The ETF industry is betting that investors want to link more of their investing dollars to social trends, or business and technologies, not yet reflected in traditional sector funds.
Called "innovative" or "socially responsible" trends in the industry, more than 10 percent of the 200-plus exchange-traded funds launched in 2016 were directed at emerging technologies such as mobile pay or the growing consumer interest in organic farming.
That's according to fund data from ETF.com analyzed by CNBC. In 2015, only about five new ETFs contained in the list were thematic.
"With the style and sector ETF market increasingly concentrated, ETF providers have launched narrower strategies that can complement the more established sector products," Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA, said in an email.
"Socially responsible mutual funds have been popular for years, but ETF providers are hoping a younger generation of investors will want lower-cost index-based alternatives," he said.