For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel's team of global category analysts.

Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From a boat made out of recycled plastic and mental health insurance to eyeglasses that can answer a phone call and eggs made from pea starch, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Flipflopi Plastic Boat – Kenya

The world’s first recycled plastic boat, Flipflopi, sailed 650km in collaboration with the UNEP Clean Seas Initiative to raise awareness of plastic pollution. The 9-metre-long dhow (a traditional sailing boat) is made from 10 tonnes of multicoloured plastic and 30,000 flip-flops. Earlier this year, the boat travelled for over 14 days, across 12 different communities while UNEP conducted workshops on how to recycle and clean up waste. The expedition was aimed at discouraging single-use plastic and promoting incentives which can be adapted to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the sea.

Consumers from across the world are increasingly concerned about the issue of plastic waste. Brands are responding by repurposing used plastic to create new products or innovative fibres. The Kenyan government has the world’s most stringent ban on plastic and, while regulations and similar policies seen elsewhere help limit the increase of plastic waste, governments are still struggling.

Helen Fricker, Trends Manager, EMEA

Mental Health Insurance – Singapore

To encourage timely and appropriate treatment of mental health conditions, the AIA Beyond Critical Care policy provides coverage for five mental illnesses. These include Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Tourette Syndrome. The insurance plan provides up to 200% coverage for 43 major stage critical illnesses (CI) and five re-diagnosed or recurred CI, as well as 100% premium refund at the end of the policy term for policyholders who remain at the peak of health.

Mental health issues are still highly trivialised and stigmatised in many Asian societies. Often times, seeking medical help to deal with mental health issues takes a lot of courage and can be expensive, causing people to forgo the care they need. AIA’s move to launch such an insurance policy is a breakthrough in the market, as it allows Singaporeans to easily get adequate coverage and the support they need to get through the challenges of a diagnosed mental illness.

Melanie Nambiar, Trends Analyst, Southeast Asia

Women As They Are – US

Dove and Getty teamed up to launch #ShowUs, a project which aims to diversify the selection of stock imagery of women. The #ShowUs collection currently has 5,000 photos with the intention of doubling in size by 2020. The photos feature 179 subjects from 39 countries, shot by 116 female, non-binary and female-identifying photographers.

The conversation surrounding diversity has surpassed specific product category complaints and consumers are going straight to the source—product development and marketing. This initiative isn’t only limited to campaigns and specific “ethnic” varieties, it applies to the sourcing and creation behind messaging.

Alex Milinazzo, Trends Analyst, North America

Connected Eyewear – China

Huawei and Gentle Monster have teamed up to develop eyeglass frames that allow the wearer to answer their phone with the tap of the temple. The specialized glasses are dust- and water-resistant, charge wirelessly, and can access a phone’s voice assistant.

Chinese consumers are showing a relatively high willingness to adopt emerging technologies such as wearables, voice assistants and facial recognition. This is due to demand for seamless, hassle-free experiences, as well as emotional factors to desire being perceived as trendy and unique.

Joyce Lam, Trends Analyst, APAC

Eggs go Vegan – Brazil

Mantiqueira has launched a plant-based egg substitute which will be available as part of the new egg subscription service, Clube do Ovo. The egg substitute is made from pea starch and comes in powder form in a sachet that is packaged in an egg carton. The product is designed to be used as a replacement for chicken eggs in baking and egg-based dishes.

Veganism and vegetarianism continues to gain traction across Latin America, even in meat-loving countries such as Brazil and Argentina. Consumers are shifting their eating habits in favour of healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. There is growing awareness that meat farming is responsible for environmental decline, including land use, climate change emissions, freshwater use, and water and air pollution. Vegan eggs and egg replacements seem to be the next evolution of cage-free eggs which were the option for those looking for cruelty-free products and animal welfare claims.

Source: Mantiqueira

Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

And the Dogscar Goes to – Mexico

Pedigree has asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create an Academy Award category for dogs and their coaches involved in the film industry. This addition to recognizing this groups’ hard work, the initiative also highlights the value of abandoned dogs, like in the case of Roma’s furry protagonist who was rescued in 2016.

Pets have gained a new status among humans. However, when it comes to responsible ownership there is still a long way to go. Figures indicate that at least seven out of 10 dogs are abandoned, according to 2018 figures from the Animal Adoption and Rescue Center in Mexico. A number of brands have already started spreading awareness about the need to protect animals from abuse and abandonment.

Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Bringing Back Life – Italy

To revive depopulated areas, Italians are developing incentives based on bargains, authentic experiences and sustainability. Dozens of properties have been put up for sale in Sambuca di Sicilia for as little as €1. Owners can access these properties quickly if they commit to refurbishing their bargain property within three years.

Urban centres are attracting people globally and as a consequence, rural areas end up depopulated. Cities have started to become greener, but the over-modernisation of infrastructures and constant affluence of people pose a great challenge to this pursuit. Consumers are looking for experiences that cities cannot provide, and are increasingly interested in rural areas that are more in touch with nature.


Julie Gable, Trends Analyst, EMEA