Lego a ‘better investment than shares and gold’ – Telegraph

Average Lego set has increased in value 12 per cent each year since the turn of the Millennium, providing a better return than mainstream investments

Source: Lego a ‘better investment than shares and gold’ – Telegraph

The Ultimate Collector's Millennium Falcon is the most expensive, having gone from a retail price of £342.49 in 2007 to £2,712 today

The Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon is the most expensive, having gone from a retail price of £342.49 in 2007 to £2,712 today

It may appear as no more than a popular children’s toy, but investors were able to secure a better return buying Lego sets over the past 15 years than from the stock market, gold or bank accounts, a Telegraph analysis found.

The value of the FTSE 100 is no higher than it was in February 2000, meaning the average annual return to savers over the past decade and half is just 4.1 per cent once dividend payouts are included.

By contrast, Lego sets kept in pristine condition have increased in value 12 per cent each year since the turn of the Millennium, with second-hand prices rising for specific sets as soon as they go out of production. Modern sets are performing even more strongly, with those released last year already selling on eBay for 36 per cent more than their original price.

The analysis found none of the main investments favoured by savers matched returns on the plastic building bricks.

Savers who invested in gold received a 9.6 per cent annual gain over the past decade and a half, while those who went with a savings account or Isa generated 2.8 per cent, according to investment company Hargreaves Lansdown.

Some Lego sets that once sold for less than £100 now fetch thousands on the secondary market.

Lego can only reach a top price if it has been kept in it's box, according to Ed Maciorowski, founder of BrickPicker.comLego can only reach a top price if it has been kept in it’s box, according to Ed Maciorowski, founder of BrickPicker.com

Many of the highest prices are for old sets based around films such as Star Wars or landmarks or brands such as the Taj Mahal in India or the Volkswagen Beetle. But data from investing website BrickPicker.comshowed even sets based on everyday scenes such as police stations and town roads are soaring in value.

The largest percentage rise in price for any Lego set has been on “Cafe Corner”, a model of a hotel which went on sale in 2007. The set, which has 2,056 pieces, originally sold for £89.99 but the price has risen to £2,096 since it went out of production – a return for investors of 2,230 per cent.

Ed Maciorowski, founder of BrickPicker.com, said the top price would be fetched only if the Lego had been kept in its box, in perfect condition. Used Lego is less valuable, but can still be worth hundreds of pounds more than its original price.

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“The neat thing is that all sets are retired at some point, and several hundred are retired each year a movie run ends, a licence expires or the Lego company wants to refresh its range,” he said.

“That means anyone with a set at home – large or small, it doesn’t matter – could have quite an investment on their hands if it’s in good condition, as this stuff appreciates very well in value.”

Most second-hand Lego is traded and bought on eBay. BrickPicker pays eBay for a breakdown of sales and compiles its own database of values and growth rates.

Mr Maciorowski said tens of thousands of investors across the world were pushing up prices of rarer sets.

He said the growth rates would continue. “Lego investing is not hitting bubble-like status,” he said. “That is partly because the Lego company doesn’t promote the secondary market, it wants to sell direct to customers.”

deathstarDeath Star II sold for £249.99 in shops, but is now worth £1,524, according to BrickPicker

Price rises can be disrupted if Lego restarts production of sets it had previously retired – but usually the effect is temporary as investors snap up the new stock, Mr Maciorowski said.

The most popular type of Lego is Star Wars themed, accounting for 10 of the 20 most expensive sets.

The Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon is the most expensive, having gone from a retail price of £342.49 in 2007 to £2,712 today.

Two slightly earlier models, the Death Star II and Imperial Star Destroyer, which were released in 2005 and 2002 respectively, also fetch more than £1,000.

Mr Maciorowski said the new Star Wars film, Episode VII – The Force Awakens will give the old sets a “new life” in secondary market.

“Demand is going to be off the hook,” he said. “Sometimes when the next instalment of a film comes out it boosts interest: the new Fantastic Beasts films, for example, should also see demand pick up for some of the recently retired Harry Potter Lego.”

Laith Khalaf, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The returns from Lego look pretty awesome, but investors need to beware that the value of collectables can be vulnerable to fads.

“There’s absolutely no harm in buying some pieces as a hobby, and you may well make some money, but as a main building clock for your retirement I would suggest sticking to more traditional shares and bonds.”

Seven Lego investing tips from a pro

Ed Maciorowski from BrickPicker.com says:

1 If you are interested in a particular Lego set, buy one to build and one to save for a rainy day. Even used Lego sets can appreciate to values higher than the retail price. Putting away a few large and exclusive sets to resell in years down the road can be very profitable.

2 Limited edition and seasonal sets do very well in the Lego secondary markets. Any sets with short production runs usually appreciate well. The rarer, the better.

3 Invest in Lego sets that were released after 1999. Pre-2000 sets were not really great investments. Many sets were basic and uninspiring. There are a handful of vintage sets that are viable collectables, but most have plateaued in value and many are in poor condition.

4 Keep the Lego boxes, pieces and instructions in excellent condition. Save all the components of a Lego set. Keep them in a dry and dark storage space. No sun … no moisture. The better the condition, the more the set will sell for in future.

5 Stack Lego boxes vertically like books. Horizontal stacking causes boxes to crush and seals to break.

6 Size doesn’t matter. Both small and large sets can appreciate very well percentage wise.

7 Lego mini figures are very valuable.

Most expensive Lego sets

Set – release date – pieces (mini figs) – retail price – current value

1 Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon – 2007 – 5,195 (5) – £342.49 – £2,712

2 Cafe Corner – 2007 – 2,056 (3) – £89.99 – £2,096

3 Taj Mahal – 2008 – 5,922 (0) – £199.99 – £1,848

4 Death Star II – 2005 – 3,441 (0) – £249.99 – £1,524

5 Imperial Star Destroyer – 2002 – 3,096 (0) – £249.99 – £1,467

Lego sets with biggest rises in value

Set – release date – pieces (mini figs) – retail price – current value – growth

1 Cafe Corner – 2007 – 2,056 (3) – £89.99 – £2,096 – 2,230%

2 Market Street – 2007 – 1,248 (3) – £59.99 – £698 – 1,064%

3 Holiday Train – 2006 – 965 (7) – £49.99 – £574 – 1,048%

4 Rescue from the Merpeople – 2005 – 175 (5) – £14.99 – £168 – 1,018%

5 The Batboat: Hunt for Killer Croc – 2006 – 188 (2) – £14.99 – £167 – 1,011%

If Carlsberg Did Cases…

Waiting for your cases at the end of a long flight is a sad end to any holiday, so we decided to bring a bit of joy to London City Airport passengers one grey afternoon, watch and see what happens…

Because If Carlsberg did cases, they’d probably be the best cases in the world.

Passengers waiting to collect their bags were surprised by the arrival of crates of Carlsberg on the carousel, carrying the invitation ‘Take Me, I’m Yours’. The brewer secretly filmed the giveaway and posted it on social media to mark the return of the Carlsberg advertising strapline, ‘If Carlsberg did…’.

Passengers also shared the stunt on social media, claimed Carlsberg, which said Instagram user Garfla posted an image and the caption ‘If Carlsberg did Air Travel’, while @sarahthemachine tweeted ‘London City Airport: home of a mythical baggage claim giving people free cases of Carlsberg! Many happy travellers!’

“Waiting for your luggage when you get home from holiday is that defining moment when you know that your holiday is over, so that’s why we decided to cheer up returning holidaymakers with a crate of ice-cold Carlsberg,” said senior brand manager Dharmesh Rana.

The activity follows a series of ‘If Carlsberg Did’ stunts including a beer dispensing poster and drone delivery service.

How banks can improve finance management tools and apps | Econsultancy

How banks can improve finance management tools and apps | Econsultancy.

Consumers’ digital experiences, including banking, are becoming more and more visual. Within the retail banking sector much is still to be done.

Most importantly banks should not judge Personal Finance Management (PFM) tools as isolated investments: rather a piece of the puzzle to build a great overall digital customer experience.

In this article I will talk about how PFM has developed within retail banking (from a customer perspective) over the years, how we see things evolving and what banks can learn from new players.

PFM developments in short over the last three years:   

2011

  1. PFM tools were primarily introduced within internet banking. Mobile developments were close to non-existent among banks, and tablet banking did not even exist!
  2. The tools implemented were pure add-ons to existing platforms and rarely fitted in with the overall experience; they also lacked engagement.
  3. Much of the debate back then was centered on monetising the cost of the deployment.

2012

  1. A gradual change in implementation strategies started appearing: PFM was no longer just about launching something with a big bang. Instead, rather lighter and more subtle approaches were what caught our attention.
  2. It was also becoming evident that embracing new technologies was key to deliver a positive PFM experience.
  3. A number of banks were investing in new services, taking advantage of the capabilities available in smartphone and tablet devices, hence providing an experience that we had not seen before.

2013

  1. What was picked up in 2012 has been reinforced with new developments: visuals have been largely improved and are becoming more intuitive.
  2. Developments are taking place across all three channels and are in several cases pleasantly integrated as part of the overall experience.
  3. The dominating approach is still to offer PFM within internet banking only, so this would suggest there is room for expansion across devices.

Types of offerings, how they add value to customers and where we are 

In the last three years, it has become clear that PFM offerings have expanded and become more diverse, both in terms of channels and of specific features and approaches adopted.

One theme evident in reviewing the market is that each component offered naturally sits in one of three levels of progressive user sophistication. Starting at a basic level, progressing to an analytical level, and ending with an action-taking level.

I have used these three levels as a way of better showing what is happening where in the market place and also for understanding how banks are trying to engage customers.

  1. Basic visualisations. These make customers think about what is happening with their day to day finances, and build awareness and understanding with thw aim of encouraging deeper interaction with the bank.
  2. Analysis. Features which help customers analyse their personal finance: where, how, and how much they spend in relations with peers.
  3. Take-action tools. Provide engaging tools to help customers improve their personal finance situation.

Considering the these levels, the majority of available features in place aim to entice and educate, and still this is where banks’ main emphasis lies. Take-action tools (to a large extent) are something further down the road.

For example, it is hard to get an individual to take action without providing a visual and intuitive overview that can be analysed with little effort. The exception to this is savings goals. During the past 12 months we have seen a significant increase in savings goals features – some more advanced than others.

In several cases these have been implemented across channels putting them front of mind to customers. Not only is this tool easy to set up and grasp, it also works as a psychological reminder that you are on your way to achieve something. In some cases you can set up a recurring transfer in order to regular fund your goal, hence ongoing progress and making users more likely to achieve something.

The challenge for banks in relation to new players

We no longer think of providing PFM features as a matter of yes or no. Making transactional data visual and enabling customers to get a deeper understanding of their finances, including take-action type features should be a given in any digital banking road map.

When looking at most new market entrants they have applied this thinking from the onset. Below we highlight three appealing initiatives in Hello Bank!Moven and Knab which all include PFM features and most importantly they are central to, and fit naturally into, the experience.

This is an area where banks, being on existing platforms, face a major challenge.

Mapa Research screenshot

Looking at the current PFM experiences within banking, Danske Bank in Denmark is one of our top picks. It has created an interesting journey that can be summarised as follows:

  • An extensive range of PFM features was introduced within internet banking several years ago. Characteristics: cumbersome to use, tucked away from the pages visited the most by customers after login and poor visuals.
  • For the last two to three years Danske Bank’s developments have been largely focused on mobile and tablet. Basic, intuitive and relevant visualisations have been implemented. Characteristics: prominently positioned, great visuals adding value to customers by giving them a better understanding of incomings and outgoings as well as net balance developments.
  • Recently, after having revealed a new, more, customer centric strategy in 2012 Danske Bank has implemented a refreshed, simplified and prominently positioned PFM features across desktop, tablet and mobile banking channels (in case of mobile and tablet it has been a matter of extending the number of features).

The key element of the tool that is a visualisation of recent spend per category (see screenshots below).

Mapa research PFM Report Analysis slide

A major challenge for banks as of today is to deliver consistent user experiences across the digital banking channels. In Danske Bank’s case they have managed to deliver just that with the seamless feel as illustrated above.

Noticeably, Danske Bank has chosen to focus on refreshing only key features, hence more advanced features have been saved for later. A humble approach we quite like!

In summary…

As I mentioned above much of the discussion a couple of years back was centered around how to make money from an investment, and even today we often get asked what is their business model when highlighting PFM initiatives.

PFM tools should not be judged by their immediate ROI, it should be considered as an investment in the overall user experience helping to build long term digital success by improving loyalty, customer satisfaction and engagement.

Today it is more important than to stand out with your service deliveries in a commoditized market.

A final observation is also that some banks still put PFM as optional features whereas our message is certainly to do the opposite.

Below are five central points to consider when it comes to developing PFM:

  1. Make PFM a default part of the overall banking experience.
  2. Position features on the pages that customers visit the most.
  3. Keep things simple to start with in order to get customers onboard (e.g. basic -> take action).
  4. Communicate to customers what you are doing and why.
  5. Be relevant by focusing on your existing customer base and the ones you want to attract .

The Post-it Note Goes Digital on Evernote – Digits – WSJ

The Post-it Note Goes Digital on Evernote – Digits – WSJ.

Rather than fight the digital revolution, the time-tested Post-it note is joining it.

3M Co.MMM +0.10%, which makes about 50 billion of the sticky paper notepads each year, is set to announce a partnership on Thursday with personal-organization app Evernote Corp. Together, they’ve made software that will allow people with smartphones to photograph, store and organize pictures of their Post-its.

Evernote’s software will be able to recognize the sticky notes’ distinctive colors and help organize them within the app. In other words, Evernote’s 75 million users may soon say goodbye to the legions of Post-its hanging from bathroom mirrors, car dashboards and computer screens in favor of thumbnail photos of their scribblings.

3M says the app partnership is a natural evolution for people who prefer to jot things down — but are looking for more efficient ways to organize all those ideas. “Paper really is still the easiest way to write a thought down and remember it,” said Jesse Singh, vice president of 3M’s stationery and office supplies division. “This partnership seemed an obvious choice for us for the brand.”

Evernote’s CEO Phil Libin said he had long coveted the Post-it for its simplicity and ease of use, even as he has spawned a generation of digital-first obsessives. “The Post-it is something we aspire to be,” said Mr. Libin. “They have been a hero product for us.”

It remains to be seen if the new camera function will fully replace Evernote’s digital note-taking functions. It’s not Evernote’s first foray into the physical realm – last year it teamed up with Moleskine SpA to create a line of branded leather notebooks with pages designed to be easily photographed for uploads to the app.

St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M plans to begin selling packs of Post-it notes featuring Evernote’s elephant head logo and, for a short time, offers for a free upgrade to a premium Evernote subscription for 30 days, a $5 value. 3M doesn’t disclose annual Post-it sales.

Users can designate the Post-it notes’ unique colors for different tasks; pink can represent, say, grocery lists. Mr. Libin said that off-brand sticky notes would also likely work with the app.

Other old-line industries have tried to adapt to the digital age, for fear of falling victim to it. A slew of digital writing pads and pens that converted handwriting to bytes were unreliable and failed to catch on. Paperless Inc.’s Paperless Post sought to replace the greeting card with emailed digital versions. Though, conceding that old habits are hard to break, Paperless Post last year began selling printed cards.

“Paperless as a concept is stupid,” said Mr. Libin. “The goal is to get rid of stupid uses of paper.”

3M’s Mr. Singh said he hoped the company would benefit by selling more Post-its and appealing to a broader demographic than its core of working mothers.

As for Evernote, based in Redwood City, Calif., Mr. Libin said he hopes to see a jump in downloads. Both companies will share revenue from app downloads and Post-it sales as part of the partnership.

Companies that have been slow to adapt to the digital age, like wristwatch makers and point-and-shoot camera manufacturers have seen their sales slide. Just this month, Samsung Electronics Co. introduced a computerized wristwatch that, you guessed it, also takes photographs.

Unilever systématise la co-création

Unilever systématise la co-création.


Unilever systématise la co-création

Les clients n’ont pas qu’un avis, ils ont aussi des idées. Unilever est bien décidé à en systématiser la collecte pour l’aider à innover. Pour ce faire, il a signé un accord-cadre avec la plate-forme en ligne d’Eyeka, une start-up française qui fédère, dans 150 pays, quelque 250 000 membres prêts à participer à des concours de créativité. Les services marketing du groupe américain, en Asie-Pacifique (Chine, Japon, Australie), au Moyen-Orient, en Russie et en Afrique, pourront ainsi remonter plus facilement des idées de packaging, d’usages, voire de nouveaux produits, via la plate-forme. Les participants au concours envoient leurs créations sous forme visuelle (dessin, vidéo, animation…).

Les meilleurs projets sont récompensés. Une méthode éprouvée. Unilever a déjà mené une trentaine de projets de co-création avec Eyeka, pour 16 marques, dont Clear, CloseUp, Comfort, Lipton, Lux ou Pond’s. “Le rôle des marketeurs s’apparente à celui des magiciens : surprendre les consommateurs avec des idées innovantes et des produits qui les enthousiasment. Le fait d’inviter les consommateurs les plus créatifs à contribuer à cette démarche force Unilever à se réinventer constamment”, explique Rahul Welde, le vice-président média d’Unilever pour l’Asie, l’Afrique, le Moyen-Orient et la Turquie. C’est lui qui a décidé de systématiser l’usage de la plate-forme. Une première dans ce domaine. Et une consécration pour Eyeka, une entreprise de 35 personnes qui revendique plus de 500 concours pour 40 des 100 plus grandes marques mondiales.

Schweppes, une saga maitrisée depuis 230 ans, Actualités

Schweppes, une saga maitrisée depuis 230 ans, Actualités.


DR

DR

Quel est le point commun entre un horloger allemand installé en Suisse et des noctambules cannois ? Schweppes ! C’est Johann Jacob Schweppe – sans s – qui a donné son nom à la célèbre boisson. Et c’est La Villa Schweppes, un concept ultrabranché sur l’univers de la nuit, qui a invité cette année les festivaliers à danser électro, rock ou folk sur la Croisette lors du Festival. What did you expect ? Vous vous attendiez à quoi ?. Entre l’univers réglé comme un coucou du premier et le côté déjanté du second, il est vrai qu’on pourrait s’attendre à une certaine incompatibilité d’humeur. Il n’en est rien, et si grand écart il y a, il n’est que temporel. Car Schweppes est originellement révolutionnaire à plus d’un titre. Un : c’est en 1783 que Johann Jacob brevette un procédé innovant pour dissoudre du dioxyde de carbone dans l’eau. Bref, pour fabriquer de l’eau gazeuse artificielle. Deux : c’est pour échapper à une Europe troublée qu’il émigre à Londres, en 1790. Trois : ce sont des aristocrates ayant fui la Révolution qui lancent ce « soda water » à la conquête de la Grande-Bretagne et en façonnent l’image. Au passage, Johann Jacob Schweppe aura réussi là où John Pemberton, l’inventeur du Coca-Cola aura échoué : faire de son nom la marque d’une boisson gazeuse vendue dans le monde entier et en grands volumes sans galvauder ses codes initiaux.

L’Indian Tonic, dopé à la quinine, est né aux Indes

Positionnée dès l’origine comme la boisson de la gentry anglaise, Schweppes a acquis ses lettres de noblesse, au sens strict, en s’imposant comme fournisseur officiel des altesses royales britanniques. Boisson des clubs anglais, elle conquiert les Indes avec eux, s’adaptant à ce marché en créant son fameux Indian Tonic, dopé à l’écorce de quinquina (dont on tire la quinine) pour lutter contre les fièvres ! Schweppes va cultiver sans relâche cet ADN de soft drink premium pour adultes, synonyme d’ambiance, de rencontres et de cocktails, en ciblant sa communication sur les 25-35 ans. Aujourd’hui, le site villa-schweppes.com, dédié aux noctambules, recense les soirées du tout-Paris, relaie des concerts, propose sa playlist… Même lorsqu’au début des années 80 apparaît une gamme de saveurs fruitées, sans amertume, il s’agit seulement de rajeunir la cible, sans en changer. Plus récemment, avec les très glamour actrices Nicole Kidman puis Uma Thurman, c’est carrément la sophistication du luxe et de la cosmétique qui est exploitée dans les spots publicitaires. Et ça cartonne ! En France, plus de 100 millions de litres ont été vendus en 2012 dont 75%… dans la grande distribution, assure Stanislas de Parcevaux, le directeur marketing d’Orangina-Schweppes, filiale du géant japonais Suntory. Le breuvage est classé troisième soft drink derrière Coca-Cola Regular et Oasis dans l’Hexagone. Et annonce une croissance de 6,1% fin mars, dans un marché en baisse de 3%.

 

LES RAISONS DU SUCCES
– Une marque forte développée depuis 230 ans
– Une image premium constamment réaffirmée
– Une cible « jeunes adultes branchés »
– Une innovation qui épouse l’évolution des goûts

Les Belges sont moins fidèles aux marques – lavenir.net

Les Belges sont moins fidèles aux marques – lavenir.net.

Les Belges changent souvent de marques. Seules quelques grandes marques nationales demeurent populaires avec les années, a-t-on appris mercredi dans les résultats de l’enquête European Trusted Brands 2013 menée par Reader’s Digest dans 12 pays européens dont la Belgique.

Dans le cadre de cette étude, 1.384 consommateurs belges ont été interrogés.

En Belgique, des marques nationales bien ancrées gardent toutefois la confiance des consommateurs. «Une grande partie de la population belge confie son argent à BNP Paribas Fortis (21,2%) depuis des années, fait ses courses chez Colruyt (30,9%) et boit de la bière Jupiler (37,6%)», explique Marco van Hierden, chercheur pour Reader’s Digest.

Dans la catégorie des assurances, la compagnie belge Ethias reste la plus populaire (23%). Nokia (51,5%) et Samsung (26,3%) donnent le ton pour ce qui concerne les téléphones mobiles. «Je suis étonné que Nokia soit toujours la marque de téléphone portable le plus populaire», dit Steven Van Belleghem, chasseur de tendances en marketing. «Nokia prend du retard dans la révolution qui mène du téléphone portable au smartphone. Samsung, en revanche, a prouvé qu’il évolue avec son temps en proposant rapidement des produits nouveaux, plaisants et de qualité, qui de plus sont abordables».

Dans la catégorie des tours-operators, Jetair occupe la première place avec 23,7%. Neckermann perd son leadership et suit avec 23,5%. Pour les meubles, Ikea arrive largement en tête (45%) en terme de popularité. La chaîne belge Weba est très loin à 4% de popularité.

Les grands perdants sont Shell (de 17% en 2012 à 9,1% en 2013), dépassé par la chaîne DATS en 2013 et Telenet (de 38 à 33,8%) devancé cette année par Belgacom (43%). Dans la catégorie automobile, Volkswagen prend la tête devant Citroën et Toyota.

Cet été, Coca-Cola personnalisera les canettes des Belges | Geeko

Cet été, Coca-Cola personnalisera les canettes des Belges | Geeko.

Cet été, Coca-Cola personnalisera les canettes des Belges

Coca-Cola lance une opération séduction en Belgique, qui devrait faire beaucoup de bruit… Par le biais de son site ShareACoke, la multinationale propose aux internautes de personnaliser leur bouteille de soda. Cet été, Coca-Cola lancera également la plus grande campagne estivale de l’Histoire…

coca

Cet été, Coca-Cola remplacera son logo par les 150 prénoms belges les plus courants. De Laura à Thomas, en passant par Adrien, Coca-Cola mettra à l’honneur les prénoms les plus populaires de notre beau royaume.

Sur le site ShareACoke, les internautes pourront également personnaliser leur canette virtuelle en y apposant leur prénom, pour les partager ensuite sur les réseaux sociaux.

Les personnes qui souhaitent disposer de leur propre canette personnalisée pourront également utiliser l’un des distributeurs spéciaux qui sillonneront le pays jusqu’à la fin août.

Dans la longue histoire de notre marque, c’est la première fois que nous remplaçons le logo Coca-Cola mondialement connu sur les conditionnements” explique Gaëtan Van de Populiere, Marketing Director Belgium & Luxembourg. “Les consommateurs n’ont encore jamais été impliqués d’aussi près dans notre marque. Cette campagne s’appliquera à presque tous nos produits, tous nos points de vente et tous nos canaux de communication. Jamais auparavant, nous n’avions lancé une initiative d’une telle ampleur.”

Lifestyle-tracking devices for your health, home and happiness | Media Network | Guardian Professional

Lifestyle-tracking devices for your health, home and happiness | Media Network | Guardian Professional.

 

connected health fitness devices

Companies try to make health and fitness gadgets smarter through embedded tech such as sensors, trackers and cameras. Photograph: Frank Franklini/AP

Imagine if your earphones not only let you listen to music but also monitored your heart rate and pace and alerted you to when it was time to slow down. What if your watch could count the calories you burned during the day and your sleep cycle at night. Would you like your refrigerator to notify you when your food is past its expiration date and when and where to go shopping, even providing specific savings on the food items you normally buy?

At the consumer electronics show this year in Las Vegas, I saw first-hand how different companies such as PerformtekNikeFitbitWithingsand LG, are working to make the objects that surround you and the clothing you wear smarter through embedded technology such as sensors, trackers and cameras.

According to ABI Research, the total number of wearable devices with fitness and wellness applications in 2012 was 30m, a 37% growth from 2011. The market is expected to grow at an average rate of 41% per year, leading to 169.5m devices shipped in 2017.

While the bulk of these will be in consumer-oriented sports, fitness, and wellness market, wearable devices will increasingly be used for home monitoring and healthcare service applications as well.

By connecting everyday objects to the internet, personal devices such as watches, shoes, phones, and home appliances such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, TVs, or cars can access, share and store data related to the person or groups of people using the device.

Once the data is tracked, people can go online or look at any digital screen and view charts, graphs and numbers that relate to their specific performance or activities, whether it is running, bicycling, walking, eating or simply sleeping.

“Life tracking” or “self tracking” is the term that has emerged as a catchall phrase for using these different devices and connected technologies to monitor, track and optimise everything in daily life. Through automated analysis and personalised feedback and tips, people can learn how to be healthier (record the foods they eat and the calories they burn), save money (monitor what they spend by category type and time) and manage their homes better (control power systems such as heating, lights and air conditioning remotely)

What is exciting about these new products is that technology is not the detractor to an active lifestyle (ie, responsible for kids staying indoors at home on Xbox rather than actively playing sports outside with other kids), but a motivator for a more active and social lifestyle. With these new health devices such as Nike’s FuelBand or Fit Bit, people are encouraged to share their achievements and progress with friends, and win points for outscoring others. Many marketers refer to the notion of incorporating gaming elements into products or services to drive more usage and reward loyal customers as “gamification”. According to Gartner, by 2015, more than 50% of organisations will gamify their innovation processes.

So, the big question is do you really need to be buying all these new health tracking devices and connected home appliances? Will these smart products help you be healthier, happier and more productive?

Just last month, Pew Research reported that one in five smartphone owners in the US has downloaded an application to track or manage their health. Furthermore, according to the report, 46% of health trackers said that this activity changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone for whom they provide care.

However, despite these proven benefits, a large percentage of the US and global population may not be fully ready to embrace this trend of life tracking and wearable computing devices. For many people, privacy issues and the misuse of personal data is a big concern.

There is an omnipresent source of apprehension among consumers as digital tracking across all media becomes more commonplace.

Privacy concerns in today’s environment are of course understandable, and as smart and sensible consumers we must be cautious to safeguard personal information. However, an interesting aspect to note around this movement of life tracking and the “quantified self” is that in these scenarios people are taking ownership over their data and making best use of their personal information.

In fact, the idea of empowering oneself through data has evolved into a movement over the past years called the “quantified self”, to describe the efforts of people to use technology to record, track and monitor quantifiable actions, such as the food they consume, their moods and physical performance.

For companies and brands seeking to differentiate in competitive and commoditised markets, there is tremendous growing opportunity to provide more value to consumers beyond the product. What brand doesn’t want to become the hero, to help consumers set and achieve their goals, whether it is to lose weight, save money or be more productive?

By providing the technology and devices to enable consumers to connect products with performance and measurable progress for themselves, brands become more meaningful to people’s day-to-day lives. This holds true for companies in every category – from health and fitness, to food, retail, finance, travel, home, communications, education and beyond.

Rori DuBoff is senior vice-president and director of global strategy forHavas Media.

 

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11 Big Tech Trends You’ll See in 2013

11 Big Tech Trends You’ll See in 2013.

Writing prediction pieces is a funny thing because there is really no such thing as “next year.” Time is a continuum, and the calendar is a human construct designed to help us keep organized. Things that will happen “next year” are already happening now, we may simply not take note of them until the sun rises and sets dozens and dozens of times.

So as I look to 2013, I realize that much of which I expect to see in the coming 12-to-14 months has been quietly (or not so quietly) developing for months, even years. From my point of view, it’s unlikely 2013 will contain any revolutionary or ground-breaking advancements in technology, social media or even the nexus of the two. Believe me, I want breakthroughs. But in order for them to be such, they have to be things I’ve never seen before, which means I have little chance of predicting them. Let’s be honest, I’m no Nostradamus.

On the other hand, I can tell you about the trends that will make a difference “next year.” If you’ve been paying attention you may already know what they are.

1. Second-Screen Revolution

Second Screen

Photo by Nina Frazier

Here are some stats for you:

  • More than 80% of smartphone and tablet owners use these devices while watching TV.

  • At least 25% of U.S. smartphone and tablet users use the devices while watching TV multiple times per day.

  • 51% of those who post on social media while watching TV do so to connect with others who might also be watching the same thing.

  • 24% of Facebook users report posting about the movie they’re watching (in the theater!).

In other words, the Second Screen has arrived, but the revolution awaits us. In 2013, brands, media companies and marketers are going to get far more aggressive and inventive when it comes to second-screen engagement. During a recent panel I moderated for Viacom’s integrated marketing group, Mondelez’s (a Kraft spinoff) VP of Global Media Bonin Bough reported engagement is far stronger for second-screen integrated marketing programs than for traditional online brand advertising (read “banners”).

Marketers see blood in the water, and in 2013 they will release the sharks.

This is not a bad thing, but the old days of getting the full entertainment experience on screen 1 (TV, movies) is quickly coming to an end. Companies will expect you to watch their shows and see their product pitches with smartphone in hand and tablet (still usually the iPad) on your lap.

Meanwhile, a legion of second-screen engagement enablers like Shazam,Zeebox (both of which were on my panel), Viggle and GetGlue are lining up to help you connect big-screen consumption with small-screen activities.

Their goal will be not only to enrich your viewing experience, but to also extend the consumer connection as you turn off the TV and walk out the door with your smartphone in your pocket. Twenty-four-seven entertainment and branding will be the norm in 2013, though you won’t always be aware the connection between what you saw on your first and second screen at home and what your smartphone is telling you as you pass the local Wal-Mart.

2. Big Data

Big Data

Image via iStockphoto, Nikada

Part of the solution of that puzzle will be data—whole bunches of it.

Thanks to the Internet and our ubiquitous, always-with-us and always-on smartphones, companies are capturing mountains of data about us. And 2013 is the year they finally figure out what to do with it.

One reason companies and marketers will more readily embrace big data is because they’re finally starting to trust it. The 2012 Presidential Election was a validation of data over guesswork. This may lead people to think that is that somewhat vertical (politics) set of data can be so telling, what can all the socio-demographic-geographic-activity data they’re grabbing now tell them.

In 2013, we’ll see the fruits of that data: targeted information on all channels, new discoveries that impact all walks of life based on deep data dives. We’ll have better products, sharper and more insightful predictions (on future elections, weather; basic needs like food, water, shelter and energy). We’ll also see the rise of the Data Scientist.

At this year’s Technomy in Tucson, Ariz., Annika Jiminez, senior director of Data Science at Greenplum, described the role and requirements for new Data Scientists. She explained that they have to be more than smart statisticians.

“They must have very strong programming skills and foundational statistical chops and communication skills.” That last skill will be critical because for all the support there is for the rise of Big Data, many companies still don’t get it. The Data Scientist has to be the cheerleader.

The best of these scientists will “optimize, predict, score and forecast” and, in the process, change our world.

3. End of Anonymous Trolls

Trolls

Image via iStockphoto, essem.W

There is a growing tension between what the ever-watchful eye of the Internet and its big data vacuum know about us and people’s desire to remain anonymous. I have no issue with people who seek to protect their privacy on social media (though this is a fool’s game—nothing is ever truly private on social media). But I have no love for people who use the cloak of anonymity as a shield from behind which they can toss Molotov cocktails of venom and malice into people’s lives and the public discourse.

In 2012, Reddit’s most popular and prolific troll was shoved out into the spotlight and forced to own up to the horrible things he had been curating/promoting on the so-called homepage of the web. He cried free speech—as did his supporters—but I think the message was clear: Trolls can’t hide forever. In 2013, I expect that role to slowly fade away.

There will still be people using nom de plumes, but the trend is definitely shifting toward personal branding. And it’s hard to brand, “HappyBoy46.” Digital natives who have grown up with the Internet actively seek to build personal brands and are learning some hard lessons about the persistence of embarrassing online acts in the process.

In 2013, we will see a flood of young people entering the online stage with a fresh perspective on branding on online discourse. It will not be cool to make up a fake names, use other people’s photos as your avatar, lie about who you are and anonymously attack others online. We might also call this time the Dawn of the Age of the End of Bullies. There have been too many sad stories about young people being driven to or near suicide by the callous and almost always semi-anonymous online actions of others.

In short, 2013 will be time to clean house. Watch it happen with me.

4. End of Privacy

Privacy

Image via iStockphoto, stocknshares

Concurrent with the end of anonymity will, obviously, be the end of privacy. As I noted above, people can try to keep only activities private and hide much of who they are, where they live, what they do and so on from the world, but every action they take will belie it. Constant data collection, ever-growing number of services that ask you to share something about yourself and a generation of users who don’t care about privacy will change how many of us think, feel and act about our own personal, digital space.

If you don’t believe me, just ask David Patraeus. He thought Google Gmail’s Draft folder would protect his privacy. Not so much.

In 2013, consumers will spend more time cleaning house, assuming that whatever they have posted on social media, what they consume and where they go will be public info — unless they actively seek to keep it out of the digital domain. Perhaps 2013 will see the rise of digital-jamming tools — software and hardware that acts a bit like “incognito mode” in Google Chrome. Not only can your own hardware not see where you are or what you’re doing, but third-party sensors are rendered unable to see you as well.

5. Rise of Reporting

Reporting

Image via iStockphoto, shaunl

Too many reporters and sites got burned in 2012 by re-reporting or over-trusting so-called “known sources” (Google: We Did Not Acquire ICOANASA Confirms: No Major Discovery in Curiosity’s Mars Soil Sample). More media companies will rely on their own original reporting and those on social media may hesitate for one extra second before hitting Like, share and retweet.

Expect 2013 to be filled with a lot more long reads, real investigative reporting and fewer digital mea culpas.

6. Official Death of Desktops

Desktop

Image via Flickr, Hannaford

The Window 8 launch event in New York City sticks in my mind for two reasons: 1) The amazing mirror-like setup of 200-or-so Surface tablets; and 2) The utter lack of traditional desktop computers running Windows 8. To demonstrate the new OS, Microsoft pulled together and impressive array of system. But while there were tons of laptops and tablets and even a handful of All-in-One PCs (a screen that’s also a computer), I did not see a single traditional box.

Sales of desktop computers have been steadily falling since 2006 (when the Consumer Electronics Association reported them at a high of 8.9 billion unitsin the U.S), and laptops officially surpassed desktops in 2008.

Now, however, PC sales are in an all-out tailspin. One report suggests that they won’t turn around for years (if ever). All-in-ones, like the kind I saw at the Windows 8 event, may grow a bit. But I’d say the writing is on the wall: In 2013, we will bury the box PC (at least in the U.S. consumer market) for good. Considering most of us no longer burn CDs, install software from discs, I doubt many people will miss them.

7. 3D Printing

Photo by Nina Frazier

It moved into the home and retail stories this year and will explode in 2013 as the initial $2,000 price of owning a home 3D printer tumbles.

It’s true, consumers may not yet fully understand 3D printing, but the companies they know and love surely get it. In 2012, Staples announced plans to add 3D-printing services to a handful of European outlets and will expand to other countries in short order. When consumers see a 3D printer next to tall stacks of bright-white printing paper, they may start to wonder what all the 3D hype is about.

Concurrently, there will be more and more stories of 3D printing in our everyday lives and industries: at doctors’ offices, in hospitals, even at the local auto mechanic.

In 2013, I expect to see a lot more 3D-printer hardware and services competition and possibly even the first 3D-toy printer (are you listening Hasbro?).

8. Flexible Devices

Flexible

Image via iStockphoto, klgoh

When it comes to TV, computer, tablets and phone screens, I’m pretty sure we can’t get any thinner. On the other hand, 2013 could be the year of the flexible display—and possibly flexible computer. By year’s end, we should at least see a bendable phone (hard-ish rubber body, flexible display, plastic screen cover). The only question is which company — Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC — will deliver it first.

There’s also an off chance that we’ll see the first flexible HDTV (hang it on the wall, or roll it up and move it to another room).

9. Embedded Technology

Embedded

Image via iStockphoto, Grzegorz Slemp

NFC may not have made it to the iPhone 5, and some consumers remainconfounded by it, but traditional objects with some smarts built in will happen (in fact, it already is). I predict a whole class of household products that offer instructions when you tap your NFC-enabled tablet or phone (but not your iPhone!) on them and their own embedded NFC chips.

Embedded technology will also show up where you least expect it: utility poles, door handles, sidewalks, you name it. Any place they can jam a sensor to capture — you guessed it — data, or let you quickly gain information about location, situational awareness, there will be embedded technology.

Also, 2013 might also be the year we see a lot more people get technology embedded in them. I’m on the fence, though, about just how big a trend this will be.

10. Crowdfunding Mania

Three years after Kickstarter launched, 2012 became the proving grounds for a host of new crowdfunding platforms, including Indiegogo (which actually launched in 2008), iCrowd and SmallKnot. Companiessmall businesses andindividuals are all finding success and funding, which will lead to an explosion of crowdfunding startups in 2013.

By the end of the year, the market will be saturated and returns will have diminished. I don’t think 2013 marks the end of the crowdfunding craze. But, as more people realize that you do not always get a comparable turn on investment (these are often risky, high-concept projects, after all), we will see compression by 2014.

11. Robots Rise

Robots Rise

Image via Flickr, randychiu

The consumer robotics space has been pretty quiet for the last five years, but I think that’s all about to change.

Robot wizard Rodney Brooks, whose Rethink Robotics recently unveiled the remarkable Baxter, now thinks we’ll see more powerful in-home robots in just a few years. I expect there could be a surprise or two in the home-robot-companion space, either from a company we know, like Wow Wee or iRobot, (which is doing some awesome research), Honda, Toyota. Or perhaps it will be an Asia Pacific firm we’ve never heard of.

Those are the big trends, but there are sure to be many other ones that are smaller, but just as interesting. How do you think 2013 will shape up? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Homepage Photo by Nina Frazier

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