Retailing is set to undergo a revolution that will see the high street transform from the place where we buy products and services to a hi-tech world where we experience and interact with brands and products, in both real and virtual environments.

This is one of the key trends from ZenithOptimedia’s global ‘2038’ futures programme. Launched to mark the network’s 25th anniversary – celebrated in October 2013 – the programme sought to look at how the world might change over the next 25 years and to consider the implications for marketers. 2038: Six Trends for the Next 25 Years assesses what impact changes in the economy, society, technology and entertainment will have on consumer behaviour over the next quarter century.

Trend 1: The Age of The i-Street
The internet has revolutionised the way that many of us shop, and ZenithOptimedia believes that future technological development will see retail stories being developed into ‘experiential lounges’, offering us sensory experiences, where we are be able to interact with brands and products. In effect, the high street will become the ‘iStreet’. Powered by customer data and using sensors to detect our movements, brands will be able to customise our in-store experience through augmented reality and an array of interactive displays. We will make most of our purchases online, at our leisure, and, where relevant, we will customise and manufacture our purchases using 3D printers.

Trend 2: The Rising Markets Phenomenon
Over the next 25 years, we will see a major shift in global economic power. The BRIC markets – Brazil, Russia, India, China – will generate half the world’s GDP by 2030 (World Bank) and the second tier of emerging markets the CIVETS – Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa – will continue to grow. No longer ‘emerging’ ZenithOptimedia is classifying these countries as ‘Rising Markets’ and is predicting a new tier of fast-growth markets: Peru, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana, Philippines and Myanmar.

Trend 3: Collectively Responsible Consumerism
We are now more aware of the consequences of our consumption habits on our world than ever before, and a growing number of us are now campaigning to protect the planet and improve our lives. ZenithOptimedia believes that this will accelerate to such a point that a whole new movement will evolve – ‘Collectively Responsible Consumerism’ – with consumers, businesses and governments, working together for our collective wellbeing.

Trend 4: Welcome to the Social Cooperative
Social media has enabled people to form networks through which they can help friends and peers. Over the next 25 years, ZenithOptimedia believes this will escalate, affording consumers collective influence and bargaining power with companies and organisations. This will see companies shifting from using social media primarily as a communication platform to adopting it as a fundamental part of their business model, facilitating collaboration with consumers. In this new world, consumers will play a part in designing products and will contribute to brand development in exchange for rewards and discounts and other forms of equity.

Trend 5: The Internet of Everything
Over the next 25 years, the internet will extend to many different physical objects, resulting in a smart, integrated system of sensors, data and internet-enabled devices that help us manage our lives. Wearable devices – and even chips implanted under the skin – will become common place, connecting us to objects across all aspects of our lives. This will enable brands to personalise and deliver products and services for our every need. But in a world of hyper-personalisation, will the joy of surprise disappear from our lives?

Trend 6: Democratisation of Content Creation
Enabled by new technologies and an advanced social media infrastructure, over the next 25 years consumer created and curated content will evolve to stand shoulder with professionally produced news and entertainment content. The ‘Democratisation of Content Creation’ will see the emergence of individual content producers and publishers, creating content for the wider public – in some cases published by traditional media corporations.  Despite the phenomenal growth of consumer created content, there will still be a strong need for professionally produced content from mainstream publishers and entertainment companies.

From the six macro trends from our 2038 futures project, ZenithOptimedia has identified 10 specific changes in consumer behaviours – fuelled by technological developments –  that we believe will emerge and develop during 2014:

Experience Quest: The Journey to Self-Discovery
With a world of online information at their fingertips, more people will seek to escape mass consumerism to create/curate their own experiences. Brands can help them on their journey.

The Goal Wrist: Measuring Personal Success
Wrist devices to measure health and fitness are set to increase in popularity this year. Harnessing the power of data, brands are well placed to offer rewards for fitness achievements.

Community Consumption: Rooted in Self Interest
With ongoing economic pressures, more consumers will join together to negotiate discounts and to share advice. Peer-to-peer technology companies are facilitating this and brands can play a role.

Photographic Timeline: The Smart Showcase of Self
Smartphones and social media have revolutionised photography. This year, snapping of everything and sharing with everyone will shift to smart and selective photo showcasing.

Creative Collaborators: Unleashing Unique Talent
User-generated content will migrate from simple self-expression to the creation of valuable information and entertainment. Media owners will collaborate with the best content producers.

Death of Piracy: Rise of on-demand content
While many consumers expect digital content for free, content subscription is on the rise. But rather than owning content, consumers are increasingly prepared to pay for ‘quality’ renting and streaming.

The Immersive Theatre: Multi-faceted Screens
The living room is transforming into an immersive digital theatre, where people can enjoy and share content, participate in hi-tech online gaming and create experiences on a big screen.

Biometric Pursuit: Making Sense of Emotions
2014 will see biometric technology move into the mainstream. By identifying even the subtlest nuances of our body language, brands will be able to match relevant content with our moods.

Intimate Ads: Opting-in to Shop
In 2014, digital ads will improve as our mobiles get to know us better, eg the surge of apps that can anticipate our daily needs. Push messaging will become more intimate and less disruptive.

High street to iStreet: Reinventing the In-Store Experience
In 2014, we will see the birth of the iStreet. Mobile devices will increasingly be used in-store to research products, and in-store sensors will identify known customers and facilitate interaction.

Preview the press release pdf

View the 2038: Six Trends for the Next 25 Years

View the Top Ten Trends for 2014

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