–Mashable, March 18, 2015
“Geeks, techies and innovators rejoice: It’s that glorious time of year
again, when South by Southwest’s Interactive conference unites startups,
bright minds and tech industry leaders to examine the most
groundbreaking trends impacting our modern world. Some of the planet’s
most forward-thinking technology companies embrace SXSWi as a
showcase and testing ground each year.”
A New Generation
• The focus for marketers is shifting from
Millennials to Generation Z.
• This mobile-native generation is on the
cusp of entering the workforce, but still
has a strong influence on the purchasing
power of Gen X and Millennial parents.
• Gen Z is vastly different from its
predecessors – for them, gender
standards barely exist, and categories
and labels are meaningless.
• They’re twice as likely to use YouTube
versus Millennials; they’re also more
likely to shop online and have an
attention span that’s almost 50% shorter.
• To them, media and communications is
all about immediacy, authenticity, and
The Virtual World
• It was almost impossible to find a brand-
sponsored lounge or party that didn’t
have a VR headset.
• While scale and adoption are still
challenges, many at SXSWi were bullish
about VR’s potential for storytelling and
• VR can help people more easily escape a
mindset of pain and boredom, and there
is also opportunity to deliver empathy:
like showing people the hardships of
refugees and poverty.
• Some at SXSWi predicted VR as the
main computer screen of the future. If
this becomes true, then imagine a
generation where having an online vs.
offline experience might be a foreign
Robots vs. Humans
• IBM introduced SXSWi to Pepper, the
first social humanoid robot capable of
understanding and reacting to human
• Pepper is being tested in Japan now, with
a key focus on benefits for the
healthcare, retail, and hospitality
• In 50 years, there will likely be nothing a
human can do that a robot can’t. But
while a robot that vacuums your house is
easy to adopt, one that cooks you dinner
or minds your baby is much harder to
• Robots are fueled by big data—but will
we the human race be able to trust this
data, and the robot’s ability to perform
Future of Retail
• The future of shopping is about online-
• Moreover, products must deliver some
sense of ceremony beyond pure function.
• A lot of the SXSWi tech showed potential
for retail, from VR to 3D printing to the
Internet of Things. AI in particular is
interesting—it’s becoming advanced
enough that AI recommendations and
anticipation of needs are starting to feel
very human and natural.
• Thanks to data application, the
suggestions made around clothing, food,
music and travel spots you might like
continue to improve, moving us from
human curation to machine learning
• The commercialization of augmented
reality apps has allowed for countless
possibilities for large and small brands
alike to link offline media (like print) to a
• One new shopping experience that we
saw had a user scan a page of watches
in a catalog - and then try them on just by
putting their wrist under their phone or
• If they liked what they saw, they could
conveniently press a buy button and
have the watch delivered to them.
What the Big
Themes Mean to
• Gen Z is an influential audience with much more than mom and dad’s pocket money.
Marketers must put real strategies in place to target this extremely savvy audience in ways
that they expect to be communicated to by a friend.
• One increasingly visible avenue for that is mobile messaging platforms; the potential to
provide a consolidated environment for users and brands to engage each other, and for
brands to provide value through delivery notifications, customer service, and more.
• If today is all about real-time and contextualized data, the future is about predictive
relevance. As IoT becomes a reality, brands must consider how they can leverage all this
data to pinpoint moments where they can truly add value to consumers’ lives.
• Don’t forget the human element in the pursuit for technological excellence. The thoughtful
craft that we bring to visual storytelling and curation remains of high value.
• Last but not least: when considering these trends & tech, remember that one year is a long
time in today’s world. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you’re going to stay ahead of the
pack, you need to move fast and keep moving.