Can we Combat “Dupe Culture” with Activism?

PLUS: Nostalgia, Anemoia, and Grimace
June 14, 2023

We’re putting the final touches on our VISIONS Summit, futurists. 

Tomorrow we’re gathering in Chicago with leaders from the retail and eCommerce ecosystems to instigate new conversations, reset our thinking, and examine new ways of seeing our industry.

If you’re in town for RICE, stay over for the Visions Summit — we’ve added 25 seats to the room. That’s right, our twice-sold-out event is now expanding to accommodate even more futurists.

Don’t miss it. Grab a last-minute ticket at

— Phillip

P.S. “It’s always going to cost you: your time, your patience, or your money.” So what’s the true cost of convenience; and how does that factor into customer loyalty? Find out in the newest episode of the Future Commerce podcast — Episode #307 — on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Editor’s note: On Monday, June 12, we mistakenly cited Michael Goldenberg as a co-creator of The CQ newsletter. The CQ is fully operated by Forerunner Ventures.

AI Doomers Gonna Ai Doom. Researchers warn there is an existential risk in generative AI content that breaks future models, as AI trains on content generated by AI. Meanwhile, one writer believes that AI will likely save the world, rather than destroy it. In other news, Walmart has launched an internal generative AI tool for testing; the Walmart GenAI Playground. 

Gen What? Generational spending habits are off-track. According to a new report, Baby Boomers and elder generations are spending like there’s no tomorrow; whereas Gen X, Gen Z, and Millennials are playing it safe — holding onto their money. This bucks forecasts.

The report explains that this pattern is due to Social Security safety nets for the spenders. The savers are facing uncertainty with rising housing costs and student loans.

More Sights & Sounds. According to science, money actually can buy happiness — at least in 3 ways. The FTC is trying to stop Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard, after the EU approved it. Gen Z is poised to disrupt the world, and likely in the best ways possible — maybe dupe culture can be combatted by activism?

Image Copyright MSCHF

MSCHF goes Micro. This time MSCHF didn’t go big or go home; it introduced a third option — go microscopic. The teensy offering is actually a detailed rendering of a Louis Vuitton handbag and at 657 by 222 by 700 micrometers, will come pre-mounted under a digital microscope.

Immersive Fashion. LVMH has partnered with Epic Games to use its 3D tech to create immersive new customer experiences. The fashion company also announced the introduction of contactless payment in the U.S.

What Lived Underground Comes Back Around. Casa Bonita, a dimly lit and dirty underground restaurant staple near Denver that shut down during the pandemic is reopening, thanks to South Park’s creators who just invested nearly $40M to rebuild it from the ground up. In hopes to keep future generations caught up in its cavern-like grip of a rare — albeit odd — form of childhood joy, the two men restored it like a stunning work of art, noting, “It doesn’t stink like chlorine anymore.”

Can Grimace Bring About a Smile? Writer Emily Sundberg wrote her thoughts on the new Grimace shake, and the Gen Z reacquaintance with the once-retired second-tier mascot. The activation — a Birthday Party for Grimace — includes a purple milkshake that is inspiring C.A.R.L.Y.-like behavior.

Our Take: The C.A.R.L.Y. (Can't Afford Real Life Yet) psychographic developed by Future Commerce in 2019 examines the tendency for a young consumer to mimic the behaviors of consumers with higher spending power. They queue for drops — but at Crocs and not Supreme.

According to Sundberg’s analysis, C.A.R.L.Y.’s engagement with the purple milkshake is meant to be mimetic desire for $18 Erewhon smoothies, at an accessible price point. But there are layers that touch on nostalgia as well. 

Gen X’ers will recognize Grimace on-sight. To ensure that the Grimace activation holds with kids who never lived through the 80’s. McDonald’s is also using a technique called anemoia — the feeling of nostalgia for a time that you’ve never lived — by delivering a Gameboy Color game via a ROM, to be played on an emulator.

The Gameboy Color was discontinued in 2003.

A Lutheran Chatbot. Over 300 human believers gathered in St. Paul’s church in Fuerth, Germany, to hear a sermon delivered by an avatar and attend a service generated largely by ChatGPT. The service was part of the convention of Protestants in Germany, and received mixed reviews by congregants — but so do human-led services usually, don’t they?

India — So Hot Right Now. India is now the most populous nation in the world, and at the same time, the country is experiencing a spike in tourism. According to the CEO of travel website Agoda, “no nation’s tourism sector is growing as fast as India’s.” It seems the nations’ investments in airports and infrastructure are paying off.

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