Thanks to our friends at JWT Intelligence, we’re getting the scoop on many forecasts we think will affect fashion, retail, the apparel business and the products and services we use every day.  After reading (and re-reading) their “Future 100:  Trends and Change to Watch 2018”, here are the things we thought you’d like to know:

Transcendent retail

Shopping is leaping off the screen and morphing into a more immersive experience, as voice technology, augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) transform the retail industry.

AR’s retail potential is boundless. China’s Alibaba used the technology to create a Pokemon Go-style game as part of its 11:11 Global Shopping Festival in late 2016, designed to drive foot traffic into physical stores.

Amazon also got into AR in fall 2017, when it launched an AR feature on its iOS shopping app. The new feature, built using Apple’s ARKit, allows customers to visualize how a product will look in their home.

Voice tech is on the rise in retail. According to research and advisory firm Gartner, room-based screenless devices, including Amazon Echo and Google Home, will be in over 10 million homes by the end of 2017, and will account for a growing share of commercial traffic. In August 2017, Walmart announced it would be partnering with Google for voice shopping, via Google Assistant.

Heidi O’Neill, president of Nike’s direct-to-consumer business, told Recode’s Code Commerce conference in September 2017 that its SNKRS AR app was helping to prevent bots buying up limited-edition sneakers online. To buy certain sneakers via the app, the user has to point their phone at a specific Nike image, either on a website or on a poster. (Pictured above)

Why it’s interesting:

  • A streamlined online experience is no longer enough in retail. Customers are increasingly expecting retailers to link the online and offline worlds to create a seamless, intuitive customer experience that makes buying products quicker, easier and more enjoyable

AR reaches mass

In 2017, augmented reality (AR) went from niche technology to must-have tech. Now tech giants are pushing AR into the mainstream. “I don’t think there is any sector or industry that will be untouched by AR,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told Vogue in October 2017. From providing consumers with more information to allowing them to virtually test products, new examples of AR can be seen in gaming, fashion, retail and marketing, with countless more on the way.

Gap’s DressingRoom app, revealed at January 2017’s Consumer Electronics Show, allows users to customize a virtual 3D model to their proportions and preview outfits. Neiman Marcus has launched Memory Mirrors, in-store mirrors where shoppers can try and compare different looks using AR. In April 2017, home furnishings store Lowe’s launched its In-Store Navigation app, which allows customers using Google-powered AR to navigate stores and unlock additional information.

Why it’s interesting:

  • Though AR came to prominence through the immensely popular Pokemon Go, it is no longer a game, but a serious feature poised to deliver real consumer benefits. “Over time, I think [these features] will be as key as having a website,” says Apple CEO Tim Cook

Generation Z Luxury

The youngest generation of consumers is driving the luxury market.

According to a report by Bain & Company, generation Z and millennials generated 85% of luxury growth in 2017. Rather than focusing on the millennial group, luxury brands are turning their marketing to generation Z, adopting new digital language to reach and resonate with younger audiences.

In March 2017, Gucci released a series of memes for its #TFWGucci (That Feeling When Gucci) campaign. Comme des Garons and Chanel have made bespoke sets of emoji.

Gen Z influencers are also appearing in luxury campaigns. Chanel also has campaigns featuring 18-year-old rising star Lily Depp-Rose and 17-year-old Willow Smith, who is also the luxury brand’s ambassadress.

Why it’s interesting:

  • As teenagers and consumers, the digital-native generation is already a big spender within the luxury market. Forward-thinking brands are getting ahead by hiring young talent because generation Z is known for looking to its peers for advice and approval.

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