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If you're ever in the mood for a laugh, throw "millennials," "brands," and "marketing" into the ol' Google and give the internet a peruse.

At any given moment, marketing executives around the world are being paid gazillions of dollars to figure out the mystery behind what millennials buy and why we buy it. With the tactical precision of the three blind mice, advertisers invent absurd strategies to capture our attention, launching campaigns that they think are lit af but fall miserably short of the goal.

Especially in the food industry, marketers act like millennial behavior is totally uninterpretable. (Remember when they tried to say we don't eat cereal because we're lazy? That's why I opt for a fresh egg omelette every morning instead — way easier.)


Millennials are older now and starting to make up more of the world's annual spending, so whether they like it or not, brands are having to take our preferences more seriously. And (to their abject horror, I assume) what they're finding is that what we want is not only pretty simple, but could also have a positive impact on the food industry at large.

For starters, millennials want more facts about the food we consume.

Not too much to ask, right? As the first generation that grew up alongside rather than ahead of the internet, millennials learned at a young age that any information we want is information we can get as long as we enter the right search terms. Our ability to instantly verify any claim an advertisement makes is why only 1% of millennials report being swayed by traditional marketing strategies. We rely instead on what we can trust: ourselves.

This is having a positive effect on the food industry because it means companies are becoming more transparent about their products to gain the trust of millennial consumers.

In a 2012 study of American and British adults, 8 in 10 millennials said they appreciated "behind the scenes" commercials for their food, like Whole Foods Market's Values Matter campaign, which links back to a page where the readers can verify the company's sustainability claims personally. By comparison, only 6.5 in 10 baby boomers indicated that they wanted more information about their food from brands.

Millennials look to the facts for proof that the products we buy are doing good.

GlobeScan CSR has coined a term for this type of shopper — aspirationals, or "materialists who believe they have a responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society." Millennials tend to fall into this category, with 40% of us preferring to shop local and nearly 75% of us willing to pay extra for sustainable goods.

Shopping local and sustainable produce cuts down on waste and pollution. It also boosts local economies and ecosystems.

Photo by Stephen Chernin/iStock.

As a result, brands are being forced to do better in order to stay competitive in a millennial-driven market.

To satisfy our desire for fact-based corporate responsibility practices, companies that already had these practices in place, like Whole Foods, are pushing that information out into the open, heightening the overall level of transparency in the food industry at large.

In 2015, 81% of S&P 500 companies released sustainability reports, up from 20% in 2011. In response to this pressure, the brands that aren't meeting the same high responsibility standards are being forced to change their practices to stay competitive. Even restaurants that are considered categorically unhealthy have launched plans to up their corporate practices, like McDonald's, which in 2014 announced its intent to gradually switch to sustainable beef.

As market demand (and brand loyalty) shifts toward environmentally and socially conscious business, corporations are adjusting, even before governments step in to enforce regulations.

There's one more way to capture a millennial's brand loyalty: Take a stand on something.

Millennial consumers aren't just interested in a company's ethics where its own business is concerned. Brands that advocate for social causes, such as LGBTQ rights, immigration law, and gender equality gain favor with millennials. Companies, like Starbucks, which not only exhibit ethical corporate policy and excellent employee treatment, but also frequently speak out on social and political issues, have some of the strongest brand-loyal customers worldwide.

As millennials take the wheel on driving the market, the food industry could also get a lot more culturally diverse.

As a group, millennials are more ethnically diverse than our predecessors and have a more welcoming attitude toward new and different food cultures. The Hartman Group's study on generational food trends reports that millennials are 10-20% less interested in classic American or Americanized ethnic foods than baby boomers, and they express an increased interest in different kinds of global cuisine. A growing demand for international food could present a wider niche for new business opportunities, like immigrant-owned restaurants.

Image via iStock.

The takeaway? Once marketers stop hating on millennial preferences, the whole industry should see an increase in pro-social, sustainable food culture.

While it's true that millennials might present more of a challenge to marketers than in the past, that's a really good thing. It suggests that the market is being driven by a smarter, more empathetic consumer base, which in turn is driving companies to pick up more socially and environmentally friendly practices that benefit all of us.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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