Here are five trends that will further shape digital marketing next year.
1. Virtual Reality Will Become A Revenue Generator Via The General Population
Virtual reality will emerge in a big way in 2016. More importantly, it will become more than a gee-whiz marketing tool. VR will begin to generate revenue as major brands start re-investing content dollars in new types of VR content that can finally be experienced by the masses: VR headsets, mobile devices and social media.
Hulu has original VR content in the works for 2016, and Facebook will take Occulus Rift into the mainstream next year, as well. Netflix is getting into the VR game by working with Oculus to develop an app for Samsung Gear. We’ll see VR’s impact to the retail experience not just in the U.S., but globally as well. With billions of dollars behind it, VR will finally show us the money by creating real ways to drive demand. As brands like Topshop bring VR into the store, we will begin to see an industry-wide change in 2016 in the way retail is experienced, from product demonstrations to R&D to a change in foot traffic patterns in stores.
2. Wearable Technology Will Become a Retail Phenomenon
We’ve seen some high-profile disappointments, such as Google Glass, for wearables in recent years. However, next year should be the year when the consumer benefits of wearables converge to create mass-market adoption. More products will connect users to their health, clothing, technology, media systems and families. Because wearables satisfy two crucial demands of today’s savvy consumer – personalized marketing and on-demand immediacy — we’re betting 2016 will be the tipping point for them. Apple Watch putting mobile payments on your wrist was just the beginning.
3. Social Robots Will Become Participatory and Take on More Roles
We will see great advancement in our social interaction with machines. Humanizing technology is not a new idea, but the recent expansion of social robots, autonomous machines that interact and communicate with humans by following social behaviors, has moved into the real world.
The next generation of smart robots will not only be responsive but participatory, in retail and the home.. They can understand, predict, remember and engage. They will know how to find information, locate where it is stored, and even understand how it is integrated into brand and consumer ecosystems.
Retailers and marketers will ask themselves if they have their data and information architecture in a good place. For example, if JIBO the robot was asked to recommend a store to purchase a dress for an upcoming event, will it be able to consider your store, locate it, and recommend it based on how you have your system set up?
4. Sharing Will Explode Into Multiple Industries
The peer-to-peer sharing economy has grown at lightning speed. It has revolutionized the way that the travel, transportation and hospitality industries operate. We’ve witnessed amazing growth for companies like Airbnb and Uber. In 2016, we will see this rise in consumer-generated experiences expand to other industries, placing more value in community and prioritizing convenience, price and service.
The collaborative consumption that has been so appealing it will explode into delivery services, food, beauty, fitness, publishing, filmmaking and even consumer healthcare. Industries once thought too sophisticated or specialized for the sharing economy will begin fueling its growth.
5. Mainstream Adoption of 3D Printing Will Disrupt Industries Like Shipping and Retail
Next year, we will see the beginning of a predicted five-year growth of 34% of 3D printing, per Morgan Stanley, with mainstream adoption transforming it from a cool technology into an idea entangled in everyone’s daily lives. As 3D printers muscle into our businesses, offices, and homes, the idea of mainstream printing and shipping will begin to feel obsolete. But shipping will not be the only industry disrupted by 3D printing. It will basically change the way prototyping and product development is executed.
Retail outlets will set aside areas within stores to customize products, such as Macy’s in-store printed selfie iPhone cases. In fact, practically any vertical market will be affected by 3D printing. Bioprinting is one of the fastest growing areas of 3D printing, and next year we will see more healthcare companies begin to commercialize 3D printed organs.