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26 MAY 2023

Welcome to this week’s edition of Culture Wire, a newsletter brought to you by Singapore-based pop culture and lifestyle marketing agency Culture Group.

In this week’s edition: 

  • Innovation of the Week: How one brand is making moves to appeal to younger shoppers 
  • Fax, No Printer: What’s trending in tourism?
  • Regional Round-up: Durian dating, retro gaming, rebel foods and more!

Innovation of the Week


The leather goods brand Coach recently took its iconic Tabby bag on a global tour with retail experiences designed to appeal to Gen Z. In Bangkok, the pop-up included a 3D NYC subway station and a partnership with local ice cream parlor Laylow, while in Malaysia activations coincided with Ramadan. A new concept store in Singapore (Coach Play) includes a café and six themed rooms with a customization station and the chance to learn more about Coach’s history via an interactive art installation.

💡 Our take

At the end of last year, Coach’s parent company Tapestry revealed it was shifting its positioning in a bid to appeal to Gen Z. Let’s unpack what the brand is doing, and why it seems to be working, in a bit more detail: 

First, the pop-ups. The retail activations in Southeast Asia combined the brand’s heritage with local sensibilities, offering visitors a shareable IRL experience that leaned into their culture and interests. Pop-ups aren’t new, but for a generation that is all about experiences, they can still be relevant when done right.

Second, Coachtopia. Designed as the agile start-up arm within Coach, the Gen Z-focused sub-brand is built to more quickly capture cultural movements and strongly resonate with younger consumers. Its main ethos? Combining circularity and community. Not only are bags made from materials destined for landfill, Coach is also working with 120 young people (AKA ‘Coachtopians’), using Slack to get daily feedback on concepts, products and design. The contributions feature in campaign messaging, e-commerce sites, and more.

If this approach sounds familiar, you’re not wrong! We previously highlighted Mad for Makeup, who saw success in Indonesia with their community x co-creation x collaboration formula. By incorporating circularity too, Coach is hoping to really win with a demographic keen to balance self-expression and sustainability.

So here’s our take: when done well, fun and tailored experiences will appeal to Gen Z. But the impact can be multiplied when a brand also makes an effort to turn consumers into participants, while building towards a more sustainable model. In the future, we’d love to see Coach incorporate more community and circularity into their localized experiences. And we know Gen Z would too 😉

Fax, No Printer*

For those of you born before 1997, ‘fax, no printer‘ is Gen Z speak for ‘undeniable facts I agree with’

What is the latest, hottest travel experience in Japan?

Ninja training bootcamps

Traditional shrine marathons

Anime sites pilgrimage

Regional Round-up

💛 According to Bumble’s dating data in in Southeast Asia, almost a third of durian-loving Singaporeans won’t date someone who doesn’t like the fruit. The shared experience is an opportunity to connect with other people in the real world, while reinforcing their cultural heritage and Singaporean’s love of food. Does your brand have the same in-depth understanding of your consumers? 

🇻🇳 Think of Vietnam, and you think of banh mi, pho, and UNESCO heritage sites…maybe it’s time to add apps to the list. Regionally, Vietnam ranks second in Southeast Asia for app downloads, hitting 3.5B downloads last year. This is a country that interacts and transacts online, you need to respond to these behaviors and meet consumers where they are – not where you think they are!

♻️ You’ve heard of Indonesia’s sambal ijo (green chili). Now get ready for Indonesia’s Green Rebel Foods! The company has raised USD 7M in funding, and plans to expand across SEA with a more sustainable food – developed from tempeh, tofu, and other Indonesian flavors. The brand also works with Indonesian creators and collaborators to connect with their audience. Are they reading Culture Wire? 😜 

🖥️ Malaysia gaming is going retro on offerings, with Weyrdlets’ debut harkening back to the gaming trends of the late ‘90s and the 2000s – with a unique Malaysian twist of course. Gen Zs are turning back the clock on technology, bringing back ‘dumb phones’, revitalizing the publishing industry, and being hailed the savior of vinyl. How can your brand help Gen Z consumers go back in time?

🎮 Ten gamers, three weeks, one villa… has TikTok Philippines discovered the ultimate reality show? Smart PH has now teamed up with TikTok to launch The Greatest Gamer in the Philippines, a concept first piloted in Indonesia in 2021. The show highlights what it takes to be a professional gamer, with contestants facing in-game and real-world challenges. Want to join? Submit your interest via TikTok!

This Week's Trivia Answer

C. Anime sites pilgrimage

It started with a Chinese travel agent offering trips to famous sites from the anime Slam Dunk to coincide with the latest film’s release. Since then, tourists from all over the world have been traveling to Japan to see the sites that inspired their favorite anime, including a sleepy seaside town in Kanagawa from the opening sequence of Slam Dunk and Tohoku, the setting of the anime hit Suzume

But what’s driving this? It’s a combination of ‘revenge travel’, with Southeast Asian Gen Z exploring the world that was denied to them during the pandemic, Kidult spending and the Netflix effect – vacations inspired by TV shows and movies.

With travelers increasingly inspired by pop culture, how can your brand help people engage with destinations across Southeast Asia through the lens of their favorite films, shows, series and more?

🚀 Over and Out!

Why not hang around a fresh fruit market this weekend? You might just meet the love of your life! Or not… 

Pop culture insights are better when shared. Subscribe, forward this email on, or share the love on social media. Thanks for reading Culture Wire! 


Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Aliya, Angela, Kiko, & Vicki