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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From a digital bank that provides equitable financial services to Black and Latinx communities to a series of workshops that helps Chilean teachers boost their lessons with video games find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

US – You Can Bank on Greenwood

Greenwood is a new digital bank with a mission to give equitable financial services to Black and Latinx communities and recirculate wealth within those communities. Founded by rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render, founder of Bounce TV Ryan Glover, and former Atlanta mayor and activist Andrew Young, Greenwood is named after the historic 1900s neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was dubbed the Black Wall Street. Greenwood is a digital-only bank and, at launch, it will offer savings and checking accounts, debit cards, Apple and Android Pay, P2P payments, mobile deposits, and an ATM network. For every new customer, Greenwood will provide five free meals to a family in need, every debit card purchase will have a round-up-the-change feature to donate to the NAACP, United Negro College Fund, or Goodr, and every month, Greenwood will provide a $10,000 grant to a Black or Latinx small-business owner who is a Greenwood customer.

Considering the fervor with which the US population has been confronting systemic racial injustices over the past year, it should come as little surprise that the launch of Greenwood has been delayed due to the pandemic as well as outsized consumer and investor interest. Traditional large banks have a long history of perpetuating inequities through discriminatory and predatory lending practices, redlining, overcharging Black and Latinx customers for basic services, consolidating branch locations in predominantly white neighborhoods, and not recirculating Black and Latinx wealth in the respective communities. As consumers call for systemic solutions to systemic problems, disruption in the financial services market represents a key target for tackling socio-economic inequality.

Alex Milinazzo – Trends Analyst, US

Chile – Gamified Classroom

A new series of workshops helps Chilean teachers boost their lessons with video games. The initiative, ‘Potencia Tu Clase con Videojuegos’ (Leverage Your Classroom Through Video Games), aims to provide Chilean teachers with the tech tools that will enhance their teaching methods. Developed by ‘Los Creadores’ National Digital Scholastic Talent Award in partnership with Desafío Latam Academy, the online workshops are free of charge. Those who enroll in the event will take part in a prize draw for a spot in a video game development program. The workshop is part of Los Creadores’ series of digital encounters that bolster social impact tech projects.

A unique challenge over the pandemic year in education has been in keeping students engaged through a screen while adapting their methods to this new form of contact. Already on the educational agenda, but not quite widespread, games and social platforms became teachers’ fundamental allies because they bring to the classroom dynamics kids already know and feel comfortable with. Nowadays, the focus is on hybrid education modes that allow for more flexibility without losing human contact. This last point is key since social interaction provides emotional support and facilitates creativity and learning.

Gabi Lieberman, Director of Trends and Social Media Research, Americas

Spain – Safer Venues

Barcelona’s Primavera Sound has trialed a COVID-safe concert without social distancing and with optimistic results. The event, in partnership with the Foundation against AIDS and Infectious Diseases of the University Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol in Badalona (Barcelona), was held in December 2020 with 463 attendees. It was carried out to determine if live music events could resume. Every attendee and musician was tested for COVID-19 before entering the venue, with results available in 15 minutes, and strict criteria such as not living with old household contacts were in place. If the result was negative, they could enter the venue wearing a mask but no social distancing was required. The results of the trial show that none of the participants who entered the venue were infected with COVID-19, but there were two infections among the 496 control group, who did not enter the concert.

The popularity of digital events and other virtual options demonstrates how consumers are craving experiences and the return to pre-pandemic life. Rapid COVID-19 tests and the current rollout of vaccines are raising the hopes of many, enabling brands to find new ways to offer consumers entertainment safely and in-person and prepare themselves for when they can reopen. In order to avoid future outbreaks, protect consumer wellbeing and promote safe entertainment, brands will have to be more cautious when hosting social events and in crowded venues. Testing for COVID-19, social distancing crowds or verifying attendees’ vaccine status are likely to become the norm going forward.

Borja Valladolid – Trends Analyst, Europe

China- Choose Your Salt Content

Condiment brand Liuyuexian has released a range of reduced-salt soy sauce with the salt content displayed front and centre of pack. Liuyuexian collaborated with Doctor Dingxiang, the most popular social media influencer within the healthcare sector, and released a reduced salt gift box, with a range of four soy sauces with different salt levels to meet the tastes and health demands of different consumers. The salt content is displayed front and centre on the new bottles to help consumers make the right choice and compare between different options.

While sugar-free products have been popular in China as Chinese consumers are increasingly pursuing healthier eating habits, there has been less attention paid to salt content. According to the China National Health Commission, the average salt intake of Chinese consumers is almost double the recommended level, indicating insufficient awareness of health risks associated with high salt consumption. Liuyuexian taps into this by calling attention to salt reduction as well as making use of conspicuous and hard-to-miss labels visualising the salt content in grams, making it easy to compare between different options. By creating clear and visually appealing labels, brands are showing their efforts in prioritising the information that consumers are keen to know and empowering consumers with transparency. With so many options to choose from, consumers are looking for shortcuts to make the choice that best caters to their needs.

Victoria Li, Trends Analyst, APAC

Thailand – Honeyfruit Harvest

To promote the launch of Wild Rift, the mobile version of League of Legends, Riot Games turned the iconic in-game power-up, Honeyfruit, into a real, edible fruit. Riot Games worked with BBH Singapore, Jack Morton, and a world-class chef, who deliberately used ingredients that could be prepared in a way that made the fruit taste different every time. The flavours of the fruit ranged from spicy, fizzy, sweet, and chocolatey to herbal, all at once. Thai gamers had a chance to try out the Honeyfruit at different locations across Bangkok, while other gaming creators had the ‘freshly harvested’ fruit delivered to them. According to BBH Singapore, there were 1.7 million impressions on social media about the Honeyfruit within two weeks.

Mobile gaming appeals to a large, diverse group of consumers, which is why developers with competitive video game titles (such as League of Legends) have been doubling down on mobile gaming efforts to expand their audience. While League of Legends has the advantage of being a household name, powerful, engaging marketing is still essential to stand out among the thousands of new mobile games that hit the Google Play Store and App Store every day. Through its experiential campaign and welcoming brand identity, Riot Games was able to attract the attention of not only gamers, but curious consumers as well. The launch campaign was successful at generating plenty of buzz on social media, with fans eagerly sharing reaction videos, taste tests, reviews and challenges.

Melanie Nambiar – Trends Analyst, Southeast Asia