Hotspots: September 2022’s Top Trends Observations

September 28, 2022
9 min read

Hotspots brings you the Mintel Trends team’s top observations on product and service launches from around the world. From acupuncture for pets to cell-cultured cocoa, find out the most innovative global initiatives happening this month.

AR for sports fans- United States

The Minnesota Twins have collaborated with augmented reality platform Stagwell to bring fans a more interactive way to engage with the ballpark and fellow fans in real time.

The ARound app is meant to be used to supplement the in-stadium game viewing experience, and allows attendees to play games and unlock special content tied to what’s happening on the baseball field. Users at the Minneapolis Twins’ Target Field will be able to see the same real-time 3D effects in between gameplay, helping drive engagement amongst fans.

While the metaverse has gained traction in recent months, there are still opportunities for augmented reality concepts to help brands build interactive and immersive experiences for consumers. Supplementing a live event with an AR experience can make these events more engaging for attendees and adds a gamified element to a live event. Currently, VR adoption remains low, partly because consumers need bulky and expensive hardware to engage with these immersive technologies. On the other hand, AR can be activated from one’s smartphone, making it a more accessible way to incorporate digital elements to a consumer’s real-world experience.

The intersection of Mintel’s Technology and Identity Trend Drivers highlights how brands are using digital spaces to build community and help consumers meet and interact with those who share a common interest. In the coming years, brands will continue to develop and shape how they will translate their brand and products to fully digital spaces such as the metaverse once these platforms become fully mainstream. Until then, it will be useful to meet consumers where they are and reach them on the devices they already have. By doing so, brands can make this transition from smartphone to the metaverse more seamless.

Kimberly Hernandez – Associate Analyst, Mintel Trends, North America

Virtual Tours- Argentina

La Serenísima, the largest dairy company in Argentina, has inaugurated a new platform on which consumers can tour the premises virtually and learn about the manufacturing processes behind the products. 45 years ago, the long-established dairy brand implemented a program called Open Doors that invited individuals, schools and other entities to visit its factories to learn about the origin, ingredients and production processes.

This year, the brand has inaugurated a new means of visiting the premises that allows consumers to tour the factory virtually, anytime, anywhere. The new platform features 360° videos, pre-recorded product presentation videos and live cameras so that visitors can see the company’s practices in real time.

La Serenísima is harnessing technology to offer a new way of experiencing the tours of its installations. Such upgrades are allowing brands to not only keep their commitments to transparency but also to reach more consumers, as in-person visits were pretty much only feasible for those living in the province the factory is located in. Now, they are available to everybody who wants to learn more about the brand from the comfort of their own home.

Consumers will continue to evaluate their favorite brands based on the ingredients and materials they use in their manufacturing processes, as well as on how sustainable their production practices are, as described in Mintel’s 2022 Trend Climate Complexity. As consumers become increasingly accustomed to and equipped with new technologies, companies can go beyond setting up and developing virtual tours and can use AR and VR to enhance consumers’ experiences even when they visit their physical premises. Blockchain technology can support brands by providing a reliable tool that enables consumers to trace and obtain solid proof of product origins and sustainable production.

Beatriz Monteiro – Senior Analyst, Mintel Trend, Latin America

Cell-cultured Cocoa- Finland

Chocolate company Fazer has partnered with research center VTT to develop lab-grown cocoa as a sustainable alternative to raw materials. Lab-grown foods require minimal land use and natural resources compared to traditional farming, and are not impacted by weather and climate conditions. Fazer states that as traditional cocoa growing is threatened by climate change, alternative sources for cocoa need to be explored. The initiative is a long-term project; it will be several years before cell-cultured cocoa can be launched on the market.

While lab-grown foods have not yet broken out onto mainstream markets, news and interest around them are growing. These have mainly revolved around lab-grown replacements for animal-based foods such as meat and dairy, touted as more ethical, sustainable and cleaner (such as due to the lack of antibiotics or hormones) alternatives. However, lab-grown foods have potential to offer alternatives to conventionally farmed plant-based foods as well. Companies are already exploring potential for culturing crops that are currently resource-intensive to grow or under threat from climate change, such as coffee, cocoa or avocados.

While many of these lab-grown solutions are still several years from entering the market, they demonstrate how food production can shift from the farm to the tank. Some consumers will find these options unappealing for their perceived unnaturalness, but if they prove to become more affordable than conventionally grown crops, this will persuade many. Along with automated indoor farms, technologies such as this may also lead to a much more localized form of food production, where instead of shipping goods overseas, a variety of foods can be grown locally in a smart farm or a lab.

Liisa Kontas- Senior Analyst, Mintel Trends, Europe

Equality in the Ring- Thailand

Bangkok’s Rajadamnern Stadium is the Muay Thai (or Thai Boxing) world’s oldest and arguably most iconic institution, often revered as the “Temple of Muay Thai”. But since it opened in 1945, the ring has been off limits to women boxers, due to traditional beliefs that the boxing ring is sacred and overseen by deities who prohibit women from entering the ring or even touching its canvas. Under its new management, Global Sports Ventures – which seeks to revolutionize the sport for a new generation of global fans – the recent Rajadamnern World Series included a women’s category for the first time, which counted four Thai and four foreign fighters. 

Muay Thai is one of the most important sports in Thailand. However, women who engage in the sport often face discrimination and discouragement – being told that it’s too dangerous for them, having inadequate spaces and facilities for training and struggling to book fights or make a career out of their passion. The fact that women can now compete on the high-profile stage at the “Temple of Muay Thai” and receive the same rewards as their male peers will have a significant impact on the people watching and beyond. It shows recognition by organizers that sports fans want to see women provided with the same opportunities, platforms and rewards as men. It shows that rejection of gendered stereotypes and progress towards gender parity are happening in a traditionally conservative and patriarchal society. Most of all, it inspires young women to strive for the highest levels of success, not just in sports, but in any profession, industry or ideals they choose to fight for.

Consumers will continue to push back on old-fashioned ideas and question the customs and traditions they were brought up with, especially when it leads to stereotypes, bias and inequalities within society. The media has provided the privileged with a greater awareness of the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, and the victims of discrimination a goal or hope for how things could be better. Consumers will remain vigilant and call out prejudiced representation or treatment of people based on their race, age, gender or sexual orientation. They will seek brands that align with their values. Hence, it’ll be important for brands to make inclusivity part of their DNA, champion the rights of the under-served and ensure no discrepancies between what they say and how they operate.

Joey Khong Analyst, Mintel Trends, Southeast Asia

Acupuncture  for Pets- China

Animal acupuncture had been practiced in China for several centuries. As with human beings, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)  can be applied to complement conventional medicine rather than as a replacement. Acupuncture can also be applied to treat ailments when other treatments were unavailable. Owners have observed visible improvements in their pets’ conditions after several treatments, building the credibility and interest in acupuncture and TCM as an alternative treatment to animal ailments.

Pets are an important part of Chinese households. Owners often want to give their pets the best things they can afford, so their furry companions can enjoy the same quality of life as themselves. With growing curiosity and awareness of the benefits of traditional wellness treatments, TCM has grown in popularity among consumers to treat the roots of ailments and maintain wellbeing through natural methods and sustainable lifestyle habits. As more consumers subscribe to this wellness mindset, pet owners are trusting the same wisdom of TCM would work on their pets as well.

We often see products and services for pets develop in a similar trajectory to that of their owners. As they become increasingly concerned about holistic wellbeing, consumers are also caring for their pets with a similar mindset, ensuring their physical and emotional health and comfort. Just like brands have put a creative twist to their TCM solutions, especially to appeal to young consumers, the same direction could be explored for animal wellness, especially solutions that allow both pet and owner to enjoy and create memories together.

Joey Khong Analyst, Mintel Trends, Southeast Asia

If you would like to learn more, check out other hotspots our analysts have identified in markets around the globe recently: June | July | August

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