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17 NOVEMBER 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: A skincare brand’s clean recipe for winning with younger consumers 
  • Fax, No Printer: Can you guess Vietnamese Gen Z’s latest pursuit? 
  • Regional Round-up: The Rise (and rise) of K-pop, a side dish of friendship bracelets, and ‘I solemnly swear I am up to no good’…

Innovation of the Week


Earlier this week, KraveBeauty launched two limited-edition tamanu oil products* made from oil sourced directly from a farm in Indonesia. For every purchase, Krave Beauty will donate 5% to the Women’s Earth Alliance (WEA) to support the women farmers involved in the production. The brand also worked with Indonesian illustrator @thef00lswhodream to create the packaging. 

*For all our non-beauty junkies: tamanu oil is a multipurpose nut oil that’s used to treat scars and cure a variety of skin conditions. It’s derived from the seeds of the tamanu nut tree, which is indigenous to Southeast Asia 🤓


First, some background. KraveBeauty was founded by Liah Yoo, a K-beauty creator who saw success sharing skincare tips but became increasingly disillusioned with the volume of products and the pace of skincare trends. By focusing on product efficacy, sustainability, and transparency (how’s that for a trend bingo?), Yoo and her team built a niche beauty brand that has reached cult status. Other activations that link back to the brand’s mission include an Anti-Consumer Consumer Grant, the Waste Me Not pop-up, and a Rewind series that traces products back to their raw materials. 

It’s not surprising that Gen Z beauty consumers — increasingly concerned about the climate crisis, interested in ingredient provenance, and are looking to purchase honest products that work — are gravitating towards brands like KraveBeauty. These storied products don’t just look good on the shelf; they actually deliver results in more ways than one. 

After all, as regular readers know, this demographic is tired of empty promises: they want action and accountability. Liah Yoo provides that with insightful videos that explore the hidden side of the beauty industry — see how this Reel breaks down the tamanu supply chain and explains why the brand decided to change their strategy and work directly with a farm. Meanwhile the partnership, with the WEA promises a tangible outcome: per a press release, it’s expected to result in more than a 50% increase in income for tamanu farmers in two Indonesian provinces. These aren’t vague promises, they are tangible commitments. 

Of course, KraveBeauty isn’t the only creator-led brand that’s looking to disrupt the industry by zeroing in on responsible sourcing. Launched just this month by Indonesian creator and public figure Maudy Ayunda, From This Island is a clean beauty brand that utilizes super-ingredients native to the archipelago. We expect more to emerge in 2024.

Fax, No Printer*

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

What’s the hottest new activity among Vietnamese Gen Zs?

A. Friendship bracelets

B. 24-hour cafes

C. Slow travel

Scroll down to the end of the newsletter for the correct answer!

Regional Round-up

🌏 K-pop is going global: JYP Entertainment and Live Nation have signed a strategic partnership to produce world tours for all of JYP’s artists (which includes TWICE and ITZY) and their emerging talents. With HYBE and UMG’s Geffen Records building a global girl group, 2024 could take K-pop to the next level… we’ll be watching and reporting on all the updates! 

⚡🧙‍♂️ Attention, Muggles! Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is coming to Singapore in February. The immersive walking trail will feature scenes from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies, so expect magical creatures and charms galore. In 2024, how will you give fans a new way to immerse themselves in their favorite stories? 

🌳 To celebrate the 18th anniversary of K-pop group Super Junior, Filipino ELFs constructed a public garden in Rizal Park. Not only is this a space for fans to heal through nature, it benefits the wider community. Fandoms are teaming up and changing the world for good, but there’s still room for brands to support their endeavors.

🚚 Bangkok’s first gaming truck will launch at the Ploenchit Fair next week. Kitted out with seven internal screens, PS5s, a PS4, Nintendo Switches, XBox X, and an Oculus, plus an external screen for spectators, there’s something for everyone. This concept has worked well in other markets… will this truck pop up at more locations across the city?

💝 A hotpot chain in Singapore has a surprising side dish: friendship bracelets. Diners at Hai Di Lao’s Clarke Quay branch can make the accessories while they eat — apparently there are plenty of colors to choose from and a manicure service is also offered. Who do you think might be the inspiration behind this trend? Answers on a postcard

⚠️ ICYMI: In the latest example of a culture x commerce mash-up, McDonald’s has teamed up with Gen Z favorite Crocs for a limited-edition line of shoes, socks, and Jibbitz charms inspired by brand mascots Birdie, Grimace, and Hamburglar. So if you’ve ever dreamed of wearing a Happy Meal… run don’t walk 🍟🐊

This Week's Trivia Answer

B. 24-hour cafes

Young people in Vietnam are staying out past midnight and camping at 24-hour cafes… to work. Cafe-goers aged 18-27 make up the main clientele, and they usually turn up after 9pm armed with their textbooks and laptops. Some cafes see twice the number of visitors at night compared to during the day.

These around-the-clock joints aren’t new, but outdoor cafes that began popping up in Hanoi have been gaining popularity with Gen Zs looking for a different environment to work in. Many young people also say they are more productive at night and prefer working in cafes for the ambience.

Concerns about poor sleeping habits and mental health aside, this burgeoning phenomenon is another example that Gen Zs are doing life on their own terms — flipping conventional rules of when and where they engage with work. If your brand is considering an activation in Vietnam, could a 24-hour pop-up generate buzz? More generally, how will you empower and celebrate Gen Z’s lifestyle quirks?

🚀 Over and Out!

This newsletter could improve your skin and your strategy. So do subscribe, forward it on, or share the love on social media. Thanks for reading!


Your Culture Mavens,

Acacia, Angela, Kiko, Teri, & Vicki