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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 leather alternative made from apples to attending a concert via virtual reality, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Poland – Apple Leather

Bio2Materials has created vegetable textile ‘leather’ using apples. The Polish textile brand offers an alternative to animal and synthetic leather with its 100% biodegradable apple leather. It uses apple pomace, the largest organic waste in Poland, and is eco-friendly promoting a circular economy.

Consumers are showing a growing interest in eco-designed products that aim to preserve the environment and natural resources, from ditching plastic products to buying those made with recycled materials. Brands are adapting to emerging eco-conscious markets by becoming more environmentally aware and putting effort into finding new ways to create sustainable materials. The fashion industry is developing sustainable clothing and accessories, recycling plastics into textiles that promote a circular economy or creating plant-based materials, such as mushroom leather. These products are key in supporting new consumer needs and the environment while making the industry more responsible.

– Borja Valladolid – Trends Analyst, Europe

Chile – Mass Concerts for One

Immersive Sounds uses VR to recreate the collective experiences of concerts in consumers’ homes while also promoting local Latin American music. Through a VR tool, consumers are able to replicate all possibilities they are given at real-life concerts, from choosing to watch it from the front row or on stage to changing the perspective to get the best view. The project aims to prioritize Latin American music for the concerts available, aiming to promote the local culture.

Confinement generated by quarantine led consumers to reshape interaction with their households, making it a space to concentrate multiple activities – entertainment among them. As people feel uncomfortable interacting with others during the immediate post-pandemic period, they will avoid collective experiences and force the entertainment industry to re-invent itself. In this scenario, Immersive Sounds’ proposal becomes crucial for offering an alternative to speed up this market recovery in the short term while allowing consumers to have access to the collective moments they cherish without risking their health, increasing appeal for multiple audiences and bringing a new approach to experiences for the new normal.

– Vanessa Rondine – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Indonesia – Sustainable Modest Chic

A hybrid online/offline fashion show in Jakarta will promote slow and sustainable fashions for Muslim consumers. Show organisers argue that modest wear makers have an opportunity to create sustainable fashions that drive behavioural change, among both the clothing industry and consumers. Among the challenges it is setting for designers is to move away from winter and summer collections. Instead, it will give preference to clothes for customers to wear in all seasons, plus lines incorporating upcycled fabrics and materials.

Demand for modest clothing is diversifying in Indonesia, which counts as the world’s largest Muslim population. Established designers and young fashionistas are forging styles based on traditional lines and comfortable contemporary cuts for discerning urban consumers. The industry’s rapid growth and vast potential market have promoted fast fashion models that waste resources and neglect environmental responsibility. From now until the show in February 2021, fashion designers, manufacturers and investors will be asked to promote a more ethical lifestyle through their new collections. Complementing the eco-aware theme, the four-day show will utilise digital technologies enabling more fans to experience the latest in Indonesian and Southeast Asian slow fashions. These include a live streaming showcase targeting a global audience.

– Melanie Nambiar – Trends Analyst, Southeast Asia

US – Lowe’s Lockers

Lowe’s is installing contactless pick-up lockers with a goal to have lockers at every US location by March 2021. Individuals who leverage the pick-up system receive an email with a single-use barcode that they can scan at the pick-up locker to receive their order. The goal of the locker system is to create a more frictionless pick-up system as the busy holiday season approaches. Lowe’s plans to have the lockers installed in most major metro markets before Thanksgiving.

There’s no denying that this holiday shopping season is going to look very different, and retailers are aiming to get ahead of anticipated concerns surrounding shopping behaviors. However, with challenges come opportunities, and for home improvement stores there is a specific opportunity this holiday season. The home has become an area of focus during the pandemic and among US consumers aged 35-44 (a core homeownership demographic), more than one-third say spending on home improvement projects has become a higher priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mintel’s  Global COVID-19 Tracker data.

– Diana Kelter – Senior Trends Analyst, US

China – TCM Café

Traditional Chinese Medicine brand Tong Ren Tang has opened integrated wellness stores that provide food and beverages with wellness value. Named Zhima Health, the stores are part of Tong Ren Tang’s new retail strategy, which combines nutritious food and drinks, medicine, as well as medical information and consultations with TCM physicians.

Its café menu features TCM specialty coffees like Wolfberry Latte, Luo Han Guo Americano and Cinnamon Cappuccino. The menu also includes herbal soups known for regulating the body’s functions. The second floor of the store is a rejuvenated version of the centuries-old medical hall where customers can buy the medicinal herbs that they need. Its contemporary design provides a cozy space for relaxation where customers can wait for their consultations. In the meantime, customers can use the self-service kiosks to find information about various TCM products and purchase them online.

Young consumers are increasingly interested in natural herbal ingredients and often combine TCM with Western nutrition to improve immunity health, creating an opportunity for TCM brands to engage with this youthful segment. Heritage brands must continually re-invent themselves to stay relevant with this digital generation, bringing the same product quality built over time but infused with modern-day conveniences, suited to a hectic urban lifestyle. Different from the medicinal benefits that appealed to their parents, brands need to creatively reintroduce TCM to young consumers, informing, exciting and inspiring them to try for themselves and share with their friends on social media.

– Elysha Young – Trends Manager, APAC

To learn more about consumer trends that help you understand changes in culture, markets and brands, check out the Mintel Trends page here!