Which came first - the chicken or the egg? Does tech innovation shift consumer behavior, or does consumer behavior drive innovation?
As brands navigate ways to stay ahead of the market and be top of mind, creating personal moments as they connect with customers have a greater importance. It echoes the trend of personalization that’s happening with technology. Where we are today in digital as an industry, there’s enough data and tried and true strategies to create engagement at the local level; yet with the adoption (or abandonment) of new technologies by consumers and advertisers alike, the company that can envision an emerging opportunity and take the calculated risk can ultimately win big – and early.
Here are 5 products on (or entering) the scene with the potential to create local moments brands are looking for:
1. Artificial Intelligence / Virtual Assistant
If you stepped foot on the CES floor earlier this year – or followed it online for even just a moment, you likely saw that Amazon’s Alexa was everywhere. And for the 2nd year in a row. Why? Because what’s possible with artificial intelligence is being realized. For the past year, Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled personal assistant, made its way onto countertops and desks via Alexa-enabled devices such as the Echo. It now has more than 1,500 applications, including integration with appliances, cars, lighting, restaurant orders, and more. Companies with multiple locations or brands that desire measurable, local actions should take note. It’s only a matter of time before the ability to hyper-target, personalize and localize through artificial intelligence takes shape through platforms resembling other digital strategies – but with a whole new data set and relationship between you and your customer. Assembly’s recap from this year’s CES, RECES 2017, has more on artificial intelligence and a few startups with compelling AI applications.
2. Connected Automobiles
Many interesting things are happing in Auto, making it hard to pick just one model to call out. While much of the recent chatter is around electronic automobiles and self-driving cars, in-dash smart technology and features continue to improve. Tech and elecronics companies companies such as Panasonic are teaming up with platforms (i.e. Android), and manufacturers are changing the in-car experience. Smartphones and tablets have helped out here, because not only are consumers familiar with touch screens and having information accessible on the go, they’re getting used to how it works and are starting to expect it. We’re approaching a time when older, “pre-digital era” cars will need replacing, which means we can expect to see more vehicles with digital and connected features on the road. This opens the highway to possible partnerships between manufactures and brands, geo-location targeting opportunities, and sophisticated networks that put you on the map wherever customers go.
3. Smart Tables
Do we really need this? A techies’ dream, a busy parent’s dream, a designer’s dream, a marketer’s dream – call it what you want, the smart table concept has the wow factor, plain and simple, and is even better in real life. It takes us beyond the Jetson’s with the possibility of impacting lifestyles and making some things in life easier. Some of us in the industry have had behind-the-scene glimpses of these during innovation meetings, and the fact that a manufacturer has gone public with their concept suggests the smart table’s entry point to the market – in some fashion – may not be too far off. The idea of something like this existing is akin to a sugar rush for marketers, especially those with local engagement in mind. Been a while since your last car tune up? Almost time for dinner? Search for something related to your health recently? With or without syncing with one of your devices, suggestions of nearby services appearing almost on cue at the right time of day for your exact need isn’t beyond possibility. Here’s a video of the Panasonic Smart Table in action.
For a while, year upon year was declared “The year of mobile!” It seems the beacon is a little stuck on the same journey as mobile as the industry figures it out -- but let’s hope not. The beacon is a sharp innovation that not only remains relevant, it hasn’t reached its fullest potential for marketers – especially those with local interest. It beholds performance-driving potential for brands, experiences, and consumer satisfaction, yet like a garden, the application of beacons is taking some nurturing in order for it to truly grow and thrive in the marketplace. Among many things they enable, beacons push information to the devices of nearby customers, and can receive data from nearby transactions. They can provide a trove of mobile engagement and consumer intelligence. In order for beacons to be an effective part of a brand’s local digital strategy, however, a few things need to happen: testing and culling data – lots of it; investing in the technology, maybe even directly with manufacturers to accelerate and focus R&D; scalable adoption across businesses and partners; and ultimately, true, committed mobile adoption by the brand. Unlike many of the product innovations coming to market where brands can simply adapt and adopt in order to create engagement and monetize an opportunity, beacons are unique in the fact that that brands may have to invest themselves deeply into the other side of the business – the technology development and product road mapping – in order to realize the fullest potential beacons can provide for local digital performance.
5. Wearables (…Beyond health and fitness)
Wearables aren’t new, but they aren’t going anywhere – except on the body and clothes, more and more. Enter social badges. What’s refreshing about innovation such as My Jomo is that its purpose is not to tell you how many steps you’ve taken or calories you’ve burned. My Jomo, a concept out of France, is a digital accessory – a social badge you wear on your clothes that enables expression and can display a message. It connects to your phone and is equipped with the wireless data transfer protocol, NFC, which opens the door to hyper-local consumer behavior data, payments and more. Assembly describes it in RECES 2017 as “a status update in real life.” Imagine beyond the consumer potential, and consider the impact wearables such as this can have when employees wear them in store, at offices and at service centers. The messages could promote a key product, ask an engaging question, say “30% off,” or “Flu Shots Available.” Integrated with a marketing plan that has inventive thinking about local around it, a new wave of insight and relevant targeting opportunities are on the horizon.