprecedented speeds.

In The Netherlands, for example, 1.4m people were wrongfully flagged as fraudulent by an AI-powered risk profile system due to bias, which resulted in tens of thousands of people being pushed into poverty and thousands of children mistakenly taken into foster care.

The question then becomes not whether AI is going to replace us but what role we as humans play in ensuring that AI does not promote harm or have irreversible effects on humanity.

Read more.

Dolce & Gabbana and Sky Glass Smart TV

7. Dolce & Gabbana collaborates with Sky on artistic smart tv

Global – Italian luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana has joined forces with British media conglomerate Sky Group to introduce a unique twist to an existing smart tv model. Unveiled during Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda fashion week, the limited-edition 65-inch Sky Glass Carretto Siciliano showcases the brand’s iconic print, hand-painted by a Palermo-based artisan. The design draws inspiration from western Sicily’s traditional geometric patterns and extends across the television’s bezels and back end.

The collaboration enhances the Sky Glass model, which already offers integrated content, major free-to-air channels and streaming apps. Replacing the Sky insignia is a carefully crafted Dolce & Gabbana icon.

The release marks the fashion house’s continued move into the world of home products, following its recent partnership with Italian appliance company Smeg for a Blu Mediterraneo-themed appliance collection. This project offers insight into how fashion brands are stepping into our homes and the next iteration of creatively branded homeware we can expect to see more of.

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

Join us for our upcoming webinar on 30 August, as we take a detailed look at the key strategies 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 for years to come.
Hot Pot China 2023

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