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Editor's pick product sustainability

Sustainable packaging: The refill market opportunity everyone is missing

UK supermarket Waitrose recently announced a trial in one of its stores for refillable products. 46 items in total, including detergent, washing-up liquid, cereal, pasta and more, are being tested – inviting consumers to bring in their own containers for replenishment rather than buying yet more plastic packaging. 

According to Greenpeace, the top 10 UK supermarkets produce 810,000 tons of throwaway or single-use packaging every year. The initiative at Waitrose therefore also sees all produce involved offered at up to 15% cheaper, incentivizing shoppers to do this and buy more sustainably as a result. 

The first thing it brought to mind for me, is why doesn’t this already exist? 

As a consumer, it’s increasingly frustrating to run out of shampoo, detergent, cleaning products, even moisturizer, and have no option but to throw the bottles or containers away (or in some instances put them out in the recycling in the vain hope their second life becomes a reality). I, for one, would love to be able to take all of such items with me next time I pop in store and top them up again instead. And don’t get me started on miniature travel items. 

I’ve talked to dozens of other people about this subject however, and the responses have always hung somewhere between a concerted yes on wanting to do it and a feeling that it takes a lot of effort to actually carry it out. 

Consumers are lazy, we know that. 

Yet many of us now take our ‘Bags-for-Life’ with us every time we shop – popping them in the back of the car or in our handbags when we’re out and about so we don’t get caught without one and need to purchase a new plastic disposable carrier instead. 

The barrier for these refill uptakes should not be that much bigger. It’s an achievable consumer behavior shift. 

The scheme to reduce plastic bag usage in the UK is evidence. It has seen over 15 billion being saved from going into landfill since it was introduced nearly four years ago. That stat is particularly significant when you think about the fact these items can take around 500 years to breakdown. It’s the same for plastic bottles. 

What’s more, since then, we as consumers have been increasingly exposed to numbers like the 28,000 tons of single-use plastic disposed into our oceans every day. Or that by 2050, there’s expected to be more plastic in the sea than fish. Whether verified in their entirety or otherwise, such insights have spurred us into action beyond just reducing plastic bags – resulting in adopting various other habits including reusable drinks bottles, keep cups, paper rather than plastic straws and more.

The fact supermarkets like Waitrose – and others – are exploring the opportunity (or necessity) here to look at such shifts within food and household goods packaging more broadly, seems a natural one as a result. 

The other way to look at it is through the emerging brands and startups stepping into the space. 

Loop is a new initiative from waste management company, TerraCycle, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, for instance. It is being supported and trialled by major businesses including Unilever and Procter & Gamble. It enables shoppers to purchase regular goods in new durable packaging that is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused. This is not about the consumer refilling it themselves, but the company doing it on their behalf.  

Eco-friendly household product brand, Ecover, by comparison, which is owned by SC Johnson, has introduced bottles that can be used more than 50 times directly by consumers. It has refill stations across the UK for products including washing up liquid, hand soap, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaners. The company calls the initiative a “Refillution” and says it’s been experiencing higher demand than ever before over the past year. It is one of the companies trialling with Waitrose. 

Other examples are being experimented within the beauty and cosmetics market, which accounts for around 120 billion units of packaging each year, according to retailer Lush. 

Lush itself is constantly innovating so as to introduce products that come without any packaging at all, but also has things like a zero-waste lipstick that it announced at the end of 2018. These are refills that can be placed into any other lipstick container the consumer already has at home, or bought with a recycled case from Lush to be used over and over again. 

British health and beauty retailer Boots meanwhile, recently opened a new wellness concept store in London that includes refillable skincare products from eco brand Beauty Kitchen.

And skincare brand Olay has just announced it will trial a sale of refill pods for its Regenerist Whip moisturizer from October 2019. Those pods fit into existing jars, saving consumers from needing to get a new one each time they run out of the product. The team estimates one million lbs of plastic saved if five million jars worth are refilled instead. The pods themselves are also recyclable. 

The Olay test will run for three months with the aim of then evaluating learnings to inform future packaging. “It’s really important for us to get it right because only then can we bring this concept to market at scale,” said Anitra Marsh, associate director of sustainability and brand communications for skin and personal care at Olay’s parent company, P&G.

And test and learn is clearly the stage we are at here. There are inevitably many barriers for adoption in a broader sense beyond assumed consumer apathy. The logistics of pulling many of these initiatives off are notable, but so too are concerns around things like hygiene, which is particularly pertinent when it comes to skincare or beauty – hence the pods from Olay rather than a mass refill station that is more possible with the cleaning products of Ecover. 

Much of this was noted in a report by WRAP over 10 years ago – highlighting other things like contamination of product, no easy mechanism of transferring the ‘use by’ date on the packs, the stackability of bulk refills in store or at home, and more. Arguably, all of that still stands, which is why there hasn’t been huge uptake in this space, and is what makes this such an interesting discussion. 

All roads point to huge opportunity and need for evolution, and yet so little has actually yet happened. Frankly, disruption here is needed, and as with successful movements linked to sustainability and the circular economy in other sectors (the resell market, the sharing economy and more), there is a growing business case to do so as a result. 

Right now, brands are largely jumping on a marketing opportunity and benefitting from the halo effect that surrounds reducing single-use plastic consumption. In doing so, there’s a dodge of responsibility occuring. 

Which brings us to a need for regulation in this space to force companies to adhere (something that is being looked at more broadly in the UK for single-use plastic, as this legislation dates back to 1997). It wasn’t until this came in for plastic bags that it actually made a difference to the landscape. The ability for change to really happen often needs a good shove in the right direction. 

That coupled with innovation is what will move this space forward. Our company, Current Global, is one built on solving challenges, and strictly speaking there’s very little here that doesn’t have a solution in front of it waiting to happen. 

The question then is who is going to be the first to truly do it, and at scale, in terms of grabbing the enormous market opportunity it presents. Now is the time.

How are you thinking about new packaging solutions? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: UK gov rejects sustainable recommendations, celebrating Karl, GenZ and TikTok

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • UK ministers reject plans for 1p per garment levy to tackle fast fashion [The Guardian]
  • ‘Karl for ever’: a joyful celebration of Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy [WWD]
  • Gen Z loves TikTok. Can fashion brands learn to love it too? [BoF]
  • How a £1 bikini revealed the changing shape of fast fashion [The Guardian]
TECHNOLOGY
  • The world is a mess. We need fully automated luxury communism [NY Times]
  • John Lewis to trial VR experience in shops [Fashion Network]
  • Amazon deploys ‘Pegasus’ robots in sortation centers [Retail Dive]
  • Training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes [Technology Review]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • H&M called out on “illegal” sustainability marketing [Eco Textile]
  • Net-a-Porter has started telling customers which brands are sustainable [The Independent]
  • More than half of British and American consumers want a more sustainable fashion industry [i-D Vice]
  • Prada sets goal to phase out virgin nylon by 2021 [BoF]
  • Ralph Lauren unveils new sustainability goals [WWD]
  • Banana Republic announces waterless dyed denim for 2020 [Fashion United]
  • Why we can’t relax about vegan leather [Vogue Business]
  • The North Face teams with National Geographic for upcycled plastic line [Fashion United]
  • Asos unveils ‘responsible edit’ [Drapers]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Verishop’s plan to be the Amazon of “affordable luxury” [Vogue Business]
  • Carrefour opens store with facial recognition and sensors [Retail Dive]
  • Pablo Isla defends ‘integrated model’ as a way to differentiate Inditex [Fashion Network]
  • Backstage and Story are very pretty. But, will they lure shoppers to Macy’s? [Retail Dive]
  • Gamification: the future of luxury retail in China [Jing Daily]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The AI-driven social media network hailed as the next Tumblr [Dazed]
  • Mountain Hardwear launches AR app to bring outdoor gear to life [Retail Dive]
  • The future of marketing is bespoke everything [The Atlantic]
  • Mulberry bases new marketing campaign on British pub culture [Fashion Network]
  • MAC Cosmetics tries on YouTube’s newest AR ad formats [Retail Dive]
PRODUCT
  • Dolce & Gabbana becomes the first luxury fashion house to extend sizes [Fashion United]
  • Adidas and Ikea to develop products for home workouts [Fashion Network]
BUSINESS
  • Unilever acquires beauty brand Tatcha for a reported $500 million [AdWeek]
  • Chanel dispels rumors of sale after announcing a strong financial year [Fashion United]
  • Mulberry falls into the red [Drapers]
  • Kenzo parts ways with creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim [WWD]
  • Topshop owner’s fall is fastest in UK high street memory [Vogue Business]
  • Revenue jumps 39% at Boohoo Group [Drapers]
CULTURE
  • Unilever boss warns of dangers of ‘woke-washing’ in ad industry [Sky News]
  • As drag goes mainstream, queer fashion designers reap business benefits [Fashionista]
  • It’s long overdue for fashion to think about people with disabilities [Hypebeast]
  • Streetwear’s big opportunity: women [BoF]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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Campaigns social media

Dove teams up with Kelly Rowland to release song encouraging young girls to love their hair

Personal care brand Dove has teamed up with singer Kelly Rowland to co-write a song aiming to empower young girls to love their hair. Titled “Crown”, the song is part of Dove’s ongoing Self-Esteem Project, which has reached 29m people since launching in 2004.

“I felt many of the pressures young girls face today when it comes to embracing their hair, but my mom would always tell me that your hair is your crowning glory and you should wear it proudly,” says the singer.

A music video shows the singer accompanied by a diverse cast of young girls, who share their individual stories of how they have been made to feel self-conscious about their hair. Stories include those of 11-year olds Tyrelle Davis and Faith Fennidy, who were sent home from their school for wearing hair extensions. Jorja Orrick, meanwhile, was once bullied for cutting her hair short, which spurred her sister Sarah to do the same in solidarity.

The campaign was created after research conducted by Dove showed that although 65% of young girls see hair as part of their self-expression, almost 50% said it could make them feel self-conscious as well. Furthermore, 71% of respondents cited music as an influential factor in their lives, which prompted the brand to create the empowering tune.

“Dove wants all young girls, and women, to have the confidence to wear their hair anyway they choose, and to see their hair as a source of confidence, not anxiety,” said Piyush Jain, Unilever VP of marketing and general manager of hair care.

To further promote the campaign, Rowland and the Self-Esteem Project will create a workshop at a local Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) in New Jersey. The organization offers children and teens after-school programs where they can learn new skills.

How are you thinking about your brand messaging? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Bitcoin millionaires love streetwear, voice shopping on the rise, solving the last mile

Bitcoin millionaires are coming for streetwear
Bitcoin millionaires are coming for streetwear

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Bitcoin millionaires are coming for streetwear [GQ]
  • Alexa, I need … everything. Voice shopping sales could reach $40 billion by 2022 [USAToday]
  • Solving for the last mile is retail’s next big disruption [RetailDive]
  • What Gucci’s gun stance says about the end of corporate neutrality [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Levi’s revolutionizes finishing process, driving more sustainable supply chain [TCDaily]
  • Unilever and IBM’s blockchain experiment: a silver bullet for digital or a ‘glitzy’ quick fix? [TheDrum]
  • JD.com’s new accelerator focuses on blockchain startups [TechCrunch]
  • JD.com upgrades AR/VR capabilities for beauty [WWD]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Why is it so hard for clothing manufacturers to pay a living wage? [Racked]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Wear now, pay later: credit shopping goes digital [BoF]
  • ‘To find it, just Boohoo it’: How the fast-fashion retailer is making a go of visual search [Glossy]
  • Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake talks data, Amazon—and hot tubs [FastCompany]
  • Macy’s just confirmed the end of department stores as we know them [Business Insider]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The Outnet is using its chatbot to push out influencer content [Glossy]
  • The Gap wins over Instagram with this empowering breastfeeding ad [FastCompany]
  • Allbirds is selling a limited-edition shoe exclusively on Instagram [Glossy]
PRODUCT
  • Hunter teams up with Target for limited edition collection [TheIndustry]
  • The US is now buying more stretchy pants than blue jeans [QZ]
BUSINESS
  • Why Burberry chose Riccardo Tisci [BoF]
  • How Guess mismanaged its #MeToo crisis [BoF]
  • Marks & Spencer publishes gender pay gap and pledges to extend monitoring to age, ethnicity and disability [TheIndustry]
Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups technology

What you missed: Amazon Fashion developments, the Farfetch and JD.com deal, London’s smart street

Amazon Prime Wardrobe - Amazon Fashion
Amazon Prime Wardrobe

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.


TOP STORIES
  • Will Amazon eat fashion? [BoF]
  • Farfetch boss hails US$397m tie-up with JD.com, says partnership will speed up luxury fashion portal’s growth in China [SCMP]
  • World’s first “smart street” launches in London [The Industry]
  • For brands, fitting rooms are the key to unlocking valuable customer data [Glossy]

BUSINESS
  • Why Walmart bought Bonobos [BoF]
  • Inside the costly fashion faux pas that was ill-fated Style.com [Telegraph]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Amazon Pay rolls out its first payments integration on Instagram [GeekWire]
  • Fashion retailers are reconsidering their chatbot strategies [Glossy]

MARKETING
  • The xx’s new music video is also a Calvin Klein ad [Campaign]
  • Asos praised for using ‘natural’ unretouched images of models [The Drum]
  • Has Unilever’s ambition to eradicate gender stereotyping from its own ads been successful? [The Drum]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Why retail flagships are running aground [AdAge]
  • In the Amazon era, debating the store of the future [Glossy]
  • Amazon, now a physical retailer too, is granted an anti-showrooming patent [TechCrunch]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Why retail labs are toast [AdAge]
  • Survey: 45% of retailers plan to use AI in next 3 years [Retail Dive]
  • How L’Oréal uses virtual reality to make internal decisions at its New York HQ [Glossy]
  • Google Glass is apparently back from the dead, starts getting software updates [ArsTechnica]

START-UPS
  • Stitch Fix has hired a new CFO. An IPO probably comes next [Recode]
Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce product social media technology

What you missed: SXSW special, see-now-buy-now’s decline, LVMH’s e-commerce moves, Gucci’s memes

The #TFWGucci meme campaign - weekly round-up Gucci LVMH SXSW
The #TFWGucci meme campaign

There’s a lot to catch up on from the past fortnight – from news of the see-now-buy-now revolution’s fading, to LVMH’s e-commerce plans and Gucci’s meme campaign, not to mention the creative director shifts happening at the likes of Givenchy and Chloé.

On top of that however, is also a special digest of everything you need to know from SXSW – from our own round-up of the top technologies on show and the numerous Levi’s, Marc Jacobs and Bolt Threads announcements, through to varying views on areas including chatbots, drones and more.

If that’s not enough, do also take time to read the much deeper dives on artificial intelligence we’ve highlighted both under the top stories and tech headers too.


TOP STORIES
  • The see-now-buy-now revolution is fizzling [Glossy]
  • LVMH goes digital with all its brands under one luxury goods e-commerce site [FT]
  • #TFWGucci is the new viral campaign merging memes and fashion [Sleek]
  • WWD worked with IBM Watson’s AI to predict the biggest trends of the season [WWD]
  • Why Cosabella replaced its agency with AI and will never go back to humans [Campaign]

SXSW SPECIAL
  • SXSW 2017: Tech takeaways from AI to blockchain for the fashion and retail industries [F&M]
  • Trying on the Levi’s and Google smart jacket at SXSW feels like the future [Forbes]
  • Why Marc Jacobs’ cynical view of fashion and technology at SXSW won’t last [Forbes]
  • Bolt Threads is launching its first bioengineered spider silk product at SXSW – a tie [Forbes]
  • My afternoon at the virtual reality cinema, including trying the Spatium Philip Treacy experience [USA Today]
  • For fashion brands flocking to SXSW, what’s the ROI? [BoF]
  • Spotify lets The North Face release campaign where it rains [BrandChannel]
  • How may AI help you, sir? [Campaign]
  • 4 best practices to make bots the next big user interface [AdAge]
  • Amazon’s delivery drones can be seen at SXSW [Fortune]
  • Fashion and beauty brands are still gaga for Instagram [Glossy]
  • Armani, Neiman Marcus embrace SXSW to appeal to young affluents [Luxury Daily]
  • Neiman Marcus tries see-now-buy-now at SXSW [WWD]
  • Pauline van Dongen’s touch-sensitive denim jacket gives intimate back rubs [Dezeen]

BUSINESS
  • Neiman Marcus reportedly in talks to sell to Hudson’s Bay [Retail Dive]
  • Canada Goose gets a warm reception, extending momentum of IPO market [USA Today]
  • Clare Waight Keller becomes the first female artistic director at Givenchy [The Guardian]
  • Chloé names Natacha Ramsay-Levi as creative director [NY Times]
  • Tom Ford bids farewell to see-now-buy-now [WWD]
  • Thakoon’s business restructuring is a blow to see-now-buy-now [Glossy]
  • M&S, Starbucks, Microsoft and L’Oréal named among world’s most ethical companies [Campaign]
  • Uniqlo thinks faster fashion can help it beat Zara [Bloomberg]
  • One simple way to empower women making H&M clothes in Bangladesh: Stop paying them in cash [Quartz]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Facebook rolls out version of Instagram Stories for Messenger [AdWeek]
  • How brands are innovating on messaging platforms [L2]
  • What a chatbot can teach you – and Unilever – about hair [AdAge]
  • Drop it like its bot: Brands have cooled on chatbots [Digiday]
  • How luxury fashion brands in China use WeChat in 2017 [JingDaily]

MARKETING
  • Marques’Almeida launched an interactive website as its latest campaign [BoF]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Shopify: The invisible selling machine [Fortune]
  • Millennials buy more clothes on Amazon than any other website [Recode]
  • LIKEtoKNOW.it’s app helps you buy the products in your screenshots [TechCrunch]

TECHNOLOGY
  • How AI will make commerce as natural as talking to a friend [LinkedIn]
  • Stitch Fix creates garments using artificial intelligence as more firms seek to develop creative software [WSJ]
  • AI-powered customer service needs the human touch [Huffington Post]
  • Rethinking warehouse fulfillment — with robots [WWD]
  • Sephora is betting big on augmented reality for beauty [Glossy]
  • Walmart launches tech incubator dubbed Store No. 8 [Forbes]
Categories
business data Editor's pick film social media

From the archive: Unilever’s ‘All Things Hair’ provides stellar example of big data in action

unilever_allthingshair

In December 2013, Unilever launched a YouTube channel in the UK dedicated to hair. All Things Hair, as it’s called, generated over 17 million views and an average viewing time of one minute and 51 seconds, in its first six months.

Today it has nearly 180,000 subscribers, and remains one of the strongest examples of big data being used effectively.

Created in conjunction with agency Razorfish, it is filled with hair styling tutorials from leading video bloggers (vloggers), including the likes of Zoella and Tanya Burr. That content isn’t arbitrary however, rather selected based on Google searches.

Unilever partnered with the search giant to gain real-time insights into what exactly people are looking for knowledge on. There are 11 billion searches about hair on Google every year – 30 million each day – making it a rich pool to draw from and enabling the company to predict what solutions, problems and styles people care about.

That information is sent to the vloggers – many of whom have several million followers in their own right too – who are paid by Unilever to create the tutorial content incorporating brands including Toni & Guy, Dove and VO5.

Speaking at Cannes Lions last year, Unilever chief marketing and communications officer, Keith Weed, said: “The content is relevant, useful and authentic. It’s a really cool application of big data, based on what is actually big insights.”

It’s also a great example of merging together real-time search data with influencer and content marketing. Cleverly it does so in a way that retains an authentic feel, rather than a hardline promotional one.

Some recent example content:

Categories
Comment data digital snippets e-commerce Editor's pick film social media technology

2014: A designer meets digital year in review

Burberry_burberry_hr

What a year it has been for fashion and technology…

From wearables taking off with varying designer brands during fashion week, to the launch of new services like Apple Pay, the success of Alibaba’s IPO, discussion around visual search, the ongoing use of selfie campaigns and more, one thing after another has once again been making an impact in this space.

Below then, are 10 of the posts you loved the most on the relaunched F&M site this year. It’s an interesting exploration of subjects as varied as big data and viral videos, as well as the more gimmicky, yet PR-worthy role technology can often play. Think drones, Oculus Rift, the ALS #icebucketchallenge, and yet more on wearable tech.

Thank you for reading and see you in 2015!

Categories
business data Editor's pick film

Unilever’s ‘All Things Hair’ provides stellar example of big data in action

unilever_allthingshair

Big data might be one of those phrases we’re all now used to hearing, but finding examples of those truly using it effectively (and willing to talk about it) are few and far between.

Enter then Unilever’s All Things Hair, a YouTube channel from the UK that really speaks to real-time relevance thanks to true data insights.

Created in conjunction with agency Razorfish, it is filled with hair styling tutorials from leading video bloggers (vloggers). That content isn’t arbitrary however, rather selected based on Google searches.

Unilever partnered with the search giant to gain real-time insights into what exactly people are looking for knowledge on. There are 11 billion searches about hair on Google every year; 30 million each day – a rich pool to draw from, enabling the company to predict what solutions, problems and styles people care about.

That information is sent to the vloggers – many of whom have several million followers in their own right too – who are paid by Unilever to create the tutorial content incorporating brands including Toni & Guy, Dove and VO5.

Speaking at Cannes Lions this year, Unilever chief marketing and communications officer, Keith Weed, said: “The content is relevant, useful and authentic. It’s a really cool application of big data, based on what is actually big insights.”

It’s also a great example of merging together real-time search data with influencer and content marketing. Cleverly it does so in a way that retains an authentic feel, rather than a hardline promotional one.

Accordingly, the channel has generated over 17 million views and an average viewing time of one minute and 51 seconds, since it launched in December 2013.

Some example content:

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce social media

Digital snippets: Tumblr, Versace, Club Monaco, Chanel, Abercrombie, McQueen

A round-up of recent stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital:

Versus_Versace

  • Is a Yahoo-owned Tumblr more attractive to brands? [AdAge]
  • Versace transforms Versus line into a ‘digital brand’ (as pictured) [Fmag]
  • Club Monaco creates all-blogger look book (and launches it on Tumblr) [DisneyRollerGirl]
  • Keira Knightley stars as Coco Chanel for new Karl Lagerfeld film, Once Upon a Time [Fashionologie]
  • Video takes aim at Abercrombie & Fitch for “exclusionary” policy, spurs homeless campaign [Hollywood Reporter]
  • Alexander McQueen and McQ websites get new look [WWD]
  • Why Victoria’s Secret and Burberry win in social media — and other fashion brands fail [Business Insider]
  • The seven species of social commerce [Mashable]
  • YouTube jumps into retail with shoppable videos for brand channels, first client is Unilever’s Tresemmé [BrandChannel]
  • Wearable technology market set to explode, could reach $50 billion, says Credit Suisse [BoF]