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Hot new consumer trends: Hybrid malls, AR, going global

The eleventh edition of the Ericsson ConsumerLab 10 Hot Consumer Trends report reveals that the public expects hybrid malls to be common by 2030

A hybrid mix of connectivity-enabled technology, integrated into real physical environments to enhance shopping and buying experiences, is expected to be a common element of everyday life in 2030 by the vast majority of current early adopters. The prediction is among the findings in the latest Ericsson Ten Hot Consumer Trends report.

The December 2021 report marks the eleventh edition of the Ericsson ConsumerLab 10 Hot Consumer Trends report. In line with recent Ten Hot Consumer Trends reports, it targets early adopter consumers’ views on a 2030 timeline – this time covering hybrid shopping experiences in a fictional ‘Everyspace Plaza’ mall. 

Consumers were asked to evaluate 15 hybrid shopping mall facilities that extend the physical consumer experience using digital technology. Almost four-in-five respondents believe that all 15 tested concepts will be available in some form by 2030.

Such ‘bricks-and-portal’ facilities will be enabled by technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and programmable materials.

Magnus Frodigh, head of Ericsson Research, says: “The semi-public nature of shopping malls means latency bounds could more easily be controlled and next-generation experiences could be delivered early on. XR devices could be provided on-site, making it possible to deploy private networks with custom applications also for consumers.”

Based on comprehensive research, the ConsumerLab 10 Hot Consumer Trends report represents the expectations and predictions of about 57 million early technology adopters globally.

Dr. Michael Björn, head of research agenda, Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab, and driver of the 10 Hot Consumer Trends report since its inception in 2011, says: “On the one hand it may be difficult to imagine large numbers of consumers with expensive tech gear such as AR glasses, waterproof VR glasses, haptic body suits, tactile gloves and more at massive scale by 2030. Yet, on the other hand, if such equipment could be shared at lower cost it is definitely possible that large numbers of consumers will have it to enhance everyday shopping mall experiences.

“In fact, 35 percent of surveyed consumers think shopping malls are more likely to feature next-generation technology than homes, compared to just 14 percent who disagree. Shopping malls have long been high-tech focal points, with many featuring cinemas, game arcades, concert halls, bowling alleys and more. They likely will continue to play that role.

“If anything, the future might be increasingly localised, with 32 percent of respondents agreeing that high-tech shopping malls will make moving to small towns and rural areas more feasible and attractive – and just 13 percent disagreeing with this.”

The 10 Hot Consumer Trends 2030 – The Everyspace Plaza are:

1. The All-Now Arena

You could be both actor and spectator, but will the immersion experience give you a thrill or a fright? Nearly eight out of 10 consumers envisage event halls where telepresence technology allows artists to digitally perform as if they were there in person.

2. The Immersive Beauty Salon

Skipping the knife and needle is an attractive beauty option for many. Beauty salons that use volumetric modelling technology to digitally enhance looks are expected in malls by seven out of 10 consumers.

3. The Meta Tailor

Fast fashion tailored just for you – and your avatar. More than seven out of 10 AR/VR users foresee a tailor in the mall using fabrics that can switch to become waterproof or provide ventilation when needed.

4. The Anyverse Pool

Many imagine the exploration of impossible worlds. Two-thirds of consumers believe there will be swimming pools where you can use an oxygenated VR headset to experience outer space in zero gravity.

5. The Hybrid Gym

For many, physical vigour and mental health are inextricably linked. Seven out of ten consumers expect mental fitness centres that have multisensory, personality-tailored AR/VR scenery to help improve mental health.

6. The Print-a-Wish Multifactory

On-demand repair and production are the future. Over half of consumers want to shop sustainably in a factory outlet that recycles their old products.

7. The Restaurant at the Node of the Universe

A distraction-free, virtual company is preferable for many. Half of consumers want to visit restaurants to virtually eat with friends in other restaurants, anywhere in the world.

8. The Never-ending Store

Try before you buy – virtually, at least. Three-quarters of consumers expect to be able to project their home inside the store when trying out new products.

9. The Medical Multiplex Center

We’re used to everything being instant. Why wait when it comes to health? Seventy-seven percent of consumers foresee in-mall medical centres with drop-in AI health scanning that gives near-instant health status updates.

10. The Nature+ Park

For those stuck in cities, nature may be what’s missing. 42% of consumers want to visit an in-mall park where they can feel closer to nature through digital and programmable materials that provide hybrid experiences.

Report methodology

The report insights are based on Ericsson ConsumerLab’s global research activities spanning more than a quarter of a century.

It primarily draws on data from an online survey conducted during October and November 2021 of early adopters of AR, VR and digital assistants in 14 cities around the world.

They are: Delhi, Dublin, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Stockholm, Sydney and Tokyo.

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