For this vignette of a recent episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, part of the 5G Factor series, analysts Ron Westfall and Shelly Kramer explore Ericsson ConsumerLab’s presentation of its annual 10 Hot Consumer Trends report, now in its 11th year. This year, Ericsson ConsumerLab focused on the topmost high-tech facilities that consumers conceive in hybrid malls by 2030. In the Everyspace Plaza construct, AR glasses, haptic body suits, and tactile gloves could be shared at low cost, and environments could be programmed and adapted to a broad array of emerging applications and activities.
Their conversation featured:
- The Immersive Beauty Salon: Beauty salons that use volumetric modelling technology to digitally enhance looks are anticipated to become readily in malls by seven out of ten consumers.
- The Restaurant as the Node of the Universe: Half of consumers would like to visit restaurants to virtually eat with colleagues or friends in other restaurants, regardless of geographical location.
- The All-Now Arena: AR and VR technologies enable the consumer to be both spectator and actor, providing an immersive experience. Nearly eight of ten consumers envisage event halls where telepresence capabilities allow artists to digitally perform as in person.
- The Meta Tailor: More than seven out of ten AR/VR users foresee a tailor in the mall using their fabrics that are customized according to their avatar. This capability aligns with the potential expansion of metaverse (or anyverse) technology that use consumer avatars across multiple applications.
- The Anyverse Pool: Two-thirds of consumers foresee the scenario of swimming pools where they can use an oxygenated VR head set to experience outer space in a zero-gravity environment. This application can gain more popularity as firms like SpaceX continue to advance space exploration capabilities and possibilities.
Ron and Shelly already see 5G technology already supporting AR/VR-enabled immersive experiences at top-tier venues such as T-Mobile Park in Seattle and AT&T Park in Dallas, providing foundation for expansion of All-Now Arena experiences for the next decade. From the valuable insights of the Ericsson ConsumerLab 2021 report, the 5G ecosystem, including especially mobile operators, can place more solid investment bets on how to monetize 5G services and applications based on informed consumer preferences.
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Shelly Kramer: So now we’re going to wind up our 5G Factor conversation with a look at Ericsson’s 10 Hot Consumer Trends report. Report that outlines 10 high-tech facilities that customers envision finding in hybrid malls by 2030, where every space becomes a networked reality and suited for what they’re calling a NextGen experience.
And this is what’s particularly of interest to me, Ron, I know you surfaced this and suggested we talk about it on our show, but we did a report in partnership with SAS called customer experience 2030, the future of customer experiences now. And we looked at key trends. This was published in 2020, I believe, or maybe 2019. And then we did a pulse survey updating it in 2020. But we looked at a lot of these trends and what customers told us they were expecting in terms of what’s ahead and what customer experiences would be like.
And many of those things included things VR and AR experiences and more experiential events and things like that. So I thought this was really, I thought this was really kind of interesting. And some of the things that the Ericsson report touched on were things like beauty salons that used technology to digitally enhance looks, which is something that seven out of 10 consumers who responded to this Ericsson research said that they expected and were looking forward to.
And things like hybrid gyms and mental fitness centers that have things like multisensory, personality tailored AR and VR scenery that’s intended and designed to help improve mental health. So can you imagine like, “Hey Ron, let’s go to the mall.” And this is really what… Let’s go to the mall. And instead of going to Banana Republic or wherever it is you go… I actually, I personally head straight to Auntie Anne’s for some pretzel dogs. But I can say, “Let’s go to the mall,” because I want to do something that’s focused on improving my mental health. I mean, I think that’s really exciting, really cool.
Another part of the trends the team at Ericsson uncovered is the restaurant of the future, where Ron lives outside of Dallas and I live in Kansas City, but we could have an experience where we’re having dinner with each other virtually by way of this technology that we’re talking about. So I thought that those were good. And probably, let’s see, I had a couple other things I was going to hit on. A medical multiplex which is an in-mall center where you can drop in and have AI powered health screenings. And that gives you near instant health status updates.
So anybody who’s ever go on to the doctor, right? You have something wrong with you. Sometimes you have to wait for a while to see your doctor. Then they say, “Oh yeah, you’re right. You do have something wrong with you.” Then they send you for a test, that you have to wait a week for. And then you have to wait three weeks to get back into your doctor to get the test, right? So think how cool that could be. And lastly, the other thing that got me with my, I am a tree hugger extraordinaire, as my husband likes to call me.
But the multifactor that allows consumers to shop sustainably in a factory outlet that also recycles their own products. So a retailer like Patagonia is doing this already. Right? You can bring your Patagonia gear into almost any store that sells Patagonia stuff and you can recycle, the company reuses it. But those kind of things I think are really interesting. I mean, those are really interesting to me. So Ron, what stuck out for you from this Ericsson hot consumer trends report?
Ron Westfall: Oh yeah. Now this is, I think, a very insightful valuable report for the industry. Certainly the 5G market. This is the 11th edition. So the Ericsson’s labs is definitely continuing-
Shelly Kramer: Doing this for awhile.
Ron Westfall: … to, I think, yeah, pinpoint, I know, these most interesting insights. And yeah, I think one that has the most direct relevance to 5G today is the one that had the highest rate amongst the respondents, 80% believe like the all new arena that will be pretty much integral to what they anticipate will be mainstream certainly by 2030. But I think we’re already seeing it soon in the smart city.
Shelly Kramer: Oh, you and I have talked about this. We’ve talked about this on our show, it feels like a thousand times. I mean, the AT&T Stadium, is that in Dallas? I mean, there’s several different-
Ron Westfall: T-Mobile in Seattle. Oh, yeah. I mean, there’s this-
Shelly Kramer: Exactly. Exactly. So this is not new and it’s, like you said, it’s happening already. So totally makes sense. Anyway, go on. I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but I wanted to touch on the fact that this-
Ron Westfall: Oh, not at all. I know.
Shelly Kramer: … you and I have been talking about this for a long time.
Ron Westfall: Well, it shows you how exciting and fun this is. Yeah. This aspect like, all right, what can we really anticipate that will be really neat? And so, it’s not just stadium experiences, but also what could be called a smart theater experience. It’s just an immersive experience using AR VR capabilities that allow the customer to create that almost out of body experience when that previously that was not just possible.
I think another one that I thought was interesting was the MetaTailor application, 70% thought that would be pretty much wildly available. And that makes sense, because anybody who’s been fitted for a suit or other important clothing knows that it could be somewhat time consuming to actually visit a tailoring outlet or a tailor shop.
And what this, what it enables, so you have an avatar that will simply enable them to make the measurements based on that. And therefore have the suit turn around in shorter time, save everybody time. And it would, actually, I think, definitely link into the whole idea of metaverse or the metaverse of things becoming more prominent in terms of adoption. And so, again, this is-
Shelly Kramer: Or the Anyverse.
Ron Westfall: You’re right.
Shelly Kramer: As Ericsson calls it, the Anyverse.
Ron Westfall: Right. Yeah, exactly. And yeah, that’s another one I think that was interesting, was the Anyverse pool. Where you could use an oxygenated virtual reality headset to actually have a zero gravity experience while you’re in the pool, kind of a space exploration simulation. Which as we know, with firms like SpaceX advancing space exploration, I think will become even of more interests to the general public.
And that one had actually up to two thirds support amongst the respondents. So yeah, this is all demonstrating, validating that people are going to be looking at this with rose colored lenses, they’re actually going to labs today. Testing this out and saying, “You know what, this is something I would actually like to use.” And I know from-
Shelly Kramer: I like this. Let’s go to the mall. I’d go to the mall to use this stuff.
Ron Westfall: Exactly. And when I have actually had the opportunity to experience this, it’s just been very rewarding. And I’m just looking forward to 5G, oh, by 2030 6G, maybe even 7G, enabling these capabilities. And this is, I think, again, parallel in the SAS 2030 study, that this is something that we can put more valid bets on.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. Absolutely.
Ron Westfall: That we can better anticipate where we can develop the use cases, prioritize them. Again, follow that 5G money trail. But after you get the 5G network in place, where can the operators and other parties really make money off of all this very valuable investment? So yeah, it’s a really cool study. The Ericsson’s labs one.
Shelly Kramer: And it’s not just network operators and vendors, you know what I’m saying? I mean, I think that what we’re seeing here and what Ericsson has identified in this hot trends report is that this impacts consumers too, and our activities and our entertainment. And I don’t know about in your city, but in my city, malls are struggling. Right?
Ron Westfall: Oh, yeah.
Shelly Kramer: And people have shifted to eCommerce purchases and all that kind of thing. And I go to probably the biggest mall that’s, I don’t know, 20, 25 minutes away as infrequently as possible because I just don’t have any reason to go there. And so, when you have a destination that has plenty of space, but then I can go to not only to shop for clothes or shoes or whatever.
But I can go to the hybrid gym kind of experience or restaurant experience or healthcare experience or seeing a concert, watching my favorite performer perform virtually and having an opportunity to do that. I think all of those things are, I think that they’re consumer driven. And I think that we’re all sort of looking for different things to do, different experiences and that sort of thing. And these will be powered by 5G.
Ron Westfall: Definitely, and in the near term. And definitely, feature iterations of 5G, 5.5G. And I would anticipate, yeah, just that. 6G, when they become really mature, that you don’t think twice about it type of scenarios. And so, I think that this is helping guiding investment decisions, helping the decision makers have a better understanding as to how to optimize the 5G networks of today and over the next four years, at least.
And definitely, this is something that will, I think, be a difference maker, having this data, having this information. Because a lot of this 5G build is being driven by the industrial side, the business side. And private networks, for example, are definitely going to be more heavily invested into. But yes, definitely, consumer applications are going to be major. And it’s definitely going to be ecosystem, just that 5G ecosystem imperative. And this, I think, demonstrates why.
Shelly Kramer: Well, and it’s part of the monetization process. You know what I’m saying? Like when I’m going to the mall for the for the virtual gym or the mental health wellness, I’m paying money. Right?
Ron Westfall: Oh, yeah.
Shelly Kramer: I’m paying money for that experience. I’m paying money for the virtual concert. I’m paying money for the tailor experience. And all of that is geared toward delivering up better, more streamlined, more efficient, more enjoyable customer experiences. And so, I think it’s really interesting stuff. So I will link, in the show notes for this conversation, I will link the Ericsson 10 Hot Consumer Trends report. And I’ll also share links to our research for SAS on customer experience 2030.
And what both brands and customers told us they want, expect and plan on seeing and using and having available within the next decade. So interesting stuff for sure.