Joan Hamburg of WOR radio interviewed Faith Popcorn to get her perspective on Amazon’s purchase of Wholefoods for $13 billion. In a wide-ranging conversation about the shape of the future, Faith shared her perspective on which consumer trends are emerging and what tomorrow holds.
She sees Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods as ushering in a new era where fresh, beautiful, healthy food (the Being Alive Trend) will be easily available to all Americans (the 99 Lives and Clanning Trends). Amazon will sell everything from ingredients to prepared meals to the services of a person to come to your house and prepare a dinner party. The network of Whole Foods stores and their excellent food will be connected to Amazon’s superior delivery skills, ushering in a new era of curated, on-demand food. Already, Amazon is wow-ing consumers with the speed of its Prime Now delivery of Whole Foods items, as local couriers allow it to compete with Peapod, Fresh Direct and similar services.
Faith shared with Joan that the Stentrode project is already underway, which involves putting a tiny bit of mesh into the human brain, and using this to connect our minds to the Internet. According to Faith, in the future you will just think, “I’d like some groceries delivered”—and they will arrive. No need to call anyone or order online. The transaction will be totally intuitive and seamless.
Indeed, Amazon has already patented the concept of predictive restaurant ordering which will eliminate the gap between the time you know you are hungry and the arrival of food to satisfy your craving. According to the Spoon’s reporting, “An AI-based modeling engine to anticipate customer needs based on variety of inputs. These could include past orders, as well as contextual information such as calendar appointments, location, caloric intake for the day and the amount of exercise a person has had. The patent suggests that one way it could access this information is by obtaining it from personal electronic devices such as smartphones, wearables, and personal computers.”
Amazon is clearly already interested in being at the forefront of seamless transactions, with their Prime, Now and Dash services, and their explorations of next-generation bricks and mortar. Its test of a “frictionless”/no-checkout brick and mortar store in Seattle last winter was the first hint to a future with far fewer cashiers at retail locations worldwide.
Could this acquisition point to a much sharper tipping point for the industry? Is this the beginning of the end for grocery and other big box retailers whose existence is rooted to the massive real estate upon which they rest? This is a vital step as we transition from the status quo to our tech-enabled, on-demand future. Faith foresees a future in which we move from our current stores to new intuitive ones to virtual ones—we’ll employ our Virtual Reality technology and shop in a universe of stores that are hosted in the cloud.
With on-demand services rising, Faith foresees the consumer expecting customized, delivered items round the clock, a new kind of “Gig Economy” worker will emerge.
Think of Uber drivers, earning money whenever they have time to hit the road. In the future as the 99 Lives Trend progresses, more and more people will take on “gigs” (without benefits) to earn income. According to Faith, it’s not uncommon for Millennials today to juggle 2-3 jobs simultaneously, and the average 29-year-old has already held about seven jobs. In the future, this will accelerate to people having six or seven part-time jobs simultaneously. Doing food prep at Amazon—or programming a drone to deliver a meal—may well be one of them.
Even though our every wish will be gratified in a nano-second, Faith pointed out that consumers are increasingly stressed. In fact, as much as depression defined the 90s, anxiety will mark the era we are now entering. She predicted that as marijuana and other mind-altering substances and practices become more accepted in America, we’ll learn to manage our stress.
Having attended a Cannabis Expo in New York, Faith says that it’s clear a huge cannabis marketing revolution is afoot, as various strains and products make their way into the retail landscape. It’s intriguing to notice that as demanding as our future may be, expressed in the 99 Lives trend, in which the pace of life continues to accelerate, the solution may be an ancient one, a plant that has soothed people for eons—evidence of Anchoring, or the return to tradition Trend.
Listen to this wide-ranging conversation to understand just how deeply the nature of the consumer landscape is shifting.
Article Updated from Original July 2017 Post
Tomorrow’s trends, Today