This isn’t big… it’s hygge


January 16, 2020

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Maybe The Slanket was just ahead of its time. A freshman at the University of Maine named Gary Clegg created the original sleeved blanket in 1997. A competitor that would come to be better known (the Snuggie) burst onto the scene in 2008. Here in 2020, there might be room for more than one couture comforter, because comfy has hit the big time. Today:

  • Companies cash in on cozy, if they’re able
  • There’s a new frontier for the nutrition label
  • 3rd-party cookies go off the table

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Why cozy is taking over the world

There’s a reason your Instagram feed is filled with ads for weighted blankets, self-heating mugs, and mindfulness apps. Brands are going cozy, and cozy is big business. 

It wasn’t always this way. Remember when the loner, sewn to his couch in sweatpants, was a punch line? Now he’s a role model, right down to those suddenly stylish sweats. What gives?

The world is a dumpster fire. But there’s more to it than that.

Yes, people want to feel safe as the globe burns (literally). But as Vox’s Rebecca Jennings explains: Marketers are pivoting to hygge because Generation Z seems to want more of it, even if no one’s exactly sure how to pronounce it.

It can be dicey to opine on entire generations. Even so, a few things ring true: 

  • Research has shown that Generation Z is more likely than their elders to adopt progressive stances
  • They’re worried about work-life balance… 
  • … and corporate ethics are a big factor in their purchasing choices

So it stands to reason that they might want to draw brighter lines between the office and the couch. They’re shut-ins, and they’re proud of it.

Here’s why you should care: Businesses can unlock opportunities by leaning into this vibe, if they’re authentic about it. That means you better figure out how to pronounce hygge — and quick.

Can’t get the hang of hygge? Try your hand at kalsarikänni — that’s a Finnish word for getting drunk alone at home in your underwear.

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meat footprint image

Will carbon footprints be the new calorie counts?

The fake-meat purveyor Quorn says it’s breaking into new territory by labeling 30 of its most popular products with detailed information about their carbon footprints.

If the move sounds a little opportunistic, that’s because it is. Quorn is joining a long list of companies responding to rising consumer demands for more transparency about the impact of the food they eat. 

Fast Company pointed out that Whole Foods already stamps certain meat products with labels that show how strictly they adhere to animal-welfare standards.

Worth nothing: It’s not just consumers who are asking for sustainable beef. Investors are getting hip, too.

If others follow suit, counting carbon footprints could get messy 

The Food and Drug Administration already requires most prepared foods to carry nutrition labels. And the US Department of Agriculture oversees the use of the term “organic.”

Adding carbon footprints to the mix would open up a whole new world of regulatory jargon to argue about.

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laptop cookies image

The (tracking) cookie crumbled. What will advertisers bake up next?

Google announced plans to phase out 3rd-party tracking cookies, becoming the last big browser to do so.

It’s the end of an era for cookie-based consumer tracking — and the start of a new era for user tracking that’s even more sophisticated.

  • Refresher: Cookies = bits of code in websites that advertisers use to retarget consumers 

Cookies came out in the mid-’90s… 

And for 20+ years, they were the go-to way for advertisers to track people online. 3rd-party cookie monsters like Criteo soared to multibillion-dollar valuations by developing retargeting tech.

But privacy issues became more important (and better known) to consumers, and companies made moves to block 3rd-party cookies: 

  • Apple’s Safari has Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP)
  • Mozilla’s Firefox has Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP)

And now that Google’s Chrome jumped off the bandwagon, 3rd-party cookies are basically burnt for good.

So, does that mean advertisers won’t track me anymore?!?!

NO — it just means advertisers will keep tabs on you in other ways.

1st-party tracking is the new name of the game. 

And giants like Amazon, Facebook, and Google, with their oodles of user data, will have even more power. 

Some tracking methods we’ll see in the post-cookie world:

  • AI-powered guesswork (more formally known as probabilistic tracking). 
    • Example: Artificial-intelligence models that combine anonymized info (users’ browsing habits or keystroke signatures) to create unique profiles and track them across devices
  • User-provided info (also called deterministic tracking). 
    • Example: Companies that use network-connected devices (Alexa-enabled toilets, etc.) and sign-on IDs (“login with Facebook”) to create targetable profiles
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coins image

Q: What the heck is ‘pre-wealth management?’

A: It’s an emerging industry that solves one of Silicon Valley’s foremost first-world problems — helping startup employees take out loans to cash out their equity stakes.

Yes, this a real problem for startup employees 

Many employees at startups are compensated with stock options. 

But when employees leave those startups before an IPO or an acquisition, the price of exercising those stock options is often prohibitively high (sometimes in the millions, thanks to taxes).

Enter: Pre-wealth managers

Pre-wealth startups — like Secfi, for example — offer “option exercise financing” plans that give startup employees the cash to exercise their options… with more advantageous terms than plain old loans.

Employees sign forward-purchase agreements that are backed by their stock options, which let them take out loans without making payments until an IPO or an exit. 

  • It’s a good deal for pre-wealth startups because their customers fork over some equity, providing a sneaky way to secure equity in private startups  
  • It’s a good deal for customers because they’re on the hook only for the value of their shares, so they won’t end up underwater if a SoftBank-style situation hits the fan 
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Photo by Hian Oliveira on Unsplash

The online dating biz could triple in the next 5 years

Can you put a price on love? Apparently so. 

The Trends team analyzed 50 of the top dating apps, which have reshaped the way we think about finding a potential mate.

Although there are 8k online dating sites, there are still opportunities for new entrants. The global online dating market brings in some $3B a year, with some expecting it to reach over $9B by 2025.

A few things we learned:

  • Americans are more single than ever
  • 50m Americans have tried online dating
  • 20% of committed relationships began online
  • A majority of the top apps are owned by one of 4 conglomerates
Chart of dating app conglomerates

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