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Amazon’s new machines pack boxes up to 5x faster than humans

Amazon is trialling technology in its warehouses that can package orders five times faster than humans.

Check the video to find out!

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Anna Lowe (Smartify) – Using Tech To Enhance The Way We Experience Art

Art and technology – an odd association at first glance. Is it possible to use tech to enhance the way we experience art? Let’s find out!

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In recent years, tech has received a bad reputation for being disruptive, luring our attention away from our jobs or daily activities, driving us to spend hours inside their platforms.

But how we use tech is entirely up to us. Tech is merely a tool. It’s our responsibility to use tech as a means of reaching positive goals.

That’s exactly what Anna Lowe and her team had in mind when they began building the Smartify platform.

anna-lowe-smartify

Anna Lowe, co-founder at Smartify

Anna is CoFounder at Smartify, a global platform for art described by the New Scientist as “the Shazam and Spotify of art”.

She was recently included by Forbes 30 under 30 in their 2019 list of the most creative Europeans putting technology to good use.

I contacted Anna and invited her to share her story with us.

1. What is the story behind Smartify? How did it all start?

Smartify grew out of four friends’ enjoyment of visiting museums and encountering art. Discovering and sharing amazing stories behind artworks remains at the heart of our mission as a global technology company.

Over the last 10 years, the rise of digital products and services has seen traditional industries being positively disrupted. Netflix and Amazon Prime did this in the movies industry, Spotify for music, Uber and Lyft for private transport and many others.

Amidst this change, the world of museums and galleries has remained largely unchanged and content consumption continues to rely on outdated means that fail to meet user expectations in the digital era.

Our ambition is to re-frame the use of smartphones as engagement rather than a distraction.

[bctt tweet=”Anna Lowe @_smartify: Our ambition is to re-frame the use of smartphones as engagement rather than a distraction.” username=”brand_minds”]

 

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We are proud to announce @_smartify is now live at the @emstathens, The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, Greece. A national institution focused on collecting and exhibiting contemporary Greek and international art. Make sure to download the app and scan the art on your next visit! : Dimitri Bloukas

A post shared by Scan the art, get the story (@_smartify) on

2. What is the social impact of Smartify?

Smartify is a free app that allows you to scan and identify artworks, access rich interpretation and build a personal art collection in some of the world’s best museums and galleries.

Smartify is used by diverse groups including young people and those who may not feel comfortable in a traditional museum environment. For example, the app is developed with accessibility in mind. People with low vision can tap the artwork text to have it read out loud. The app also has a high-level zoom to help people who cannot get close to the artworks.

Smartify also has a mission to help build new audiences and revenue streams.

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image source: itsnicethat.com

3. Smartify shows that technology and art can work together perfectly. Tell us about some of the challenges you had to overcome to reach your goal.

There are many challenges when starting a company ranging from getting initial customers to raising investment and growing the team.

Working with museums and arts organisations one of the biggest challenges has been the slow time-frames for decision making within the museum vs. the fast pace of a start-up.

Patience and good communication skills have helped us grow and collaborate effectively.

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image source: demilked.com

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Mădălin Preda (Deqod) – On Leadership and Technology

Mădălin Preda is CMO and co-founder of Deqod. Deqod is a custom software and digital innovation company that empowers thought leaders, growing companies and visionary startups to unlock their company valuation and greater profitability through strategic technology development.

The company is specialized in developing solutions for mobile and e-commerce, leveraging latest technology like AR/VR, Artificial Intelligence, bots, IoT (internet of things) and Blockchain.

The team behind Deqod has gained vast experience in the e-commerce solutions field with over 1,000 merchants using their apps for their businesses.

echipa ChatX.ai

Echipa ChatX / startupcafe.ro

ChatX Search is one of the solutions crafted by Deqod; the bot helps retail businesses boost online store sales with the same traffic.

Learn more: How To Use Chatbots To Increase Sales

I was interested to learn Mădălin Preda’s perspective on technology and leadership so I asked him the following questions:

1. What is the relationship between technology & leadership? Does leadership drive technology?

Technology has a very big impact on our lives nowadays, there is no question about it. We are humans. We invented and developed technologies to improve our lives as much as we can.

Technology has changed our day to day routine so much by automating part of some processes and giving us extra time to spend it on different priorities. But not just that, also the way we do things.

We connect more and more with people online and less face to face. The way we do business changes since we’re starting to have more and more AI that is taking over implementation processes that used to be done by people.

At a high management level, technology can be one of the most useful tools to help us become better leaders.

Leadership nowadays has so many ways to reach people’s needs that it didn’t have before. Communication channels improved exponentially in the past years giving us the possibility to reach and influence people on a deeper level.

Your message as a leading brand in your industry has a bigger potential to be heard and understood by your audience nowadays through technology. The ways you motivate sales teams, build customer loyalty and connect with peers through various social media platforms and blogging changed as well.

There is no question about the fact that technology is the main support that helps in spreading the word like never before.

2. Henry Ford is known to have said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” What challenges did you encounter while working with your customers to deliver them technological solutions?

Customers sometimes can’t find the perfect way to explain to us their real problems. Some of them may not even know what they need (from a technical perspective). However, what they can tell us in customer jargon, is how they feel when using a product, its colours, design and what they can or can’t use.

The biggest challenge is to fulfil their expectations that constantly keep on changing, by keeping ourselves one step ahead.

You should begin building a foundation that helps you understand your customers, in order to create a bridge between your brand and your audience. Ask questions around their problems and then bridge the gap with your innovation.

Finally, it’s about establishing the customer satisfaction gap by comparing the customer expectations about the product with the actual product performance.

Call it psychology or not, but after you understand their perspectives, you can validate these findings with intuitive modes and methods.

3. What are the core values of your leadership?

From my perspective, I truly believe the easiest part of leadership is deliberating business decisions or making your voice be heard.

Then comes the hard part, being sure everyone on your team knows and feels how appreciated they are.

Our job isn’t to lead the team, but rather to support them.

[bctt tweet=”Madalin Preda@Deqod on leading teams: Our job isn’t to lead the team, but rather to support them.” username=”brand_minds”]

By giving someone a push to become more visible and showing interest in their inputs, you are making them know that they really matter.

Without open and transparent communication, there is little room for innovation, collaboration, and engagement with your employees.

Leaders need to start treating employees as humans, not numbers.

Read our previous Success Stories:

Alex Govoreanu-Exploring Games with Questo,

Mihai Toader-Pasti: Building The Homes of The Future at EFdeN.

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Boost Your Income By Empowering Musicians With This App

Music has been accompanying mankind since age old times. The power of music is at the core of many Greek legends and attribute of various mythological characters: the Sirens lured sailors with their mesmerizing songs; musicians praised to Euterpe, Muse of Music to inspire them with beautiful melodies; Orpheus played his lyre so beautifully that he charmed everyone and everything: men, beasts, trees and rocks.

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Today music is as powerful as in the times of mythological Gods and musicians are beloved and appreciated for their craft.

But there is another power which can be used to support music and musicians: technology.

Music Traveler: Find The Perfect Space To Make Music

Music Traveler is the app which connects musicians with available music studios in Europe and USA.

Mission

Music has always been important to humankind – culturally, sociologically, and philosophically. Darwin theorized language itself to have originated from music, and in recent years, studies have shown that playing music leads to a longer life. Yet, no musician is born ready to perform without preparation – practice is essential for musicians to both explore and perfect their craft. That’s why the mission of Music Traveler is to:

Promote the creation, appreciation, and interest in music by reducing barriers and facilitating new interactions.

History

Music Traveler was co-founded in 2017 by Aleksey Igudesman, Russian-German violinist, composer, conductor, actor and Julia Rhee, an investor with musical education.

How it works

For Musicians

If you are a musician, you can discover and book the perfect place to make music. Search by date, country and instrument to find available spaces for rent.

Music Traveler is in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Spain, Italy, Norway and Sweden. You can choose from a wide range of instruments to play your music: grand piano, organ, drum set, electric guitar, violin etc.

Depending on the space, rent prices range from $5/hour to $351/hour.

Activities

As a musician, you can use Music Traveler to find suitable spaces to practice, rehearse, perform, give music lessons, dance, compose and record.

For Hosts

If you manage a music studio, have instruments you can rent or just have enough space, you can become a host and rent out music space to boost your income and empower musicians.

Music Traveler’s Ambassadors

Music Traveler is supported by world-renowned musicians and music lovers such as:

Hans Zimmer, winner of numerous awards for the music scores he wrote for famous Hollywood movies (Interstellar, Inception, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Rain Man, Thelma & Louise, The Lion King etc)

Billy Joel, singer-songwriter, composer and pianist. Commonly nicknamed the “Piano Man”, Billy Joel has been making music since the 1960s.

Hans Zimmer and Billy Joel are joined by actors Adrien Brody and John Malkovich, musicians Sean Lennon, David Garrett and many others.

Winner of the Best Austrian Newcomer Startup Award

In October 2018, only one year after Music Traveler was launched, the app won the Austrian Newcomer of the Year Award at the Central European Startup Awards.

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CES 2019 and The Future of Technology

CES 2019 — the world’s largest consumer technology show — will set the tone for the tech industry in 2019 and beyond.

The annual event is forecast to attract more than 180,000 attendees and 4,500 exhibiting companies.

Check out the video:

The Amazing Technology featured in Black Panther is Here

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Wakanda’s amazing technology plays an important role in the Black Panther movie: the virtual interface which allows captain Ross to drive the ship in the battle scene is one such example.

You may think we are still years away from this level of development and innovation.

Reality contradicts you – the technology is here!

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At Ultrahaptics we create tactile sensations in mid-air. No controllers or wearables are needed: our patented “virtual touch” technology uses ultrasound to project shapes and textures directly onto the user’s hands. Controls can be operated without touching a surface, gestures can be enhanced with tactile feedback, and users can interact in a natural way with virtual objects.

Ultrahaptics

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image source: ultrahaptics.com

What is haptic feedback (haptics)?

The company has developed a unique technology that enables users to receive tactile feedback without needing to wear or touch anything. The technology uses ultrasound to project sensations through the air and directly onto the user’s hands, enabling users to ‘feel’ virtual buttons, get tactile feedback for mid-air gestures, or interact with virtual objects.

Mission

We believe mid-air haptics will revolutionise how we interact. We are on a mission to create a safer, cleaner and more magical world.

Ultrahaptics

Awards & Recognition

Ultrahaptics has received the following awards and recognition to date:

2016 Royal Academy of Engineering Colin Campbell Mitchell Award

2018 Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation

2016 WCIT Judges Award for Innovation

2018 Technology Innovation of the Year award at the UK’s Private Business Awards

The Innovative VR Company of the Year – 2018 VR Awards

Tom Carter, CTO and co-founder has been named as one of the top Innovators Under 35 from Europe in the 2018 list from MIT Technology Review

Steve Cliffe, CEO won ‘Tech Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the 2018 Go Tech Awards

About Ultrahaptics

  • Ultrahaptics was founded in 2013 by Steve Cliffe, President and CEO and dr. Tom Carter, CTO and co-founder;
  • The company’s technology was developed at the University of Bristol, UK by Tom Carter;
  • The company has 100 employees and offices in the UK, USA and South Korea;
  • To date Ultrahaptics received a total funding amount of $41.2M;
  • STRATOS: company’s latest-generation mid-air haptics for public installations was released on September 2018;
  • In 2018, haptics officially entered the Merriam-Webster dictionary;
  • The haptics industry is projected to be worth over $3 billion by 2028.

Haptic feedback (often shortened to just haptics) is simulating the sense of touch. Not only can you touch a computer or other device, but the computer can touch you back.

Heather Macdonald Tait, Director of Marketing Communications at Ultrahaptics

Key Applications of the haptic technology:

  • Automotive;
  • AR/VR;
  • Digital signage;
  • Kiosks, industrial and medical devices;
  • “Haptic holograms”;
  • Gaming and entertainment;
  • Smart home.

Haptic feedback allows storytellers to create experiences that we can’t have in the real world: to feel a dragon’s breath, touch a ghost or cast a magic spell.

Heather Macdonald Tait, Director of Marketing Communications at Ultrahaptics

Benefits of using mid-air haptics:

  • Driving: car interface improves safety for drivers;
  • Marketing: increased user engagement and advocacy;
  • Motion-controlled interactive digital signage: increased dwell time, engagement and recall;
  • User interfaces: reduced task completion time and improved accuracy;
  • VR: increasing users’ sense of presence;
  • Product design: opens up the possibility of creating new products and markets;
  • Design agencies: more immersive and engaging digital experiences by adding tactile sensations (haptics).

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source: ultrahaptics.com

MIT: 5 breakthrough technologies of 2018

Every year since 2001 MIT Technology Review has picked 10 Breakthrough Technologies. It is a list of technology that MIT believes will have a profound effect on people’s lives.

Here is our Top 5 breakthrough technology of 2018 according to MIT Technologies Review:

  1. 3D Metal Printing
  2. Artificial Embryos
  3. Dueling Neural Networks
  4. Babel-Fish Ear buds
  5. Perfect online privacy

3D Metal Printing

3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. The additive process consists of creating an object by laying down successive layers of material.

The worldwide 3D printing industry is expected to grow from $3.07B in revenue in 2013 to $12.8B by 2018, and exceed $21B in worldwide revenue by 2020. As it evolves, 3D printing technology is destined to transform almost every major industry and change the way we live, work, and play in the future (source: Wohler’s Report 2015).

3D printing is mostly used in industries such as consumer goods, industrial goods, high tech and healthcare.

Latest research and development have made 3D metal printing possible.

The 3D metal printing technology can create lighter, stronger parts and complex shapes that aren’t possible with conventional metal fabrication methods. In 2017, researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced they had developed a 3D-printing method for creating stainless-steel parts twice as strong as traditionally made ones.

Artificial Embryos

The human life journey begins with conception: the male sperm and the female egg bind to each other in a process of fusion. Medicine has still a long way from unlocking all mysteries regarding human reproduction. But technology can lend a helping hand in the form of artificial embryos.

Without using eggs or sperm cells, researchers have made mouse embryo-like structures from stem cells alone, providing a whole new route to creating life. This amazing breakthrough will help scientists study how the cells of an early embryo begin taking on their specialised roles.

The next step is to make an artificial embryo out of human stem cells, work that’s being pursued at the University of Michigan and Rockefeller University.

artificial-embryo

image source: mgtow.com

Duelling neural networks

The Artificial Intelligence is based on neural networks and machine learning technology. Neural networks are simplified mathematical models of the human brain that underpin most modern machine learning.

An example of neural network based technology is Google Duplex, the AI assistant that can carry out conversations in a human-like voice.

Other expressions of machine learning include the virtual learning companions. Used in education, virtual companions have been endowed with curiosity. Why curiosity? Because scientists have found that curiosity is a factor that drives knowledge acquisition.

What about imagination?

AI machines can be programmed to do a lot of jobs and even be taught how to learn. But imagination is a human trait. To create something entirely new requires imagination and scientists haven’t found an appropriate solution. Until now: G.A.N.

G.A.N. stands for generative adversarial network, which means two neural networks compete against each other in a digital cat-and-mouse game. The technology has become one of the most promising advances in AI in the past decade, able to help machines produce results that fool even humans.

neural-network image source: techcrunch.com

Babel-fish ear buds

If you’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, you remember how every human and non-human creature managed to understand each other: by sliding a yellow Babel fish into their ears to get instant translations. Fast-forward forty years and the product of Mr. Adams’ imagination has made its way into the real world.

The Pixel buds are ear buds made by Google; they work with Pixel smartphones and Google Translate app to produce practically real-time translation. Although right now they come short of design and functionality, Pixel buds show the promise of mutually intelligible communication between languages in close to real time.

Google-Pixel-Buds image source: mikeshouts.com

Perfect online privacy

Cambridge Analytica scandal. GDPR. These are two of the latest online storms that have changed our take on personal data and online privacy. Can we benefit from privacy when it comes to online mediums? Is our personal data secured? Some say there is no such thing as privacy when you are roaming the digital highways and anyone who thinks that is naive.

But cryptography may provide a solution for our problem in the form of a tool. This tool is an emerging cryptographic protocol called a zero-­knowledge proof. Zero-knowledge proof protocol is used for proving something without revealing the information underlying the proof. If you need to disclose personal information to get something done online, it will be easier to do so without risking your privacy or exposing yourself to identity theft.

Zcash, a digital currency that launched in 2016 has developed its own tool based on zero-knowledge protocol called zk-SNARK (for zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge) which gives users the power to transact anonymously. In 2017, JPMorgan Chase added zk-SNARKs to its own blockchain-based payment system.

zero-knowledge-proof image source: icotalknews.com

All You Need To Know About Shutterstock Reveal

Shutterstock , a leading global technology company offering high-quality assets, tools and services through its creative platform, announced  the launch of Shutterstock Reveal, a new Google Chrome extension, together with the release of its new experimentation site, Shutterstock Showcase, which features two additional new search innovations – Copy Space and Refine. Shutterstock Showcase, previously known as Shutterstock Labs, is the new home of Shutterstock’s most innovative Artificial Intelligence research and launches with three new tools including:

  • Reveal – a Google Chrome extension allowing users to select any image online and find a similar photo, vector or illustration within Shutterstock’s collection of more than 180 million licensable and ready to use high-quality images.
  • CopySpace – a tool based on Shutterstock’s custom built computer vision technology enabling users to specifically search for images that have space for text and then select where and how much copy space is needed.
  • Refine – a tool that allows users, from the first page of search results, to select those images most similar to what they are looking for, and Shutterstock’s technology will surface other images that have a similar style and other commonalities to the selected images.

After installing the plug-in, images in the search results will have an icon in the upper right corner. Clicking the icon opens a Shutterstock pop-up that displays images similar to that first image from the Shutterstock library, which now numbers more than 180 million images. The plug-in works for photos as well as illustrations and vector graphics.

Shutterstock is dedicated to providing our customers with smart, easy to use tools and technology that are seamlessly integrated into their daily workflow. We continue to invest in building an innovative platform for our users around the world and investing in computer vision research and deep learning to improve the customer experience. It’s exciting to be able to share the results of some of the AI technology we have been working on,” said Jon Oringer, Founder and CEO of Shutterstock.

In October 2017, Shutterstock’s computer vision team launched its Composition Aware Search, now called Composition Search, to help customers find the exact image layout they need by placing keywords on a canvas and moving them around to where they want the subject matter to appear in the image. The patent-pending, spatially aware technology, previously launched in beta on Shutterstock Labs, is now featured prominently within the new Shutterstock Showcase site.

Working with its growing community of over 400,000 contributors, Shutterstock adds hundreds of thousands of images each week, and currently has more than 190 million images and more than 10 million video clips available. Headquartered in New York City, Shutterstock has offices around the world and customers in more than 150 countries. The company also owns Bigstock, a value-oriented stock media agency; Shutterstock Custom, a custom content creation platform, Offset, a high-end image collection; PremiumBeat a curated royalty-free music library; and Rex Features, a premier source of editorial images for the world’s media.

SignAll -the New Sign Language Translation Platform

SignAll has been working for years to make accurate, real-time machine translation of ASL a reality and, accordingly to Business Wire, has developed the world’s first automated sign language translator. The goal with the technology is to build a bridge to connect the deaf and hearing worlds. Providing full accessibility for deaf people is a very ambitious aspiration that was not supported by modern technology until now.

It’s multi-channel communication; it’s really not just about shapes or hand movements. If you really want to translate sign language, you need to track the entire upper body and facial expressions — that makes the computer vision part very challenging. – CEO Zsolt Robotka

Most people take it for granted that they can communicate on their first language, in their home country. However, the first language of people born deaf is sign language – English is only their second language. SignAll’s aim is to enable deaf people to communicate on their first language, American Sign Language.

At the present, SignAll utilizes 3 webcams, a depth sensor and a PC. The depth sensor is placed in front of the sign language user at chest height and the cameras are placed around them. This allows the shape and the path of the hands and gestures to be tracked continuously. The PC syncs up and processes the images in real-time, which are then transformed into grammatically correct, fully formed sentences by a natural language processing module. This enables communication by making sign language understandable to everyone.

According to TechCrunch, the setup right now uses a Kinect 2 more or less at center and three RGB cameras positioned a foot or two out. The system must reconfigure itself for each new user, since just as everyone speaks a bit differently, all ASL users sign differently.

“We need this complex configuration because then we can work around the lack of resolution, both time and spatial (i.e. refresh rate and number of pixels), by having different points of view,” said Márton Kajtár, chief R&D officer, for TechCrunch. “You can have quite complex finger configurations, and the traditional methods of skeletonizing the hand don’t work because they occlude each other. So we’re using the side cameras to resolve occlusion.”

Facial expressions and slight variations in gestures also inform what is being said, for example adding emotion or indicating a direction. And then there’s the fact that sign language is fundamentally different from English or any other common spoken language.

SignAll’s first public pilot of the system, at Gallaudet University.

How Luxury Marketing Will Look Like in 2018

The concept of luxury is changing, just like everything we are surrounded by is, like our preferences and sometimes passions. Consumer expectations of luxury continue to rise, and that what used to be luxury is now seen by the current generation of consumers, everyday experiences. And, as always, technology has a big part in this change as it makes everything easier,closer and more affordable, therefore what some years ago was considered luxury today might not be so. And just like what today is luxury in the years to come might not be anymore. The definition of luxury is changing, while “upper luxury” appears.

According to Deloitte’s “Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2018”, the world’s 100 largest luxury goods companies generated sales of US$217 billion in FY2016 and the average luxury goods annual sales for Top 100 companies is now US$2.2 billion. The report discusses the trends and issues that are driving the luxury industry. It also identifies the 100 largest luxury goods companies based on publicly available data for FY2016 (which they define as financial years ending within the 12 months to June 2017), and evaluates their performance across geographies and product sectors.

The growing importance of non-western markets for the luxury goods industry has been supported by supply chain leadership, technological innovation and international investment. These factors will help maintain further strong
growth in these geographical markets.

Deloitte’s “Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2018” points out:

Luxury brands have refocused their business strategies to capitalise on these changes. Giorgio Armani is engaged in an in-store installation collaboration agreement with Colombian artist Marta Luz Gutiérrez, while Louis Vuitton is conducting an advertising campaign using a
building designed by the late Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Rising prosperity in major cities and growing formal market power over the black market will ensure sustained Rest of the World (ROW) demand for luxury goods. To succeed in this context, luxury players should focus their investments on digital connectivity, upwardly mobile consumers and bold business models, which are key components of the
personal luxury industry today.

Some aspects that marketers must pay attention and act on in 2018:

Still according to Deloitte, collectively, Millennials and Generation Z will represent more than 40 per cent of the overall luxury goods market
by 2025, compared with around 30 per cent in 2016. Unlike Baby Boomers, many Millennial luxury consumers expect to interact with brands across a range of digital platforms, rather than only through traditional channels. Millennial consumers are also important for in-store shopping and expect a high-value, customized experience. Luxury brands should seek to change their business models to meet this demand, for example by providing more loyalty
programs and invitations to in-store events.

Customize your approach according to your audience. Personalization is still key as a marketing technique to be used as 45% of luxury consumers are asking for personalized products and services. With different expectations, younger
shoppers seek a personalized shopping experience that seamlessly integrates both online and offline platforms. This shift has motivated demand for connective technology such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence
(AI). By using AR and AI technologies, luxury brands can provide a personalized consumer experience, reach a wider audience, deepen product experience, and build stronger customer relationships. In parallel, the development of technologies such as voice commerce and the Internet of Things (IoT) are reshaping the entire luxury industry.

Luxury brands positioned as reliable sources of AI-driven recommendations are improving how they engage with consumers. More widespread adoption of AI is also making consumers increasingly reliant on suggestions and advice
provided by their various devices, rather than making decisions based on personal experience.

Social media becomes an important marketing tool for luxury as well. Instagram became the leading social media platform for fashion designers. Gucci more than doubled its Instagram followers between 2016 and March 2018, with successful Insta-campaigns such as #TFWGucci.

In future, the biggest challenge for luxury brands will be to make optimum use of social media without compromising their brand values. The success of a social media strategy will be converting “likes” into an interactive and engaging experience for customers.- Deloitte

An omnichannel approach – onnichannelluxury

A true omnichannel global market environment would require luxury brands to close gaps in customer experiences across channels, to offer a seamless, unified brand experience irrespective of the device or physical touchpoint used. Therefore, each channel needs to interact with and support
others to establish a single brand presence. Demand for an omnichannel approach is a natural development from the spread of digital technology and
e-commerce markets. During this process of change, the ability of luxury brands to leverage available inventory will be a key differentiator.

Digital must remain a priority to define an omnichannel strategy compatible with target expectations. The percentage of online sales perceived as being additional, and not a cannibalization of, physical sales is decreasing each year, with China the least cannibalized country to date.

“Luxury brands should develop their mobile strategy: 55% of luxury consumers buying online use their mobile phones versus personal computers. Peaks appear among the youngest generations and Chinese consumers, 75% and 77%, respectively, of whom use mobile. Social media and influencers are gaining power. For the first time, social media is the first source of information and the channel of primary impact used by true-luxury consumers, followed by magazines and brand websites. Five platforms (Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Weibo, and QQ) are dominating the social media world, but Facebook is losing momentum to Instagram in the Western world and QQ is losing momentum to WeChat and Weibo in China,” states in “True-Luxury Global Consumer Insight”, the fifth edition of an annual study by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Altagamma.

Millennials: Consumer Aspirations Are Disrupting Luxury

Collaborations with streetwear brands and artists are becoming the norm for Generation Zers and Millennials. “Collaboration covers demand for newness in a less risky way. It gives brands a cool edge and strengthens brand awareness as well as increases willingness to buy the brand. Collaboration is increasingly in demand and turns out to be a very effective purchasing incentive,” said Olivier Abtan, a partner in BCG’s Paris office and the global leader of the firm’s luxury, fashion, and beauty topic.

Unlike “absolute luxurers,” who buy luxury items exclusively, millennials do not hesitate to mix and match. According to BCG’s study, about 55% of this group trades down to buy handbags or T-shirts from cheaper brands, or mixes their style by buying sneakers and luxury shoes from luxury niche brands (including luxury sports). This trend appears to fulfill consumers’ need to create their own style. When they do look for different brands, it’s because luxury brands don’t have offerings in certain categories or because of the Millennials’ desire to have a unique style, express themselves, and seek out niche brands.

Use iconic personalities in your communication

With all the big changes, some things are meant to last and take the test of time. Chanel’s iconic marketing history began with a print advertisement for its perfume, Chanel No.5, in 1921. Its first celebrity endorsement didn’t feature until 1954, with Marilyn Monroe. However, it wasn’t until 2005 when Chanel first adopted videography, and from here, the rest is history.

“Despite not adopting social media and integrating the platform with videography until 2009, its marketing strategy is nothing short of stupendous. Selecting admirable public figures such as Keira Knightley and Nicole Kidman to star in Chanel’s unmistakable short films, revived the brand as an iconic symbol of both cultural and digital relevance. With the use of video and social media integration, Chanel has grown to having more than 57 million social followers globally, the highest in the luxury fashion industry. The brand focused on Facebook as their initial social media platform, due to the video capabilities such as extended video length, that Twitter and Instagram do not support. For the brand’s primary consumer, the more wealthy and mature client, Facebook was the ideal platform for accessing this demographic,” wrote Little Agency.

Sensory Branding

According to Retail Insider, British Airways is encashing big on a recent study on sensory sciences by Oxford about how sound influences the taste of food. Based on the findings of this study, they launched a list of 13 in-flight tracks to enhance the taste of the meals served during the flight, providing a truly luxurious experience. Moreover, Soundwich in Portugal delivered gourmet sandwiches packed in metal boxes that play music chosen by the chef when opened.

More ideas you can see here.

 

Online versus offline retail war ending soon?

“2018 will mark death of online versus offline retail war”, said Mariam Asmar, McCann London’s strategy and innovation director, for Campaign UK.

What is for certain is that both worlds willcontinue for sure to exists for a good while. In a demanding night and day economy, consumers want access to shopping at all times. They want to use price comparison sites, they want infinite choice in styles and sizes and they want to do it all from the comfort of their own home without the pressure of three different sales assistants hanging around waiting to bag some commission.

At the same time, “physical brick and mortar stores will continue to have a place in a world that still requires, and desires, human connection. The current statistic is that 90% of purchases in the UK are still made in store, while 60% of Generation Z consumers value the store experience. Millennials even want to shop in places they can touch, feel and see their product. Not to mention for some, shopping is an experience and they appreciate input and care from the staff and in store experiences,” wrote liveandbreathe.com.

Last year, in the USA, according to “The Atlantic”, online shopping was having an offline moment, as more e-commerce companies, such as RentTheRunway and Bonobos, invested in the physical stores they once made seem obsolete. Leading the trend is Amazon, the undisputed king of online shopping, which spent $14 billion to buy Whole Foods and its nearly 500 physical locations. “According to internal documents, the company believes there is support for another 2,000 Amazon Fresh–branded grocery stores. This throwback revolution is happening in the midst of what otherwise feels like a “retail apocalypse.” Bankruptcies are rising among clothing chains, like Wet Seal, and retail icons, like Toys “R” Us, which are stuck with a glut of shopping space and squeezed between stagnating sales and large debt obligations,” wrote “The Atlantic”.

While Amazon did make a bigger splash with its $13.7 billion investment, Walmart beefed up an e-commerce stable that already includes the acquisitions of digital natives Jet.com, Shoebuy, ModCloth and Moosejaw. Collectively, these M&A deals have set Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce company, on a direct collision with Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, to be the “everything store” in an omni-channel world — where consumers no longer distinguish between shopping online and offline.

In the future, Amazon could upgrade Whole Foods with innovative retail technologies in use at its fully automated experimental store, Amazon Go, where shoppers pick up their food and leave. There are no cashiers or checkout lines. Amazon tracks what’s taken, or put back, and charges their accounts.

Moreover, “several brick-and-mortar companies with large footprints are struggling while e-commerce companies that once launched pop-ups as mere marketing tools have realized the value of storefronts,”considers The Atlantic. For instance Amazon sees a growth in online shopping in regions where it’s opened a physical store, according to CNBC. “Five years from now, we won’t be debating whether ‘e-tailers’ are taking share from ‘brick & mortar retailers,’” Citi Research analysts recently wrote, “because they are all the same.” The trend even comes with an inevitable, and regrettable, catchphrase: “bricks and clicks.”

“Among the nation’s top 300 malls, brick-and-mortar space occupied by retailers that started online has grown by approximately 1,000 percent since 2012, according to the real-estate data company CoStar Group. While they currently account for a minuscule part of mall volume, landlords increasingly consider them critical to attracting Millennials to these malls in the first place,” adds “The Atlantic”.

In India, another big and important country, according to blog.markgrowth.com,  “the FMCG is vertical: 90% of sales happen via mom and pop stores (Kirana) which are plenty in number. The remaining 10% of sales is accounted for by Modern Trade outlets ( Large Retail format stores similar to Walmart ) and the online channel. Now, these mom and pop stores are not going to go anywhere ( Over 10 million outlets in every nook and corner of the country!). Technology will aid these stores in the near future which will arm retailers with data regarding consumption patterns for instance, which will prevent stock-outs leading to an enhanced experience on the whole.”

More about the e-commerce in India and the classic retail industry one can read here and here.

Meanwhile, in China, according to www.scmp.com, malls are starting their own digital stores as they hitch their bandwagon to the concept of “new retail” pioneered by the Alibaba Holding Group chairman, Jack Ma Yun. The “online-offline integrated experience” is increasingly being used by Chinese retail property operators, who see it as a critical way of gaining insight into consumers’ shopping patterns and responding to these quickly.

Jeff Bezos – Amazon, the new robots company

Every fan of technology and sci-fi would have loved to be in the shoes of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, as he piloted a huge robot, that looked takes straight from Transformers, at an Amazon-organized annual conference for robotics enthusiasts – Machine Learning, Home Automation, Robotics and Space Exploration (MARS)- in Palm Springs, Calif. Photos and clips of the humanoid robot, which is four-meters-tall (13-foot) and weighs  1.5 tons, first surfaced online last year,  however sceptics have questioned the authenticity of footage released showing the robot walking.

Bezos was filmed controlling the robot’s arms in the latest footage; however it was attached to some chains and was seemingly unable to actually walk around by itself.

According to livescience.com, the robot does not pick anything up in the video, either, which is notable because its developers say that one of their goals is to create piloted robots for real-world jobs, like cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was damaged in 2011 when a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. “So far, none of the footage of the mech has shown it manipulating objects. The massive bot also runs on external power, which means that, so far, it’s unable to work untethered,” added Stephanie Pappas for Live Science.

The suit was created by robotics expert Vitaly Bulgarov,  a veteran of science fiction blockbusters, for the South Korean technology company.

“Everything we have been learning so far on this robot can be applied to solve real-world problems,” the designer previously said on his Facebook page.

Bulgarov is famous for working on film series such as Transformers, Robocop and Terminator.

According to The Telegraph, Method-2 is seen as a test-bed for various technologies that will allow the creators to build any type and size of robot in future.