Weekly Roundup: August 3rd

Observations August 6, 2014 6:09 pm


Travel Advisory: Plan For Local and Connected Experiences

  • Business Travel Disruption: Both Airbnb and Uber announced partnerships with Concur this week, making it easier for business travelers to participate in the sharing economy. Not only do these announcements signal a disruption in the travel industry, they shift the perception of the sharing economy participants from broke millennials to a more mainstream audience. Or, as the NY Times puts it, “The ‘Sharing Economy’ Goes White Collar.” Also worth a read: eMarketer’s latest report on Airbnb’s impact on business travel and Marriott’s CEO admitting that Airbnb does local better than any hotel.
  • Connected Travel: Hilton Hotels announced an ambitious plan to have travelers’ mobile phones at the hub of the experience: as soon as 2016, travelers will be able to use their phones to preselect specific rooms, request amenities, and check-in/out of hotels, negating the need to stop at the front desk for a room key. The new digital experience solves several pain points during travel and points to the future of more personalized and convenient travel.
  • Summer Travel Trends:  Another interpretation of the desire for local experiences: Google explores the rise of staycations.

Materials of the Future: Desert Shrubs, Kevlar, and Corn

  • High-Tech Garments: With clothing sales stalling over the past few years, many brands are differentiating themselves in the market by offering products with innovative, high-tech materials. This strategy is most evident in the fitness apparel industry, with retailers like Lululemon, Reebok, and Duluth Trading Company staying competitive with “fancy fabrics.” Don’t care about your workout clothes? Check out Ministry of Supply, a startup using materials found in NASA spacesuits to make sweat-proof business shirts.
  • A Sustainable Future: Earlier this year, Pharrell Williams won the inaugural product design Grand Prix at Cannes for his “Raw from the Ocean” fashion line, denim made from plastic bottles. Nike is testing a waterless dyeing process, and this week, the NY Times profiles Patagonia for ditching neoprene in wetsuits in favor of natural rubber made from plants.
  • iOT Athletes:  The NFL introduces RFID-enabled jerseys, enabling real-time player tracking.

Retail Trends: Customization and Mass Personalization

  • 3D Printing enables customization: Amazon introduced a “Creative Expressions” storefront for 3D printing this week, enabling shoppers to customize everything from cuff links to bobbleheads. While the majority of the inventory could still be considered a tchotchke, the fact that Amazon (aka the everything store) introduced the section points to the future of mass customization. It’s not too far-fetched to think that one day soon Amazon will suggest 3D printed insoles when you purchase a new pair of running shoes.
  • A Personal Shopper for everyone: Nordstrom announced the acquisition of Trunk Club, a men’s subscription service that matches shoppers with personal stylists. Trunk Club eliminates the need for busy men to physically go to a store to try on clothing, and with the acquisition, the new way to shop is poised to grow to a much wider audience thanks to Nordstrom’s inventory as well as its established infrastructure. Not a man? Zappos has launched a photo-based digital shopping assistant for everyone. Shoppers upload an image with products they’d like to track down, and the Ask Zappos team helps them find the exact match or similar items. No more hunting through endless inventory to find the perfect pair of shoes!

Big Data Is Overrated: OkCupid’s Dating Experiment

  • Facebook Isn’t the only one manipulating us: OkCupid admits to experimenting on it’s users and playing “matchmaker” with misleading data. In a blog post, co-founder Christian Rudder questions the power of OkCupid’s algorithm, which Slate’s David Auerbach picks up in the piece, “Big Data is Overrated.

Thought-Provoking Reads of the Week

  • Our Pinterest boards are filled with gallery walls and American sitcoms feature heavily stylized apartments, but the average American room is beige.
  • Facebook is a minefield of birthday wishes from “friends” you haven’t seen in years; what happens when every connected device starts to wish you happy birthday?

*originally published on R/GA FutureVision

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