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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From cucumber currency to horses in airports, find out what’s been happening this month across the globe.

Brain Freezing Delivery – China

Toothpaste brand Sensodyne teamed up with Meituan-Dianping’s food delivery service to send customers who ordered iced drinks their deliveries in branded boxes, asking if they are familiar with the unpleasant feeling of ‘brain freeze’ caused by sensitive teeth.

As more people order food online, foodservice brands miss out on engaging with customers when they visit their physical stores. Sensodyne’s branded delivery boxes provide a good example of how a non-food-related brand can tap into the growing food delivery business, creating a touch point with consumers through packaging. Other brands and companies could also look for new and interactive ways to use packaging to give consumers a small surprise before or while enjoying their meals.


Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Sending Store Employees – US

Walmart is testing a new program that lets employees personally deliver customers’ online orders during their commutes home. At the end of their shifts, employees can opt in to earn extra cash by personally delivering customers’ online orders using their own cars. Once they opt in, they’re assigned to packages based on where they live, so the delivery route matches their commute home.

As consumers continue to increasingly shop online and show a preference for delivery services, retail brands are feeling the pressure. According to Mintel’s Grocery Retailing US 2016 Report, four in 10 consumers say they use a computer to purchase items for delivery without going to the store and three in 10 say they use a mobile device to do the same. For this reason, companies across all sectors are seeking new methods to expedite delivery times and cut down on shipping costs. This is what makes Walmart’s new program particularly strategic: it’s leveraging the company’s physical store presence across the US and using those locations as shipping hubs to more quickly reach customers who typically live within a few miles of each retail space.


Iliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America

IKEA Bootcamp – Sweden

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has launched its own start-up incubator. IKEA Bootcamp is looking to entrepreneurs around the world to help solve three main challenges of everyday life: being affordable, being accessible and having a positive impact on both the planet and society. 10 selected start-ups will spend three months in Sweden at the heart of the IKEA Range & Supply Democratic Design centre, receiving a €20,000 grant to spend developing their product or service. Start-ups will also receive access to a free co-working space, free board and mentorship from IKEA business leaders, with IKEA taking no equity in return, instead looking to collaborate, invest or license potential technology. Partnerships like IKEA Bootcamp allow brands to tap into the skills of a new generation and benefit from this fresh thinking, which has the potential to create lucrative new markets for companies and extend brands into new, innovative business spaces.


Adam Steel – Trends Analyst, EMEA

Decisions, Decisions – Indonesia

Good Mood—Suntory’s new drink launched in Indonesia—was backed by a YouTube ad campaign which comprised two epic miniature movies. Featuring the same character, viewers were taken through how choosing between Good Mood and an alternative could affect the rest of their day. By choosing the featured product, the main character breezes through the day and ends up as a viral sensation, while by purchasing an alternative drink, the entire setting immediately descends into an apocalyptic chaos.

Interactive digital content is seeing an uptake as consumers today are highly active on such platforms. Ads are embracing new spins on fun and consumers are being engaged directly. Cutting through the mass of ads we see these days, such examples are able to be more impactful and stay fresh for longer in the minds of consumers.


Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific

Lunch Bot – Argentina, Mexico

Argentinian foodservice brand HoyPido now allows Mexican consumers to order meals to be delivered via Facebook Messenger Bot and choose between four daily specials. Customers can also track their orders in real time, ensuring delivery within 30 minutes. The menu is designed by a creative chef who is also supported by the platform’s algorithm, which can predict which dishes will be most popular. Moreover, HoyPido allows customers to receive dietary information for their meals, review their past orders and find out which meals they have consumed the most, keeping a record of their eating habits.

As consumers will only continue to become avid social media users, there’s scope to capitalize on new communication channels like real-time messaging apps to not just offer instant and streamlined interaction, but also to make the decision-making process quicker and easier. Foodservice operators would do well to introduce daily meal plans based on issues like weather conditions or people’s profiles.


Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Cucumber Currency – UK

On 14 June, to celebrate World Cucumber Day, Hendrick’s partnered with bars and pubs in the UK to allow patrons to pay for their gin and tonic with a cucumber between 5pm and 8pm.

Gin has shaken off its old-fashioned image in recent years as drinks brands have worked hard to re-invent people’s perceptions of it. For example, UK gin distillery Sipsmith created a festive mince pie-flavoured gin, while Gin Mare opened a gin and tonic-themed pop-up ice cream parlour on World Gin Day. These ventures may well be working, as according to Mintel’s report White Spirits and RTDs UK 2016, 20% of Brits who have drunk white spirits in the last 12 months drank gin. Although new product extensions can be good for attracting buzz, often there is no need to change the essential product or service – instead, brands can repurpose how people interact with them.


Catherine Cottney – Manager of Trends, EMEA

Mini Horse Therapy – US

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has employed miniature therapy horses from the non-profit Seven Oaks Farm to soothe the anxiety of nervous and stressed out passengers.

Animals, mainly dogs, have taken on service positions to help people through mental health crises or times of danger or stress. Brazil will soon have its first canine lifeguard guarding the nation’s beaches, while one New York funeral home now employs a therapy dog to comfort mourners. Airports might be a perfect place to make use of the comforting presence of therapy animals, especially since Mintel’s report Millennial Travelers US 2016 shows that seven in 10 travelers say they are concerned about their safety when traveling outside the US. As brands look to leverage consumer interest in managing mental health alongside physical health, programs that hope to tend to these emotional needs are likely to bring significant attention and custom.

Carli Gernot – Manager of Trends, North America