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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From virtual reality safety training at work to bags made of a music festival’s garbage, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

VR Safety Training – South Korea

Lotte Engineering & Construction (E&C) is developing a virtual reality-based (VR) safety education training programme for employees to raise awareness of potential workplace hazards and avoid life-threatening accidents. The VR programme helps workers recognise jeopardising situations by allowing them to indirectly experience scenarios such as stepping on loose scaffolding, an electric shock or getting caught in machines. Sensory details like simulated shock felt via synchronised helmets are designed to educate participants about the serious physical consequences of negligent behaviour.

Once the preserve of young, tech-savvy gamers, VR is slowly expanding its scope to include material for sectors like education and retail. As VR platforms, content and hardware improve in quality, diversify and become more affordable, a gradual shift away from two-dimensional digital screens can be expected. The expansion of 5G and the development of next-generation information transfer networks will also be essential to help achieve this. Another example is Virgin Atlantic, which is exploring VR as a solution to train its flight attendants.

Credit: Businesskorea.co.kr

Elysha Young, Trends Manager, APAC

Automatic Growth – Denmark

Vergromat is a vertical greenhouse solution that can help grow more food locally while reducing energy consumption. The greenhouse system can be fully automated to control light, temperature, humidity and ventilation to produce various plants all year round. The quality of crops can be increased by up to 15%, while energy costs from lighting and heating can be cut by 80%,while also reducing water consumption and waste. The solution is compact and easily scalable.

The food industry has a significant environmental impact, which is a challenge that energy-saving technology is helping to address. As solutions like Vergromat become commonplace, retailers and manufacturers will be able to grow their own vegetables for selling and processing with greater efficiency. Smaller systems could even be placed in urban settings, making it possible for groups of consumers to grow more fresh food for themselves. We will also see a widened range of foods that can be grown locally, such as tropical fruit in colder climates. This will appeal to consumers who prefer to buy local food but are limited by what can be grown through conventional methods.

Credit: Vergromat.com

Liisa Kontas – Trend Analyst, Nordic

Garbage Bags – China

Xianyu, a second-hand goods exchange platform, has created a line of bags from garbage collected at the Strawberry Music Festival 2019. The initiative supports the theme of this year’s festival, ‘Circling the Globe’, which encourages young people to play their part in environmental protection and bring about a positive change to the world. Some of the bags have been designed to be multipurpose, for instance, one of them can be transformed into a floor mat and another one comes with detachable pockets.

Chinese consumers are increasingly enthusiastic about supporting socially responsible activities but want to be incentivised for their positive actions towards the environment and society. As a second-hand goods platform, Xianyu is appealing to consumers’ enthusiasm by creating awareness of waste problems at music festivals, enabling effortless participation, while maximising the value of social currency for consumers and platforms.

Credit: sohu.com

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Welfare Drink – Mexico

Coca-Cola Mexico and bottler Arca Continental have developed Isolite, a drink 100% developed in Mexico, designed to rehydrate with electrolytes, coconut water and natural extracts. The drink is designed for those who suffer from dehydration caused by high temperatures, strenuous work, long periods in air-conditioned environments such as air travel, and even to cure hangovers. Isolite will be the official beverage of the Mexican Red Cross due to the product benefits; Coca-Cola will donate it to all Red Cross ambulances and workers to help rescuers rehydrate during their daily work.

Brands are creating products containing ingredients that can meet current consumers’ demands and appeal to their current lifestyle and work. With increased awareness of climate change and more drastic weather, brands will create innovations that can adapt to such changes, such as introducing food and drink offerings that can be consumed hot or cold, or versatile clothing items that are suitable for different weather conditions.

Credit: Coca-colamexico.com.mx

Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Single, Healthy and Spending – US

As women stay single longer, retail categories have key opportunities based on their spending habits. A recent report from Morgan Stanley estimates that 45% of women aged 25-44 will be single by 2030, up from 41% in 2018. The report went on to highlight that single women tend to have higher spending for clothing and footwear and that they spend significant time exercising, creating key opportunities for athletic apparel brands, such as Nike and Lululemon. As single women become a more dominant category of spenders, retail brands have to be prepared to cater to them.

Consumers are not completely abandoning the traditional life stages of getting married, having kids and buying a home; they’re simply delaying them. The larger takeaway from this study isn’t a division of single and married, but rather a stronger emphasis consumers are placing on investing in themselves. The combination of the self-care movement partnered with delayed lifestages has placed prioritisation toward people spending on things that make them feel empowered, whether that be apparel, beauty products or personal care experiences.

Diana Kelter – Senior Trends Analyst, US