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Future trends in consumption

I recently spoke on a panel about Women in Innovation. I am not a digital entrepreneur, nor am I a highly technical person. My contribution to the discussion was an overview of consumption trends and a vision of innovation in the future.  Not 30 - 40 years in the future. Who knows what that will be? Your guess is as good as mine.  We have enough challenges figuring out how people will behave 5 years from now.  

To prove my point, think about the innovation that has happened in the past 5 years.  We are still all attached to our phones, but the innovation of the phone has exploded. We log in using facial recognition or a fingerprint. We no longer need to carry around a  cord to listen to music, or a credit card to pay. We not only talk to our phone, giving Siri instructions, we talk to our homes, using Alexa or another speaker. And, she can shut off or turn on lights and electronics for us. All of this has happened in the last 5 years and I've probably missed about ten additional examples.

So, based on this pace of technology, our actions 5 years from now will be very different from what they are today. Here are some things I think will effect  you and your business in the future.

Artificial intelligence will explode and become more commonplace. Let me explain. AI is the ability of a computer program to predict what someone will do, based on what they've done in the past. Think about Netflix. You get a set of movie recommendations, and your best friend gets another set.This is because the system learns what you prefer and predicts what you may like in the future. Right now, only large companies are using this technology, but as it becomes more commonplace, it will be accessible to smaller companies as well. If you have a women's boutique and your customer buys red shoes, you'll know what she's most likely to buy next. This opens up a host of marketing opportunities. Don't even get me started.

Shoppers will have zero patience for a long sales process or complicated checkouts. Right now, we're seeing that consumers are saying ease and convenience are extremely important to them. In fact, many say they are willing to pay more for a simple experience. In the future, consumers will instantly replace a business if it's too difficult to deal with, or if they don't understand the offer.  Simplicity will be table-stakes, not a differentiator.

Third, advertising will be replaced by really good content. All right, I'm going out on a limb on this one. The best marketing people are already replacing sales pitches with storytelling and helpful content. I think this will be so important in the future, that consumers will no longer have patience with companies that only talk about themselves. Businesses are going to have to get much more intimate with the goals and feelings of their customers.

So, there you go.  Please do reach out and let me know what you think about these predictions. I'm open to differences of opinion, or any other predictions you think I missed.

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