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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From an avant-garde sportswear retailer that allows customers to simulate climbing, cycling and swimming, to Europe’s first flushable wipes, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Simulated Sports Store – Singapore

Premium sportswear retailer Durasport has opened an immersive ultra-performance store within Singapore’s recently completed Jewel Changi Airport. The futuristic store is tailored to sports enthusiasts who want to try out sportswear and equipment in simulated environments before buying them. The store features several hands-on experiential zones, including a ski simulator, an indoor climbing-wall with a rotating surface, a Magic Mirror that allows customers to virtually try on ski clothing, a swim bench for testing the flexibility of wetsuits, and cycling trainer rollers, which can simulate various slope gradients and cycling experiences.

Retailers know that one of the main reasons why consumers would rather shop in-store than online is because they’d rather see and test products before they purchase them. Additionally, shoppers nowadays want stores to offer them personalised, memorable, and functional shopping experiences. Durasport has the potential to lure in sports enthusiasts not only for a memorable shopping experience, but for a practical and functional one too.

Melanie Nambiar, Southeast Asia Trends Analyst

Flushable Wipes – UK

Natracare’s Moist Toilet Tissues are the first wet wipes to be given the ‘fine to flush’ symbol after undergoing strict sewer tests. The new labelling is aimed to help tackle the growing ‘fatbergs’ found in the UK’s sewer systems, representing a step in the right direction to reduce the level of damage that single-use items are having on the environment. While this may not encourage consumers to avoid throwaway products entirely, at least this development is giving people more eco-friendly options.

Over time, consumer behaviour will continue to shift to be more driven by ethical and environmental concerns when choosing products. This will see brands prioritise sustainable materials for products and packaging, and the complete manufacturing process will be revised to be eco-friendly. Just this month, The Body Shop has announced it’s discontinuing its face wipes, following the example of Holland & Barrett.

Helen Fricker – Trends Manager, EMEA

Milken v. Masculinity

The annual conference of the independent economic think tank Milken Institute focused on gender parity this year and trying to distance itself from a reputation of toxic masculinity. Prominent women in finance, politics, and healthcare were highlighted at the conference. 250 of 800 speakers were women and nearly all panels had at least one woman. Initiatives included an ‘Equality Lounge,’ in contrast to the traditional gentleman’s club cigar lounges, and a panel on American masculinity led by openly gay former NFL player Wade Davis.

Gender parity is a priority issue across industries. A typical response from companies is to donate to gender equality organisations or highlight women pioneers in the industry. But that’s not enough for consumers, who call for the company to take tangible actions to address societal issues. Milken is doing what consumers consistently ask for: institutional change. This is often the most meaningful step, as it showcases values and ensures that the promise is there to stay.

Alex Milinazzo, Trends Analyst, North America

Cash to Trash – Sweden

Sweden is on its way to becoming the first cashless society by 2023. According to the Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank, 80% of retail transactions are currently conducted electronically with a debit/credit card, contactless technology or a mobile app. Many Swedish brands are supporting this move: the mobile payment platform app Swish offers easy electronic payments for consumers, and iZettle provides retailers with a mobile payment chip-and-PIN card reader. Riksbank has also launched a pilot scheme to introduce a digital currency, the E-Krona, which will be implemented by 2021.

Cash payments will remain in many economies, but we will see more revising payment methods to create seamless cashless transactions. We expect physical wallets to be replaced by digital ones. In the future, chips inserted under the skin, fingerprints and other biometrics will be used to authorise payments. Operating in a cashless society can have positive impacts on consumer safety and security. It also holds environmental benefits as paper-based tickets become redundant.

Julie Gable, Trends Analyst, EMEA

Local Innovation, China

Yum China, the fast food company operating KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in China, has built an innovation centre in Shanghai to develop and roll out new localised concepts and products. The 2,500 square metre innovation centre is home to an experimental kitchen, a sensory test area, a fully equipped lab designed for quality control and restaurant technology testing as well as a showroom for new restaurant concepts. Yum China hopes to invite consumers for new product testing at the innovation centre, with the intention of significantly cutting the time to market of new products and services.

Chinese consumers who were once obsessed with foreign brands are now proud of their own heritage and home-grown products. In anticipation of intense competition on the local front, brands should recognise the changing dynamics in consumer loyalty and be more attuned to the local tastes and preferences of Chinese consumers. This way, brands can demonstrate empathy and appreciation for this market in order to engage its increasingly sophisticated and discerning consumers.

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific