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Mintel has today (29 January) announced the launch of Mintel Futures – a unique approach to trend forecasting enabling a longer term, strategic outlook – from the global analyst team at Mintel.

Stemming from a set of six key trends, Mintel has identified the biggest areas of opportunity- defined as those with the broadest demographic and market coverage and greatest commercial product, service and packaging potential – for businesses targeting the global consumer market over the next 5-10 years.

Richard Cope, Director of Insight and Trends at Mintel, said:

“Mintel Futures examines cross category, cross-sector consumer trends, enabling organisations to stay one step ahead. We have devised the Mintel Futures initiative to be a wake-up call for clients – something to stimulate team discussion, suggest new projects and strategic approaches and pose questions for their business. It works because its longer term outlook avoids the limitations of a year ahead approach and is more actionable for our clients who are in the planning stages of activity set to impact in the same timeframes we are looking towards.”

Two key trends highlighted by Mintel as part of the Mintel Futures initiative are Human and Generation Next.

Human – Automation and mass production will continue to make life easier, but consumers and companies will react by valuing- and promoting – human service and artisan goods.

Today’s consumers are chiefly experiencing automatic service in the form of storefront retail technologies, such as self-checkout terminals and mobile self-scanners, and many are warming to the concept. Mintel’s research to date suggests there may also be even further opportunity in this area. Automated service can appeal, and in Mintel’s Colour Cosmetics UK August 2012 report, 28% of women say they find sales assistants at beauty counters intimidating, whilst in Mintel’s Hotels US November 2012 report 30% of hotel guests say they wish there were more opportunities for automated service at hotels so they could interact less with hotel staff.

“Moving forward, automation is going to be about cutting to the chase, skipping past laborious processes, to get us to the experience or the product more quickly.” Richard adds. “For companies this means offering a choice between human expertise and automated fast-tracking in service, and adding customer customisation and artisan suppliers to the product supply line. Man and machine are not at war, and the challenge is to use automation as something that gives us more time to focus on being more human.”

This is reflected in Mintel’s Shopping for Home D