Connected Consumers live in a constantly evolving world, where emerging new technology has the potential to impact everything we do. Each year brings exciting new products and iterations which promise to revolutionize everything from transportation to retail to entertainment.
For 2017, we’ve identified five of the hottest and most important tech trends that have the potential to become widely adopted in the mass market.
1. Mobile payments
Many Connected Consumers may have experienced the act of physically paying for something using their mobile device, yet most would be reluctant to go fully cashless or card-less on a trip to the store. And despite the many convenient benefits that mobile payments offer, security concerns remain a unanimous deterrent.
However, retailers that take advantage of mobile payments with a branded app have a unique opportunity to bolster loyalty by improving the shopping and check out process as well as utilizing rewards and customized product offers based on user data. Younger consumers especially are more willing to agree to share their personal data in exchange for value in return. Retailers and brands not offering mobile payments are currently missing out on this unique opportunity.
If we look to the Asia Pacific region (and China in particular) which is several years ahead of the western world, mobile payments are widely accepted by merchants and retailers alike. Will an improved retail experience lead to mobile payment adoption? This year could provide the answer.
2. Virtual and augmented reality
Last year saw the release of several new virtual reality products, with PlayStation VR being the most desired device among consumers, followed by the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. Already appealing for its implications to the gaming and entertainment industry, VR and AR have the potential to reach the next level by expanding into other industries, from shopping to traveling to education and healthcare.
With growing consumer interest and big investors like Facebook, Google and Microsoft, the key for the future of VR will be in understanding and meeting the needs of consumers, and incorporating VR into their personal and professional lives. While price and safety concerns are minor obstacles towards adoption, continual improvements to the VR user experience will cause demand to grow. As more industries seek to maximize the power of VR, this year is an exciting time and could prove to be a turning point which sees the technology approach mass market status.
3. Smart home
There’s no shortage of products in the smart home market, with many Connected Consumers’ households already equipped with smart TVs. But other home based devices are still catching on, and face several barriers before they meet the hype that has been circulating around smart home technology.
The various benefits that smart home products provide appeal to different demographics, so clearly communicating them to the right consumer groups will go a long way towards encouraging adoption. For example, home safety, security and reducing utility costs are important to Gen X-ers and Boomers, while Millennials are interested in having the latest technology as well as the environmental benefits that it can offer.
With many Millennials (and especially the older Gen Y group) set to become home owners in the coming years, they are a key target group with a large proportion of Leading Edge Consumers that could be influential to others. As seen with the successful recent launch of Amazon Echo, whose voice interface provides an intuitive and easy fit into people’s lives, a simple and seamless user experience is an absolute necessity for products in the smart home category.
4. Autonomous vehicles
While automakers and tech companies are hard at work to realize the vision of the self-driving car, there are still several years to go before they start occupying the roads. At the moment, too many unanswered logistical questions exist around autonomous vehicles, but there is no denying their appeal, especially with younger consumers.
With widespread adoption predicted to begin around 2025, there is no doubt that autonomous vehicles have the potential to revolutionize transportation and the auto industry, but the technology is still currently in its infancy. The key to success will be matching the evolving technology with consumers’ needs, while prioritizing public safety and established protocols for drivers and passengers.
The market for wearables, while enjoying healthy growth, has not lived up to the tech industry’s expectations so far. Heralded as the next big tech item, early smartwatches didn’t quite reach mass market success, appealing mostly to early adopters and Leading Edge Consumers.
As wearable devices evolve and designer brands begin to introduce more attractively designed offerings at varied price points, we expect to see an increase in consumer interest. But retailers and manufacturers must understand the real-life uses of wearables and continue to tap into the trend of health and fitness monitoring. Only then will wearables be able to reach the next level.
This year could be a key turning point for many technologies on the verge of taking off, but new pairings of products and technology must deliver on consumers’ expectations to meet the hype. For a true revolution to happen, brands must focus on enhancing the lives of Connected Consumers while alleviating their concerns that continue to be roadblocks to mass adoption.