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Hotspots bring you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From a program designed to divert sauce packets from ending up in landfills to a new brand of bottled water harvested from moisture in the air, check out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Saucy Recycling – US

Taco Bell has partnered with recycling firm TerraCycle to offer a solution for recycling used sauce packets. The program encourages Taco Bell customers to create an account with TerraCycle, collect used sauce packets, and then print off a free shipping label from TerraCycle to ship the used packets off for recycling. The program is designed to divert the sauce packets from ending up in landfills. The sauce packets don’t need to be fully cleaned in order to be recycled.

Recycling is a complex issue, and brands are looking for new ways to process hard-to-recycle items. The challenge with this offering is that it puts too much onus on the consumer, with a requirement to download a special app and print off a shipping label in order to complete the process. As brands consider recycling programs, they have to take into account the modern-day consumer. Despite more consumers working remotely, a high percentage don’t own printers. Mintel data highlights that half of US remote workers own a printer and that decreases to less than two in five among consumers aged 18-34. This means the majority of consumers would have to source out a printer for this task, which makes it much less likely to occur.

Diana Kelter – Senior Trends Analyst, US

From the Air to Your Glass – Chile

A new brand of bottled water, harvested from moisture in the air, has been introduced to the Chilean market. Packaged in Tetra Pak bottles, Awa’s water source is the humidity lodged in the air. Recently introduced to the Chilean market by Lader Energy, a company specializing in the development of renewable energy projects, Awa is drawn using 100% renewable solar energy. The process combines photovoltaic and thermal solar energy with hydro-panels that catch atmospheric humidity by condensation. The water is then cleaned, filtered and mineralized before being bottled.

With climate change already proving its effect on the environment, consumers are becoming aware of and concerned about sustainability from multiple perspectives. Although packaging materials and plastic waste are taking the center of the environmental stage, consumers are eager to find other ways to decrease their environmental impact. Renewable energy sources are becoming popular in this respect. Worried about pollution, people want to be associated with brands that do something to reduce their own emissions.

Dana Macke – Director of Trends, Americas

Don’t Call It Whitening – Japan

Major Japanese beauty brand Kao has recently announced it will eliminate the term ‘bihaku’ (whitening) from all of its products in the next few years. Instead, the beauty brand will begin adopting phrases such as ‘brightening’ to continue catering to consumer interest in achieving a more fair complexion. Kao has also declared its plan to roll out a new product line of foundations which will offer more than 20 different shades to cater to a wider variety of consumer skin needs.

As consumers become more aware of social issues, more consumers have begun holding companies and brands accountable for their behaviour. Diversity is a particularly sensitive issue in Japan given brands’ history of promoting euro-centric beauty standards. However, as the rise of darker-skinned biracial cultural icons such as Naomi Osaka suggests, the Japanese demographic is no longer homogenous. A growing number of Gen Z consumers are mixed race and brands must become more inclusive in their messaging to support Japan’s diversified contemporary demographic. Still, consumers are keen on using products with ‘whitening’ effects to minimise skin blemishes and dark spots. Thus, Kao’s decision to replace certain terminology with more generic words is a step towards increasing inclusivity, while remaining relevant to consumer needs. While it is a small step, the brand’s dedication can help pave the way for other Japanese companies to begin adopting inclusivity measures and practise diversity in achievable steps.

Victoria Li – Trends Analyst, APAC

Pre-order and Save – Norway

Clothing brand Famme has launched ‘made-to-order’ clothing to offer consumers a more sustainable option and to allow them to ‘vote’ on the clothes they want to see made. On the brand’s website consumers can reserve and ‘vote’ on the clothes they want and in turn Famme will produce clothing based on these reservations. This helps the brand only make clothes that consumers actually want, reducing unnecessary waste of resources. By reserving before the item is in stock, customers get free shipping and at least a 50% discount on the full price of the item.

Fast fashion is being criticised for encouraging overconsumption which wastes resources and contributes to pollution and climate change. Unsold mass-produced goods often end up in landfills, and we’ve also seen brands face backlash over destroying unsold clothing. With calls for the fashion industry to adopt more conscious practices, made-to-order clothing presents one option. This could allow brands to save on resources and reduce waste, as well as allow consumers to have a say in the product creation process.

Liisa Kontas – Trend Analyst, Nordic

Building a Green City – Philippines

South Coast City is a waterside development that will be a hub of leisure and commerce, featuring a balanced mix of high-rise buildings and greenery. The highlights of this estate are open green spaces that include a one-hectare park, a convention centre, convenient access points and transit options. In addition, the new development features a 4,000m² park lane pedestrian system that leads to the commercial centre. The vision is to raise the quality of life and generate employment opportunities for a great number of Filipinos.

Forced to spend more time in their homes since the start of the pandemic, many people are feeling stressed, isolated and lonely. The incorporation of greenery and pedestrian-friendly systems in commercial districts provides more moments for city dwellers to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors. Being surrounded by nature is believed to improve mental health and an infrastructure that encourages walking and cycling would help one’s physical wellbeing while minimising carbon emissions.

Melanie Nambiar – Trends Analyst, Southeast Asia