10 Products/trends from overseas you might see here in '05

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Up from a trickle a few years ago, 27 million Chinese traveled abroad this year, mostly to shop and gamble in Asian malls and casinos. They are broadening their horizons to the U.S. and Europe, and the World Trade Organization forecasts 100 million Chinese will travel abroad each year by 2020. Travel and tourism marketers will be trying to figure out how to appeal to the Chinese tourist.


Sony Corp. needs a hit after losing the edge in flat-screen TVs to Samsung and the MP3 market to Apple's iPod. With gaming hotter than ever, Sony hopes long-awaited Playstation3, due out in late 2005 or early 2006, will surpass even Playstation2's 60 million sales and sell more than 100 million consoles. Look for PlayStation to set the standard for gaming consoles worldwide for years to come.


Now in 14 countries, ultra-cheap German discounter Aldi has just 700 stores in 26 American states, compared to more than 3,000 in Germany, where Aldi's might has kept Wal-Mart a minor player. After expanding its product range beyond food and becoming one of Germany's biggest advertisers, Aldi is tipped to make a bigger play for the U.S. market, where the company would have to take on Wal-Mart.


Forget making calls, Asian trendsetters see their mobile as a fashion accessory and outlet for self-expression. Way beyond customized incoming and outgoing ring tones, wallpaper and exterior cases, consumers want devices that fit their personalities. For pre-teens, it's pre-loaded pop tunes. Young adults turn them into artsy necklaces. For the truly rich, nothing says status more than Vertu's Signature collection.


Multinational marketers try to adapt to local tastes, and may export hits back to the U.S. (Think Haagen-Daz's Dulce de Leche ice cream, created to feed Argentina's passion for that caramel flavor). Might Procter & Gamble Cos.' jasmine-tea flavored Crest toothpaste from China be next? We probably won't see McDonald's popular (in China) red-bean sundaes, or H.J. Heinz's whitebait fish-flavored oat baby food here any time soon


Japan's innovative beverage industry is packing herbal extracts, vinegars, and even vegetables like peas into healthy drinks. Asahi's Dodecamin energy drink is infused with amino acids to help "salary men," the backbone of Japan's white-collar work force, recover from exhaustion. And Coca-Cola launched Fress, a green-tea drink blended with special mushrooms that (supposedly) eliminate bad breath.


The 27.4% of Japanese working men and women who say they suffer from insomnia make a lucrative market for sleep-aid products. And after the aromatherapy-scented pillows and Uttori-Phone bedding, with built-in ear phones connected to TV or radio stations, lull you to sleep, you'll need ASSA, a wake-up ceiling dimmer that simulates the light at sunrise.


Tech-savvy Asians who live on their mobile phones have taken blogging one step further with mblogging, updating their Web log virtual diaries by phone with video, photos and text. With camera phone sales expected to reach 150 million this year-one-quarter of all cellphone sales-mblogger digital photos will be spreading.


No longer an oxymoron, Chinese wine is gaining some credibility as an up-and-coming New World hot spot from cabernet sauvignon to riesling although the vines are young and the current vintages are, well, not very vintage. Places like Xinjiang province don't exactly trip off the tongue like bordeaux and chianti, but the hard-working vintners there may surprise the wine world.


After Teletubbies, the BBC created Tweenies. Better known in the U.K. as a programming and merchandising hit, preschooler puppets Fizz, Milo, Bella and Jake sing, play and do art projects in a nursery-school environment with their purple dog Doodle. With the BBC looking at doing a global children's channel similar to Canada's 3-year-old BBC Kids, Tweenies could be the next Teletubbies.

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