In our nVitro article, Self-Service Redefined, we track a number of innovations which are helping to transform the reputation of vending machines and make automated service the must-try option for the 10s decade shopper. From fresh local produce to high-end luxury goods to samples of new products, the list of items available from vending kiosks continues to both grow and diversify.
But at nVision, we know that trends cannot exist in isolation and that any one theme within our framework of 60 established and 70 emerging trends is linked intimately with a number of others. Tracking how they complement and influence one another is key to understanding the consumer landscape of the coming years.
Here we thus point to two of our other emerging themes, Photo-Phile Culture and the End of Inefficiency. In the former, we describe the consumer’s growing fondness for using images of themselves in commercial contexts; in the latter, we wonder whether more of us will soon be willing to relinquish control over some of our day-to-day decisions in favour of automated services guaranteed to select the very best option on our behalf. What are the implications of the three trends working together?
To see them in action, we can look to Chanel’s Au Quotidien event – held in Tokyo during summer 2011 to promote the company’s new Rouge Coco Shine lipstick – whereby shoppers were given the opportunity to receive bespoke product recommendations based on photographs taken by an automated kiosk. Having assessed the characteristics of an individual’s face, skin and hair, the “Digital Navigator” machine made suggestions about which shades might suit them and, once favourites had been selected, shoppers could access images of themselves wearing the styles in question. Elsewhere, we see Kraft developing its “Meal Planning Solution” concept, an in-store kiosk which, after scanning a customer’s face to determine their gender and approximate age, recommends recipes it thinks they might enjoy together with directions for where they can find the constituent ingredients.
Is it conceivable, then, that self-service will soon evolve still further to offer assistance at all stages of the consumption process – becoming the ultimate shop assistant able to showcase full ranges, offer personalised and expert advice and then dispense the chosen product? Of course, there will always be certain products where consumers will actively prefer the advice of other individuals. And for those who see the shopping process itself as a fun and enjoyable experience, self-service is likely to hold less appeal. But in at least some cases, it must be extremely likely that it will play a more and more important role – eliminating the more mundane aspects of shopping, offering assistance to time-pressured consumers and, along the way, bringing a number of potentially disruptive consequences for the traditional retail model.