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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 major mobile brand adding two endangered Brazilian indigenous languages to its Android operating system to vacant retail units converted into venues that are designed to benefit the community and planet, check out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Brazil – Amazon Mode On

Motorola, the second most used mobile phone brand in South America, added two endangered Brazilian indigenous languages to its Android operating system smartphones, becoming the first mobile phone manufacturer to support the language spoken in the Amazon. The data collected about these languages will be available in open source. “By sharing our innovation with other OEMs and other globalization professionals, we hope to broaden the impact of this project and pave the way for more indigenous languages to be added to Android in the future,” says Janine Oliveira, Executive Director of Globalization Software at Motorola.

The Kaingang and Nheengatu indigenous languages are endangered. Only older generations speak it fluently and these languages are no longer spoken on a daily basis or taught to children. We also know that these same indigenous communities use smartphones, and Motorola, being the second largest player in South America, has decided to embrace diversity and add both languages as options within the more than 80 that are offered on every device. By doing that, the company not only encourages indigenous people to practice these languages and not let their own culture disappear over time, it also generates curiosity in non-indigenous people to discover more and be interested in other cultures. Respect for tradition and heritage makes consumers feel represented and, consequently, more likely to identify themselves with brands.

– Mariana Marins – Trends Analyst, Latin America

UK – Climate Emergency Centres

Vacant high street retail units are being turned into climate- and community-focused hubs. Many English and Welsh high street retail units operated by brands such as Homebase, William Hill and River Island have been converted into venues that are designed to benefit people and the planet. This is a result of the pandemic leaving these venues empty and councils declaring a climate emergency. Owners of these units can lease their properties to a not-for-profit or charitable organisation, such as a climate emergency centre (CEC), to have their business rates payments reduced by up to 100%. A CEC is run by community members and offers activities that address climate change and bring people together.

The pandemic will have a long-term impact on the retail industry as many brands did not survive and use of eCommerce increased which will change the way consumers use high streets and shopping centres. With climate change a key concern, consumers are looking to make better decisions in regards to their purchases and how they travel so this too is shaping urban environments. We are seeing brands increasingly focus on e-transport and authorities aim to make towns and cities more green by bringing nature back. While e-commerce is convenient, the social benefits of shopping are being recognised by making spaces more focused on social and leisure activities.

– Helen Fricker – Trends Manager, EMEA

US – Game-up

e.l.f. Cosmetics has launched its own-branded channel on Twitch, the first major beauty brand to do so. The channel will have new streams weekly, centered on the theme of “Game-Up” (the intersection of gaming and makeup) and empowering female gamers. The Twitch channel launched with a three-hour livestream that featured popular gamers, a special effects makeup artist, a prominent DJ, and more. At launch, e.l.f. announced its “Game-Up” contest, which challenges entrants to post their stream-ready makeup looks on TikTok for the chance to win professional streaming equipment and the chance to host a stream on e.l.f.’s Twitch and also a stream with top female gamer, Lufu.

The launch of e.l.f.’s branded Twitch channel represents a more formalized engagement in the gaming space, in which the beauty brand has already had a growing presence (always with the focus of championing female gamers). The cross-platform contest with TikTok doubles down on the brand’s target audience on both platforms, which is Gen Z consumers. The brand previously had a viral TikTok song and challenge, so the platform is a pre-existing content growth area that e.l.f. is increasingly familiar with. With a distinct POV and a comprehensive content strategy, e.l.f. is another example of how to authentically and realistically get involved in the gaming space.

– Alex Milinazzo – Trends Analyst, US

China – Guard Your Privacy

Tmall Supermarket, an online retailer, is giving away stickers that are used to cover the private information on discarded express parcels. Consumers can cover their private information using the stickers before they are about to discard of the used parcels, to avoid possible information leakages. Although Tmall has blurred consumers’ names and phone numbers on the express parcels, the residential address cannot be hidden. Amid consumers’ concerns, the brand has firstly launched a pilot program in Hangzhou, distributing the green stickers for free along with its parcels. It also plans to enlarge the area covered and keep optimising methods of enhancing the privacy of consumers’ information.

Consumers have expressed their concerns about the possible information leakage through the sheets on discarded express parcels which contain their names, phone numbers and addresses. Common solutions include tearing the information sheet or covering it with marker pen. However, consumers do expect businesses to come up with more advanced solutions beyond making efforts by themselves. To cater to the expectation, brands need to strike a balance in how to deliver their products or services efficiently while protecting the rights of consumers in the use of personal data.

– Victoria Li – Trends Analyst, APAC

Singapore – A Better Plan

Telco Circles.Life has introduced a new data plan that is more inclusive, allowing people to freely share their telco benefits without restrictions. The company’s new ‘Family Plan’ will not be restricted to traditional families who live under the same roof. Today’s families, according to the telco, can be any group of people related by blood, circumstance, love or shared interests. The family plan can also be utilised by non-traditional families, such as but not limited to single-parent or divorced families.

Though Singapore remains a fairly conservative society, attitudes towards the acceptance of ‘alternative’ family forms are slowly shifting. Consumers are increasingly keen to see a more inclusive society in which everyone is treated equally, regardless of their personal marriage and parenting choices or their sexual orientation. As societal values evolve, brands would also do well to reflect these shifts. Circles.Life’s initiative not only offers consumers the flexibility to share telco benefits with those who they deem their ‘family’, it also reflects its progressiveness and dedication to meeting evolving consumer expectations and is likely to inspire other businesses in the sector to adopt a more flexible approach.

– Melanie Nambiar – Trends Analyst, Southeast Asia