Publisher Sanoma has started a test in its Dutch magazines Libelle and Viva, in which readers can order samples and have them sent home by sending a text message. Usually samples of shampoo for instance are glued on a magazine, so every reader will get the sample. In this test the reader will take the initiative, and with that the publisher will be able to gather pithy profile information. (em, Dutch). Brands are sending their messages more and more targeted, and wait for their target to answer. Samples used to be sent to everyone (like mass communication), now they are sent to people who take the initiative themselves, and later brands will know exactly what people they have to provide with samples. Maybe not only the people who will personally benefit from the product, but also the people who play an important role in word-of-mouth advertising. Those people then don’t just get a sample: they will get the whole bottle sent to them, in a special box and with a handwritten letter. This is a small step in that direction.
Google now remembers, besides your last search queries, also what web sites you have visited: the web history. Google uses this information to personalize search results (dc, Dutch). Brands are getting more personal and resume the dialogue where it stopped the last time. Google is pioneering in this. You will be able to ask Google where you have been. First online, and later also in the physical world. Computers are very good in remembering, whereas people tend to forget things every now and then. We like to leave remembering to technology. In the future we will find it normal for brands to remember every brand-consumer interaction, and share that knowledge with us. This is a small step in that direction.
Hiroshi Ishiguro from the Japanese Intelligent Robotics Lab has designed a robot which down to the tiniest of details resembles himself. The skin tone, the hair color and length, the glasses. Even inside the robot all kinds of technologies are used to make it look as human as possible. It contains 50 sensors and motors, it can see through its ‘eyes’, talk through its internal speaker and shrug or scowl if prodded and poked. Even the breathing is imitated. At first, you may feel strange about the android,” said Dr Ishiguro. “However, once you are drawn into a conversation, you will forget every difference and feel totally comfortable to speak with it and look it in the eyes.” (dm). We imitate humans down to the tiniest of details. We have a natural motive to build things that looks just like ourselves. It started with drawings, later with dolls and chat bots. And it doesn’t stop. With these kinds of robots we will be able to do whatever we want. Cheer in a football stadium (after buying a ticket), use him as a servant, or - of course - as a sex toy. Brands will use him (and her) for service in cinemas, to load and unload the shopping, or to make a just opened restaurant look crowded. This way the movie WestWorld from 1973 slowly becomes reality, and we massively dive into the experience economy. We will have to wait for this a couple more years though. Until then we just keep on building tomorrow’s brands.
Through Dutch website Kortingkorting.nl Dutch consumers can find daily lists of all discounted products for that day. This way we slowly get insight in prices. All prices in the physical as well as the virtual world will be available everywhere. Wherever we go in a street, whatever we will be, we will always be able to find a place to get what we want for less. Worldwide. As a result, prices will be more or less equal in the future. In the long term it will even be “whatever you want to pay for it”. Then we will get special prices for special clients again. Even the purchase price for the retailer could change afterwards if a loyal client of the brand wanted to buy a brand product. The client then could get this product at a reduced price or maybe even for free. It might be an ardent tester who has written lots of positive reviews about this brand. The brand then obviously wants to give this customer a special deal. This way ‘price’ gets a totally different meaning. This is a small step in that direction.
Children can now stroll in Barbie Girls, a world in which they can design their own characters, decorate their own rooms, and try on clothes. In the cinema they can see Mattel commercials with which they can earn b-bkucks, points to be used for furniture in their rooms, accessories, outfits and more. Other Mattel products have special codes which reveal even more content. Shortly there will be a “doll-inspired handheld portable device”, making a direct connection with the content and activities at BarbieGirls.com, like adopting a virtual pet (mt). This way, the virtual world slowly comes to life. We connect everything to each other. In the future, if we change our physical Barbie into a different dress, we will see that even our Barbie avatar has changed. And the dirty dress will, complete with stains, hang in the virtual wardrobe. We will be able to design a new Barbie, make a holographic projection of it in our own house or somebody else’s house, and have it manufactured should we wish to do so.
This video shows how our apparent creativity strongly depends on the surroundings in which we produce something (fc). It shows we are connected to one another. And it becomes clear that the human body and mind don’t stop at our skin. We are all connected and our creations are consequences of that connectivity. This special, six-minute video again shows us that. It might surprise us now, but what if we really start recognizing and using these capacities? Creativity will take off to great heights. A point of focus for this century!
In this video Celine Dion sings a duet with a holographic Elvis Presley. It looks stunningly real (mf, Dutch). We make the virtual world more and more real, and layer it over the physical world. This way we travel in time and space, and experience whatever we want (as long as we pay for it). However, we only have one life. The right choices for the right experiences in the right order, that will be the biggest challenge. Coaching brands will help us here.
British fashion brand French Connection has a social network A New Movement (mb, Dutch). It is a simple network in which people can upload pictures, add a mask, and add connections with friends. It is an almost complete virtual world. There is hardly any room for text. Symbolic brands build worlds in which they invite people and in which people want to bring their friends. Only symbolic brands can do this because they are a part of people’s identities. Like every world, the world of the brand needs to be exciting. A New Movement therefore will continuously be moving. This is only the beginning.
Lots of advertisers are partnering with Joost, the video distribution platform which is set up grand and globally. Among them are Coca-Cola, HP, Intel, Nike, Garnier Fructis, Kraft, Microsoft, Motorola, Nestlé, Hugo Boss, Sony, United Airlines, Visa, Opel , IBM, L’Oréal Paris, Nokia, Virgin, Vodafone (source: joost). It looks like these brands will first start advertising (unwanted disturbance of the consumer’s video-experience), but I expect the cooperation to develop differently. These brands, especially those brands with a symbolic function, will produce not 30-seconds content, but 30-minute or even 30-hour content. We will love to watch this content when it suits us. It will transport us to the world of the brand and load it in a way never before possible. These partnerships form the first steps in that direction.
Internet provider XS4All shows the status of its help desk on the website. Under the button ‘contact’ is no phone number, but the text ‘phone queue’. A meter continuously shows the busyness, while the accompanying text says: ‘It is very busy’, or ‘It is getting busier.’ Only here you will see the phone number, so that anyone who wants to call will first see how busy it is before he or she indeed starts calling. Besides XS4All offers the opportunity to send a text message for free actual information on the phone queue. If it is very busy, the caller will receive another text message when it is quiet again. This way brands start real time dialogues. Later we will be able to see the average queue for a real person, of have our oral question be answered by an artificial brand agent. In the long term, that brand agent will be our primary point of contact. If our virtual XS4All assistant, Xaviera for example, doesn’t know the answer, she suggests: ‘Well, I can’t answer this question. I will connect you to a colleague. At the moment everyone is busy. It will take about five minutes. Shall I have somebody call you back?’ It all seems very normal but this is a regular dialogue that brands need to learn to (automatically) master. And that takes time.
YouTube now also contains fragments of Uitzending Gemist (Missed Episode). It's undoubtedly an experiment because it only contains four fragments. Yet this will spread rapidly. YouTube is developing itself as a home entertainment coaching brand and like with any coaching brand it's all about completeness. Home entertainment coaching brands will soon have contact with the consumer, so also on the television, and transaction brands such as producers will look for maximum distribution. This is a step in that direction.
Philips has applied for a patent for a furry display. The display comprises areas of furry fabric. Through activation by the user, the surface of furry fabrics is electrostatically charged. The furs repel from the surface and each other vertically (like when your hair gets static). If the fur has a different color than the surface beneath it, the color of the pixel will change. When these new types of pixels are put together in a square, a completely new display emerges, which feels very soft (ns). This way we get more and more displays for interfaces with the virtual world. Pillows, sheets, hats, gloves: everything becomes interactive and connected. And through media like these we will communicate with brands. What brands will feel softest?
Hostbasket, the Hosting Solution Provider from Gent (Belgium), introduces Kim: the virtual assistant who can help clients with questions about or advice on hosting packages. It all works through natural language (selfservice company, Dutch). Brands more and more start dialogues with individual consumers. More and more of these dialogues are computerized, to be able to offer 24-hours-a-day service, and to reduce costs. Complex questions are still answered by real people. The consumer however is helped by the computer in most cases, and only rarely gets to speak to a live person. That person then is a real specialist. This is a small step in that direction.
Dutch newcomer Lootzy is a vertical search engine for jobs. Lootzy however doesn’t search job sites: it searches companies’ web pages. A company which has a job opening puts the job description at its own web site (this so happens anyway) and Lootzy puts it in its index (am, Dutch). This way, Lootzy will soon be on its way to completeness. Especially if through standardization of specific web pages (like a vacancy page) Lootzy will be able to gather very specific details of the jobs (full time or part time, exact location, what kind of organization, etc.). Offering the complete supply, Lootzy can then develop into a career coaching brand and have itself represented by a coaching brand agent. You can already see its face.
Through a paid account at Club Penguin kids can fearlessly game, chat and watch. There is a lot of attention for the safety of kids. Parents are updated by email about their kids’ activities. (dc, Dutch) This way the (virtual) experience economy steadily takes shape. We will get high quality content and will pay a lot of money for that. With $5.95 per month this is a good example that it’s really going in that direction.