Dear Marketers, Your Future Is Definitely Female

It’s all leading up to a question.

A young woman is dining with her boyfriend. She is visibly nervous as he receives a fortune cookie. Its message alluding to some question confuses him. Her anxiety deepens. At last she kneels and presents him with a ring. This is Stress Test #5182, wherein Claire ignores tradition and asks for what she wants: Andy’s hand in marriage. And it’s all brought to you by Secret. 

Other spots in the unabashedly feminist series include the more provocative Stress#8260 showing Dana, a transgender person, entering the main space of the ladies room to find herself embraced and we’re reminded that there’s no wrong way to be a woman. 

Love the spots or not, in many ways Secret is doing what Secret has done since 1972 when it declared itself “strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” To arrive here, with an intersectional view of feminism, is not only true to who they are, it’s a sign of the feminist times. 

Secret is not alone in embracing this moment by showing women beyond traditional standards of beauty and feminine roles. And the more brands that join, the higher the probability of someone getting it all wrong. 

Timing is one thing. Purpose is everything.

Brands have always had the tricky job of connecting to big cultural shifts in a way that won’t backfire. We saw that boomerang effect with green brands only to be met with criticisms of “greenwashing” when it turned out to be marketing only. 

Purpose is the difference between amplifying important issues your brand is tackling versus pandering or exploiting a moment. 

Champions for real.

In terms of whether any move into this realm is right for your brand, a better question might be what do you want out of it? This is a question that is larger than an advertising campaign, and it begs you to thoroughly examine whether your brand is really committed. 

You have to want your brand to have empathy for women, and become their champion. That spirit must infiltrate every piece of your process from product development to messaging. And yes, your business practices. 

Really know your consumer. Know yourselves.

Think of your target consumer. Did you picture her interacting with your brand only? Was she white, middle class, and attractive by standard norms? 

If you answer yes to any of these, then it’s time to evaluate if you really know who’s buying into you. Considering every decision throughout your process will help you uncover where your team, without even realizing it, defines women in a very narrow way — and is perhaps guilty of being further out of touch than you realize.

Beware — some of these behaviors are deeply entrenched. And while there may be a risk in changing your thinking, there is most definitely the cost of doing nothing. 

Your own tipping point

The most important thing to remember, however you move forward — and you must move forward — is don’t shoehorn the message in because more brands are doing it. Be real and true. Back it up with your actions. 

Aim to be a force to not just help women feel whatever you want them to feel on a superficial level, but show them they are amazing today, just being who they are. The power is in our hands to be that force for good to avoid “pinkwashing” as the new “greenwashing.” 

So yes, fellow marketers, now is the perfect time to stop selling to women, and start creating for them. All of them.

by Kristin James Head of Strategy HA New York


Total Retail Design

Given the huge economic uncertainty which is staring us in the face, it’s inevitable that retailers will be feeling the same pressure, anxiety and worry as their consumers. But these extraordinary times of change offer great opportunities that retailers can't ignore. Welcome to Total Retail.

But how can Total retail help retailers survive?

Be Bold to succeed

To truly succeed retailers will need to be flexible, intuitive and brave. They will move with the market and define change, not react to it. This is where Total Retail comes in.

Right now retailers have the possibility to become one the companies leading the way along this bumpy path; acting as a consumers personal comfort blanket. It's an opportunity to build trust and loyalty at a time when this has never been more important.  

The road may not be smooth, but it is currently wide open. So they need to be seen as the companies pushing retail forward into this new territory.

The e-commerce fairytale

There was a time when retailers feared that e­commerce would kill the bricks and mortar retail space, but in recent years this proved unfounded, for consumers the physical shopping experience has remained central, and online is no substitute. Customers want to see, touch and fully engage with products, and this is just as important to consumers now as it has always been.  

Retail's space is here is to stay, but with 4.8bn people worldwide expected to own a smartphone by the end of 2016 (according to Forrester) and 34% of people believing their phone is their primary online purchasing tool – so is online spending. 

It’s important to understand that for consumers these aren't seen as separate entities, but simply as ways of shopping (regardless of whether how retailers run them). So it's crucial for retailers today to take a holistic, Total Retail approach to all platforms, and ignore outdated online/offline divisions.


If used correctly, online retail offers companies a tremendous opportunity to strengthen their physical retail spaces. With web­‐influenced, webrooming purchases (where consumers research products online, but purchase in store) were expected to make up 38% of total retail sales in 2016.  

Retailers are starting to realise that making the most of the consumer's behavior brings an opportunity to deliver a consistent brand message. This involves using a combination of online and offline experience that delivers a point of difference in the market. 

Online retail may have the edge on price because customers can access market information at the touch of a button, but the store environment offers consumers a more emotive experience and most importantly the memory of great customer service.  

Sales people and brand employee’s make the best brand ambassadors to highlight service as an integral part of the overall brand experience.

The Next Level

The next phase of Total Retail for online will see further exploration of personalisation through ‘machine learning’ and AI. 

Houzz has developed ‘Visual Match’ a service that makes it easier for consumers to find and buy the types of products that inspire them from the thousands of photos on their platform. While eBay has added ‘eBay Collective’ to their service, which is an AI interior design service aimed at high-end shoppers. On it, shoppers can upload an image of the room they want to decorate; then the tool will search eBay to find the items that are the closest match to those in the image.  


Instagram has given 20 retail brands the ability to offer shoppers a ‘tap to view’ on images, which then provides shoppers more information about purchasing products. 

Digital spaces

But physical retail spaces aren't being left behind, as the opportunity here is just as great. Recent retail spaces delivered by two of the biggest online powerhouses is testament to the Total Retail approach.

At Christmas, eBay launched a pop-up store in London that delivered a new kind of shopping experience that eBay customers can't get online. Customers were invited to sit in a private booth in which they listened to calming voices through headphones; they were then shown a series of 12 products and facial recognition software measured their facial expressions (a slight smile or frown, etc.). At the end of the experience, each customer is given a personalised report with suggested products which eBay predicts they will want to buy.  

Digital technology also underpins the new ‘Amazon Go’ concept. Here customers shop products in a physical store, the difference being, here they can simply walk out of the store without going through a checkout process. Deep learning technology tracks the products and will charge the cost to customer’s online Amazon account. 

Amazon has identified an opportunity to expand their brand presence (consistently) into a physical retail space. The fact that items taken from the store are charged to their existing online account means that the two retail platforms are not indistinguishable to the consumer.  

And it’s not just the major players that are embracing the Total Retail design approach. Last year saw the opening of the cult nail studio WAH Nails in Soho. This nail boutique is like no other, designed to give the consumer a complete experience. Shoppers will experience a mixture of fashion and culture with digital playing an important part of the experience. 

Within the ‘play and discover’ zone customers are encouraged to explore the virtual reality stations at which they can design and preview their own nail art creations, the designs can then be printed out and handed to the manicurist.   

What does the future of retail hold….no-one knows for sure, it’s going to be exciting. It’s vital that retailers and brands stay connected to their consumers like never before. The tide has turned, the modern day consumer has an opinion, a voice and ever increasing expectations. Retailers will need to be revolutionary and innovative in the way they express their brand DNA. Success in 2017 will see Retailers embracing the Total Retail approach because this brings bigger, brighter and better opportunities to connect with (or lose) consumers.




One of the great things about being part of an agency network is the variety of expertise you can draw on. The brilliant Omnicom Emerge Food & Beverage trends briefing recently took place and explored what is in store for the industry. Here are a few of the key out takes.

Food is a new millennial obsession, the new rock n roll and their interest has never been higher. Food is the new social currency and the centre of Millennial lives. With this comes a demand for information, 80% wish they knew more about the food they ate and 50% actively seek our new food places to try on a weekly basis.

With food and diet so integral this is most certainly a lifestyle here to stay and not just a fad. However Millennials have a nose for bullshit, they think superfoods are just foods and they share everything! With this sharing society comes judgement and this audience most certainly believes you are what you eat and what you put into your body impacts on your health and wellness, how you look says a lot about you. Information is power but food is a battleground of misinformation, who do you trust? This constant source of information is however a double edged sword leading to stress, after all sharing makes you accountable and there is a feeling the machines are taking over dehumanising us, with many Millennials reporting their own obsessive behavior is stopping them living in the moment and reducing the need for experts in every field, who hasn’t asked Doctor Google for medical advice? 

We’re over artisanal, its time to embrace robot technology. The physical experience is no longer the only experience, for example the ghost restaurants such as Maple in New York offer high fashion delivery for gourmet food. The new wave subverts tradition and embraces using technology as a friend and not a foe.

We’re over ‘wellness’ the most overused word in marketing, in 2017 we’re all about nourishment. We want to nourish not only our bodies but our souls, for example Tom Kerridge’s latest book is called the Dopamine Diet, the new diet plan is all about eating ourselves happy and enhancing our moods, the recent Cacao in E Major event, was an immersive symphony of chocolate synesthesia or in English the combination of music and chocolate to create a sensory experience to promote feelings of happiness. Together with more personalized experiences such as 23 & me a start up which matches food choices to your personal DNA or Habit a science based personalised nutrition solution to help you eat with confidence. We’re moving away from a one size fits all to a more flexible hybrid, its the end of healthy eating as we know it and a more balanced understanding where the psychological is as important as the physical. 

But its not all about health, extreme is the new moderation, if you’re going to go bad, go big, why waste the once weekly blow out on a McDonalds burger when you can go fully loaded and artisan. Millennials aren’t going to feel guilty about the occasional indulgence. Food offers the ultimate visceral physical interaction which can’t be replicated by technology.

One thing for sure is 2017 will be the year of reaction, how will we all respond to the tumultuous world events that seem out of our control?

So what are the 3 macro trends taking hold?


Making things better but each individuals version of better for them and the people around them. The brands that will win are the ones with clearly articulated and demonstrated transparent values


Coming together, sharing values and staying true to those values, the safe spaces such as the Sunakku bars in Japan or Ryumochnaya, Russian bars in cultural wasteland, are creating new tribes, places to belong which are missing in this digital world


How to thrive in chaos. Building strategies in an uncertain world, build new models and throw ourselves into them. Unearthing hidden treasures, abandoning the beaten track holds new appeal for example St Pellegrino – Delightways an interactive app which guides users on unique paths through their favorite cities helping them to rediscover the joy of wandering, "the Italian way." Each Delightways path leads you to your destination on a winding route highlighted by inspiring stops – from art installations and gardens, to specialty cafes, food trucks and local boutiques.

What is the future for brands?

This is an uncertain time with the biggest 25% of food companies in the world accounting for just 3% of market growth in 2015 and the challenger brands taking valuable market share with an ever more discerning audience.

Social purpose must match brand purpose. Values aren’t just baked in they are displayed loud and proud, see Sparkke Change a Melbourne social enterprise started by women to empower and encourage discussion and debate.

Food evangelists are no longer limited to a minority group, these consumers are having conversations online about food at least 4 times a week and this group is growing, these are no activists but skeptical, value driven powerful consumers and ignore them at your peril as they will fight back, the good news is they don’t demand perfection, they demand honesty. 

They are looking to move away from packaged products, more fresh, less prepared, they are looking for ethical food and worry about processed options.

56% are under 35

54% are female

28% have kids under 18

38% are married

But more importantly these aren’t hipster food snobs these are real life everyday people and their numbers are growing in 2013 these evangelists made up 22% of the population by 2015 the numbers had risen to 24% and the kids of this group are the mass market of tomorrow so expect a tidal wave of mini food evangelists. Food brands and retailers need to up their game to service this new generation. The traditional retail stores need a radical rethink and need to recreate the energy of the farmers market to attract these consumers.

With trust in brands at a low who do they trust?


Nutritional professionals


Local farmers

Medical profession

66% want to communicate more with brands and 50% expect this to be by social media. Honesty trumps perfection, traditional media still matters and communication is more than words. Future food evangelists need your attention today. 

Looking ahead our brands must:

Have a purpose

Be transparent or be found out

Stay human

In uncertain times, there are massive opportunities to change the status quo and this is what excites us and gets us out of bed.

Thank you to all of our friends at Flamingo, Ketchum and Hall and Partners for their fantastic insight.


Here at Hornall Anderson we are passionate about 2 things, food and trends and we were lucky enough to join Stephen Wallis (2007 Masterchef winner and self confessed design junkie and cultural magpie) as he attempted to highlight some of the emerging food & drink trends of today, yesterday’s trends that are still evolving and trends on the horizons by looking at 4 categories.

Mashtopia – (Hybrid foods, a mixture of food cultures)

 A new concept for Ben and Jerry's?

A new concept for Ben and Jerry's?

Despite what recent political shifts might suggest, globalisation and the increase in cultural diversity has meant that we can now have culinary delicacies from the farthest reaches of the globe all within a stones throw of each-other. Although this is nothing new, more and more people are experimenting using ‘mash-ups’ as a way of trying to find the next must have queue forming food fad that we’ve all fallen victim to. Here the development of contrasting colours and textures has been used to enrich the consumer experience with something new and original. Some good examples of this are crispy sushi playing on the contrast between the crispy outer coat and the soft rice inner, Brick Lane’s Rainbow bagels …do rainbows taste like bagels or bagels like rainbows? 

 We'd like these bagels delivered by Unicorns please?

We'd like these bagels delivered by Unicorns please?

Mash-ups are nothing new to the market but we are now seeing cross pollination between industries with items such as the edible helium balloon by Alinea Restaurant. …what next!?

 Not the best choice for a first date

Not the best choice for a first date

Cult of Carnal

 A weeks worth of calories in a single serving

A weeks worth of calories in a single serving

From fried chicken to dirty burgers, smoke and char, the simplest of BBQ and soul food heralds from the Southern states of the USA, and has been elevated to eternal perfection by devoted chefs. Cooking the perfect bit of meat has become an art form. Already highly popular in many parts of Asia the rise of insect foods as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly source of protein is inevitably a thing of the not so distant future for the Western world. Specialised insect food restaurants like ‘Grub Kitchen’ of St David’s, Wales have already started to spring up.

 It'll never catch on in Wigan

It'll never catch on in Wigan

We have seen the rise in the meat market over the past few years with the flash in the pan trend of pulled pork and ‘Dirty Burger’ through to the dirtiest burger! But we’ve begun to see the dark side of cult in a trend that’s being run into the ground by the fast food trade that sits along side it. In a space where a burger is an appropriate garnish for a Bloody Mary, surely this has gone too far!?

 A side of burger with your Bloody Mary Sir?

A side of burger with your Bloody Mary Sir?

Stephen explains that in spite of the meats becoming more expensive and harder to farm there is a carnivore in all of us, meaning there will always be a place for cooked, cured and raw meats although it may become more of a treat rather than a day to day consumption

Phytophiles –  (Edible beauty)

 Here's one I made earlier

Here's one I made earlier

Here we can see the rapid effect of social media platforms like Instagram on food culture, helping to drive forward meals aesthetically, encouraging smaller more compact and beautiful dishes for the perfect sized Instagram shots in a bid to use the consumer as the ultimate marketing tool. It’s this sharing of information amongst consumers that gives brands the ability to generate the fast moving trends of today with some new establishments allowing their customers to pay for their meal with Instagram posts of their food.

 Pretty as a picture

Pretty as a picture

This trend has also spread to the supermarket shelves with brands like ‘BOL’ with their layered salad jars. 

 Naturally healthy

Naturally healthy

Veganarchy (vegan food that’s pushing experiential boundaries)

Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Influenced by the health and environmentally conscious millenials and the vegan foot soldier ‘the Hipster’, vegan food boundaries are being pushed to enhance the consumer experience farther and farther. Some of the latest vegan food inventions include the beetroot burger where the beetroot juice has been added to a vegan burger to give the effect of blood dripping when you bite into it giving you that carnal experience. 

 Who needs meat when vegan food looks so good?

Who needs meat when vegan food looks so good?

Stephen explains that today we are seeing the expansion of the vegan food market (root veg, grass & seed) into other areas like fragrance and cosmetics, for example ‘Basic Bitch’, a vegan cosmetics range released by Made in Chelsea star Lucy Watson. 

Because of our younger more environmentally conscious generations, sustainability and waste utilization has become increasingly more important. Did you know our recent obsession with avocado is ruining Mexican rainforests due to over farming keeping up with demand!?

 We have a few

We have a few

Dirty Habit based in San Francisco is an example of a new kind of restaurant that only serves dishes created from supermarket food waste.


In an ever more diverse and environmentally savvy society, where culinary delights from over the globe are at your finger tips, from high end restaurants to the hangover god-send Deliveroo; industry experts are forever thinking of new ways to test your taste buds and push the consumer experience to new limits. 

 A curious combination of sweet and savoury

A curious combination of sweet and savoury

It will be interesting to see how food trends are influenced by the latest cultural shift with Brexit looming and the promise of tighter US borders. What is the backlash to our industry a the world closes it’s borders? What we love today and take for granted to be on our doorstep could become a rare treat in the future to come.

 Our very own Stuart Hollingworth with Steven Wallis

Our very own Stuart Hollingworth with Steven Wallis


Culture Dots is a niche outfit, based in London that specialises in trend research. They curate themed immersive experiences, throughout the city, which explore emerging trends, offering insights and learnings across different categories and with a large order of engaging discussion on the side.

Each walk visits 5 locations that represent the specific theme, in a 360 sensory adventure.

Culture Dots recently ran a trend immersion walk in Hackney, east London, which explored the concept of ‘Community and Collaboration’ through creativity, visiting specially selected businesses innovating in this space.

First stop was Twigs – a food spot and plant shop, tucked away off Broadway Market, E8. Twigs opened earlier this year and quickly built up a following of locals who come for a bite to eat and leave with a plant, or two. All plants on display are available for purchase, which creates an organic, ever-changing seasonal backdrop to your daily coffee. The menu is small yet packed with interesting takes on café staples, such as the unique Rice Waffle. Warm, welcoming and homely, Twigs is very much rooted with local interests in mind.

Next up was Town Hall Hotel - a boutique hotel set in the original Bethnal Green Town Hall. Opened in 1910, the original town hall was built in the Edwardian style. Now, as a listed building the hotel merges it’s original Edwardian features, with Art-Deco and modern architecture to create a truly stunning and chic, unexpected getaway in the bustle of east London. Lush interiors lie at the heart of Town Hall Hotel and they are big on collaboration with specially curated art, from local artists, dotted throughout the building. One of the hotels most popular areas is the Corner Room Lamp installation, which has fast become an Instagram staple. There is even a lovely hotel dog called Dizzy.

After a short walk we arrived at a warehouse alongside the Regents Canal. This is home to Dark Room, originally launched as a design store and brand in 2009. Dark Room first opened a retail space on Lambs Conduit Street, W1, however due to increased rent, like many businesses, looked to east London for its new home. Currently they share their warehouse space with interior design specialists Bert & May. The coming together of these two brands has made for some beautiful collaborations, including handmade tiles, soft furnishings and homewares. Their current collaboration is a pop-up shop on a canal boat, moored at the back of the building. This collaboration launched at this year’s London Design Festival. The interior has been kitted out exclusively with pieces from Dark Room and Bert & May and has a quirky nautical design aesthetic. The canal boat is soon to be launched again in a new guise, as a floating hotel.

A few doors away was the fourth stop, 4Cose. This was really interesting find – a retail shop opened by 2 contemporary artists who are part of the Diaspari & Diaspari projects, of Italy. The shop sells authentic imported Italian groceries and functions as any standard retail space, with regular customers coming in and out to make their purchases. Produce is displayed on shelves in the middle and to the back of this unassuming shop, whilst unique art pieces hang from the walls and ceiling. At first glance it feels like an odd combination, however somehow it works as a multifunctional creative and retail space. During our time at 4Cose we were treated to fascinating stories on the history of the area, how 4Cose began and a delicious a spread of some of their finest Italian produce that they sell. Delizioso!

The last stop was the Our/London vodka distillery. Our/London is a vodka that is produced, blended and hand bottled in Hackney, E8. The Our/Vodka is interesting as it takes cues from the craft beer movement that has become synonymous with East London, by positioning itself through look, feel and production as an independent brand. However, the Our/Vodka product is part of the Global wine and spirits powerhouse, Pernod Ricard.

There are 9 Our/Vodka’s currently in the portfolio, including Our/ Berlin, Our/ New York and Our/Miami. The concept is simple; Our/Vodka follows a global recipe but is distilled with local water and unique ingredients for each city, to give it its own distinct taste and character.

The trend immersion tour is a brilliant concept and thoroughly engaging experience. It was great to get out of the studio and really explore what is happening in our city, at a level we very rarely get the chance to. The places visited on the day all had their own unique spin on the theme of Collaboration and Community, which was interesting. Some fitted within a more traditional view of what we understand these words to mean, whilst others were more about building their own communities within their specific industries.

Yes, the tour also brought up discussions on Gentrification and what this means for the area and its true local community. Interestingly the majority of businesses were situated opposite housing estates, which couldn’t help but highlight the development of these areas on a social level. That said, there is much to be said for the ideas and creativity being shown by these business owners, who through various art and design disciplines, are carving out niche pockets of interest and difference.

Overall it really brought home the extent of how much is happening in just a small area of East London. It was an eye-opening look into the kind of innovation that people are undertaking and turning into successful and lucrative business opportunities, in the ever-evolving landscape that is London.


Sustainability. It’s been the hot topic for the past 10 to 15 years, to a point of almost gimmickry. Two situations seem to occur most frequently:

Corporations make small, tactical changes that have more to do with their production or operational costs than a genuine concern for the environment, and communicate these as their ‘contribution to the solution.’ But that's where the contribution stops. Think of banks that allow you to receive your statements by email rather than post - what are they truly protecting here? The planet, or their margins?

On the other end of the spectrum are corporations that give themselves a long timeline of a decade or more to conduct a major structural re-organisation of their manufacturing process, investing in regenerative material sourcing, energy saving production processes, safe and healthy working conditions, preservation of the environment and local communities, waste management, post-usage recycling programmes, etc. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan comes to mind, as does Starbucks’s Sustainability Bond and Kering’s Sustainability Targets, all of which involved a systemic overhaul of the entire product innovation process in order to yield structural changes that will make a real difference in the future.

Shifting towards a more ‘consumer facing’ perspective, it goes without saying that brands need to up their sustainability game if they want to remain relevant in the decades to come. A recent JWT Intelligence report revealed that 88% of US/UK Millennials believe that brands need to ‘do more good’ rather than simply ‘less bad,’ and 75% actively research the behavior and policies of the brands they buy. Gen Z, too – soon to become the largest group of consumers in the world, making up an estimated 40% of the US, Europe and BRICS population by 2020 - are already well-versed social activists with a beady eye for falsified data and fraudulent ‘sustainability wave riders.’ 

Indeed, it is a two way street. While consumers are aware of their own impact on the environment - with 51% of young consumers (18-30) happy to pay a premium for sustainable brands – there is still very much a belief that brands need to spearhead this change, with 89% of Brazilian consumers for instance arguing that brands should be responsible for their own sustainability measures, rather than solely relying on the consumer to do their bit.

But to avoid re-hashing a topic that has been already received extensive coverage, we will stop here with the stats and recommendations and simply share a few examples of interesting and inspirational brands that are already at the forefront of this movement.

G Star Raw 

Collecting and recycling plastic from oceans into jeans and hoodies


Repurposing confiscated fishing nets into a new line of trainers


Using old trainers to create bouncy rubber mats for kids’ playgrounds, in keeping with the brand’s ethos of encouraging people to be more active  

CaRlsberg Fibre Bottle

Carlsberg has always been trying to leave as much impact as possible to the environment. The have recently generated a bottle made of the fibres used in the barley which is one of the main ingredients.

Shwood Sunglasses

The main compotent of sunglasses these day are plastics. Shwood have seen this as a burden to the environement especially with fashion styles changing so much. They have created frames made from wood, moss, pinecones and feathers just to name a few.

Fog Point Vodka

Because of the location of California suffers from drought on a regular basis. Fog Point have teamed up with Hanger vodka and using netting have been able harness the mist that is so ambunded in San Francisco area and collect the water that is one of the main compontents in the manufacturing of vodka.

Decomposable or biodegradable packaging

Cellulose packaging algae

Gone Tomorrow have developed a form of secondary packaging that biodegrades within a few days. Used to encase products for transport from source to consumer, it naturally decomposes 72 hours after delivery

Mushroom packaging

Ecovative Design have developed outer packaging that uses mushroom as the main component. Once used, it can be disposed of and will fully decompose with no harm to the environment

Genetically grown leather

Recent advances in science have shown that scientists are able to culture and grow skin from either bovine (cows) or human stem cells. This has an important medical application as well as huge potential in the fashion industry as an ethical, animal-friendly alternative to traditional leather

Of course, we fully acknowledge that responsibility for this type of sustainable innovation cannot lie solely with brands. As design industry specialists, we should be introducing our clients to new and groundbreaking materials and production techniques.

At Hornall Anderson, we believe that it takes everybody – brands, suppliers, consumers, design firms – collectively pulling together to find solutions to the very real problems facing the world today. That’s why our Innovation Process integrates sustainability into the core of everything that we do. So whether we’re talking about NPD or innovative packaging creation, we’re making sure that our work leaves behind transformational and tangible change.

Designing for change: Luxury and the new millennial consumer

With the dust settling in the wake of this summer’s Brexit vote, the luxury sector, like all industries, is looking to the future with more than a little uncertainty. While the long-term impact of Brexit remains unknown, forecasts have so far been pretty gloomy. Some industries seem set to weather the storm better than others, however, and the luxury sector might just be one of the lucky few.

One upshot of the falling pound is the boost that it has given to British tourism. While Brits themselves are straying away from jaunts abroad, the UK has benefited from wave after wave of savvy visitors with bank accounts not measured in sterling, eager to splurge with exchange rates so tempting. July saw a 7.1% increase in the number of international flight bookings to the UK, and August witnessed an even more impressive 36% surge in foreign spending on tax-refundable (big-ticket) items. American and Chinese visitors – normally big spenders – have contributed particularly heavily to this upswing, with flight bookings from Hong Kong rising by over 30% since the end of June, and Chinese shoppers – who typically spend three times more than any other nationality on luxury purchases when in London – making a staggering 270, 000 trips to the UK last year, up 46% on the year before.

But the lure of luxury can be felt closer to home, too. For those of us making trade-offs on where to save and where to splurge, the quality, heritage and cultural relevance enjoyed by luxury brands can help to cut through the noise of a crowded marketplace. The challenge for the luxury sector in the aftermath of Brexit is to tell the story of these credentials clearer than ever before.

Brexit, then, is less a threat and more an opportunity for luxury brands to take stock and reflect. June’s vote has made it clear that we are playing in a new marketplace with new customers. If luxury is to thrive in the future as it has done in the past, then it looks like a revival is on the cards.

Redefining luxury starts with an acknowledgement that luxurians are getting younger, with millennials now accounting for 45% of luxury shoppers. Despite coming to age in one of the most difficult economic climates of the past century, they purchase mindfully, pushing aside conspicuous consumption in favour of value with values. Out with quantity, in with quality investment pieces and brands with a clear point of view on issues such as supply chains, animal welfare and the environment. Indeed, millennials continue to be the audience most receptive to issues of social responsibility and environmental stewardship, with 73% stating that they would be willing to pay extra for sustainable products. Luxury brands have the personality and authority to lead this sort of social change, winning the loyalty of customers and creating distance between themselves and fast-fashion competitors in the process.

Millennial luxurians are also digitally savvy and expect the same of the brands they endorse. Half of purchase decisions for luxury goods are influenced by what shoppers hear or see online, yet
e-commerce generates only about 5-6% of total global luxury retail sales, with luxury brands only selling to 45% of leading markets. With online expected to drive 40% of global luxury sales by 2020, it’s high time that brands evolved to exploit these channels. The brands that will survive will be those that can tie traditional ideas of artisanship and creativity to disruptive new technologies and experiences. We are already seeing a blurring of online and bricks and mortar platforms as big-name brands bring online in-store through augmented reality innovations such as ‘magic mirrors’ that transport shoppers to catwalks, or advise them on which products would suit them best. Social media, too, is taking the luxury world by storm as brands such as Burberry and Alexander McQueen flock to Snapchat and Instagram to bring campaigns and runway shows into the homes and hands of shoppers. Wearables are the latest frontier in this digital drive, with 44% of Swiss watch executives pointing to smart watches as the “next big thing” hitting the industry.[2] With wearables serving so many functions – from timekeeping to health tracking to contactless payment – it isn’t hard to see why. 

This marriage of luxury and technology brings to light the central role played by customers in the visual redefinition of the sector. New luxurians are responding to hugely different category codes than those that have defined the experience of luxury for centuries before. Out with rich golds, dark tones and embellishment, in with clean lines, white space and minimalism. What is interesting here is the link between the value that today’s premium shoppers ascribe to time, and the way in which they look for products that fuse the traditional codes for ‘premium’ with those adopted by the efficiency-centric tech industry to denote ‘functional.’ Getting to grips with what this restrained, efficient aesthetic means for the future of luxury design will be a key imperative going forward.

Complementing this trend towards a new, tech-influenced aesthetic is the challenge of how to embrace the openness of digital without losing the allure of old-school luxury. Premium items are enticing precisely because they are almost unattainably desirable. The further we move into the digital space, the more shareable, commoditised and mainstream these become. With Snapchat and Instagram stories allowing the average Joe user to jump into the worlds of their celebrity idols in real time, the degrees of separation between everyday and luxury have become increasingly fragile and the category, as a result, is arguably losing the rarity upon which its very success is founded. Indeed, the commoditisation of luxury is visible across all sectors, from FMCG to cars to phones. For instance, where leather seats were once the reserve of premium car brands, these have now simply become a given. As the products and lifestyles to which consumers are exposed in the digital realm become increasingly aspirational, so do the standards that they expect from brands. This, of course, poses a burning question for the premium sector; what does the normalisation of these category codes mean for the future of luxury?

The answer seems to lie in a reversion to the past. It’s a careful balancing act – a struggle of the times, laden with irony. The new luxurian searches for and shares their purchase online to an audience of thousands, and yet still demands the veiled, coveted mystery that accompanies membership of a club reserved for such a privileged few. Brands can address this tension by elevating their offer to go beyond products and services to something tangible, immersive and unattainable to those behind a screen. Whether through personalisation – as with the bespoke Fragrance Lab developed by Selfridges and Campaign – or through a return to exclusivity – as with the rise of new paid-subscription social networks such as A Small World and Eleqt – experience is key.

Despite the turmoil caused by Brexit, then, it seems that a window of opportunity has been opened for luxury.

What is important is that brands act quickly to maintain the momentum injected into the sector as a result of temporarily lower prices and newer customers, whose discerning demands are shaping category codes at a pace not seen before. While the sector is innovating rapidly in the digital sphere, it is important that this does not lead to the neglect of traditional luxury appeal. Luxury consumers expect the same accessibility and ease of purchase from high end as they do from high street, but brands should be careful to ensure that digital acts as a facilitator, and not the essence, of the brand. Luxury has always been able to demand a premium because of the way that it makes people feel. Everything about the category revolves around exclusivity and one-on-one relationships – pampering the customer, tailoring the experience around them, making them feel exceptional – and digital, although integral in today’s climate, poses a threat to this old-school charm through its normalisation and commoditisation of everything that was once elusive and unattainable. Brands must reconcile the power of digital with traditional methods of storytelling and experiential branding to safeguard these age-old qualities, playing up to millennial cravings for a return to authenticity and craftsmanship as they do so.



Don't show up to get, show up to give...

As a curious bunch we’re always excited to expand our minds and on Tuesday we delved into the world of Simon Sinek, a author, speaker and consultant whose 2009 TED talk has been viewed over 27 million times and whose books, 'Start with Why’ and 'Leaders Eat Last' are on every business graduates reading list. Tuesday’s subject was the power of collaboration, something we wholeheartedly embrace here at HA and the subject of Sinek’s new book, ‘Together is better’.

Sinek believes people need to feel protected at work and the perennial work life balance struggle is more to do with people feeling safe and comfortable at home and not in the workplace. The business strategies of many big businesses are throwbacks from the hedonistic 80’s and 90’s and those times are long gone. Sinek argues this focus on shareholders and profit at the expense of taking care of our employees is a short term strategy not built to last. We have become addicted to bonuses and pay rises and the little hit of dopamine when we receive these is akin to the buzz of alcohol and drugs, the culture of being out for ourselves and having no qualms about stabbing each other in the bag is in fact bad for business.

Sinek comments leaders in organisations are not always the people most trusted and great leadership has nothing to do with rank. Empathy he suggests is paramount to connecting on a human level, and empathy is a muscle that can be exercised daily. Too often he argues we avoid asking for help when we need it or refuse to accept it when its offered. We often keep self doubt to ourselves instead of turning to someone we trust for inspiration. When actually its OK to be vulnerable to tell our bosses, I’m worried, I’m scared, I don’t know what I’m doing. This vulnerability doesn’t make us weak, it makes us human. However we sometimes need to be reminded its also lonely at the top, and can be an uphill battle with no checklist.

But here’s for the good news, we can build our businesses by making our employees the number 1 priority and if we take care of our people at work, they in turn will take care of the people at home. By changing the culture of the companies we work in, we can change the system from the inside out. Business may be the new tribe but people have the power.

So inspiring words and if by something as seemingly easy as taking care of one another, we can change the way the world does business, lets hope this catches on.


Future facing fashion brand loved by Katinka



We're so happy to announce that our lovely Jade from the Leeds studio has given birth to the latest member of the HA family,  Baby Oscar Theo, previously known as Teeny Berk, arrived today at 13:43 weighing 7lbs, 10oz.  Both mum and baby are doing well and we send them all our love and best wishes.  Can't wait for cuddles x