Friday, August 15, 2008

3 Lifestyle Trends & 3 Companies Leading the Way

To stay up on trends in retailing and branding, my daily reading includes general business pubs, advertising industry and branding newsletters, retail industry pubs, tech industry blogs and newsletters, reports from consumer researchers, and more. Now that global warming and resource limitations are acknowledged as real, and with gas prices sky high, the environment and sustainability are mainstream topics for discussion everywhere. These 3 caught my eye this week.

Trend #1: Pr
e-cycling - With increasing consumer interest in sustainable living, those engaged in precycling aim to avoid products that create more superfluous stuff. This could mean everything from buying bulk in order to avoid excess packaging. Many stores now sell reusable grocery bags, and Costco has become even stingier with boxes at checkout. But the news in precycling is the disappearance of disposable water bottles from homes and events. Kids' sports teams all insist that players bring their own Nalgene bottles. Office workers bring them, too. The company has quietly been producing reusable containers of all kinds and wittily urges consumers to “drink responsibly.” Nalgene gets my vote for poster child of pre-recycling.

Trend #2: Biodynamics – Before there were organic products, there were Biodynamic ones – made from plants that are 100% pure and free of chemicals and pesticides and that are harvested at very specific "peak" periods during the growth cycle. A biodynamics pioneer, Jurlique harvests the plants and flowers that go into its products from its certified organic and biodynamic farms in South Australia. They sell skin, body, hair and baby care products in their own stores and through selected retailers around the world. In company's vision statement, written long before this type of thinking was cool, Jurlique asserts that “beauty is defined by sustainable connections – to oneself, to the community, and to the earth.“ Nice.

Trend #3: Learning & Living
– Anyone can collect objects – if they have the money. But it takes time to learn a new skill. Last year, in the U.S. one in five people took a class in-person for fun or to learn something new. And one of the most popular categories is gardening. Is it related to our growing awareness of global warming? Could be. Terrain at Styer's is a new retail concept from Urban Outfitters that combines green lifestyle merchandise with gardening lectures, classes for do-it-yourselfers, and landscaping services for those who want someone to do it for them. The company is launching the concept with 7 domestic locations. While the full assortment may not survive as the concept scales, it is a bold attempt to assemble all of the elements of a green lifestyle.

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