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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 beer made with ocean water to a sustainable alternative to takeaway single-use plastic, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Returnr and Reuse – Australia

Returnr, a company that provides reusable stainless steel bowls and cups to foodservice operators, has partnered with restaurants, cafés and Deliveroo locations across Australia to remove disposable packaging altogether. When consumers order through a participating restaurant, they have the choice to pay an AU$6 deposit for a Returnr bowl or cup, refunded when they return the container to a partner venue within the network. The packaging is designed to be washed and reused regularly, and the company claims that since their soft launch in late 2018, over 85,000 single-use plastic bowls have been saved from landfill.

Every element of the takeaway process is being scrutinised for ways to cut back on waste. The reality is that convenience will almost always trump being environmentally conscious for most consumers. However, the opportunity exists to provide reusable or sustainable alternatives for consumers who care about the environment but are too time-poor to change their delivery habits. Brands that don’t at least attempt to provide better packaging options will see themselves fall behind the competition.

Credit: Returnr

Elysha Young, Trends Manager, APAC

I’ve a Crayfish on my Face – China

Beauty brand CHIOTURE has collaborated with Yang’s Dumplings and Tmall to launch a new facial mask product inspired by crayfish dumplings. The collaboration is part of a promotion campaign for Yang’s recently launched crayfish-flavoured fried dumplings. The packaging comes in the shape of a dumpling, and the facial sheet mask includes ingredients such as nicotinamide, deep sea jelly essence and soluble collagen, which promise to moisturise and brighten the skin.

The rise of multiple short video apps, such as Douyin and Kuaishou, is pushing the demand for product and packaging designs that are fun and novel to share online. We have seen several brands, especially those that are active in relatively stable market environments such as food and household care, using crossover product creation to innovate and excite young consumers through surprising concepts. Dental care brand Dencare and hotpot restaurant chain Xiao Long Kan have jointly launched toothpastes that taste like spicy hotpot, while White Rabbit and Maxam have jointly launched a lip balm that tastes like the iconic milk candy.


Joyce Lam, Trends Analyst, APAC

Ocean Beer – Argentina

Argentinian brewery Antares has launched a beer made from 100% purified ocean water to commemorate World Water Day. The beer is called “Oceanica” and retails in all of Antares’ bars in Buenos Aires. Beer made with 100% ocean water is a novelty in the beer-making industry; the creators have only produced 3,000 liters of the new variety (around 8,000 pints) to create awareness about water, like other natural resources, being limited.

Consumers are becoming more aware of how their consumption is affecting the planet, so they are taking a closer look at how companies use and overuse natural resources and what they are doing to mitigate their environmental impact. Recycling will soon become a practice that consumers expect from both companies and governments. Kellogg’s has worked with the brewery Seven Brothers to turn corn flake cereal waste into beer, while Dunkin‘ has created an eco-friendly tiny home powered by leftover coffee grounds. Looking ahead, more companies will need to be creative and strategic to offer ecological alternatives to satisfy consumers’ sustainability demands.

Credit: El Efete

Graciana Méndez, Trends Analyst, LAR

Hand-Crafted And Delivered For Free

Etsy  will begin prioritising items and shops that offer free shipping. The company will also be providing sellers with tools and support to help them make free shipping a reality. However, not all sellers are happy with the change as they took to Twitter and Etsy community boards expressing their concerns around the decision and their inability to absorb the costs. Some sellers also highlighted this takes away from the unique artisan factor that has always distinguished Etsy.

Whether it be free shipping or same-day delivery, Amazon has redefined consumer expectations for online shopping, and Etsy is the latest retailer to feel the need to adjust. Even though the cost of shipping will be absorbed into the total price of the product, Etsy believes removing that added-on shipping cost will create a more friction-less shopping experience. Indeed, Mintel data on e-commerce signals over half of US online shoppers rank shipping cost as an important factor when deciding to buy online. Retailers have no choice but to accommodate to the evolving market. Even if the process isn’t easy for everyone involved, the status quo is no longer an option.

Diana Kelter, Senior Trends Analyst, US

Employable After 50 – Netherlands

The municipality of Amsterdam is encouraging companies to hire employees over 50 by advertising photos and videos of them as babies. The campaign consists of a series of posters of baby photos and the year they were born, with messages like ‘energetic since 1962’ and ‘inventive since 1955’. The posters aim to show that everyone is born with talents that do not disappear after the age of 50. Alongside the campaign, there are speed dating sessions for older job seekers and employers, and videos of candidates are shared on social media.

As seniors are living longer and healthier lives, they are becoming the dominant demographic. With many deciding to keep working for financial necessity or to maintain good mental health, retirement age may not even exist in the future. Companies are reacting to this demographic shift by giving seniors more opportunities to stay in the workforce. By listening to their older employees, they can spot the challenges they encounter and understand their lifestyles better.

Julie Gable, Trends Analyst, EMEA