Beyond the pandemic of 2020, we’re living through an unprecedented period of development and opportunity due to synergistic technological advancements in mobile communications, augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), artificial intelligence, social networks, and distribution channels.
Businesses need to prepare for a new reality in which consumers have greater and greater demand and economic power. The convergence of 5G mobile connectivity, immersive experiences, and expansive social media platforms that let consumers test and buy products without having to open an app or visit a company website—these are the foundations for what I call Social Retail Marketing™️ (SRM™️). In The Impatience Economy™️, traditional marketing practices will flounder. Sellers who fail to connect with consumers through social media,will lose business and eventually collapse.
In the next five years, the telecommunications industry will invest $1 trillion into 5G mobile infrastructure, enabling better business models, novel concepts in education and entertainment, and improved digital financial, medical, and government services.
Mobile networks are exponentially increasing connections among consumers, machines, and industries: 5G will ultimately allow real-time virtual consumer experiences, limited only by imagination, inventiveness, and consumer desires. When artificial intelligence, machine learning, and personalization algorithms are added to the mixture, automation and robotization will skyrocket, ultimately resulting in major enhancements in productivity, lifestyle, and well-being. These advances will nurture and deliver awesome consumer experiences that will drive significant economic and societal benefits.
With processing speeds one-hundred times faster than 4G, the new 5G networks will deliver computing rates equivalent to—and soon faster than—the human brain, making AR and VR experiences viable and expected.
Adoption rates for 5G increased 600 percent from 2019 to 2020; that’s minuscule compared to what’s coming. From 2020 to 2023, that growth rate is expected to increase by 1,376 percent; by 2025, the number will be 2,817 percent. In other words, the 84 million current subscribers will rise to 2.4 billion in the next five years. And 5G’s share of overall revenue is increasing at an astronomical rate.
The impact of this transformative shift is impossible to overstate.
Think of it: Anyone with a 5G connection—which will soon be everyone—will demand the real-time capability to have virtual experiences anywhere, anytime, without needing a land line, an internet connection, Wi-Fi, or the torturous-looking gear you’d expect to see on a diver about to lower into the Mariana Trench.
As soon as your smartphone comes with a pair of unobtrusive AR and VR glasses—and that’s about to happen—we’ll go through society-wide changes many have likened to those produced by the harnessing of electrical power.
With 5G’s extremely low latency (i.e., delay or lag time), immersive virtual or augmented experiences will be frictionless and lifelike—akin to the transition from the herky-jerky movements in early silent movies to the realistic sensation delivered by the modern standard of 24 frames per second. That’s the difference between an enjoyable (and potentially life-altering) experience and a sickening one: most people feel nauseated with a delay of more than 20 milliseconds in a video feed; 4G typically produces 50 milliseconds of latency. So viewers are uncomfortable—like someone on a tilt-a-whirl. By contrast, 5G promises less than one millisecond of latency.
Virtual experiences can provide consumers with some immediate benefits. Before you go on vacation, why not take a virtual walk around the streets of a few cities to see which one you like best? Before you swipe the buy bar on your mobile phone to purchase a suit or a pair of shoes, why not try them on—in your living room—so you can determine if they look as good on you as they do on the model?
In all these cases, buyer’s remorse will become a thing of the past.
And the cost of VR experiences has dropped precipitously. In 2015 a pair of quality VR goggles would set you back $40,000—more than many consumers were willing (or able) to pay for a car; at the time, there were fewer than 2,000 pairs in existence. Today you can get a serviceable hookup for the price of a decent bottle of wine, and there are more than 15 million owners in the US alone.
Think I’m exaggerating the impact of AR and VR? Then consider this. In March of 2021, The Informationreported that close to 20 percent of all Facebook employees are working in AR and VR. Whatever you think of Mark Zuckerberg, you can’t fault his ability to anticipate, respond to, and capitalize on shifts in social and technological trends.
The change is coming. Digital consumerism will thrive as customers are able to use AR and VR to experience, buy, and even consume a product or service real-time in their living rooms. Are you ready? Will your company flourish or falter because it couldn’t anticipate and keep up? Virtual will be the new reality of Social Retail Marketing!