Sharing a few of the more progressive ideas that we’re bookmarking as we do our research at PSFK and the patterns they seem to be fitting within.
The recent story of the reluctant Russian contestant who found himself ‘trapped’ on a Chinese singing competition show feels like the perfect metaphor for the past year. Try as he might to get himself voted off, his lackluster performances and attitude only further endeared him to his newfound fans. Perhaps they were trying to say, “we’re all feeling stuck right now, might as well enjoy the experience for what it is.” I, for one, can relate. As things begin to open back up, I find myself already feeling nostalgic for the extended pause as it fades into the past, while simultaneously optimistic about the future. Let’s hope we can take some of the painful lessons learned during the pandemic and do something good with them.
Pay For The Future You Want to See
The past year-plus has shown us that consumers, particularly those in the Millennial and Gen Z cohort, are laser-focused on brand participation (or lack thereof) in the broader culture with a heavy lean towards all things positive, progressive and purposeful. For their part, companies can no longer quietly ride the fence at the risk of being locked out or left behind. While the impact of an action doesn’t always equate to the number of dollars spent, it certainly doesn’t hurt, especially when that money buys immediate and meaningful results.
If canned water brand Liquid Death could effectively murder climate change, they’d already have hired Oliver Stone to film the true-crime biopic. Absent that level of extremity, the company has focused its ire on the single-use plastic bottle favored by the beverage industrial complex. As part of its subversive, “Loving Homes For Plastic” initiative, Liquid Death is offering 10-packs of pre-paid postage stickers with online purchases, allowing customers to stick it to the man, in this case, Pepsi and Coca-Cola, by mailing back their empty plastic bottles and keeping them out of landfills. No word on the carbon footprint associated with all that USPS labor.
Dove, a longtime champion of diversity and inclusion with its ongoing initiatives in support of “Real Beauty,” has upped the ante with its latest project. In response to finding that 70% of women still do not feel represented in media and advertising, the personal care brand has launched “It’s On Us,” which promises to subsidize the hiring of diverse talents in other brands’ marketing campaigns. To further support the effort, Dove has also recorded and distributed casting call videos for its featured models and actresses.
Global agency Iris has set the ambitious goal of making its network of 15 offices net-zero by 2025. An internal audit uncovered that 55% of its total emissions came from international travel, which virtually disappeared during the pandemic. To maintain that momentum as the world opens back up and encourage its clients to double down on remote meetings and collaboration, the agency has introduced the “Carbon Kickback” program as part of its broader sustainability charter. Under this specific initiative, Iris will reinvest any time saved from not traveling, directly back into their client’s business in the form of free consultancy sessions with sustainability specialists in their ‘Future Strategy’ team. Starbucks is the first client to sign on to the effort.
Cashing In On The Creator Economy
Without downplaying the truly catastrophic toll of the pandemic, for many, quarantining at home finally gave them the time and space they needed to take stock of their lives and make some positive changes. Whether out of necessity, boredom or spark of inspiration, one happy outcome has been a wave of new businesses and creative projects that have entered the marketplace. Beyond the human ingenuity required to breathe life into these projects, we’re seeing the promise of digital-first platforms and some of their democratizing effects make a significant mark on the economy. And while there is still much wealth disparity and other social injustices still to overcome, it’s important to celebrate these achievements.
The idea of being seen as just an influencer is so passe these days, as social media stars strive to replace the shilling of other companies’ products with those of their own design. Saying you’re your own brand and actually manifesting it with something to sell other than influence are two wildly different things. Enter Pietra, a one-stop platform that aims to provide everything outside of creativity and community to enable anyone to begin producing and selling their passions. Newly out of beta, its suite of solutions includes sourcing, warehousing, fulfillment, and e-commerce tools that users pay for a la carte as they build their businesses and product lines.
We’ve seemingly entered a new era of social media where the currency of likes, comments and follows has been replaced by cold, hard cash or at least its digital analog. While the Patreons and Twitchs of the world have been hip to this game for a while, the established players and upstarts alike have suddenly joined the fray with new offerings that promise to get top creators and influencers paid by their fans. In a marketplace where user counts and time spent on site are directly tied to a platform’s ability to sell advertising, features that attract or maintain popular talent are critical to ongoing success. What isn’t clear, is whether users who are accustomed to free will be willing to pony up in a meaningful way.
The idea of proximity-based retail has really been exciting us these days. Consider it the “on-the-go” equivalent of the candy display at checkout that taps into a latent impulse or need, except in this case, it’s tied to nearby recommendations based on an understanding of anywhere location paired with seamless commerce tools. With the launch of Mastercard’s “Roadside Market” campaign, independent produce vendors in Romania who aren’t legally allowed to sell in markets will now benefit from visibility on the Waze navigation platform with the added capability of accepting non-cash payments. This initiative envisions a potential future where retail can happen on people’s front stoops, inside a park or anywhere else you can drop a pin.
What We’ve Been Working On At PSFK
That’s almost a wrap for this edition but if you find you need a framework to help you consider all the ideas that hit your in-box each day, check out the latest round of reports we’ve been adding to the PSFK Research Library (350+ reports). By subscribing to the PSFK Weekly Debrief, our weekly, analysis email at $650 a year, you can receive one of these below for free:
Grab this FREE report… Reinvigorating Brand Loyalty Through Trust, Purpose and Values
In this report created in partnership with our friends from Toluna, learn how new consumer expectations are driving brands to pursue a purpose-led agenda and increasingly adopt a people before profit mindset. Explore the trends defining progressive innovation and discover how successful brands are taking part.
Finally, Join Join Us At Our Next Retail Innovation Week Event
On June 3rd, we will be hosting our next event all about the Omnichannel Journey of the Future. You can register and get your ticket for FREE!
During this event, we will be hearing from Solution Providers powering the omnichannel journey and execs at brands/retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Intermix, Wawa, Waze, Spotify and more. The narrative will follow a consumer journey:
- Pre-Trip Prep — We’ll look at the ways shoppers are setting up their store visit in advance, and how retail experience can begin in-journey.
- Store Arrival & Navigation — The event will share their advice on the new ways to both welcome shoppers with personalized promotions and intuitive wayfinding.
- Contextual Assistance — Experts will showcase the latest technology that connects IRL shoppers with virtual associates, plus systems that provide in-store associates with a wealth of knowledge about the shoppers they interact with.
- Merchandising & Product Trial — Speakers will explain the latest strategies to augment the ways products are displayed and tried on or tested.
- Check-Out & Pick-Up — The talks at the event will reveal the drivers behind consumer adoption of new ways to pick-up and go.
— Scott Lachut
President of Research and Strategy, PSFK