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

BrewDog Grapefruit Pay, UK


Scottish independent brewery BrewDog celebrated the launch of its new Elvis Juice IPA by allowing customers to pay for half a pint with a grapefruit.

“A tongue-in-cheek nod to the increasing interest in digital one-touch payments, BrewDog’s ‘Grapefruit Pay’ isn’t going to challenge Apple Pay in the long run, but it certainly got people talking. Brands are aware of their customers wanting deals and value for money, but many are taking this to the extreme and creating innovative and creative alternative currency options for discounts or freebies. Alternative currencies not only give consumers the feeling that they are getting a good deal, but also turn the brand and consumer interaction into an experience in and of itself.”

Alex Strang – Trends Analyst, Europe

My First Women’s Day, Brazil


Brazilian transgender woman Valentina Sampaio is the star of L’Oréal Paris’s new campaign for International Women’s Day. The film follows the model as she gets ready to take one picture that will document her pride in being a woman: the photo on her new ID. The campaign aims to promote the idea that being a woman transcends the body, which is why the brand is broadcasting a message about the fight for feminine freedom in all its expressions.

“People are increasingly immersing themselves in personal journeys to find who they truly are in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity; such notions are not taken for granted anymore, and consumers are often questioning society’s expectations surrounding gender roles and definitions. It’s no longer enough to launch campaigns with inclusive taglines, hashtags or models and actors that aim to represent ‘all the colors of the rainbow.’ People want something real; they want to learn more about real people’s daily struggles to make a name for themselves and write their own story.”

Graciana Mendez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Save the Park, US


To celebrate its centennial, the US National Park Service (NPS) is creating games with social impact to help inspire kids to visit and help the parks. In collaboration with American Express and Games for Change, the NPS has released a game via iTunes called Save the Park, which is meant to encourage kids and young people to “save the park” by going on quests and accomplishing volunteer tasks. As players virtually volunteer, the app communicates facts about some of the parks to educate them about the importance of these public spaces.

“We have seen consumers develop more of an interest in giving back to their communities and becoming more involved in charity and volunteering. According to Mintel’s report Cause Marketing US 2014, four in five consumers said they are supporting charities/causes on their own through donations (e.g. money and clothing), the same amount or more than the previous year. As a result, more businesses are introducing ways for individuals to donate or otherwise give back to those in need. Businesses will do well to tap into the growing interest in giving back and become more involved in their community, doing so by setting up platforms and services that make it easy for people to make donations, find volunteer opportunities, or simply do more for their communities.”

Carli Gernot – Manager of Trends, North America

Creative Machine for Hire, Japan


Japan-based creative agency McCann has recently employed an artificially intelligent robot to serve as the agency’s creative director. The robotic creative director is expected to help the team come up with creative ideas and campaigns based on its pre-programmed knowledge database, as well as its big data analytical capabilities.

“No longer only used for factories and manufacturers, artificial intelligence and robotic technologies have begun to affect consumers’ daily lives more than ever before. Jobs and tasks, even the very creative ones traditionally performed by humans, can now be done by robots. With continuous technological advancement, robots and artificial intelligence will certainly create a bigger impact on the lives of humans. Brands should take proactive measures to embrace the technological evolution by beginning to apply such technology into their marketing campaigns in order to lead their competition.”

Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

Shear and Shine, UK

AP SS Range
The Shear and Shine grooming line – which is tailored to Black male consumers – recently launched in the UK. The range includes a variety of items such as shampoo, conditioner, aftershave and body oil and is promoted by the website’s tagline “Grooming for the Black Gent”.

“Beauty brands are taking steps to appeal to multicultural consumers. At the same time, men have become comfortable with investing both time and money in beauty and personal care products. Expanding the Shear and Shine brand to include a grooming line specifically designed to appeal to Black consumers taps into both these trends. However, there is still work to be done. While smaller, niche brands are capitalising on this market, many big name brands have yet to follow suit.”

Catherine Cottney – Manager of Trends, Europe

Virtual Reality Laboratory, China


To help improve consumers’ shopping experience, Chinese e-commerce retailer Alibaba has recently announced the launch of its own virtual reality (VR) laboratory. Alibaba users and consumers will be able to view listed products from a 360-degree view, ensuring a more visual experience. Meanwhile, the lab is also helping to explore opportunities for VR technology in other areas such as online games and video streaming.

“As Chinese consumers grow more demanding with regards to their online shopping experience, successful online retailers will seek added-value approaches to improve their offering such as interactive design. VR technology is growing and appears to stand out as the perfect solution for a better shopping experience, especially for retailers. As illustrated in Alibaba’s case, VR technology can be applied to online retailing and help streamline and simplify both navigation and the decision-making process for online shoppers. Brands that can help shoppers literally visualize what they want will be more likely to win customer business and loyalty.”

Philix Liu – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific