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Hotspots bring you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From a smart wall-to-grid charger for electric vehicles that enables users to sell electricity back to the grid to a new all-in-one, household cleaner that can be used for different functions depending on how much water is added, check out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Vehicle-to-grid Charger – UK

Nissan and EDF have launched a smart wall-to-grid wall charger for electric vehicles that enables users to sell electricity back to the grid. The wall units will be available to fleet owners of Nissan Leaf and Nissan e-NV200 vehicles and can save fleet owners up to £350 charging costs per car each year by selling excess electricity from the vehicles to the national grid. The 11kW wall box charger can charge the Nissan Leaf vehicle’s battery in three and a half hours which is 50% faster than a standard 7kW charger, according to the brand. The smart device sells electricity from a car’s battery pack back to the grid during peak times and charges it at night when power is cheaper. The app enables users to set restrictions on how much range they require, track their car’s charge level in real-time and switch the charger to sell mode whenever they want.

Climate concerns are resulting in increased use of electric vehicles amongst brands and consumers but the cost and charging times can be a barrier to adoption. This is seeing more developments in making fast-charging batteries as well as more venues that offer charging points. Additionally, while consumers and brands are striving to be more environmentally friendly, it has to be affordable and financially viable for them to make these changes. Incentives such as free installation of solar panels and sell-back schemes will address these concerns and help appeal to both consumer budgets and their environmental consciousness.

Helen Fricker – Trends Manager, EMEA

Dilution’s the Solution – New Zealand

A new all-in-one household cleaner can be used for different functions depending on how much water is added to the product. New Zealand-based start-up Everdaily sells one concentrated product which can be diluted with tap water to serve many different cleaning purposes. Used straight, it can be used to clean dishes or laundry, but when diluted with five parts water it becomes a bathroom cleaner. With 15 parts water added, it can be put in a spray bottle and used as an all-purpose spray. The concentrate is free from harsh chemicals, and the formula is non-toxic and plant- and mineral-based so it can be used safely anywhere around the home. Everdaily is currently only shipping within New Zealand.

Refillable products are gaining momentum with consumers as they look for alternatives to single-use plastic. However, they are increasingly aware of the multitude of different ways that consumerism can harm the environment as many other issues come to the fore. A product’s carbon footprint, water usage and the number of toxic chemicals it contains are but a few of the different elements consumers are now also considering when purchasing household products, and these are all addressed by Everdaily’s single concentrated product. Having a single product that can perform multiple functions will also appeal to consumers looking for a more minimalist approach to their consumption – needing just one bottle in the cupboard instead of a different one for every room and function will certainly be desirable to those looking to declutter and cut down on waste.

Elysha Young – Trends Manager, APAC

Location-based Assistance – China

AutoNavi launches a location-based mutual assistance service on its map app, which allows people to ask for emergency assistance during the severe flooding sweeping through Henan Province. Amid the record-breaking rainfall and subsequent flooding ripping through the city of Zhengzhou in Henan Province, many people were trapped during the storm and calling for help on the internet. In response to the disaster, AutoNavi, a map service provider backed by Alibaba, launched an emergency feature within the map app in the early morning. This feature allows users located in Henan to access mutual assistance by clicking the ‘standing water’ button on the map, in which each button stands for a location where people need help. Users can post emergency information including SOS messages, nearby places of shelter and phone numbers of rescue teams with uploaders’ location information.

In the age of social media, which has changed the way people communicate, many turn to big online platforms to seek support and emergency information during crises, including the COVID-19 outbreak and natural disasters. The successive disasters are tough tests for technology giants to respond to quickly and efficiently, in which consumers call upon companies to transform these platforms into life-saving, crisis-responding tools with upgraded features within moments. Amid the deadly flooding, time is of the essence and information asymmetry needs to be addressed as much as possible. Based on its core competence, AutoNavi’s location-based enabled feature helps people in need keep connected and better match resources and needs fast.

Victoria Li – Trends Analyst, APAC

Ex-beer-ience – Mexico

Stella Artois has launched “ARTOIS MALT GALLERY” in Mexico City to present the process of making 100% pure malt beer through art. Four artists have collaborated to show the transformation of a small grain of malt into a classic drink through painting, music, design and technology. The experience begins in a large room, where painting, structural design and music are combined to take the visitor through the complete process of making beer with malt as the common thread.

As it becomes harder to grab attention with “traditional” marketing, companies are searching for ways to differentiate themselves by engaging with the senses. A brand can curate or design a unique sensorial experience that will entice consumers, and stay with them. After this year of lockdowns and limited social and sensory experiences, this is particularly intriguing. From alliances with artists, events in unexpected spaces and immersive interactions with technology, experiential campaigns are a growing trend as companies realize that smell, taste, touch, sound and sight are gateways for developing deeper brand connections, being heard, and more importantly, being remembered.

Source: Milenio

Dana Macke – Director of Trends, Americas

A Space For Digital Wellness – US

Athleta has introduced a digital wellness platform called AthletaWell. The platform is created in partnership with at-home fitness platform Obé Fitness. The content through AthletaWell is free, but is limited to Athleta Rewards loyalty members. Four workouts via Obé Fitness will be launched each month. The workouts will feature instructors who are leaders in female wellbeing, such as Athleta brand ambassadors Simone Biles and Allyson Felix.

Athleta recently had a huge victory by gaining Simone Biles as a brand ambassador, specifically because she aligned with the brand messaging of female empowerment. As the athleisure space becomes more competitive, the importance of a clear brand identity can’t be underestimated. Brands with a clear vision and strategy are finding opportunities to create their own branded platforms. Ben & Jerry’s, known for its activism, launched a podcast chronicling the history of racism in America, while REI launched an in-house content studio with a focus on changing the perception of the outdoors.

Diana Kelter – Senior Trends Analyst, US