Pre-empting problems

We are moving from being guided in our consumer decisions at the point we need to make them, towards pre-emptive technology that makes choices and suggestions for us before we’re even aware the decision needs to be made. This sub-trend includes the growth of lifestyle management and outsourcing services, all of which aim to reduce the time strain felt by consumers.

How is this sub-trend evolving?

How it was

Guidance in decision making through choice simplification and personalisation

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French chain Carrefour organises sections of its stores so that ingredients for meals are placed together, helping shoppers decide what to cook.

How it is

Presentation of a tailored range of solutions before a consumer is even aware a decision needs to be made

US company GlowCaps fit prescription bottles and via a wireless chip provide services that help people stick with their prescription regimen; from reminder messages, all the way to refill and doctor coordination.

How it will be

Rise in ‘intelligent’ technology that learns from and responds to your needs

Home Refill monitors your online grocery purchases through their site and suggests what, where and when to buy depending on the best deals for you (i.e. how cheap and easily accessible the products are – whether they can be delivered etc). This is an entirely new concept in the Brazilian market, and is still in testing as the developers navigate the complex street vendor / convenience retailing landscape in cities.

In-market examples from around the world

What: Kirin, the Japanese beer, offers regular keg deliveries to Japanese homes, using a proprietary beer server design that allows for kegs to be easily slotted in.
Why: This reduces hassle and saves time, as well as produces a fresher tasting beer that is encouraging consumers to go back to more traditional Japanese lagers.
What: Aido home assistant is the most advanced of a generation of personal robots that learns from its family and automates a household.
Why: Aido learns from household routines and daily usage (e.g. of lights, appliances, deliveries) and automates these processes – simply giving the owner a smartphone notification when a decision needs to be made.
What: TOMRA is a produce-sorting computer, using artificial intelligence that learns from human preferences. For example, when sorting potatoes it can determine which are an appropriate size and weight for fries, vs crisps, or baking potatoes.
Why: This not only has hugely positive implications for reducing food waste, but can streamline manufacturing processes by pre-emptively categorising produce.
What: Threadsmiths is an Australian apparel company that produces stain-resistant t-shirts. The clothes are hydrophobic yet breathable t-shirts, without the use of repellent chemicals.
Why: With increasingly fluid routines and always-on lives, being confident that your clothing will keep up with you is ever more important. From a casual over-layer to a sweat-proof layer under business attire, planning what to wear on unpredictable days need not be an issue.
What: Amazon has launched Dash Button – a WiFi-enabled plastic controller that allows US customers to order basic household supplies at the touch of a button.
Why: The small device is designed to be stuck or hung in a convenient place, such as on the washing machine or next to the bath. When you’re running low on washing powder or toilet roll, pressing the Dash Button triggers a swift delivery of the product.
What: The Fill App is a free app that will allow South African users to save some money by alerting them of fuel price changes once a month and thus reminding them of when it’s best to fill up, where and by how much. It will know the size of the fuel tank and is fitted with technology that can predict fuel price changes.
Why: Rise and oscillation of fuel prices is constant consumer concern.  Apps like this pre-empt travel problems and save  unnecessary energy expenses.
What: The improved Google Maps service now takes weather and traffic into consideration when predicting your journey duration.
Why: If linked with your calendar, Google Maps will automatically send an update if there is any change to your travel time, prompting you to leave earlier if necessary.