Category Archives: Global

Consumer Trend: Simplicity

For the past seven years, the annual Global Brand Simplicity Index study has been tracking the impact of brand and industry simplicity on consumer behaviour and business performance.

The study is the work of Siegel+Gale, a global brand strategy and experience firm, and the results point to simplicity being the ultimate driver of brand loyalty as customers desire more seamless, simpler, faster brand engagement, giving them back the rarest of commodities – time.

The message is simple; brands that delivery clear, human and useful experiences, win.

And simplicity pays, as Siegel+Gale claim; since 2009 a stock portfolio comprised of the publicly traded simplest brands in their global Top 10 has outperformed the major indexes.


Global Brand Simplicity Index performance
Chart by Siegel+Gale


Siegel+Gale’s 2017 study is based on an online survey of more than 14,000 respondents across nine countries and ranks 857 brands on their perceived simplicity.

The data collected is used to generate two scores: An Industry Simplicity Score™ and a Brand Simplicity Score™.

The Industry Simplicity Score rates each industry on its perceived simplicity. Each industry is evaluated on its contribution to making life simpler or more complex, the pain of typical interactions with companies within the industry and how the industry’s communications rank in terms of ease of understanding, transparency/honesty, concern for customers, innovation/freshness and usefulness.

The Brand Simplicity Score rates each brand on its perceived simplicity. It evaluates each brand on the simplicity/complexity of its products, services, interactions and communications in relation to industry peers. The score takes into consideration the consistency of responses, the difference between user and non-user perceptions and the simplicity score for the brand’s industry

Key findings from the study include:

  • Simplicity earns a premium: 64 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences.
  • Simplicity builds loyalty: 61 percent of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it’s simple.
  • Complexity costs: Brands that don’t provide simple experiences are leaving an estimated share of $86 billion on the table.
  • Simplicity performs: A stock portfolio of the simplest global brands outperforms the major indexes by 330 percent.
  • Simplicity inspires: 62 percent of employees at simple companies are brand champions—versus only 20 percent of employees at complex companies.

 The 2017 Global Brand Simplicity Index™ Top 10 Brands

  1. ALDI
  2. Lidl
  3. Google
  4. Netflix
  5. IKEA
  6. Amazon
  7. KFC
  8. YouTube
  9. McDonald’s
  10.  SUBWAY

Each year the movement of brands in the Simplicity Index rankings are analysed.  Some brands remain consistent year-over-year, while others fluctuate. Highlights from the 2017 study include:

  • ALDI remains the simplest brand in our global ranking for the fourth year running, while competitor Lidl once again lands in the top three.
  • Yahoo! drops 37 places, demonstrating that web search isn’t always simple.
  • Dollar Shave Club and land in the top US Disrupters—their current multi-billion-dollar valuations are further testament to the power of simplicity.
  • Insurance provider AXA just can’t seem to break out of the bottom spot, as they are the most complex brand for the second year running.
  • Health and beauty product purveyor Sephora rises 44 spots in the global ranking.
  • Global hotel chain Hilton moves up 50 spots in the global ranking.
  • EasyJet has ascended 16 spots, a smooth takeoff for a customer-focused airline.
  • Five out of six brands representing the restaurant industry are in the top 15, indicating that quick service often means simple service.

 Global Disrupters

For the third year running, Siegel+Gale asked people to evaluate “disruptive” brands in the US and UK. These emerging businesses are continuously changing consumer expectations by delivering memorable, meaningful and useful brand experiences.

In the US, the top disrupters include Dollar Shave Club, GrubHub, Square, Spotify and In the UK, the top disrupters include OVO Energy, City Mapper, Shazam, GoPro and My Fitness Pal.

Disrupter brands possess a common characteristic—they place simplicity at the core of their customer experience,” said David Srere, co-CEO and chief strategy officer, Siegel+Gale. “The recent billion-dollar acquisitions of Dollar Shave Club and are further proof that simplicity drives brand loyalty and financial gain.”

To view the full report, visit:

Source: Siegel+Gale


Report: Global Kitchen, a study about the kitchen of the future

Kitchen of the Future

A fascinating report by the The Silestone Institute, which looks at the characteristics of the kitchen of the future through the eyes of kitchen professionals, designers and anthropologists

The report, entitled ‘Global Kitchen: the home kitchen in the era of globalisation’ is the result of a collaboration with 17 distinguished experts from the worlds of design, cooking, domestic technology, sociology, nutrition and sustainability. In addition, a survey carried out in over 800 kitchen studios across the world provides data on the importance consumers afford to this room in their homes.

Key experts included chefs Andoi Luis Aduriz (**Michelin in Mugaritz), Gaston Acurio, Harvard anthropologist, Richard Wrangham, architect Piero Lissoni and industrial designer Patricia Moore.

Santiago Alfonso, marketing vice president for the Cosentino Group says, “Global Kitchen is an international project providing valuable insights into the kitchen of the future and aims to become an essential reference tool for professionals and consumers. It creates the opportunity for multidisciplinary reflection to analyse the effect of globalisation on kitchen architecture and design, to determine how this space will develop over the next 25 years.”

Key predictions in the Global Kitchen report include:

  • The kitchen will be a hyper-connected, multi-functional space for work, leisure, health and relaxation.
  • It will incorporate techniques and smart devices normally found in professional kitchens such as vacuum cooking and packaging.
  • It will further cement its role as the ‘centre of the home’; the largest and most invested room in the house.
  • The kitchen will develop as a multi-functional space in all countries and is expected to disappear as an independent room.
  • Its design will not only take aesthetics and function into account but also emotional value and it will strengthen its use as a space for relaxing and well-being.
  • Connectivity and smart appliances will be managed from mobile and wearable devices and will not only make shopping and laundry easier, but ensure endless access to information from the Internet of Things.
  • The worktops will be able to cook, make calls, broadcast TV or provide access to the internet. They will be height adjustable, contain recipe databases where chefs will guide the user through the method, ingredient information and be able to weigh food.
  • The refrigerator will offer permanent access to nutritional information on screens.
  • They will be sustainable, with appliances solar powered and will be aligned with ‘Multi- R’ thinking – Rethink, Redesign, Repair, Reuse, Remanufacture, Recover.
  • Intelligent lighting will be variable to match the time of day, mood or the type of food being cooked.
    Forecasting and Sales Experts’ Opinions on the Future of the Home Kitchen


Kitchen of the future


842 kitchen professionals from eight countries (Australia, Brazil, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Italy, Portugal and Sweden) took part in a survey to supplement the Global Kitchen Report. The report assesses the evolution of kitchen space in terms of use, design and equipment taking into account the respondents’ proximity and direct contact with the end user, as well as their experience and knowledge of the sector.

Highlights from the survey include:

  • 87% of respondents said that the kitchen would become more relevant as an activity and meeting place in the house. (In many countries, the kitchen is a separate room).
  • 5% said that it will be a single space combining dining and living rooms.
  • 3% said it will be used to get together with family, to work and do homework (60.9%) and surf the internet (62.4%).
  • 1% expect cooking will be directly on the work surface.
  • 7% predict that the work surface will integrate a control panel for appliances with access to the internet and device connection.
  • 3% imagine the work surface will incorporate weighing scales and nutritional analysis.
  • Australia and Brazil agree that the new cooking methods will be the most important development, while the UK and Italy prefer smart appliances. In contrast, Spain and the US value connectivity above all.

To download the complete Global Kitchen study, please click here:

For more information about how homeowners are using their kitchens here in the UK, have a look at our Kitchen Purchase Behaviour, Consumer Insight Report No.2, which surveyed 500 homeowners who  had recently purchased a new kitchen to understand how they use their kitchen and what motivated them to install a new kitchen


Global Retail Trends to think about for 2017


Trends are global, they travel across every sector.  No market or territory is immune

Matthew Brown, Echochamber

If you want to understand how the retail landscape is responding to global megatrends, have a look at this inspirational publication by Echochamber, which showcases the latest trends in retail from across the globe.


Samsung 837 screen

Samsung, New York – The store that’s not a store



B8ta, Palo Alto – incubating innovative start-up projects


Nike SoHo

Nike SoHo Flagship, New York – The ultimate expert experience



Amazon Books, Seattle – Retail meets ‘Metail’



Supervalu Blackrock, Dublin – Next generation supermarket



Victoria Gate, Leeds – The traditional arcade reinvented



Barneys Chelsea, New York – A clearly defined target market



Gentle Monster, Shanghai and Beijing – Keeping retail exciting



KitKat Chocolatory, London – Crafted personalisation



Ikea Dining Club Pop-up, London – A truly multi-channelled approach

Find the full report here >>



Experiential Retailing

Experiential retailing adds elements such as augmented reality and interactive technology into the shopping experience,  blurring  the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.

Already used by clothing retailers to enhance the process of trying on clothing and accessories, experiential retailing is moving into new areas.

Samsung 837 is Samsung’s flagship store in the Meatpacking district of New York City.  It purposely does not stock any products and is not focused on sales.  Instead the 40,000 sq ft space is an ‘immersive culture centre’ which allows visitors to experience the Samsung products via art, music, entertainment, sports, wellness, culinary, technology and fashion, all powered and enriched by technology.

Samsung 837 exterior

Open to the general public, the living lab and digital playground featuring numerous installations and touch-points comprise three floors and include, a one-of-kind digital screen, auditorium seating for performances and special events, a Gallery featuring curated content experiences, a broadcast studio, and much more.

Samsung 837 screen

Samsung’s  ambitious project draws influences from a very successful player in experiential retailing – Apple Store.  And Samsung have taken their concept to the next level by focusing on the activity first, and then how its products could be used in those environments – from experiencing virtual reality through Galaxy VR headsets to cooking a meal on Samsung ranges and comparing selfie image quality through a showdown between Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 phone and the competition.


As the constant barrage of everyday distractions makes shoppers harder to attract, experiential retailing offers a fun and exciting element to jaded shoppers, making a physical retail store a big draw for customers.

Although consumers are purchasing more and more goods online, there is still the requirement to see, touch and feel potential purchases within a store environment, especially high-ticket and large household items. By creating a seamless omnichannel experience which integrates online with brick and mortar commerce, and removes the hard sell element, consumers can immerse themselves in the brand experience.


Pantone Colour of the Year 2017

Greenery Pantone Colour of the Year 2017

Pantone has chosen Greenery  – PANTONE 15-0343 – as it’s colour of the year.

A refreshing and revitalizing shade and symbolic of new beginnings.

According to Pantone “Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew.  Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.
Greenery is nature’s neutral.  The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world.  This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally.  A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – it is an omnipresent hue around the world.

A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality”

What is the PANTONE Color of the Year?
A symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.

Source:  Pantone

Dulux Colour of the Year 2017

Dulux Colour of the Year 2017

Dulux has chosen Denim Drift as their colour of the year for 2017.

According to Dulux, blue is the colour of our every day. The sky above us. The clothes we wear. And as of this year, the colour to paint on our walls, as we reflect on our new perspective for 2017.

Dulux colour of the year 2017

“ Our review of international architecture, fashion and design trends revealed that blue is the colour of the moment. To make it relevant for your home, the team chose a blue that works as well in a kitchen as it does in a bedroom. Denim Drift, is the must-have colour for 2017. It will look great on your wall! ” Heleen van Gent Creative Director Dulux’s Global Aesthetics Center.


Source: Dulux

Sustainability Nudging

sustainability nudging

Nudges attempt to subtly change the environment in which people make decisions to help them make better choices — better for themselves and for society. 

People all over the world are becoming increasingly concerned about the health of the natural environment. For over 40 years, the phrase “think globally, act locally” has urged people to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in their own communities.

Individuals have long been encouraged to save energy at home and at work, and to choose environmentally friendly food and other goods. But studies suggest that people still fail to make even small changes in their behaviour to address the negative environmental consequences of their actions.

In the past, most conservation and sustainability initiatives have used the sledgehammer approach to aggressively pursue behavioural shifts.  However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that “nudges” are a more effective solution.

By making small changes that exploit our judgemental biases, nudges re-engineer the environment in which decisions are made. One of the best examples of a nudge shows that by making driving license applicants organ donors by default, organ donations could be as much as 20 times higher than where the reverse is true. This subtle change to the default option from “opt-in” to “opt-out” dramatically affects participation rates, despite only changing which box people check on a form.

A wide range of effective nudges are now at work in the world, and companies are looking at more subtle ways to engage consumers in making short-term decisions that have long-lasting effects on the environment

Worldbeing is self-directed wearable and app that aims to help people reduce their carbon footprint, by making it engaging and social. Supported by the Carbon Trust, the app tracks users’ carbon usage to increase their understanding, and to encourage action by linking daily activities to their impact on the climate. Worldbeing aim to drive real change by helping a community of likeminded people make lifestyle changes to improve the wellbeing of the planet.

Other companies, like Smart & Blue with their Hydrao Showerhead, help to encourage sustainable habits in the home through positive reinforcement. Hydrao is an environmentally friendly connected device that tracks water usage in the shower.  By using LED lights to warn the user of excessive water usage, turning different colours when different thresholds are reached, it educates people about water conservation in the process.

Some brands such as Lush Cosmetics and Recyclebank are also bringing exciting “eco-innovations” to market. The aim is to nudge people towards waste-reducing behaviour through gamification and fun. For example, one game designer has created a card game called Waste-Not that encourages players to rethink uses for common objects that may otherwise end up in the bin.

Growing evidence shows that these nudges do change policy-relevant behaviours, while being inexpensive to implement. This success has led to the formation of the world’s first sustainability hub – bringing together ideas for sustainability based on nudges rather than big actions. The U.K. and U.S. governments have even set up behavioural insights teams (or “Nudge Units”) to find and quickly disseminate behavioural nudges for public policy.

All of the apparent benefits of nudges don’t come without their controversies though. The use of subtle manipulation tactics may not seem entirely ethical to some people, and what counts as a public benefit is never straightforward. Conflicting interests often compete, and whose interests get prioritised can be highly controversial.

Nonetheless, we are already exposed to a web of influences, and many of these are negative. Cities are designed in ways that make driving easier than cycling, and many goods are designed and marketed to be bought and discarded in increasingly wasteful cycles.

Nudging is about creating a choice architecture that guides towards an environmentally-friendly outcome. So rather than an unacceptable form of manipulation, nudges are a common-sense approach to helping consumers make informed decisions about the effects they personally could have on the environment.


Originally posted by Jane Blakeborough on Linkedin

Ikea Explores the Future of Urban Living

Ikea Space10

Swedish retail giant, Ikea, has set up Space10, a future-living lab in the heart of Copenhagen. Their mission is to assess the future of urban living and the challenges this creates, then to explore solutions for a smarter and more sustainable way of living via a series of labs involving workshops, pitch nights, design residencies, exhibitions and collaborative projects.

Space10 isn’t a part of Ikea, it is owned and facilitated by Danish design firm, Rebel Agency, who first worked with Ikea on the Brakig furniture collection, which went on to be one of Ikea’s best-selling ranges.

The idea for the future-living lab came about when the founders of Rebel Agency, Carla Cammilla Hjort and Simon Caspersen, were asked to pitch new ideas to Ikea.

Instead of just creating a better future for Ikea, our starting point was asking how Ikea could help create a better future for the world,” Caspersen says. “So what we suggested was, let’s get rid of the whole client-agency model, have Ikea pay the basic fees and costs of running a space, and then devote ourselves to looking 10 or 20 years down the pipeline, and how Ikea can be relevant in that world.”

Space10 opened it’s doors in November 2015 and for a company used to innovating in secret, Space10 is revolutionary step forward for Ikea.  Although the costs of the operation are covered by Ikea and they have the first look at all the concepts that come out of it, the day-to-day operations are handled by Rebel Agency.  However, for Ikea, the benefits are the bold new ideas that come their way and the opportunity to bring them to market first.

The first exhibition at Space10 is called “The Fresh Living Lab” and showcases the work of a group of emerging designers who were invited to create 6 prototypes of everyday objects that would encourage better choices for the environment or personal health. Among the designs is a table that charges your phone by turning heat into electricity, and a chair that rewards you for exercising.

Whether or not the solutions are immediately relevant to our current business is not important” says Göran Nilsson, Ikea’s Concept Innovation Manager.  “What matters is to look in new directions and be ready to make changes”


Social Good Hotels

Good Hotel, Amsterdam

A new wave of hotels are starting to spring up as travelers demand that a stay in a hotel is not just comfortable but also meaningful.  These forward-thinking hotels are taking an innovative approach to social good and incorporating authentic local activities, community outreach and charity into their business models.

Good Hotel, Amsterdam

Previously a detention centre for undocumented migrants, the Good Hotel is a pop-up, housed in a converted pontoon building, which received a full design makeover before opening to guests in June 2015.

The not-for-profit hotel will be open for one year only and is staffed by 100 long-term unemployed locals who have undergone training in the hospitality industry.  The structure then sets off for Rio de Janeiro, arriving in time for the 2016 Olympics.

Magdas Hotel, Vienna

Madras hotel

Another hotel which also sources its workforce from those less advantaged in society, their mission was to extend a welcoming hand to those populations affected by Europe’s growing migration crisis.  Run by the Vienna arm of the Catholic organisation Caritas, the hotel only employs refugees and people with a history as refugees.  The rooms start at a very low rate and are decorated with vintage finds

The starting point was to build up a hotel where people from all over the world are coming,” says Caritas Vienna spokesman Martin Gantner. “They are guests, and they are welcomed by people who had to flee, who are refugees.”

Skwachàys Lodge and Residence in Vancouver

social good hotels

An upscale boutique hotel with a mission to use art to help visitors connect with the culture of local aboriginal groups. Together with a ground-floor gallery, six native artists were paired with six interior designers to create original works for the rooms.  In addition to supporting artists directly, the hotel also uses profits to subsidize attached apartments, which are rented to disadvantaged native residents.

The Gladstone Hotel, Toronto

social good hotels


As well as supporting 37 artist-designed hotel rooms, the Gladstone Hotel holds more than 70 exhibitions a year, offers four event venue spaces and has two different restaurants, all with the mandate to offer authentic experiences for its travelling guests and local community. The hotel has been set up as a centre for cultural enterprise and sums up their values in this infographic



Fairmount Hotels and the St Ermin’s, London

Fairmont Hotels realised that their rooftops were perfect for bees and have 20 honey bee apiaries and eight pollinator bee hotels on properties around the world.  The St. Ermin’s Hotel in London is home to 300,000+ Buckfast bees who reside in custom-built hives on St. Ermin’s’ rooftop. The bees can access to London’s parks within their flight radius, enabling them to collect from and pollinate literally thousands of plants.  Honey produced by St. Erimin’s bees is used in various dishes throughout the hotel.

Hotel Stadthalle, Vienna

Social good hotels

By creating the same volume of energy that it consumers throughout the year, the Stadthalle is proud to be the world’s first urban hotel with a zero-energy balance.  Thanks to solar panels, photovoltaic panels, ground water pumps and wind turbines, the Stadthalle is able to make green tourism and sustainability its two biggest priorities.

Why it matters

Today’s consumers are interested in brands that incorporate social good into their day-to-day operations.  They believe businesses should go beyond annual donations to charities and to prove their social responsibility within their core business practices

Millennial travellers, accustomed to the Airbnb authentic connection to the local community, are having a powerful influence on the hospitality industry and are looking to the larger hotel brands to adapt their practices accordingly

Homes designed for Millennials

Designed for Millennials

A new neighbourhood in the Henderson, Nevada, USA is being built comprising of homes specially designed to cater for millennial buyers.

The project is the brainchild of Pardee Homes, who enlisted the help of ‘millennial designer’ Bobby Berk of Bobby Berk Home, architect Bassenian Lagoni and landscape architects AndersonBaron to design the 2,145-square-foot Contemporary Farmhouse and a 3,194-square-foot Contemporary Transitional home that they’re calling the Responsive Home Project.

And just what is the ‘Millennial Buyer’ looking for when purchasing their home?

According to designer Bobby Berk, it’s all about the following 5 aspects:-

Being Connected

The millennial generation wants to feel connected to the community.  They are looking for public parks, recreation areas and good transport links.  Outdoor space and pet friendly areas are important to them as are safe places for adults and children to exercise.  There also needs to be a retail aspect to these communities, so there isn’t a 20 minute drive to get a coffee or groceries.

Being Responsive

A responsive house is a fully automated one.  The Pardee homes utilize a Savant system, which allows full automation from an iPad or smart device, meaning that lighting, music, TV and appliances can all be controlled at the touch of a button.

Being Entertaining


Millennials entertain more than previous generations and are looking for both indoor and outdoor space to accomplish this.  Gone are excessively large bedrooms and wardrobe spaces in favour of additional shared living space.

Being Flexible

A millennial home has to be able to respond to millennial needs, so if the family grows extra bedroom space can be found within the house by adding a wall and a door instead of moving house.

Pardee has included what they call “Gen-Smart” Suites, which are spaces with separate kitchenettes and side entrances that offer a connection to the main living space, but can also be closed off for privacy, allowing for multi-generational families to live under one roof.  Or even be used as income space via short term rentals on Airbnb.

Being Low Maintenance

Designed for Millennials

Durable materials are important for millennials, as well as high design that is also cost effective.  For example products that work both indoors and outdoors, making the home feel more expansive, like tiled floors which require little care yet are virtually indestructible.

Artificial turf is a good choice for the garden to ensure minimal maintenance.  However the Millennial likes to know where their food comes from so things like elevated planters for growing salads and vegetable will be appealing as well as easy to look after.

Source: Design-Milk