Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trend team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world.

Uber Drones, Mexico

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Uber has used drones to promote its carpooling service and to shame drivers stuck in traffic in Mexico. A fleet of drones teased drivers with ads for UberPOOL, with one reading: “Driving by yourself? This is why you can never see the volcanoes”, a reference to the polluted air that obscures two nearby peaks.

“Mexico City is the most congested city in the world. It’s unsurprising that drones are providing a helping hand to promote Uber’s carpool service, which claims to diminish the number of cars on the street and curb congestion. However, this is one of the first times that we have seen the e-hailing app tap into drones and use them specifically to advertise its services. Companies worldwide would do well to explore how to incorporate automation to push their business forward.”

Graciana Mendez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Cyber Spare Change, South Korea

7-elevenIn South Korea, 7-Eleven has collaborated with internet portal site Naver to launch the “NPay Change Recharge Service,” which allows customers to convert loose change into cyber money for Naver Pay, an online payment platform for Naver Shopping.

“With high smartphone ownership and excellent LTE connectivity, South Korea is certainly paving its way to a cashless society. Seamless payments have gone beyond smartphones, and we have seen the integration of payment technology into wearable products such as a jacket and a ring. Cashless payments have been favored by Korean consumers for their speediness and convenience; hence, brands are anticipated to introduce more revolutionary payment methods to cater to this demand.”

Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

He’s a CoverGirl, US

covergirlCoverGirl has named its newest spokesperson in the US—a 17-year-old make-up artist who is male. The move marks the first time the beauty brand has named a male “CoverGirl.”

“Across markets, we’re seeing how more consumers are looking for diverse representations of themselves in ads and marketing messages. We’re seeing how definitions of notions like ‘masculinity’ are evolving and changing to incorporate male interest in fashion, beauty, and the acceptance of men of all kinds. Acceptance and celebration of increasing levels of diversity will only benefit companies looking to appeal to all consumers.”

Carli Gernot – Manager of Trends, North America

NIVEA Daycare, France

niveaIn France, NIVEA is partnering with the Mom’artre project to sponsor daycare centres for children. The Mom’artre project is a response to the ever-increasing need for affordable childcare in French cities.

“Mintel’s report Beauty Retailing – France, 2016 shows that the beauty retailing market in France is experiencing a period of growth. It is estimated that the market grew by 1.2% in 2015, and with such a competitive market initiatives like NIVEA’s could help the brand stand out from the rest. Brands are stepping in and picking up the slack where governments and authorities are dragging their heels. If a brand can see its consumers struggling with a problem that it can help with, it should do so. By addressing problems and providing solutions, brands can stand out from their competitors.”

Alex Strang – Trends Analyst, Europe

Meatless Patties, US

beastburgerUS-based Beyond Meat has announced its first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and tastes like a fresh beef burger. With the launch of this new product, the company aims to to provide a more sustainable and healthy alternative to traditional meat companies.

“As the amount of food and water available is limited, many brands should consider implementing sustainability efforts in pursuit of eliminating food waste and providing healthier alternatives—whether it’s naturally growing and sourcing food or developing healthy “fake” products. Brands that can care for their customers and the environment will be the ones to enhance consumers’ health and thus earn their loyalty.”

Iliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America

Emoldjis, UK

emoldjiThe Unicode Consortium is currently considering a set of “emoldjis” designed by a British woman that depict the realities of older people. Diane Hill, responded to a BBC outreach project asking whether the media could better reflect the everyday lives of those in the Midlands. Hill stated that the emojis available did not reflect the lifestyles of the over-50s; BBC Coventry and Warwickshire then commissioned artist Chris Oxenbury to create a set of more relevant emojis, which have now been sent to the Unicode Consortium.

“Emojis have gone mainstream, thanks to the fact they offer users a simple and playful way to express themselves. However, with growing levels of usage come growing levels of discontent, as some feel that they are under-represented by the current batch of emojis. Consumers are getting used to having their voice heard, and brands are increasingly aware of just how hard it is to please everybody. As a result, we’re likely to see a rise in platforms across a range of sectors that encourage a dialogue between brands and consumers, and where people can suggest changes that could be made to widen the appeal of a product or service.”

Catherine Cottney – Manager of Trends, Europe

App-ception, China

wechatWeChat is testing a new feature that will allow its 806 million monthly active users to access a variety of mobile services without having to download separate apps. Xiaochengxu—or “Little Program”—is a new feature that helps users find services through a search feature on WeChat or by scanning a QR code, saving them from having to install a number of different apps for specific services.

“According to Mintel’s report Mobile and Tablet Apps – China, 2015, the average Chinese smartphone user downloads 5.1 apps onto their phone in a month. As their cyber worlds become too crowded with information vying for attention, consumers seek direct and hassle-free access to essential services. Even as consumers crave new experiences, brands will do well to figure out a straightforward and hassle-free service model that delivers the goods while saving time and money along the way.”

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

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