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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From AR trainers to unbranded groceries, find out what’s been happening this month across the globe.

Shop Brandlessly – US

Brandless is a new US online grocery store selling unbranded products that range from non-perishable food to personal care items, all priced at $3 each. The brand prides itself on offering high-quality materials and healthy ingredients in all of its goods. To keep prices low, the brand is eliminating what it calls a “BrandTax” from its business model, which are the hidden costs consumers pay when buying nationally branded products.

“E-commerce has made shopping easier and more convenient for many consumers. However, the process of finding products can be difficult, and consumers have reported that the overabundance of options available when shopping can be overwhelming. As such, shoppers are putting a lot of time into researching what they’re looking for online and brands that can help consumers find what they’re looking for quickly and conveniently are likely to appeal.”

BrandlessIliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America

AR Trainers – Japan

The Japanese footwear brand Onitsuka Tiger has partnered with the designer Anrealage to create Monte Z, a pair of augmented reality (AR) trainers that reveal a special logo and play a song by the rock band Sakanaction when a smartphone is held above them.

“Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that consumers will soon “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day.” The technology is currently largely used to promote products, with brands attracted to the idea of giving customers access to interactive experiences through AR. Digital-savvy generations in particular are likely to be impressed by brands that can merge the online and offline worlds, making the technology a must-have for those looking to create a buzz among younger populations.”


Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

Fried Clicken – UK

London restaurant Dirty Bones is offering diners Instagram kits including a tripod selfie stick, a clip-on lens, an LED light and a portable charger to take perfect pics of their food. Cokey Sulkin, founder and director of operations at Dirty Bones said, “The people that typically visit Dirty Bones tend to be very active on social media, and on Instagram in particular. This definitely keeps us on our toes, and ensures that we are constantly striving to create creative cocktails and dishes that are both delicious and visually appealing. We’re all about helping people capture that perfect shot.”

“Some brands have attempted to help consumers to live in the moment and concentrate on the food on their plate by encouraging them to switch off, by offering discounts and other benefits to customers who are willing to leave their phones at the venue’s reception. On the flip-side, we’ve also seen steps taken to facilitate this level of smartphone usage. Rather than choosing whether to cater to or counter the increasing pervasiveness of technology, foodservice venues could tread between the two by splitting their space into two opposing sections and allowing customers to choose which they feel like sitting in.”


Catherine Cottney – Manager of Trends, EMEA

The Frame – Mexico

Samsung has released its new customizable TV concept at the Polyforum Siqueiros, where the device sat next to Mexican contemporary art and sought to bring television into the art space. The new TV concept “The Frame” comes with 150 pre-loaded art pieces, ranging from landscape and architecture to wildlife and drawings. The frames and border colours are interchangeable, while a digital sensor adjusts the TV’s brightness depending on the lighting of the room, making the digital images seem more like printed pictures.

“As technology moves forward, we are seeing more traditional electrical goods and appliances re-inventing themselves to create brand awareness. New concepts combining sleek design with proven efficiency are emerging. In an increasingly overcrowded market, grabbing consumer attention and loyalty will only continue to become challenging. By extending into new areas, brands can not only surprise consumers but also offer something extra on top of what they would usually get.”


Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Indulgent Labeling – US

Research has shown that healthy foods with indulgent names are more likely to be chosen by diners than foods with “healthy” names. Researchers have concluded that delicious, indulgent descriptions will encourage people to eat more healthy foods, regardless of the fact that the food item itself never changes.

“Consumers want to make healthier choices when it comes to food and drink, but sometimes help is needed. As a result, we’re seeing more brands and organizations create tools and services to assist customers in making healthy choices as well as brands paying more attention to improving the information available to people looking to choose healthier meals. Understanding how consumers make choices and what can influence people’s eating habits can be valuable to brands concerned with figuring out how to convince shoppers to make healthy choices. Changing food descriptions can also help brands position healthy offerings as indulgent treats.”


Carli Gernot – Manager of Trends, North America

Electric Volvo – Sweden

Swedish car maker Volvo has announced that all of its vehicles from 2019 onwards will be battery-powered. Volvo’s move makes it the first major car manufacturer to pull the plug on vehicles that only have an internal combustion engine. Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo will launch five 100% electric vehicles, and ensure the rest of its conventional petrol and diesel ranges offer a hybrid engine.

Petrol and diesel vehicles represent major causes of air pollution and car brands are having to re-evaluate their approaches, with consumers increasingly looking for sustainable options. With governments announcing ambitious plans to get more people driving electric vehicles through generous subsidies, it’s essential for car brands to align their operations with this in mind, and doing so should also see brands earn the respect and business of consumers who are increasingly shunning conventional cars for electric models.”


Adam Steel – Trends Analyst, EMEA

Aboard the Music Plane – China

NetEase Cloud Music has teamed up with Yangtze River Airlines to launch music-themed flights. From the luggage compartments to the tray tables, the popular music streaming service has decorated the plane with the names of 18 engaging and humoristic user-generated playlists, available to listen during the flight.

“Whether taking the bus to work or flying by plane to a holiday destination, the time to travel from A to B is for most people boring, and even unpleasant. However, with public transportation offering faster internet connections, consumers in China have rapidly become more engaged in online entertainment during their journey Indeed, Mintel’s report Online Media Consumption Habits China 2016 found that six in 10 respondents have listened to music online during commutes. While governments and companies are continuously looking for solutions to shorten people’s transit times, brands have sensed an opportunity by offering entertaining experiences in these “in between” places.”


Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific