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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From biodegradable sportswear to a plug-in that flags angry emails before they are sent, find out what’s been happening this month across the globe.


To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, AU-EM-GEE, a pop-up only selling aubergine burgers, opened in Spitalfields Market for three hours only. The aubergine, chickpea and onion patty with Tabasco chipotle sauce and smoked cheese called ‘The Auburger’ was created as a collaboration between Tabasco and The Vurger Co.

“Due to the health and environmental concerns around eating high levels of meat, many consumers are turning to vegetables as the base for their meals. AU-EM-GEE has been conceived as part of an attempt to elevate the humble aubergine from a vegetarian option added to the menu as an afterthought, into a hero ingredient. Foodservice outlets have an opportunity to follow this example by creating a rotating menu that celebrates a single ingredient for a short period of time. Not only can this drum up attention, it can also encourage people to broaden their culinary horizons.”

Catherine Cottney – Manager of Trends, EMEA

Take a DeepBreath, US

A new Chrome plug-in called DeepBreath automatically saves all email drafts for sentiment analysis in order to detect negativity and flag potentially angry emails before they are sent.

“While consumers become increasingly dependent on mobile devices and digital connectivity, 50% of people who use mobile apps say that mobile apps are hurting the quality of social interactions, according to Mintel’s report Mobile Apps US 2016. Near-constant connectivity can be blamed for making it more difficult to relate politely to other people, but this plug-in offers an online solution that can help mitigate such a risk. Brands can offer solutions for consumers who are hoping to find shortcuts that help them reduce the negative impact of being online.”

Carli Gernot – Manager of Trends, North America

Crayola’s New Blue, Canada

Crayola has announced its new blue crayon and is asking fans to help name the new color. Currently, the color is known as YInMn Blue, but fans can submit suggestions for the official name via Crayola’s website until June 2, 2017.

“Online communication has opened up a two-way relationship between brands and customers. Customers are more likely to be impressed by campaigns that foster an open conversation, aim to listen to customers’ ideas, and incorporate consumers’ perspectives into product development and the overall brand experience. Asking for customers’ involvement is a great way to garner excitement among loyal fans. It’s also a unique way to attract new customers by showcasing the brand’s fun, community-based following.”

Iliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America

I see your true colours, Brazil

Avon is promoting its new True Color Foundation by featuring diverse individuals of different ages and ethnicities, including a transsexual digital activist and a plus-size YouTuber. The range, which is available in 18 shades, was developed based on research which explored the wide range of skin tones found among Brazilian people.

“Consumers across markets are placing more importance in authentic and realistic representations of people. As a result, brands are aligning with this interest through real, authentic experiences and messages. With this new launch, Avon has raised the bar high and made clear that showcasing inclusive representations may no longer be enough. Brands would do well to follow suit and make their product ranges more extensive so that they can match people’s realities.

Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

What’s best for Baby, Australia

Fresh produce which doesn’t look pretty enough for farmers to sell to grocery outlets is to be turned into baby food in Western Australia. The Fresh Produce Alliance’s baby food range will be the first in Australia to use High Pressure Processing (HPP) machinery that locks in nutrients – one of only five in the world.

“There is a large push around the globe nowadays to decrease the amount of food being wasted, and while campaigns that encourage consumers to purchase fruit and vegetables that don’t look as pretty have been widespread throughout the Western world, they still account for a small section of the produce on offer. If there are ways to not only salvage ‘ugly’ produce, but make it doubly beneficial – as with the HPP machine, which ensures both safety and nutrition – it can only be a good strategy for brands.”

Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

Starbucks’ Family Care, China

Starbucks China has announced a new program that provides health insurance for the elderly parents of eligible employees. Workers who have been employed by the coffeehouse chain for at least two years, and whose parents are younger than 75 years old and reside in China, will be eligible for the program, which will cover 30 critical illnesses.

“Among traditional Chinese values, filial piety is a virtue of respect for one’s parents that impels children to take care of their elderly parents and grandparents. While this is considered to be a moral value, it also creates a large burden on the younger Chinese generations. According to Mintel’s report Consumer Spending Priorities, China 2017, almost half of respondents say that their personal and family health status is affecting their spending confidence. This is not the first time Starbucks has made efforts to address local social issues. In the US, Starbucks is offering immigrant employees free legal advice in response to President Trump’s travel ban, and in Singapore, the coffeehouse chain has teamed up with a group of volunteers to distribute unsold food to construction workers. While such initiatives may not necessarily lead to increased sales and revenue, Starbucks’ socially responsible approach will be widely appreciated by its employees and society.

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Eat my shorts, Sweden

Sportswear brand Houdini is showing just how environmentally friendly its clothes are by turning them into food. Houdini customers who have worn out their biodegradable garments are now able to return their items to a Houdini store for composting into soil, which is then being used to grow vegetables.

“The Swedish retail sector has experienced strong growth in recent years, however, environmental sustainability has become an increasingly important concern for consumers, as people re-evaluate their consumption habits in the face of climate change. As well as demonstrating its own commitment to sustainability, Houdini’s recycling programme enables consumers to contribute to the protection of the environment on a personal level, giving them the chance to invest in a product that’s environmentally friendly. Brands that show they care about the environment then can expect to receive consumers’ respect, recognition and long-term business.”

Adam Steel – Trends Analyst, EMEA