2020 Trend Watch for Brands, Retail & Ecommerce
The future vision of movies like Blade Runner (set in 2019) has not yet come to fruition but, nevertheless, trends around the world are moving fast and changing how we live and interact with the world. Brands will need to understand how these trends will impact their ability to do business and find solutions to adjust.
Here are five trends we can expect to see in 2020:
1. GAN Technology for In-Store Communication and Visuals
This emerging type of artificial intelligence uses Generative Adversarial Networks (call them AI1 and AI2) to create images, stories and other content that “feels” like it was generated by a person or a physical object like a camera. A recent example of this technology is the rise of “deep fakes” — movies or images of famous people that are actually fabricated by the GAN. It’s been the recent plague of celebrities and politicians, and the technology is only getting better.
In the “deep fake” example, AI1 is tasked with creating the image of a celebrity using a set of images of that celebrity as reference. It takes its best shot, and then shares it with AI2 that is programmed to evaluate images based on their “realism.” Based on AI2’s critical feedback, AI1 refines the image until it looks real enough to pass. This “self teaching” AI approach has many less nefarious applications.
For consumer product brands, the use of GAN technology can open up the opportunity to use data such as shopper cognitive science to suggest optimizations to in-store communication and visuals.
2. The Rise of the Alternative Bank
From Facebook to Ally Bank to GoBank by Walmart, alternative banking options are looking to replace traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. They offer easier access to banking and less overall bureaucracy. This is of particular benefit to segments of the population considered “unbankable” by the large banks.
The movement will certainly change the dynamic of finance as well as retail as this sizable group is able to better access and manage their finances. For brands, it will be important to integrate with these new systems to ensure that your products or services will show up in the right places to be considered.
3. Subscription Surge
As ecommerce continues to grow and thrive, e-carts are becoming key. Voice ordering is more and more common, and often results in consumers ordering more private label products because they did not search by brand name. Brand leaders will move to improve their positions in voice search results. One sure fire way to safeguard sales is with subscriptions.
Driving subscription sales will require some brands to reconsider packaging and delivery systems. Manageable shipping options to reduce cost and ensure the right amount of product is delivered at the right time will be crucial.
4. Self-Cleaning Functional Clothes
Did you ever wish that you could erase that stain from your dress shirt without the sink or the dry cleaner? By weaving metals into the fibers of clothing on a nano scale, inventors have created fabrics that can clean themselves in just a few minutes when exposed to sunlight. In addition, they are body odor and smell resistant.
Future applications include bacteria resistant fabric for use in medical settings. Everything from scrubs to sheets and towels can help keep the hospital environment clean and clear of infectious microbes. For laundry product manufacturers, this will mean innovating on new solutions that are specific to providing new care benefits for functional clothing.
5. Holographic Computing
Think Minority Report. In the futuristic Tom Cruise film: Screens appear in mid-air above the user, and respond to touch like a physical surface. Soon available for use in everything from presentations to open heart surgery, this SciFi tech is fast becoming reality, allowing the virtual and physical world to intersect.
Applications for mobile, automotive design, gaming and other situations are in development by several different companies. Brands will need to consider the value of integrating content into this new visual space.
That’s just a sliver of what’s coming in 2020. Companies that don’t anticipate and adjust for changing times will fall by the wayside.