Jeremiah Owyang recently re-posted a look back at a report he did with Forrester in 2009, predicting, or rather forecasting the social changes from 2009-2014. It was an excellent prediction, notable because of how tight the time frames are for changes in social technology and adoption.
He's since moved on to the Collaborative Economy and his own firm, but reading his Facebook post today made me think about two things. One, if you can understand this graph, and explain/argue it's accuracy, you're probably a social expert. Yeah, I said it.
But second, is the question of what comes next, and I have a small prediction. But first, let me swerve a little bit and give you background.
You sell a product. It's successful, and you get it into retail. What comes next? You use the brand and add more product. First, you add more flavors, or more colors, or a low calorie version. You Want to take up shelf space, so that people walking by see your brand sticking out. It's basic retail marketing, but it works elsewhere.
Think of P90X, the popular workout DVD's that everyone bought and then set on a shelf to collect dust. P90X was followed up by Insanity, and the company now has other products including Shakeology, to capture the full attention of their user base. The product has a brand, but the company now monetizes their attention.
Bulletproof Coffee is another example. Dave Asprey took the idea of butter in tea, added it to coffee, and started selling it, along with MCT Oil. Then he added chocolate. And cinnamon. And more oil. Then more products, all based on the idea that someone who drinks buttered coffee for health wants other "body hacks."
Game companies do the same. Candy Crush becomes Candy Crush Saga becomes a dozen old games launched by King, as Candy Crush players get introduced to new games by the simple introduction of a giant King screen and a 'We have a new game" ad inside the game. It's certainly easier than paying to attract new attention.
So back to my prediction, and what it has to do with the graph. Jeremiah's tight prediction of social changes has helped guide investors in the "next big thing." Cheap money, ubiquitous cellphone use, and the rising to maturity of the Millennial generation have all contributed, but what comes next? The market is eagerly waiting for more automation, more drones, more robots, and the eventual rise of AI.
But...I think Beachbody and UpgradedSelf and Luminosity have something to teach us that's not about technology. And I think it's the next big thing.
Body hacks + Productivity Hacks + Retail Store Branding.
Someone is going to figure out that the key branding strategy is human improvement. They're going to identify small needs and roll them into an umbrella of products that save you time, make you look better, improve your health, and seamlessly fit into your life.
The new generation of phones won't just be fun and useful devices. They'll interact with everything around you, and to a larger extent than we know, will track, monitor and sense what's going on. They'll monitor you, and be able to make suggestions on what you need. Some examples:
1) Your posture at the desk is bad. Your phone reminds you stretch and automatically runs you through a 3 minute stretch.
2) It's cold, and your fidgeting shows that you need a sweater. The phone connects to your Nest Thermostat and changes the temperature a few degrees.
3) The phone registers you've been up 18 hours, and have been at the office 14 of those hours for three days. It automatically orders green shakes to help boost your system, and then sets a gym time and alert. A notification appears, and you just have to say yes or no.
4) You're on a dating app, and the phone measures the quality of your voice and that of the girl you talk to, determining if there is real interest. Later models actually tell if you're falling in love.
5) Your phone listens to you as you talk, keeping a record of who makes you happier, and what you do after speaking. The people who make you happiest, most productive, and healthier get added to suggestions.
And behind all of this, a human productivity company is in charge of the billing, shipping, and product placement. In capturing more of your business, they can keep prices low and lock you down as a customer. Think of it as private concierges who build massive models that work on subscription instead of by product.
You wouldn't normally buy your airline tickets, restaurant reservations, health foods, dating sites, book purchases, and online doctor visits from the same company. Unless that company had improved marketing to capture 50% of your disposable spending.
That's my prediction. I say 4 years, before a fully functional and very well funded company is has this up and running.