Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

1. Trading religion for spirituality

According to the Los Angeles Times, millennials are trading the organized religions they grew up in for “more spiritual beliefs and practices like tarot, astrology, meditation, energy healing and crystals.” Why should you care? Digging deeper into the “why” driving this movement may say more about the millennial psyche than the trend itself. There were a couple of observations in the article that stuck out to us. First, millennials “dabble, they find what they like, they take what works for them and leave the rest” rather than taking any of it too seriously. Second, they are drawn to the smorgasbord approach of heterodoxy, which they describe as “individuals cooking up their own spiritual or religious stew and cooking it up their way,” since no singular religion best represents their views. Two takeaways for brands to consider are that (1) millennials like the opportunity to pick and choose from options and dabble in new things/ideas before they commit and (2) brands may not need to holistically represent millennials so long as millennials can incorporate the bits and pieces they like into lives. [Los Angeles Times]

2. Promoted IRL by VR

Walmart is currently testing how virtual reality can be used to recommend individuals for promotions. Why should you care? According to Walmart, they are using it as one of many different data points in their interview process. The idea is to allow employees to demonstrate their skills simulations that simply can’t be captured through even a stellar interview response. Since it isn’t being used to demote employees, but for promotions only, it seems like an innovative and positive use of the technology to benefit their employees. [Fast Company]

3. #toxicwastelake #oasis #seriously

A toxic waste lake in Siberia that looks like a tropical oasis is a new hot spot for Instagram photo shoots. Why should you care? Sure, it isn’t radioactive or poisonous, but the lake is definitely not safe. The color from the vibrant blue water is due to a chemical reaction of waste products from a nearby power plant and both trespassing and swimming are forbidden. However, that hasn’t stopped Instagram users from paddleboarding, reclining on unicorn floaties in the “Novosibirsk Maldives” to get the perfect selfie. Even if this is simply the destination “flavor of the week,” it is amazing what people are still willing to do for the perfect pic. [Vice]

4. Will hike for beer

On July 20th, Busch will be launching a secret pop-up bar somewhere along hiking trails in a National Forest. Why should you care? Aside from the unfortunate timing of this weekend’s heat wave, we love this idea because it touches on so many things consumers want. First, for the targeted audience (people who like beer and nature), there’s a great prize pack for people who find the secret location including free beer, swag and entries into a raffle for “beer for life, national park passes, and a cabin getaway, among other prizes.” Additionally, Busch demonstrates its commitment to the environment by agreeing to plant 100 trees for every person who stops by the pop-up bar. Finally, this brings together the right balance of inclusivity and exclusivity (with novelty) by creating the opportunity to enjoy the company of community of hikers at essentially a backwoods speakeasy. [Matador Network]

5. Designed to be better in person

The Lucky Cat, a restaurant in London, was designed with the intent to be better in person than in photographs. Why should you care? While the design itself is cool, the driving idea behind it is interesting. Others are designing restaurants and pop-up “museums” to encourage Instagram users to take pictures. This restaurant took the opposite stance and designed it specifically to be better in person. Not only does this suggest that we might be seeing the pendulum swing back on design catering to Instagrammability, but also a desire by more people to balance their digital intake. By focusing on the real-life experience, this restaurant gives patrons the opportunity to digitally disconnect and reconnect with eating, their family, the space and the ambiance – a balance we’re seeing more and more consumers crave. [Dezeen]

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