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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From a wearable devices that warns against dangerous UV radiations, to a beer created to help those affected by California’s wildfires, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Beers United – US

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company found support from 1,000 breweries to create a beer to help those affected by the Camp Fire in Northern California. Suppliers not only donated the raw ingredients to create the Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, but more than 1,000 breweries across the country signed on to sell the beer on-premise, with all of the profits also going directly toward the relief efforts.

Disaster relief is a top cause that consumers donate to, with a third of US consumers having done so in the past 12 months, according to Mintel research on cause marketing. However, beyond offering money, it’s the connection and support on a national level that makes those directly impacted by a natural disaster feel like they’re not alone in the recovery process. For craft beer, community is a core component of the brand identity and the amount of brewers that provided support in such a short amount of time demonstrates that a competitive sector can still come together to share a beer.

Diana Kelter – Senior Trends Analyst, US

A Step Closer to Cruelty-Free – China

The Leaping Bunny China Pilot is a new initiative that will enable foreign cosmetics companies to produce and sell their products in China without compromising their stance on animal testing. Bulldog Skincare, Montagne Jeunesse, Neal’s Yard Remedies and Subtle Energies are the first brands to take part in the pilot.

China is one of the fastest-growing beauty markets. With such large growth potential, it is not surprising that all beauty brands, both foreign and local, have their eyes on China. However, local regulations mandate all imported beauty products to be animal-tested. As a result, some brands have pulled their businesses out of China to maintain their cruelty-free status. According to Mintel’s Chinese Report Marketing to Mintropolitans, only a small percentage of Chinese women currently believe that ethical brands should care about animal welfare, highlighting an opportunity for beauty brands to educate consumers as to why cruelty-free is important.

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Start-ups’ Plastic Waste solutions – UK

Over 100 start-ups and businesses submitted ideas to help John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners reduce the impact of plastic waste. After a competitive pitch day, four companies were selected. CupClub will be trialled to help the retailer reduce single-use plastic packaging by providing trackable products and utilising RFID technology; Cuantec turns waste material into a natural biopolymer which is then made into compostable, antimicrobial food packaging; RePack is a reuse and return e-commerce mail packaging service and Replenish creates reusable and refillable bottles for liquid concentrates.

John Lewis is highly engaged in sustainability. Selecting start-ups in the race for planet conservation is a good strategic decision, as Mintel research on ethical lifestyles shows that about four in 10 UK consumers perceive smaller companies as more ethical than big businesses. Plastic doesn’t have to be erased from retail altogether; it just needs to be used in an environmentally friendly way. Consumers are currently backing companies fighting for the planet, so brands that don’t, or are not communicating that they are, may lose out.

Helen Fricker – Trends Manager, EMEA

Oxygen on Demand – Africa

AirBank is a new on-demand service in Nigeria that will deliver life-saving oxygen directly to patients and hospitals in under 50 minutes. The service is being launched by LifeBank, a company that delivers life-saving blood and drug supplies in the country. It aims to provide critical oxygen supply as a means to reduce childhood fatalities by 35%. This is especially focused on pneumonia which causes inflammation of air sacs in the lungs that limits oxygen intake.

Healthcare in Nigeria is a luxury, with 90% of its population without health insurance. Technology is making healthcare more inclusive by saving time and overcoming the lack of quality specialists and nurses available. On-demand services are being used to provide critical blood supplies, access to ambulances and free transport for women suffering life-threatening births.

Julie Gable – Trends Analyst, EMEA

Don’t Feel The Burn – US

Smaller than a dime and thinner than a credit card, Northwestern University has developed a UV sensor that measures UVA and UVB radiation and light exposure to a very accurate extent, with the intention of limiting dangerous sun exposure and lowering the chances of getting skin cancer. Using the accompanying app, wearers can input information about location, clothing, and activities and get notifications about when to reapply sunscreen, if conditions are dangerous, and more.

The gap between medical science and wearables is closing as consumers are demanding more effective products that are based on the intricacies of the human body. They want to know exactly what is going on in their body specifically and what is appropriate for them to do personally. Two thirds of US consumers feel that sun exposure negatively impacts the appearance of their skin, according to Mintel research on skin protection. Such high awareness about the (at least cosmetic) dangers of sun exposure means that interest in the market for related products is likely also there.

Alex Milinazzo, Trends Analyst, North America