Future Digest - November 2nd
This week's Future digest looks at the rise of music festivals in games, carbon footprint labelling, a new breath analyser that can detect COVID-19 within a minute, e-commerce live-streams, the TikTok and Shopify collaboration, how AR and 3D technology boosts sales, the future of cities and how the EU wants to introduce algorithmic accountability and transparency.
Last week Billie Eilish performed a livestream concert and got it right. At $30 for a ticket, the show was significantly more affordable than a live concert. Yet despite the online format, the show still managed to create a unique experience for fans. There was an interactive merch shop, a chat to connect with other fans, exclusive behind the scenes footage and impressive XR (extended reality) effects.
Chipotle hired Bill Nye to explain the footprint of their food in their latest ad.
Zero Grocery is an online grocery store that delivers your products free from any plastic packaging. That means no plastic bags or packaging. The company buys in bulk and packs the food and other products into glass jars, boxes and reusable containers.
Singapore startup Breathonix has developed a breath test that can detect COVID-19 within a minute. Breathonix is currently still conducting clinical trials, but if successful the device could help revive places where it is hard to social distance such as hospitality or retail as well as places with a lot of traffic like airports.
Is this the return of the shopping channel? A study by China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) found that about a third of China’s internet population (309 million people) have viewed e-commerce live-streams, making it the fastest-growing e-commerce channel. However, impulse buying is rife and almost half of online shoppers are unsatisfied with goods bought through such channels.
TikTok and Shopify are collaborating. The partnership makes it easier for businesses on Shopify to develop a presence on social media and use it to sell products. Merchants will be able to select which product they would like to feature, and video ads will be automatically generated that drive to their Shopify stores for checkout.
Vertebrae creates AR and 3D commercial solutions for brands. By leveraging AR, businesses get a more accurate measure of people's size and through 3D and AR renders consumers gain better insight in how products might look on them or in their home. These benefits also translate into actual commercial gains. Vertebrae found that retailers using their technology observed a 52% lift in conversion rate, a 42% lift in revenue per visit, and a 25% lift in average order value.
The EU is planning to legislate for algorithmic accountability. European lawmakers are set to introduce new policies next month that would require internet platforms to open up their algorithms to regulatory oversight. Under the proposal platforms would have to tell users how their recommender systems decides which content to show – so it’s easier for people to judge whether to trust the information or not.
Richard Florida, the well-known urbanist, believes that the pandemic might cause a rejuvenation of cities. He anticipates a decrease in demand for office space in the central city, which in turn will lead to less demand for commercial space. Combined with some families and older people leaving the city for the country side, this would lead to reduced rents, making the city attainable again for younger generations.
In the future, virtual concerts could be an additional way for fans to connect with artists. This year Travis Scot already took to the stage in Fortnite and Minecraft hosted Block By Blockwest. Livestream concerts also make sense for the recently launched Apple Music TV, which currently feels mostly like an MTV reboot. However, with good artist relations and access to a huge consumer pool, livestream concerts makes sense for the technology giant that has been eyeing the world of entertainment for a while.
Explore the impact of carbon footprint labelling in your category. In food, Quorn announced earlier this year they will start to label their products with the carbon footprint, now Chipotle is following suit. In fashion Allbirds was the first major brand to use carbon footprint labelling. As consumers increasingly pay attention to the footprint of their consumption, this type of labelling is likely to become more prevalent.
Initial experiments with digital technologies such as AR and live-streaming are promising and show they could further boost sales. With the TikTok and Shopify partnership and Snapchat further expanding its AR capabilities, now is the time for brands to experiment with these technologies and understand how they can help engage with their customers.
Under the proposed EU legislation for algorithmic accountability consumers would see why they are targeted for a certain ad. This means brands will need to foster even more intimate relationships based on trust with their customers in order not to alienate them.
The expected urban exodus might not be all doom and gloom. It could make cities more affordable and innovative. Additionally, the demand for office and retail space in central cities might shift to satellite suburban centres. Companies should closely monitor the evolution of cities and suburbs to understand how they are evolving and explore what the impact would be on their business.