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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 virtual charity run open to anyone in the world to indigenous women climbing the tallest mountain in South America to fight macho culture, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Women Dishing Pizza – Ethiopia

A Pizza Hut franchise entirely operated by women opened in Ethiopia, inspired by the recent government reform which saw the country elect its first female President. The new restaurant earmarks Pizza Hut’s ambitious aims to empower women and youth in the country. It was even built by a female-owned construction company.

There is a growing expectation that brands will adjust their products and price points to be suitable for local consumers when expanding to new markets. The newly launched Pizza Hut is strategic and in line with the government’s motives to improve gender equality and the visibility of women. Addressing a critical issue is becoming a necessity for multinational brands moving into new territories, as it enables them to build an emotive relationship with consumers. Similar incentives seen elsewhere will continue to grow – such as companies recruiting refugees, the long-term unemployed and the elderly.

Credit: Semonegna.com

Helen Fricker – Trends Manager, EMEA

Climbing Cholitas – Bolivia

The Cholitas Escaladoras, a group of female indigenous climbers, reached the peak of the Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in Latin America. The women climbed in their traditional “cholita” garb, but traded in their bowler hats for helmets, and used modern equipment including ropes, harnesses, crampons and boots. The Cholitas Escaladoras dedicated their feat to the foundation of the Plurinational State in Bolivia and the climb was sponsored by mountain clothing brand Montura.

Movements like #MeToo in the US and #NiUnaMenos in Latin America have spotlighted gender-based violence. The ingrained culture of “machismo” has generated patriarchal behavior that includes not just everyday acts of condescension, disdain and exclusion of women and girls, but also its most extreme forms, like rape and femicide. Women across the region are taking risks, challenging themselves and gender norms. As innovative voices for change are shifting the cultural narrative on machismo, brands are teaming up with them to raise awareness of gender equality and gain visibility.

Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Teen Eagle – US

American Eagle employed a group of Gen Z customers for its Spring 2019 campaign, giving them creative freedom and authority over styling and shooting the photos and videos. Most of the content was shot with iPhones, disposable and medium format film cameras and remained unaltered by American Eagle.

Brands are struggling with how to come off as authentic as influencer marketing is saturated with #sponsored and #ad on posts. Micro-influencers and nano-influencers are a short-term solution to a long-term problem of inefficient, ineffective, and inauthentic marketing. American Eagle’s move to hand over all creative control comes with the company’s realization that no one can speak better to a target market than their own peers. The marketing is hyper-targeted, self-aware, and deliberate, which has a higher likelihood of not only reaching the target market but also resonating with them.

Credit: American Eagle

Alex Milinazzo, Trends Analyst, North America

Virtual Run – Thailand

Wellness programme AIA Vitality organised a charity virtual run whereby runners can participate from anywhere in the world, in their own time – in line with the run’s slogan “Take Charge of Your Health”. Participants were encouraged to record the results using a GPS app, a health app or by taking a photo of their distance covered on a treadmill, and were then urged to submit them in order to stand a chance to win a prize. The registration fee includes a donation to Oxfam’s projects alleviating global poverty.

Fitness brands are getting innovative in their pursuit to encourage time-pressed consumers to lead healthy lifestyles. For example, a café in Sydney will reward active lifestyles by allowing customers to pay for their meal based on their step count for that day. While a brand in the UK is launching a service that enables runners to follow their favourite TV show on the back of their personal running coach, meaning they need to keep up if they want to watch the episode uninterrupted.

Melanie Nambiar, Southeast Asia Trends Analyst

Secret Lovers – UK

Experience voucher company Red Letter Days installed special Valentine’s postboxes and asked Brits to post a thoughtful message to a stranger as part of their #SpreadTheLove campaign. The letters were distributed at care homes and homeless charities to show recipients that they are not alone on 14th February. The gift experience company encouraged people to share a picture of themselves posting their card on social media to have a chance to win vouchers for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of their choice.

Social campaigns allow brands to communicate their charitable or ethical actions alongside selling their products. There is an opportunity for brands to promote moral incentives during seasonal events such as Mother’s Day, Christmas or Easter. Soon being moral will be compulsory, and companies will have to think about goodwill incentives when developing products or services. Consumers may not have time to directly help with social causes, so these indirect initiatives enable people to do so, while also having a chance to gain something in return.

Credit: Red Letter Days

Julie Gable, Trends Analyst, EMEA