Tomorrow’s plastics: Patent data reveals companies in consumer goods industry with high rate of innovation in bioplastics

Tomorrow’s plastics

• European Patent Office (EPO) study shows that Europe and US together account for 60% of patenting activity worldwide related to plastic recycling and bioplastic technologies
• UK among European countries showing specialisation in both sectors
• Cosmetics and detergent industry at the forefront of innovation in alternative plastics such as bioplastics, with Unilever in top ten of patent applicants
• EPO President António Campinos: “This report highlights Europe’s contribution towards a circular economy for plastics, but shows more can be done to transfer fundamental research to industry.”

From a global perspective, Europe and the US are leading innovation in plastic recycling and alternative plastics technologies, a new study published today by the European Patent Office (EPO) shows. Europe and the US each accounted for about 30% of patenting activity worldwide in these sectors between 2010 and 2019, or 60% combined. Within Europe, the UK together with France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium stands out for its specialisation in both plastic recycling and bioplastic technologies, while Germany as the top patent applicant among European countries, lacks specialisation in these fields. The Patents for tomorrow’s plastics: Global innovation trends in recycling, circular design and alternative sources study also reveals that in the domain of alternative plastics, the cosmetics and detergents industry is the sector innovating most intensively in bioplastics, with the UK’s Unilever among the top ten patent applicants in this field.
(Origins of inventions related to the circular plastics industry, 2010-19)

“While plastics are essential to the economy, plastic pollution is threatening ecosystems all over the planet,” said EPO President António Campinos. “The good news is that innovation can help us to address this challenge by enabling the transition to a fully circular model. This study offers key insights into a range of promising new technologies that foster the reusability, recyclability and bio-degradability of plastic products. It highlights Europe’s contribution to innovation in this sector, but shows that much more can be done to turn pioneering European research into inventions and to bring them to market.”

Chemical and biological recycling methods with highest number of patents 

The study presents a comprehensive analysis of the innovation trends for the period 2010 to 2019 that are driving the transition to a circular economy for plastics and looks at the number of international patent families (IPFs), each of which represents an invention for which patent applications have been filed at two or more patent offices worldwide. It shows that of all recycling technologies, the fields of chemical and biological recycling methods generated the highest level of patenting activity in the period under review. These methods accounted for 9 000 IPFs in 2010-19, double the number filed for mechanical recycling (4 500 IPFs), which is currently the most commonly used solution to transform plastic waste into new products. While the patenting of standard chemical methods (such as cracking and pyrolysis) reached a peak in 2014, emerging technologies such as biological methods using living organisms (1 500 IPFs) or plastic-to-monomer recycling (2 300 IPFs) now offer new possibilities to degrade polymers and produce virgin-like plastics. Among the European countries in the top 10 for plastic recycling, the UK is within the group showing specialisation in plastic recycling technologies, expressed in a revealed technological advantage (RTA) above 1 and the highest degree of specialisation in waste recovery technologies, particularly in the fields of waste collection and cleaning. With overall 436 plastic recycling IPFs between 2010 and 2019 equalling a 2.9% share, it ranks at number eight in a global ranking led by the US, Japan and Germany. The top 3 UK patent applicants for recycling technologies are Johnson Matthey, the University of Oxford and BP.

Healthcare and cosmetics & detergent industries lead in bioplastic innovation 

In the area of bioplastic inventions, the study finds that healthcare is by far the most active industry (more than 19 000 IPFs in 2010-19). However, it is the cosmetics and detergents sector that innovates most intensively in this field: In cosmetics and detergents, the ratio of bioplastics IPFs to conventional plastics IPFs is 1:3, compared to only 1:5 in the healthcare sector. Packaging, electronics and textiles are also significant contributors to innovation in bioplastics. With 1 654 IPFs representing a global share of 2.9%, the UK, with specialisation in this field, is at number 7 in a global country ranking and at number 3 in Europe after Germany and France. A UK-specific ranking of top bioplastics applicants shows Unilever at number 1 and British American Tobacco and Invista Textiles in second and third place. An analysis of global top applicants in bioplastics by selected categories reveals a strong overlap in the top 10 applicants in packaging and cosmetics/detergents. The UK’s Unilever ranks at number 4 in the cosmetics and detergents category behind Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal and Henkel and at number 8 in the packaging category (Innovation in bioplastics per sector).

Looking ahead: Rapid rise in innovation in plastics that are easier to recycle

The study highlights significant potential in alternative technologies focussed on new plastic designs for easier recycling, an area which has developed exponentially in recent years, with an average annual growth rate of 10% since 2010. These technologies have potential applications in aerospace, construction, transportation, wind turbines and microelectronics. The rapid growth of patenting in these fields is almost entirely driven by innovation in dynamic covalent bonding – an approach allowing for novel designs of durable plastic materials capable of self-repairing (IPFs related to related to design for easier recycling and dynamic covalent bonds, 1990–2019). While Japan has a strong lead in this field, most of the inventions coming from universities and public research organisations in this field originate from European and US research institutions.

Untapped potential to commercialise European university research

The report also finds that in the chemical and biological recycling fields, fundamental research plays a much more significant role than in other plastic recycling technologies, with nearly 20% of inventions originating from universities and public research organisations (Upstream research in recycling technologies, 2010-19). In terms of geographic location of these universities and public research organisations, Europe and the US have a clear lead, each with 29% of those IPFs stemming from research institutions. The report shows that Europe is the only major innovation hub to contribute a larger share of the chemical and biological recycling inventions from upstream research (29%) than overall in the field (26%). Meanwhile, US start-ups and scale-ups generated four times as many IPFs in chemical and biological recycling as their European counterparts (338 v. 84). This suggests that Europe, despite being particularly active in fundamental research, there is greater potential in transferring technologies to industry.

Lucy Goaman

Shopping for Christmas

 

This morning I was listening to Amanda Holden on Heart FM as she decided the time had come to kick off Christmas on her breakfast show!  She started playing some reassuringly familiar Christmas songs, and for a little while, everything felt reassuringly familiar.

Retailers will be hoping that reassuring sense of a traditional Christmas will be be matched by consumer shopping habits this season.

A large part of any retailer’s annual sales and profits occurs in the three months before Christmas. For this to work perfectly, retailers know that having the right goods at the right price in the weeks leading up to Christmas is essential. But, this is far from a perfect year for so many reasons.

For the past six years, Retail Assist has conducted its annual Black Friday survey which gives a good insight into the mind space of consumers in the last few weeks to Christmas.  Whilst Retail Assist have asked many of the usual questions, they’ve added more questions to reflect the current COVID-19 situation and how it might affect consumer spending and behaviour.

This year, 1,200 people have been surveyed and some of the results are quite surprising, and in retail terms, there are some significant shifts predicted):
• This year, a whopping 67% of people said that they planned to shop Black Friday this year – a huge 10% rise on last year
• Whilst the majority of people (59%) said that Black Friday doesn’t usually kick start their Christmas shopping, 66% of people said that they were looking to start their Christmas shopping earlier this year
• 43% of people said that this was a budget-related decision, so they could spread the cost out. However, interestingly, the second most popular reason people chose was that it gave them something to do; as harsher restrictions were brought in in the run-up to Christmas, shopping from your sofa has become entertainment as much as necessity
• 40% of people said that they can get carried away with all the discounts – an increase of 20% from last year
• Every year, technology items have always been the most popular choice – but not this year. Clothes were the standalone winner at 55%, with beauty buys at 31% and technology shrinking to 24% of respondents.

To all colleagues who I have worked with on the seasonal gifting market, I do hope this is a good one for you.  And to all friends who run fabulous boutique businesses which desperately depend on Christmas sales, I hope you get the bumper Christmas you so dearly need and deserve.

 

Share of Voice Online vs Share of Time

 

 Has the rise of digital technology had an impact on your business, and your life?  Has it given you more time or eaten it away?

For many of us the day is now a 24-hour operation, no longer the 8.30am – 6pm days of old. My Withings watch reliably informs me every morning that I have clocked less and less sleep. My phone beeps and lists for me all the updates and communications activity across multiple channels for numerous brands since my head hit the pillow 6 hours before. And so the day begins.

Marketers are undoubtedly working significantly longer hours as technology advances, perversely. In many businesses marketers are required to be ‘on’ a lot more, with real-time messaging and communications, as the battle for the share of voice online heightens. As technology provides greater flexibility, and in many cases far greater accessibility to brands, and the teams behind the brands, demand on content and time has dramatically risen.

In the ‘good old days’ when annual brand and media plans were crafted, aligned and signed off, everything was rather more scheduled and prescribed.  A TV ad would air on a known day with pre determined frequency and channel list to a well research audience profile. A product line would launch after 18 months of hard toil. A brand team would leave the office each evening knowing that they could switch off, socialise and return the following day to the office with a certain degree of predictability in regards to work tasks.  (Unless Asda has decided today is the day they are going to slash the price of blades in their razor category with a national advertising campaign causing anarchy across the UK retailers, and you are sitting in the Gillette office at the other end of the buyers’ phone.  Eek.  Trust me, it wasn’t a day that was predicted!)

Today social media influencers are becoming a go-to option for generating consumer trust and credibility.  Move over Superbowl advertisers, peer to peer brand ambassadors such as Zoella are storming ahead.  In the beauty markets content creators have been widely employed for a number of years, ahead of most other industries.  Indeed over the coming years I predict that brands will start moving significant spend to social media influencers. Unlike offices, social media does not close. It never sleeps.

As I watch influencers’ profiles shift on a daily basis to ever increasing followers, and new posts and opinions updating every second, it is a beast that needs careful control.

For the newbies the race for the largest number of followers is well and truly on. Like all channels though I question whether reach via quantity of followers (most especially referring to empty paid for followers) should ever be overlooked for quality and credibility of influencer.  For the brands I associate, I most definitely choose depth of relevance and experience ahead of popularity to ensure a long-term audience growth.

So back to that old subject of work-life balance, even writing it seems so old now.  Work becomes your life. For many of the marketers I know, their lives have never been more fulfilled, especially the most entrepreneurial marketers. Social media content creators open up unlimited possibilities, provoke debate, inspire people to dream more, learn more, make change happen, create movement, entice action and shape minds.

I actually don’t mind losing a little sleep for that.

Award Winning Real Shaving Company

 

There are lots of smiles in the office this morning as we have just received the Bronze Award in the Best New Male Face Product at the 14th Pure Beauty Awards in London.

The Awards celebrate innovation and creativity within the beauty industry and rightly recognise the most exciting and efficacious products (and as you can imagine it is a long old list!) launched within the past year.

These Awards are voted by Pure Beauty’s readers and retail store staff. Many thanks to everyone who voted for The Real Shaving Company as your favourite product and brand!

www.realshaving.com

Are shoppers buying your brand?

Brand budgets are shifting.  In the age of our economic uncertainty, big brands are diverting old school advertising spend to instore spend, either as a price promotion, on instore collaterial, or cleverly over investing in product packaging development.

Aisles are filled now with so much point of sale merchandising that brands are having to scream louder than ever at the shopper at the critical decision making time – and will it be your brand’s product that makes it into the shopping trolley?

The “last three feet” of the purchase decision process has just got more competitive.  The retail store has become the most critical new advertising medium.

So is your brand getting noticed in store? 

Speaking from experience (after launching product after product for Gillette, Revlon, Alberto Culver, amongst others) here’s the problem.  Many new products simply lose their way when they reach the dizzy heights of being brought by the buyer of a national store.  In some categories new products simply are invisible, because shoppers are so intrenched in their buying behaviour, they simple do not consider new market entrants as the purchase decision for these items is made long before entering the store.  Have a think about it – when you shop for ketchup, do you buy the same brand, or same own label brand time after time?  If a new brand of ketchup hit the shelf, would you notice?

All new products are tested with consumers, in a huge manner of ways, before they are launched into the marketplace.  BUT, so many new products are tested prior to launch without the competitor context, or against other new market entrants, launching at the same range review.  Brand Managers, how often have you tested new products, and the results were outstanding in test marketing (mainly isolating conditions), but then the product disasterously failed to break through the noise and clutter when placed in the real-world, on a real shelf, in a real store, with real shoppers!

Most products, when you are working on them, look amazing.  Well at least they do to you.  All the packaging will be on equity, the branding will pop out, the colours will be those from the brand guidelines, the layout will match that of the brand packaging hierarch.  You are delighted.  Then, you do a store check and see your new product in the supermarket or store for the first time.  And that’s the real test.  Are you still delighted? Are shoppers noticing your product?  Does the EPOS match your BASES prediction?  Is your product stealing share from your competitors or is it another product that will make its gloomy journey out of the line up via the bottom shelf?

Capturing attention, and luring new shoppers to your brand is simply not easy.  You could read 100 text books, prepare the most fantastic marketing strategy plans, have the smartest teaser campaigns, huge media budget, great trade buy-in and huge pipefill orders.  But in the current market place, no matter how powerful your brand, how compelling your product promise is, the most important part of your marketing is to ensure you create packaging that has strong visual shelf impact, both in the use of design and colour, but also in the structural aspect.

Whilst at Procter and Gamble, I had to run all my new products through Eye Tracking, to see what shoppers actually see, and what they miss when shopping.  And shoppers miss at least 1/3 of all of the products on the shelf.  The most noticeable products are those on the shelf at eye level.  If your product has slipped down on a shelf below waist height it will be harder for shoppers to even consider it.  Have a look when you are next in store, very few shoppers bother to crouch down and have a jolly good look at the small boxes of skincare creams on the bottom shelf.  Nor will they get on tip toes and check out the razor blades on the top shelf.  Top or bottom shelves are simply less visible to shoppers, which contributes to their declining in sales potential.  Placement on these shelves is one step nearer to being delisted.

When you are next in store do this little exercise.  Go and shop in an area you know well, let’s say the hair care section.  Stand still and see what happens.  If you are a typical shopper you will visually scan the shelf at between shoulder and eye level.  And then naturally you will gravitate toward the right.  If nothing appealing is located there, then you will look to the left of centre.  Therefore, always negotiate placement of your products on a planogram to the adjacent right to the brand leader.  This will certainly help your chances of success.

What’s your product’s story?

A busy Mum (for arguments sake!) has less than 10 seconds to be persuaded at the shelf to pick up a product and place it in her shopping basket.  All brand managers live and breath a new product’s features, benefits, equity pyramids and so on.  But does the shopper, in such a passing hurry, understand a product’s unique point of difference? Does the product grab the shoppers attention at shelf?  And does the shopper get the product’s DNA?  Both of these need to occur, otherwise the alternative will be an automatic default to the usual product purchase.

The best example I can share with you for powerful shelf blocking, that pops out from the shelf,  screams “prestiege”, and makes you want to immediately buy, is from Moet.

It is easy actually for products to win with a bunch of 8 women in an unmarked room for a focus group, or look appealing when presenting to a trade buyer, but the real test is on the shelf.   Be really concerned if your brand team is focusing more attention on your TV commercial – which won’t be viewed – than on your “shelf commercial.”  What is your product saying to shoppers, from the shelf, in store, at that “moment of truth?”

Lucy Goaman

MarketingAndPrClinic

Bold Marketing

Just wanted to clock in! All fine here at the Marketing and PR Clinic, just been a busy few months.. sorry I have not been regularly blogging.

I have been spending my time with a wide range of businesses, mainly in Devon, from commercial agents, new product developers, charities, beauty brands, schools, and health and fitness businesses.

A similar theme amongst clients at the moment seems to be emerging. I am noticing an increased willingness to be bold and take risks with new product extensions, partnerships or simply in looking at new ways of doing business.

Often it is the marketing department that pushes decision makers into trying all things news, and now visionary thinking and willingness to take risks appears to becoming wider spread amongst businesses.

I am sure this is not just me noticing this shift, and I would really like to hear from others on whether they too are seeing businesses taking a more positive approach to taking risks, and decision makers beginning to enjoy being more bold in their marketing, to ensure their competitive advantage.

Is this the beginning of the end of austerity marketing?

 

Lucy Goaman

Terrific Day with Devon Air Ambulance

Follow Me on Pinterest
It is not often that you have a day that you know you will truly remember.

I was fortunate enough to have one such day today – the PR launch of the collaboration between Devon Air Ambulance and White Label Greeting Cards.

Devon Air Ambulance is the first charity to launch the new online personalised greeting card service, provided by White Label Greeting Cards.

To celebrate Sam Heaton (MD of White Label Greeting Cards), Jack Lomas (Devon Air Ambulance Trustee) and I were invited to be shown around Devon’s Air Ambulance – a EC135 Helicopter – based at the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary Air Support Unit at Middlemoor in Exeter, by Helena Holt (CEO Devon Air Ambulance) and Sarah Burden (PR Manager Devon Air Ambulance).

On arrival to the air base, the red glistening helicopter was a wonderful sight, parked up, in the clearing fog.

Paramedic Helen comprehensively explained exactly what happens when an emergency call is put out, how the equipment is efficiently stowed, and how cleverly treatment is carried out onboard.

The air ambulance is used extensively everyday in Devon for emergency medical assistance in situations, where either a traditional ambulances cannot reach the accident scene easily or quickly enough, or where the patient needs to be transported some considerable distance.

The team at White Label Greeting Cards is extremely proud of the collaboration, and look forward to it turning into a successful fundraising initiative for this essential live-saving Devon charity.

To view the cards on the Devon Air Ambulance site, please follow this link. http://www.daat.org/shop-cards/

Lucy Goaman

Define clearly what you do..

bloglovin

It has been a busy few weeks for The Marketing and PR Clinic. Working with new businesses over the last month in the South West, the overriding and most fundamental piece of advice is to really clearly define and communicate what you do and what you’re offering.  Whether you are a hat designer, a headmaster, or a hotelier,  you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many potential clients are lurking!