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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 touch-sensitive dress that measures how many times a woman gets inappropriately touched to facial recognition glasses used to identify and catch criminals, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

In the eyes of the law, China

Facial recognition spectacles are helping Chinese police to identify and catch criminals. The target-spotting glasses were worn by officers to identify known fugitives and fraudsters at a busy Zhengzhou rail station during the Spring Festival holidays. Specially designed for police use, the eyewear scans the faces of passengers entering the station, then uses a facial recognition software to search a database of suspects stored on a tablet. The high-tech specs are reportedly capable of recognising one specific face surrounded by up to 10,000 others within 100 milliseconds.

“Facial recognition technology is being more widely adopted around the world as a means of improving surveillance, security and safety. The US government is rolling out a facial recognition software programme to catch fake passports in airports, while in South Korea, a driver-monitoring system utilises face recognition technology to alert sleepy bus drivers. Another compelling development is the adoption of facial recognition to study consumers’ emotional responses to new products and services. This creative implementation can engage and inspire consumers, as it showcases an upbeat side to technology that is often perceived as having been developed for more routine purposes”.

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Dress for respect, Brazil

To highlight the high incidence of female harassment, Schweppes has designed a touch-sensitive dress which measures how many times women get inappropriately touched. Three women were invited to wear the dress in a nightclub. Each time they were touched, the interaction was sent via WiFi to a platform that transformed it into data. In less than four hours, the three women were touched 157 times, or over 40 times per hour.

“Soda drinks don’t have a good reputation these days. 44% of Brazilian consumers say they are worried about the health impacts of artificial sweeteners in carbonated soft drinks, while 36% say these drinks contain too much sugar, according to Mintel research on carbonated soft drinks in Brazil. Faced with consumer scrutiny, carbonated soft drinks brand Schweppes has chosen to tap into an important and largely discussed issue in an effort to better connect with consumers—female-focused violence and sexual harassment. The ‘Dress for Respect’ campaign adds to the #MeToo movement, while it positions the brand as current and forward-thinking.”

Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Combatting jet lag, Germany

German start-up Jetlite is looking to help people defeat jet lag through a scientific algorithm focused on aircraft cabin lighting. Jetlite was born out of an academic research project looking into the positive impact of specific lighting at the right time during flights. From this research, Jetlite has developed an algorithm which optimises aircraft cabin lighting on long-haul flights to suit human bio-rhythms and reduce jet lag.

“Jetlite is harnessing the power of the senses to improve people’s flying experience, with light manipulation increasingly considered to effect changes in mood. Its jet-lag-beating service is particularly likely to appeal to business travellers, who may have to step straight off the plane and into the office. The growth of low-cost airlines in recent years would suggest that price is the most important factor when choosing airlines. Yet, according to Mintel’s UK research on airlines, 68% of Brits who have travelled by air in the last 12 months would pay a little extra for added comfort on a long-haul flight.

Sophie Corfan – Manager of Trends, EMEA

Redefining success, US

Hotel brand Courtyard by Marriott has launched a new advertising campaign focusing on the passions and lifestyles of Millennials. The concept features a young woman traveling to destinations such as Chile, Singapore and Bangkok. The advert is narrated by the young woman’s father where he recounts his daughter ignoring his advice to follow the status quo, instead making him proud as she forged a different path for herself.

“Millennials pride themselves in pursuing a more meaningful life and exploring non traditional career options. According to Mintel’s US research on marketing to Millennials, six in 10 Millennials say they feel optimistic about having a more fulfilling life than their parents. Courtyard by Marriott has identified this shift and is catering to Millennials’ evolving perceptions of success and happiness. To engage young consumers, brands must consider moving beyond outdated traditions and be authentic in their pursuit to embrace and better reflect today’s modern consumer.”

Iliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America

A handmade tale, Thailand

Thai stationery chain B2S has unveiled a campaign that aims to persuade designers to return to working by hand. The new advertising push celebrates ‘handmade’ by showing how techniques popular on image-editing softwares like Photoshop can be recreated by hand. The campaign has sparked conversations in the design and art industries, where traditional design tools are increasingly being replaced by digital alternatives.

“While the transition from living offline to online is creating opportunities across industries, it is also posing challenges in areas where physical products and services have traditionally dominated. B2S, for example, is competing in a stationery category struggling to adapt to digitisation, with the brand hoping to revive sales by emphasising the superior credentials of handmade. This strategy has generated significant discussion and positive feedback, because it taps into a counter-trend emerging alongside digitisation: the desire for tangible objects. We’ve already seen many retro physical objects such as vinyls and printed photos enjoy a renaissance in recent years.”

Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, APAC