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A Sampling
A Sampling

Gas stations, small homes, and a good ol' office

August 29, 2023

Get your goods to the gas station.

First thrift stores, now gas stations. Consumers have proven they appreciate scoring a good find, no matter where. The Wall Street Journal recently dove into the growing world of "gas station core" where consumers acquire kitschy, one-of-a-kind items at gas station shops along road trip routes. Young shoppers are also drawn in by the distinct stock of each local station, earning bragging rights as they share their novel finds with friends. Ahead of the curve, Cheez-It recently popped up at a Joshua Tree gas station with an activation that included a Cheez-It Pump, exclusive merch, and nostalgic, road trip-inspired aesthetics and souvenirs. Tap into this thirst for thrifting with small scale pop-ups and sneak exclusive product into gas stations across the country.

Honey, I shrunk the house!

With home prices and construction costs hitting record highs, Americans accept that home ownership today means downsizing. Listing platform Livabl by Zonda reports that since 2018, the average unit size for new housing has decreased 10% nationally. Consumers adjust to tighter, more efficient living spaces, relying on multiuse rooms and furniture that does double duty. Brands in the home and interiors businesses are wise to start thinking small with furniture that works harder and pieces that convert and shape shift. Beyond business, these tighter living quarters support The Co.’s hunch that neighborly niceties and community values are primed for a return in the suburbs. We might just start having the neighbors over again!

Italy says no to synthetic food.

A macro-trend towards environmentally friendly food is supporting the research and development of synthetic and cultivated animal products. However, in July, Italy banned the production, import, and sale of lab-grown foods to protect national food heritage and consumers’ health, underscoring a broader resistance to “fake” food. While consumers are willing to change eating habits for the environment, they also want food to come from nature. This, coupled with a newfound appreciation for farmers and agriculture—note the rise of “farmfluencers”—creates a tension that is balancing out in the embrace of plant-forward diets that simply include less meat. New fast-casual restaurant Rooted nails the positioning, promising seven whole ingredients or less per bowl (mostly plants), including spices and oils. As humans crave what’s raw and real in an increasingly artificial world, the natural foods movement will go from elitist to mass in presentation and adoption.

Food + Beverage shifts are on Coller Davis's radar at all times. If you are in or thinking of getting into this sector, let us give you a level-setting primer.

It might just be time to go back to the office.

Corporate industries like finance have been hard on back-to-office mandates for over a year now, but when Zoom says it’s time to return, the remote work free-for-all feels like it’s coming to a close. Three years post-pandemic, behavioral scientists and psychologists agree that hybrid work routines mess with attention spans and productivity. And, people are tired of remote workers overcrowding and killing the vibe of restaurants, hotels, and gyms. On this issue of “lobby zombies,” Monocle calls for a return to well-designed office spaces financed by employers. Anecdotally, a friend of The Co. phoned us last week after interviewing at an office that felt part old-school workplace, part chic downtown bar, admitting it made him more attracted to the company. We see the question of getting employees back to the office as an issue of good design more so than amenities. It’s not about bottomless kombucha and puppies. If you build a comfortable, serious working environment, they will come.

Young gens prioritize skills over school.

While Millennials championed the “slashie” career (Influencer/Writer/Entrepreneur/DJ), Gen Z is coming around to hard skills and trade-based learning in a shaky job market. Job ads not requiring college degrees are up 90% in the UK, according to new data from LinkedIn, as recruiters focus on skills-based hiring. Video game Roblox launched a virtual career center that will help avid gamers turn skills on the console into jobs. Even blue-collar positions allure as they feel safe and secure. Job board Indeed noted a 50% spike in searches for jobs at UPS after its union secured a new contract that will guarantee full-time drivers make $170K per year in pay and benefits. The Co. firmly believes in the value of the humanities and liberal arts education, but we do expect to see more brands feeding demand for job security with career-oriented offerings.

The Co. sees changes on the horizon. Collaborations are reaching a tipping point. Commision us to give your collaboration strategy the lead.

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