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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trend team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world.

Heartbreak Café, Philippines

A new themed café in the Philippines is inspired by the idea of heartbreak, offering a menu that can supposedly “cure” relationship woes.

“The Philippines is very much into its daily coffee intake, and with the expanding tastes of consumers, the café industry has grown by leaps and bounds. As specialty cafés become increasingly commonplace, brands are looking to differentiate their retail space in unique ways: for example, a fairytale-inspired café recently launched a new outlet in Bangkok, complete with decorations based on stories by the Brothers Grimm. Besides creating ambiance to stand out from regular cafés, Hugot Café has looked at creating beverage offerings that can enhance the mood of its patrons. Food products are able to have a positive impact on humans, especially certain products like chocolate that are known to be mood lifters. A variety of flavors and ingredients made available for customers can help to accentuate the experience of patronising the brand.”

Hugot cafe

Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

Robot Stories, UK

Westfield London has announced that Alexander the Robot will be hosting ‘robot readings’ for children who visit the shopping centre. The robot is able to interact with groups of children in real time, laughing, singing, dancing and even reacting to children’s facial expressions.

“According to Mintel’s report Department Stores UK 2016, only 10% of shoppers would be encouraged to visit department stores more if they were offering in-store events. With this in mind, Westfield’s use of these robots could fall on deaf ears; however, the entertaining children angle could entice parents to visit the shopping centre. Robots are making their mark in retail, and as the technology continues to grow retailers will have to make the choice between functionality and novelty. While some uses of robotics in retail show us that novelty can attract and entertain customers, it is perhaps those brands that are able to find really useful functions for robots that will see customers coming back time and time again for a convenient experience.”

alexander the robot

Alex Strang – Trends Analyst, Europe

Under the Tracks, US

The Wabash Lights is a light installation in Chicago’s loop that invites passersby to program how the lights flash. This public art installation is made up of programmable LED lights and is meant to make public art accessible, interactive, and driven by those who live and work in the community.

As cities grow to host more citizens, more infrastructure, and more life, public art has similarly risen to the surface of our collective consciousness. This push to bring public art to more people can be driven by mobile connectivity, especially as more consumers become smartphone owners. According to Mintel’s Mobile Phones US 2016 report, four in five US consumers own a smartphone. The collective creativity that illuminates Wabash Lights is similar to other crowdsourced efforts we’ve seen across industries.


Carli Gernot – Manager of Trends, North America

Cats, Cats, Cats, UK

The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (CATS) project saw all the billboard advertising in Clapham Common underground replaced with unbranded pictures of stray cats looking to be homed.

“With the growth of smartphone ownership people are becoming increasingly focused on their digital lives when they’re on the go. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that billboard advertising is failing to attract people’s attention and therefore pack the same punch that it used to. The CATS project is an attempt to break through this inertia with a total takeover of the billboards in one London tube station in the hope that it will lead to more stray cats getting rehomed. Brands need to give people a reason to look up from their digital devices and pay attention to their advertising and branding. Finding creative ways to surprise and delight consumers will not only encourage conversation but can also lead to a more positive emotional connection between the brand and the customer.”

Catherine Cottney – Manager of Trends, Europe

Contact Lens, Camera Lens, South Korea

Samsung has been granted a patent for a set of contact lenses with built-in cameras. Described as an eye-mount display, it is said to project images onto the wearer’s retina and can expand the viewing angle much farther than projection-type smart glasses. Wearers can search for information simply by blinking.

“Technology is advancing and evolving continuously, and brands can take advantage of consumers’ constant needs and wants by developing something novel and exciting. Weaving innovation and technology into wearable items is sure to prove an effective way to attract today’s tech-savvy and demanding consumers.”

Close-up of woman's blue eye. High Technologies, contact lens

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, APAC

Home Refill, Brazil

Brazil-based Home Refill aims to help consumers “forget” about grocery shopping. The start-up allows users to schedule a monthly delivery of basic groceries and aims to help stop impulse buying and unnecessary consumption.

“According to Mintel’s Supermarkets and Hypermarkets Brazil 2015 report, nearly one in five consumers say they have used the internet to buy groceries. Now that it seems almost every brand is offering delivery services, companies need to prove to consumers what makes them even more convenient than the rest. As consumers will only continue to run out of time and the number of products available will only continue to increase, players within the delivery industry would benefit by offering shortcuts which make the decision-making process less overwhelming. Brands could take inspiration from China-based Tmall’s artificially intelligent shop assistant which recommends products based on a user’s shopping algorithm.”

home refill

Graciana Mendez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Gatorade Going Organic, US

US-based Gatorade is launching a new line of organic sports drinks. The new product line, called G Organic, will be available beginning fall 2016.

“Consumers are more aware of food production than ever before. As brands continue to address the issues concerning the use of certain ingredients, they’re learning that the removal of some does not mean that the taste will change significantly. Thus, it is worthwhile for brands to explore different ingredient options that both address health concerns and improve the taste. Ultimately, the important thing to keep in mind is the target customer base and their particular needs. Although there’s been a rise in health-conscious consumers, it doesn’t necessarily mean all consumers are interested in such products. However, the brands that can showcase their commitment to listening to their customers are the ones to likely stay ahead of the game.”


Iliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America