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With Awards season almost upon us, Mintel’s global Trends team has selected the wittiest, most creative and groundbreaking product and service launches from 2017. From the most unexpected collaboration to the campaign that generated the most media buzz, here are some memorable innovations worth checking out.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a big round of applause for 2017’s top trend observations!

Rising star – The most future potential

Automatic restock, US: Walmart is testing a service called “in-fridge delivery” where customers can have their groceries sent to their home and placed directly in refrigerators. The service uses smart home technology to enable customers to remotely open their door for delivery workers while they’re away from home. Through the technology, they can also watch a livestream of the delivery by linking their phones to home security cameras.

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Top Newcomer – The most novel idea

Livestreamed Cheese Shop, Netherlands: Kaan’s cheese shop in Alkmaar has laid claim to being the world’s first ‘stream store’. Shoppers at home can ask staff questions about products through a webcam and microphone during regular hours. Should a customer enter the physical store, however, those online will be politely asked to wait to make any queries.

Innovative Double Act – The most unexpected collaboration

McDonald’s x MacDonald, UK: McDonald’s partnered with designer Julien MacDonald to create a crystal-embellished luxury burger box for its Signature Collection. Although the burger giant’s Signature Collection will be available to order from more than 900 McDonald’s across the UK by the end of 2017, only 1,000 of these high-end boxes are available.

Class Clown – The most humorous

GPS Cassette Tape, US: Kentucky Fried Chicken combined GPS and the cassette tape to delight customers with a unique experience where Colonel Sanders directs them from KFC’s hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, to the brand’s iconic Big Chicken restaurant in Marietta, Georgia. During the road trip, Colonel Sanders narrates the scenic drive while going on random tangents and singing his favorite songs.

Wacky & Wonderful – The most ‘out there’

Cliff-side Pop-up, US: 37.5 by Cocona Natural Technologies opened a pop-up shop approximately 300 feet high on the facade of the Bastille Wall in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. The outerwear textile specialist invited only climbers to drop by the cliff-side pop-up and snag apparel from brands such as adidas, Point6 and Rab that utilize 37.5 technology – an insulation built into fabrics to help climbers maintain their ideal core temperature in any climate.

Snappiest Dresser – The most design-forward

Solar Egg, Sweden: A 16-foot pop-up sauna in the shape of a golden egg was installed in the Swedish town of Kiruna in an attempt to attract visitors to the Arctic Circle. The Solar Egg came about as part of an urban development project by developer Riksbyggen, aimed at getting people to visit Kiruna – a town that’s in the process of moving in order to save it from collapsing into a now-abandoned mine.

Buzz-worthy – The most media attention

Under a Shared Umbrella, China: In Shanghai, a new umbrella rental scheme was introduced to the public. The umbrellas are available in the city’s infamous business district, Lujiazui. Pedestrians can rent the umbrellas by downloading an app, paying a RMB20 deposit, and scanning a QR code on the rack to receive a code on their smartphones that will unlock their umbrella. Umbrellas cost RMB1 for one day’s rental.

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Motivational Speaker – The most inspiring

Empty Shelves, Germany: Hamburg’s supermarket Edeka emptied its shelves of products from abroad in order to show how bare the store would be without them. Customers were left to do without food they consume regularly including tomatoes from Spain, olives from Greece or cheese from France. Signs were placed around the store with slogans saying ‘This is how empty a shelf is without foreigners’ and ‘Without diversity, this shelf is rather boring’, with the stunt designed to highlight the importance of diversity in society.

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Sci-fi becomes reality – The most futuristic

Handy Payments, UK: The Costcutter store at Brunel University in London introduced a biometric technology that literally puts payment at the fingertips of customers. The biometric Fingopay technology from Sthaler uses infrared to scan the unique vein pattern in the shoppers’ fingertips to identify customers and make a payment from their bank cards in just three seconds.

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