The influence of APAC markets infuses the 226 pages of Wunderman Thompson's just-released 2020 edition of the Future 100 report—long one of the more robust and interesting agency efforts to divine and digest cultural trends for the benefit of brands. While many of the trends cited cannot be classified as new or earthshaking, the report still represents a valiant effort to help brands navigate cultural currents.
Here's six entries that caught our eye in the new report because they spotlight trends arising in or important to APAC markets.
7 - Untabooing in the East
Attitudes to mental health, sexual health and gender are catching up with the region’s rapid economic development, helped along by technology.... Asian survey data and anecdotal evidence show a shift in openness about traditional taboos and gender straitjackets.
The report cites:
- A Thailand, mental-health tech startup called Ooca, which offers video sessions with therapists through a website and a smartphone app.
- A China platform called Yummy where women are free to discuss sexual matters and health issues such as breast cancer prevention, which reportedly has more than 2 million users.
- Japan's #KuToo movement against gender inequality, founded by freelance writer and actor Yumi Ishikawa after she was forced to wear high heels for her job at a funeral parlor. (See "#KuToo instigator sees brands helping to advance the cause".)
- Pantene's campaigns encouraging women and employers to move beyond strict hairstyle conformity in the workplace. (See "It's OK to be yourself, Pantene tells Japan's student jobseekers" and "Pantene touts success of Japan hair-freedom movement".)
28 - Elevated airports
Long lines, bad food and grim terminals are horrors of the past when it comes to new airports. Cities are opening up mega airport spaces which deliver seamless, interactive and even enchanting experiences.... By providing new experiences like these, where visitors can be inspired or entertained, airports are going beyond merely facilitating travel. In expanding their offerings, they are attracting new audiences and becoming unique cultural destinations in their own right.
The report cites:
- Of course, Singapore's Jewel Changi, with its 40-meter indoor waterfall and more than 2,000 trees and 100,000 shrubs.
- Beijing’s new starfish-shaped Beijing Daxing International, which will handle 72 million passengers by 2025 and was designed by the late Zaha Hadid.
- Saanen Airport in Gstaad, Switzerland, which houses a permanent art gallery called Tarmak 22.
40 - Asia's generation Z
Gen Zers in Asia are working towards a future they see as largely positive.... Overall, they are more socially progressive.... Gen Zers are entering adulthood saddled with huge challenges, including climate change, political upheaval and shifting gender and sexual identities—with a modern set of values to match. That means everyone’s an activist in some way.
The report cites these stats:
- Seven out of 10 overall think being LGBTQ isn’t a big deal anymore, although young Indonesians are most likely to think it still is.
- They think race matters less than it used to and seven out of 10 are willing to date outside their race.
- Gen Zers in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam are most likely to pick family members as personal heroes, mostly followed by teachers. Those in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are most likely to pick celebrities as personal heroes; and young people in China also hold scientists, entrepreneurs and politicians in higher esteem.
- Gen Zers move easily between online and offline worlds, with 76% saying they are as comfortable shopping online as offline, although 62% say they still like buying in a physical store.
64 - Subscription goes east
A new generation is embracing subscriptions, even for big-ticket items, to achieve convenience and affordability. This new iteration of subscriptions differs from previous models in that it’s flexible enough to allow consumers all the variety they seek.
The report cites:
- Toyota's car subscription service, called Kinto, which launched in February 2019. The basic plan lets consumers “own” a Toyota for three years and then return it, for a single price that includes insurance and maintenance. The Kinto Select plan, aimed at younger drivers looking for variety, lets subscribers “own” and “try” six Lexus cars over three years.
- A subscription service called Kirudake, which offers "fuss-free working wardrobes" with plans starting at 4,800 yen (about US$40 a month).
- ADDress, which offers subscription-based access to rural homes left vacant when older people die. Users sign a one-year contract and pay a fixed monthly rate of 40,000 yen ($360) to live in any listed property. The homes come with a local “guardian” who provides local guidance and keeps common areas in the homes clean. All Nippon Airways has announced a collaboration where it offers low airfares to ADDress members.
70 - The super-convenient superstore
Chinese grocery giants are diversifying, developing a hybrid retail model to appeal
The report cites:
- Hema Fresh, a supermarket run by Alibaba, which targets "smartphone-savvy young shoppers with a gamechanging blend of digital commerce and bricks and mortar". It has 160 stores across 21 cities and is developing new sub-brands tailored to specific consumer groups in different regions. The original high-tech Hema is for millennials in first-tier cities. Hema Mini, launched in July 2019, sells unpackaged fresh produce "in a format catering to older, price-sensitive, suburban shoppers". Hema F2 stores focus on ready-to-eat deli items and snacks in business districts. Hema Markets, positioned near large residential communities, offer daily staples. And Hema Station is a delivery-only service in areas that lack a retail Hema store.
- Electronics retailer Suning, which acquired 80% of supermarket chain Carrefour China and announced plans to transform the stores into online-to-offline supermarkets, with electronics shops in 200 of them.
- Café chains Luckin and HeyTea, which offer several online-to-offline formats tailored to different lifestyles, from pick-up only locations to upscale bars.
- Tencent-backed Yonghui Superstores and its Super Species brand, a high-end offering with cook-to-order service; the Guangzhou Super Species even offers fresh food delivery by drone.
77 - Biodata services
Advances in speedy, sophisticated DNA analysis are paving the way for lifestyle experiences that elevate the hyper-personalized offerings already saturating the luxury space.
The report cites:
- Sushi Singularity, a Tokyo restaurant set to open this year, which will collect bio samples from guests to create bespoke, 3D-printed sushi supposedly tailored to diners’ particular nutritional needs. London's Yo! Sushi offers a similar experience through a partnership with at-home genetic testing company DNAFit.
- Gene Partner, in Tokyo, which analyzes human leucocyte antigen (HLA) genes based on a hypothesis that a big difference between two people’s HLA makeup means they're more likely they’ll find each other attractive.
- Singapore's GeneMate, launched in June 2019, which claims it can make better matches using biodata and its own algorithm
- Airbnb's partnership with 23andMe to help users tailor activities around their ancestral heritage.