Continued growth in both industrialization and the urban population in many cities across the globe is resulting in a more perceptible impurity to the air we breathe. Discomfort is a big issue, but more importantly, air pollution is becoming one of the biggest causes of disease and death.

As explored in the Mintel Trend ‘Airpocalypse Now,’ this aspect of environmental decline is projected to continue for the foreseeable future and already affects most people; a recent WHO (World Health Organization) report found that 92% of the global population breathe substandard air.

Governments are tackling this issue at both national and local levels and in the coming years we’re likely to see much more of this type of activity.

  • Mandates will require structures to become greener: New York state has implemented stricter emission limits on building generators.
  • Governments are getting more involved in reducing pollution resulting from auto usage: Barcelona is banning old cars from driving in the city on weekdays, and the mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City have signed a commitment to ban diesel vehicles by 2025.
  • Planes, trains and automobiles will become less harmful to the air: Venice, Italy launched its first electric waterbus in December 2016 and Germany is set to launch the world’s first hydrogen-powered, emission-free Hydrotrain next year.

As governments get more involved, brands have the opportunity to stand out by providing ahead-of-the-curve solutions to dealing with air pollution, including products, services and companies that provide protection from pollution, as well as air-monitoring capabilities.

  • US-based Netatmo launched its Health Home Coach indoor climate monitor, which uses the air-quality data it collects to decrease indoor air pollution, keep humidity levels stable and balance the temperature.
  • Packaged air has hit the market to provide city dwellers a literal breath of fresh air. Salinenluft is high-quality bottled air captured in Germany’s Saline Valley, and Aire de Ibiza allows tourists to bring a can of fresh Spanish air home with them.
  • US-based Cuvée is a unisex haircare brand that strengthens, shines and protects the hair from pollutants. Herbal Essences in the UK released a Daily Detox Shine shampoo to protect hair from the pollutants and toxins of urban living.
  • UPS launched its first eBike program, which uses electrically assisted tricycles for delivery, in Portland, Oregon and the program will soon expand to bring pollution and congestion relief across the nation.

Communications, promotions and CSR initiatives that fight air pollution can also be an effective way to reach consumers as they become more concerned with this cause.

  • Vodafone India has installed the first of several air-purifying bus shelters outside a hospital in Delhi to help patients avoid the poor air quality.
  • To raise awareness about air pollution, Tiger Beer is sponsoring Air-Ink, an innovative range of pens, markers and spray cans that can convert air pollution into ink that are given to emerging street artists to create unique murals in Hong Kong.

It’s important to note that ‘Airpocalypse Now’ has not yet become as evident in North America as in some markets, but it likely will. Companies can look to what’s been done thus far for inspiration as this issue grows in the region.

Stacy Bingle is a Consumer Trends Consultant at Mintel. Stacy joined Mintel in 2013 bringing with her an exciting blend of CPG, agency and marketing experience. Her time is spent traveling the US engaging clients across global CPG, Beauty and Financial Services in meaningful discussions around the consumer trends that will propel their businesses forward.

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