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A hybrid mix of connectivity-enabled technology, integrated into real physical environments to enhance shopping and buying, is expected to become normal by 2030 and will be adopted by tech companies, according to Ericsson’s Ten Hot Consumer Trends report.

Ericsson says the December 2021 report marks the eleventh edition of the Ericsson ConsumerLab 10 Hot Consumer Trends report. In line with recent Ten Hot Consumer Trends reports, it plots early adopter consumers’ views on a 2030 timeline. This time, it covers hybrid shopping experiences in a fictional ‘Everyspace Plaza’ mall.

Consumers were asked to evaluate 15 hybrid shopping mall facilities that extend the physical consumer experience using digital technology. Almost four-in-five respondents believe that all 15 tested concepts will be available in some form by 2030.

Virtual reality, augmented reality, and programmable materials will pave the way for bricks-and-portal facilities.

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“The semi-public nature of shopping malls means latency bounds could more easily be controlled and next-generation experiences could be delivered early on. XR devices could be provided on-site, making it possible to deploy private networks with custom applications also for consumers,” comments Ericsson research head Magnus Frodigh.

The ConsumerLab 10 Hot Consumer Trends report represents the expectations and predictions of about 57 million early technology adopters globally, according to Ericsson.

“On the one hand it may be difficult to imagine large numbers of consumers with expensive tech gear such as AR glasses, waterproof VR glasses, haptic body suits, tactile gloves and more at massive scale by 2030,” envisions Ericsson head of research, agenda , consumer and IndustryLab Dr Michael Björn, driver of the Hot Consumer Trends report since its inception in 2011.

“Yet, on the other hand, if such equipment could be shared at lower cost it is definitely possible that large numbers of consumers will have it to enhance everyday shopping mall experiences.”

In fact, 35% of surveyed consumers think shopping malls are more likely to feature next-generation technology than homes, compared to just 14% who disagree. Shopping malls have long been high-tech focal points, with many featuring cinemas, game arcades, concert halls, bowling alleys and more. They will likely continue to play that role,” he adds.

Björn says the report also highlights consumer belief that hybrid malls could positively and sustainably contribute to local life.

“If anything, the future might be localized with 32% of respondents agreeing that high-tech shopping malls will make moving to small towns and rural areas more feasible and attractive – and just 13% disagreeing with this,” he says.

The 10 Hot Consumer Trends 2030 – The Everyspace Plaza are:
1. The all-now arena
Consumers could be both actors and spectators, but will the immersion experience give them a thrill or a fright? Nearly eight out of 10 consumers envisage event halls where telepresence technology allows artists to digitally perform as if they were there in person.

2. The immersive beauty salon
Skipping the knife and needle is an attractive beauty option for many. Beauty salons that use volumetric modeling technology to digitally enhance looks are expected in malls by seven out of 10 consumers.

3. The meta tail
Fast fashion tailored just for consumers – and their avatar. More than seven out of 10 AR/VR users forese a tailor in the mall using fabrics that can switch to become waterproof or provide ventilation when needed.

4. The anyverse pool
Many imagine the exploration of impossible worlds. Two-thirds of consumers believe there will be swimming pools where you can use an oxygenated VR headset to experience outer space in zero gravity.

5. The hybrid gym
For many, physical vigour and mental health go hand in hand. Seven out of ten consumers expect mental fitness centers that have multisensory, personality-tailored AR/VR scenery to help improve mental health.

6. The print-a-wish multifactory
On-demand repair and production are the future. Over half of consumers want to shop sustainably in a factory outlet that recycles their old products.

7. The restaurant at the node of the universe
Distraction-free, virtual company is preferable for many. Half of consumers want to visit restaurants to virtually eat with friends in other restaurants, anywhere in the world.

8. The neverending store
Try before you buy – virtually, at least. Three-quarters of consumers expect to be able to project their home inside the store when trying out new products.

9. The medical multiplex centre
Seventy-seven percent of consumers foresee in-mall medical centers with drop-in AI health scanning that gives near-instant health status updates.

10. The nature+ park
For those stuck in cities, nature may be what’s missing. Forty-two percent of consumers want to visit an in-mall park where they can feel closer to nature through digital and programmable materials that provide hybrid experiences.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 17 December 2021.

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