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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From an NFT vending machine to label-free drink bottles that reduce packaging waste, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

NFT Vending Machine – US

The digital art platform Neon is behind a new NFT vending machine. Consumers can purchase boxes using a credit or debit card, and enclosed in the box is a scannable QR code that can be instantly redeemed for Solana NFTs on the Neon platform.

Although consumers are increasingly interested in NFTs, purchasing one may be a daunting process. NFTs are typically purchased with cryptocurrencies, but not every consumer will be familiar with this process or have full confidence that it is a secure payment method. This NFT vending machine will remove the requirement of having a digital wallet, allowing consumers to pay in USD rather than Ethereum as other NFT platforms require. With a seamless purchasing process, this machine makes NFT ownership more accessible to everyday consumers and makes it as simple as purchasing a snack from a vending machine.

Owning and selling NFTs will become easier as services emerge that remove the need to convert from fiat currency to cryptocurrency, and instead will carry out the process for consumers. These services will provide an added layer of convenience, making the purchasing of NFTs simpler and more suited for an in-person transaction that consumers will view as more trustworthy and secure. For brands, this will mean that their NFT collections will be more widely purchased by traditional consumers, not just those comfortable with using cryptocurrencies.

Diana Kelter – Associate Director, Mintel Trends, North America

Supermarket in the Metaverse – Southeast Asia

Thai retail conglomerate Central Retail, in partnership with the digital platform, Zipmex, is set to launch Southeast Asia’s first digital supermarket in the blockchain-powered metaverse.

The CRC Retailligence strategy is intended to drive retail innovations of the future, creating seamless experiences to become ‘Central to Life’ for all customers. This partnership with Zipmex, one of Asia Pacific’s leading digital assets exchange platforms, aims to connect modern consumers to the metaverse through the blockchain-powered supermarket. While few details have been released about how the digital supermarket will look or function in the metaverse, it is likely to incorporate the existing building blocks which include blockchain technology for inventory, cryptocurrencies for transactions, NFTs for memberships and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and the logistics infrastructures in the “real world” to get the items delivered to customers.

Interest in the metaverse among Southeast Asian consumers remains high. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies for everyday chores, like buying groceries, even amongst older consumers. Companies are hard at work creating the frameworks and building blocks for the metaverse, as well as early iterations of the services and experiences that can be offered to consumers. As what this new technology can offer becomes more sensible, practical, convenient and exciting, we’ll see more companies, brands and consumers plugging in (to the metaverse) and exploring this new digital space.

Joey Khong – Analyst, Mintel Trends, Southeast Asia

Label-free Bottles – China

Master Kong is now the first brand in China to debut label-free drink bottles to reduce packaging waste

In response to China’s plan to reduce carbon emissions, Master Kong is testing this new bottle packaging in its two existing products – iced black tea and sugar-free iced tea, which only come in wholesale packaging. With laser printing technology, necessary information including the product name and expiration date is printed on the bottle.

Consumers will find it hard to balance convenience and consciousness, and won’t completely ditch plastic packaging in the short term. They will continue to push companies to take more responsibility in solving plastic problems, including ramping up recycling and investing more in new material innovations, such as biodegradable alternatives. Meanwhile, consumers will also demand further transparency as well as measurable metrics that allow them to more easily understand how brands take action.

Victoria Li – Senior Analyst, Mintel Trends, China

Personalized Haircare – Latin America

Beauty tech brand Just For You is the first brand in Latin America to use AI to create a personalized shampoo formula.

The consumer creates their personalized product by filling out a questionnaire with questions ranging from the type of texture (dry, oily, mixed) to habits such as diet and physical exercise. You can also select the desired benefits, such as volume or frizz control, in addition to the intensity of the aroma, and even the label is customized. This customization is done by AI. With the guidance of statisticians and engineers, the company created the Jul.IA algorithm, making the process more automated, with the use of exclusive machines that combine the product’s assets and facilitate production at scale.

Mintel’s 2022 Global Consumer Trend ‘In Control’ predicts that consumers are aiming for flexibility, whether this pertains to product formulas or how they will receive the product that they have purchased. Considering the increase in the number of consumers turning to online shopping as a result of the pandemic, especially among consumers working from home, beauty brands have a golden opportunity to create loyalty among their customers.

Most people working from home do their beauty shopping online and are likely also looking to streamline their routines. As such, subscription services are the next big move for personalized beauty and personal care products. Rather than personalizing product formulas, brands can consider personalizing subscriptions according to their consumers’ lifestyles. Give consumers the opportunity to try new products by offering discounts and the freedom to choose how many units of a product they want to receive per month, rewarding them for their loyalty and trust.

Beatriz Monteiro – Associate Analyst, Mintel Trends, Latin America