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Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From an app rewarding students for not looking at their phone while studying to pet-friendly Starbucks branches, find out what are the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

Hold the Phone – Denmark, UK

Hold is an app rewarding students for time spent away from their smartphones. Following initial popularity in Scandinavia, it is now being rolled out in 170 universities across the UK. The app tracks smartphone usage, with students accumulating 10 points for every 20 minutes that they do not use their mobile phone between 7am and 11pm. Points can then be exchanged for goods and services within the app’s marketplace, with Caffè Nero, Vue cinemas and Amazon already partnering with the service.

“Concern is growing over the damaging effect that constant connectivity is having on our attention spans, productivity and mental health, leading to a rise in tools and campaigns that encourage consumers to cut back. It may seem counterproductive, but social networks and tech brands should consider offering their own solutions to these issues, as those that don’t could potentially be considered irresponsible and risk losing users in an anti-tech backlash.”

Sophie Corfan – Manager of Trends, EMEA

Uber Health – US

Uber Health is a new ride-sharing platform that aims to help seniors and patients get to and from their healthcare appointments. The platform enables healthcare professionals to order rides for patients going to and from their appointments. Rides can be scheduled to take place immediately, within a few hours, or up to 30 days in advance. Riders don’t need the Uber app, or even a smartphone, to get a ride with Uber Health because it’s all done through text message.

“Accessible transportation among the elderly is critical for accessing healthcare services. Many lower-income seniors are at a disadvantage in this regard. As consumers age, their needs evolve. Seniors, in particular, are in need of tools and resources that are catered toward their lifestyles. Whether it’s helping them regain their independence or provide assistance in their everyday life, many brands are working to tap into the growing seniors’ market.”

Iliana Alvarenga – Trends Analyst, North America

Paw-Friendly Starbucks – China

Two new Starbucks locations in China are encouraging customers to bring along their pets for a cup of coffee. In addition to the standard menu, these paw-friendly stores are serving drinks for animals, including the Puppucino, made with whipped cream. Starbucks also is planning to organise pet-friendly events that will help owners connect with each other.

“Chinese consumers are keen to share new experiences and go to new places with their pets. According to Mintel’s 2018 China report on marketing to pet owners, 32% of them have paid more to take their pets to pet-friendly venues, such as hotels, cinemas and restaurants. While pet-friendly retailers and foodservices can still be difficult to find, they are steadily growing in number, both in China and abroad. In Argentina, Royal Canin teamed up with restaurant chain Le Blé to organise a game that invited owners and their pets to search for a pet-friendly mystery Le Blé outlet. While in the UK, a pop-up Pug Café opened in London for pug owners to bring along their dog for a coffee.”

Joyce Lam – Trends Analyst, Asia Pacific

Pop-up WeWork – Argentina

WeWork, the company providing shared workspaces to entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers, took over a platform of Retiro train station on 6th March. They set up ‘Mesa de Creadores,’ a free-of-charge, pop-up co-working space with a huge communal table, which also served as a learning area, including coaching sessions and workshops for entrepreneurs.

“In our digital era, businesses can be started from anywhere and in no time. As a result, self-employment and entrepreneurism are on the rise. A 2016 study by Workana, published by El Economista, found that freelance work in Latin America increased by 180% in 2016. Encouraging entrepreneurial mindsets can be done in many ways, not just by accommodating freelance workers and catering to their needs. Brands would do well to find new ways to inspire creative thinking, just like Marriott Hotels is doing by allowing guests to write or sketch ideas on their shower door and send it to themselves.”

Graciana Méndez – Trends Analyst, Latin America

Monopoly Mansion – Malaysia

A new hotel in Kuala Lumpur will enable tourists to experience a real-life version of the Monopoly board. The Monopoly Mansion, developed by Hasbro, will contain 255 rooms inspired by the board game when it opens in 2019. The Malaysian government has set ambitious targets for the country’s tourism sector in recent years, but performance has been underwhelming in 2017. However, the government is confident that the country’s appeal as a holiday destination is improving thanks to a number of new attractions, with the Monopoly Mansion expected to encourage more arrivals by offering visitors a completely unique experience.

“Themed hotels have been popping up everywhere globally in recent years as younger generations increasingly look to spend their money on experiences, not things. Hotels need to be as immersive and interesting as possible in order to stand out compared to the virtual and physical experiences enjoyed every day at home. In particular, they need to make the most of the opportunities to appeal to a sense of fun or nostalgia, as more adults look to escape their everyday responsibilities.”

Delon Wang – Manager of Trends, APAC

Nothing Beats a Londoner – UK

Nike has launched an ad campaign starring young Londoners and professional sportspeople to celebrate London’s sporting spirit. Called ‘Nothing beats a Londoner’, the ad showcases the ongoing challenges faced by young people in the city when it comes to playing sport, with each proud of the hurdles they are regularly confronted with.

“Cultural and demographic shifts, combined with the economic and community-level benefits of buying local, have seen growing feelings of both patriotism and local pride emerge among consumers. This represents an opportunity for brands to overcome the dichotomy between mass-market products and consumers’ desire to shop local. According to Mintel’s UK 2017 report on specialist food & drink retailers, 72% of UK consumers agree that it’s important to support local stores. While Nike is the polar opposite of a local store, its London-focused campaign enables it to benefit from this sentiment and be seen as a brand that cares about community.”

Adam Steel – Trends Analyst, EMEA