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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 campaign inviting social media users to share content they disagree with to a device helping people guard unattended items, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

A female currency addressing the pay gap – Germany

Fashion label Paisley has launched a currency only for women at its flagship store in Hamburg. The FEM currency is worth 21% more than the euro, in response to the 21% gender pay gap reported for Germany by the Federal Statistical Office. Female customers can now exchange their euros for FEM banknotes instead, with €100 worth 121 FEM. Paisley’s move comes as the brand prepares to launch its first women’s collection, with each FEM bill depicting important women from history.

“New currencies have been launched to boost local economies and the cultural sector, but the FEM currency represents the first time we’ve seen the tack adopted in support of a demographic. Paisley’s currency can help contribute to the reduction of the pay gap by accounting for the monetary loss experienced by many women as a result of wage inequality. Similar concepts have also seen brands introduce flexible pricing for female customers, with a recent issue of Maclean’s magazine coming with two covers, one for men and one for women, each retailing at a different price.”

Adam Steel – Trends Analyst, EMEA

Vice begins LikeWhatYouHate tool – Scandinavia

Vice is daring people to shake up their Facebook newsfeed by liking posts they disagree with. The LikeWhatYouHate campaign aims to address the ‘echo chamber’ created by Facebook’s algorithm that means users only see stories and posts that reinforce their own biases and beliefs. The agency has created an online tool to analyse what people have already liked to identify their political and ideological viewpoint. It then suggests a list of pages, people and groups that oppose this world view, encouraging them to like them as well in order to broaden their horizons.

“Social media and its associated algorithms are playing an increasing role in how we see the world, meaning that opinions are often reinforced rather than challenged. There remains a thirst for more varied opinions among consumers though, with Mintel’s UK 2018 report on national newspapers highlighting that half of UK consumers who read print or visit online national newspapers want the national newspaper they read to have more diverse political viewpoints. Brands may not want to be seen to align themselves to a particular ideology or opinion for fear of alienating part of their audience, yet they can act as the facilitators of such conversations, helping consumers focus on what unites rather than divides their communities.”

Sophie Corfan – Manager of Trends, EMEA

Solo security – Japan

Trene is a device launched in Japan that helps guard valuables from being stolen in public places. Targeted at consumers who may be required to leave things unattended because they are alone, the device offers users peace of mind. By pairing the thimble-like device with a smartphone, Trene sets off a high-pitch alarm when disrupted by any movement, which can only be reset using the mobile device it is paired with.

“According to research conducted by The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the share of one-person households in Japan – already at an all-time high of 34.5% as of 2015 – is expected to increase to 39.3% by 2040. Products like Trene understand the pain points of being alone, and can help to solve problems that couples or groups may be unaware of. For instance, South Korea is also seeing a number of one-person households, resulting in an increase in smaller-portion food products being launched to cater for the singles market.”

Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, APAC

Cathay in pants – Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have adjusted their dress policies to give female flight attendants the option to wear trousers at work – removing a rule that has been in place since 1946 forcing female cabin crew to wear skirts. Many attendants have complained that the skirt caused discomfort, especially when putting bags in overhead compartments and when travelling to and from airports.

“With this move, the Hong Kong airlines are renouncing the stereotype of the flight attendant: pretty, covered in make-up and wearing a skirt. While many travellers nowadays are boarding planes in their leggings, hoodies and trainers, cabin crew is expected to look smart and presentable at all times – even after a 12-hour flight at 33,000 feet. This contrast has made some people question and seek to relax certain rules and traditions. By adjusting the policy, the airlines will not only keep their cabin crew happy, but also give their brand a boost by showing that they are willing to change in order to keep up with society’s values – as well as listen to their staff.

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

How are you today? – Brazil

São Paulo-based Iguatemi Shopping has created an interactive window shop displaying emojis that allows people to choose the mood that represents them best. According to Mintel’s Brazilian report on busy lifestyles, 33% of consumers in Brazil say they are experiencing more stress. Busy urban lifestyles have shifted the way people communicate and visual representations now play a central role in people’s written conversations as they can be understood quickly and by a global audience. Iguatemi has created an engaging and easy-to-read display that taps into the increasingly important issue for consumers – managing mental health and wellbeing.

“A number of brands are also catering to this new consumer demand for resources and tools to improve mindfulness and emotional wellbeing. For instance, Swedish pharmacy chain Apotek Hjärtat used its store windows in central Stockholm to give passers-by a dose of mood-boosting light therapy. In the US, One Love Foundations, an organization that aims to end domestic violence, hosted a pop-up shop called #LoveBetter to start a conversation about healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

PepsiCo’s water sustainability push – US

PepsiCo is pilot-testing 30 water-dispensing kiosks that allow consumers to refill their water bottles – with half at no cost and half for $1.39. With this initiative, PepsiCo aims to encourage consumers to drink more water while supporting the use of refillable bottles and reducing plastic waste.

“PepsiCo is recognising that consumers care about the environment. According to Mintel’s US report on food and drink shoppers, 46% of consumers say environmental responsibility is an important factor in their food choices. From packaging to production and manufacturing, consumers are paying attention to how brands are contributing or participating in the green movement. Environmentally friendly initiatives by brands are increasingly expected, whether it’s facilitating opportunities for consumers to play a larger role in decreasing waste or with the brand itself scaling up projects and programs that aim to protect the world.”

Iliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America