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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From governmental podcasts to a ban on disposable coffee cups, find out what’s been happening this month across the globe.

Turning to the podcast – US

A number of US government agencies have launched podcasts as an alternative way to get their messages out. From NASA to the Environmental Protection Agency, government agencies aim to encourage Americans to tune in and learn more about important topics through podcasting.

“Podcasts have become increasingly popular among consumers. According to Mintel’s report Marketing to the iGeneration US 2017, 28% of internet users aged 10-17 describe podcasts as being informational and 24% describe podcasts as being entertaining. Younger generations are more likely to get their news from mobile apps and podcasts, especially since they’re generally more compelled to learn, communicate, and engage digitally. It’s important that brands and governments recognise that consumers are connecting and communicating through non-traditional channels. Those that work to understand consumers’ shifting online behaviour will discover ways to more effectively and productively engage with their target audience.”


Iliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America

Sell as solids – Netherlands

Twenty is a project aiming to reduce packaging waste by distilling household products to their non-water ingredients and selling them as solids. Consumers are then able to put the products in a reusable bottle and add water to use.

“We’ve seen a number of innovative concepts created in the hunt for a solution to packaging waste. In the Czech Republic, MIWA is an app that delivers groceries in reusable packaging, while Marks & Spencer has replaced stickers on its avocados with laser markings in a bid to reduce paper and glue wastage. People are looking for brands to take a stance on issues such as wastage, with the long-term environmental impact of packaging waste becoming ever clearer. Those brands that do work to reduce the amount of waste they produce – and communicate this effectively – can thus attract the spending of ethical consumers.”


Adam Steel – Trends Analyst, EMEA

Time is Cup – Australia

Sydney café Tonic Lane has completely banned single-use coffee cups, instead offering customers the option to bring their own cup and be rewarded with two stamps on their loyalty card. Patrons can also take a free mug from the café’s mug shelf, or buy a reusable cup for $5 or a Biocup for 50 cents, with a percentage of these costs being donated to the not-for-profit organisation Clean Up Australia.

“Most people want to do their bit to help the environment, but in our increasingly fast-paced and demanding lives, convenience often outweighs sustainability. If brands can help customers do the right thing – while also educating them on the impact they’re having – there is a beneficial result for the brand, the environment and the consumer, who can feel positive about doing their part to improve the planet.”

Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, APAC

Alcohol now available, UK

A Morrisons store in Leeds has opened a bar inside the store, where shoppers can enjoy a range of drinks, including lager, wine, bottled cider and a blonde ale from 6am to 12am.

“Supermarkets have been branching out to offer more than just groceries in recent years. Also in the UK, Tesco announced a ‘store within a store’ partnership with Holland & Barrett, while Barclays banking services have been made available in selected Asda superstores throughout the UK. These efforts create a one-stop shop which is convenient for time-poor consumers, while also giving the retailer a chance to expand beyond its original identity. Ensuring that any ‘store within a store’ openings chime with what the most loyal customers in that area are interested in will be essential to any success.”

Catherine Cottney – Manager of Trends, EMEA

Reef-safe sunscreen – Brazil

Fashion brand Farm and sunscreen brand Valeu Shock have teamed up to launch a new collection of reef-safe, pastel-coloured, vegan sunscreen. They are made with zinc oxide, which provides strong sun protection with few health concerns, and contain no oxybenzone which is harmful to marine life.

“Valeu Shock and Farm have launched a product which combines two important consumer needs: protection from the sun’s rays and fun, colourful make-up. We’ve seen other brands boost each other’s visibility by partnering to launch creative concepts and tap into new categories. This specific collaboration has been able to tap into increasingly important concerns for consumers, such as a brand’s sustainable and ethical practices. As consumers become more informed and demanding, claims like vegan and reef-safe can make a big difference and help brands stand out from the crowd.”


Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Fewer Lights, More Stars – China

Hong Kong, a city that is home to thousands of brightly lit billboards, street lamps and neon signs, is ranked as the most light-polluted place in the world. To raise awareness of the issue, environmental group Green Sense partnered with DDB Group Hong Kong and commissioned a group of dancers to create a performance against the backdrop of light-polluting billboards in some of the most congested areas of the city.

“More and more urban citizens recognize the risks of living in polluted, densely populated areas, and they are not content with it. This is urging governments, real estate developers and consumers to rethink how to create a more comfortable living environment. In the UK, Oxford has revealed plans to make the city a zero-emissions zone and in China, a city government is trying to put an end to noisy traffic by implementing a new automated system that can identify and penalise drivers who excessively use their horns.”


Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific