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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From calling on corporations to pledge 15% of the products they stock from Black businesses to attending a graduation on Minecraft, check out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

US – The 15% Pledge

Designer Aurora James launched the 15 Percent Pledge that calls on corporations to commit to making 15% of the products they stock come from Black businesses. James, a Black business owner herself, is the founder and creative director of shoe and handbag company Brother Vellies. Census data highlights that as of 2019 the Black population is representative of 13.4% of the population, so the pledge calls on corporations to emulate that fact in how they stock their stores online and off. Target, Sephora, Shopbop, and Whole Foods have all been directly asked to sign the pledge as 15% of those four companies’ product budgets alone can amount to $14.5 billion and a lot of funds redirected to Black-owned brands.

The 15 Percent Pledge is a great example of an action item for corporations that’s symbolic and also economically impactful. Rather than relying on corporations’ internal teams to devise a responsive plan, Aurora James is offering them a straightforward pledge, spearheaded by a Black business owner and a solution that would lead to long-term economic redistribution and amplification for Black-owned brands. While James has not released the names of brands knocking on her door to consider the pledge, she has noted that many of the corporations find the solution difficult to achieve. This is part of the point. Consumers are cognizant of when brands are paying them lip service under the guise of reforms and solutions and any change implemented by companies should be difficult to achieve because that’s a sign that they are actively having to restructure processes to better suit consumer demands (which in and of itself is a consumer demand).

Source: AuroraJames.com

Alex Milinazzo – Trends Analyst, US

Brazil – Graduating from Scratch

A group of Brazilian students created their own party on Minecraft as an alternative to celebrate their graduation while keeping safety measures imposed by the pandemic. Four of the students built an entire graduation scenario, including external meeting points and venues, in a 12-hour period. The event was live-streamed on YouTube and had an audio transmission on Discord. 70 people attended the event, which kept all traditions and enabled professors to discourse for their alumni.

As social distancing measures are maintained for an undetermined amount of time, confined consumers are still kept from living remarkable and unique moments they dreamed for their entire lives. New social isolation habits around digital immersion have created more possibilities for experiences and enabled brands to benefit from this new territory by being the providers of such support online. As consumers get more comfortable with this new reality, they move from receivers to makers of their own experiences, which will challenge brands to further explore the world they once dominated alone while keeping fun and hyper-personalization at the center of their work.

Vanessa Rondine – Trends Analyst, Latin America

China – Tasty Jay

In one of Shanghai’s busiest metro stations, Oreo opened an art exhibition about singer Jay Chou and created four of his iconic album covers with the renowned biscuit. The art exhibition is put together by five artists and 50,000 Oreo biscuits. This resulted in 25 artworks, four of which are Jay Chou’s iconic album covers that were put together using Oreo biscuits. In addition, Oreo has also displayed other interactive stations, like a microphone where passers-by can have a small chat with the popular singer. The art exhibition will be open in Shanghai’s Xujiahui metro station for two weeks.

After releasing his debut album in 2000, Jay Chou became a sensation and many people across Asia grew up listening to his songs. Hence, the aim of this campaign is to bring back people’s childhood memories. Nostalgia is often used by marketers as the feeling can make people feel good, and some studies argue that it is able to increase the ability to cope with stressful moments and life transitions. While Oreo has used its biscuits to create impressive artworks before, this is the first time that it is displayed physically, enabling consumers to see, play and interact with it.

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Thailand – In-game aid

To promote Dutch Mill drinking yogurt as a healthy option, the brand dispatched virtual brand representatives to deliver in-game care packages to players of a popular shooting and survival game in Thailand. The ‘Secret Supporter’ campaign aimed to emphasise the brand’s proposition that it always gives benefits, energy and freshness to Thai teenagers – in real life or in the game. The Dutch Mill girls in the game didn’t take part in any violence or compete in the game, but simply delivered game health in the form of survival boxes, yielding positive social media mentions.

Online games are becoming increasingly attractive as an advertising medium themselves, offering an avenue for brands to reach the younger demographics that are trickier to reach through traditional channels. In fact, many of the early-adopting brands are looking at mobile gaming as the new social media in terms of the opportunity to engage with consumers at scale. With consumers spending much of their time on online and mobile games in light of the current crisis, marketers are turning to gaming platforms to deliver strong and impactful advertising messages. Dutch Mill was able to successfully deliver its intended message to gamers in a way that was tasteful and not obtrusive of the gameplay, garnering plenty of praise from Thai consumers.

Melanie Nambar – Trends Analyst, Southeast Asia

Finland – BBQ in the Park

Meat company Atria brings barbecue grills to libraries for loaning to enable consumers to enjoy barbecuing. The barbecue grills are available for lending from 17 participating libraries. The loanable grills enable consumers who lack the space or money to get a grill of their own to enjoy barbecuing in parks and other public spaces. The grills are available throughout summer 2020 and Atria states the arrangement could be made permanent if there is enough interest.

Many libraries are extending their selections beyond books and media to include practical items such as tools to better support their communities. This has helped familiarise consumers with different ideas about ownership, paving the way for the emerging sharing economy. Young consumers in particular are ready to embrace new sharing and renting models as they hold sustainable values and often live in smaller rented apartments that require them to have fewer possessions. By championing the sharing economy, brands can help people not only reclaim public spaces by promoting their use, but also provide much-needed financial benefits to consumers.

Liisa Kontas – Trends Analyst, Nordic