Lab Weekly - 03/18/2022
The future of the experience economy; News on AI-aided ecommerce, video games for health care, and more, plus the latest stats!
Welcome back to a new edition of Lab Weekly. This week, we investigate the future of fun, aka the leisure experience industry. In particular, service brands and experience providers can carve a path forward by embracing three key trends: frictionless discovery & ticketing, hybrid presence, and post-event engagement. As usual, a roundup of this week’s most interesting news stories in media and innovation follow the original articles. Let’s dive in!
People are ready to return to revelry, but the experience economy is still in flux. Here is how service brands can find a path forward through frictionless discovery, hybrid presence, and post-event engagement.
In case you missed it…
Can the subscription model work for service-oriented brands? Many across the travel, healthcare, and QSR industries are experimenting to find out, revealing a new dynamic of customer relationships and how brands can leverage it build loyalty
Insurance brands should leverage IoT data to expand usage-based insurance, while also exploring the opportunities that web3 technologies may unlock
From in-game experiences to connected communities, brands should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each emerging option as they prepare to enter the metaverse.
Walmart Announces "Choose My Model" Shopping Mode [TechCrunch]
As a cool example of using AI tools to add more personalization to the online shopping experience, Walmart’s new “Choose My Model” feature, accessible in both the retailer’s website and mobile apps, allows a shopper to pick a person who resembles their height, shape and skin tone. The feature, powered by computer vision and AI tech that Walmart acquired from Zeekit, a virtual fitting room startup it acquired last year, promises to show shoppers how they would look in an item by way of a simulation that takes into account body dimensions, fit, size and even the fabric of the garment itself.
While AR try-on tools have been adopted by most beauty brands into their ecommerce stack, it is interesting to see Walmart take an alternative approach to virtual try-on by mapping clothing to different body types in realistic renderings. The next natural step would be to extend AR try-on to full-body views for apparel, but before the technology can get there, Walmart’s approach here is a respectable stepping stone.
New Video Game Company Aims To Develop Therapeutic Games [The Verge]
DeepWell is a new gaming startup that aims to create games that can treat mental illness. According to the company’s co-founder Mike Wilson, the company’s first game will be designed to treat depression, anxiety, and hypertension.The goal is to expand the use cases of video games by creating medically beneficial games and getting FDA approval for them as over-the-counter treatments.
Health and gaming have been converging for some time, as researchers recognize the benefits afforded by interactive entertainment. Immersive therapy through VR experiences have been developed to treat PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Certain “brain games” that focus on logic and memory have been used to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. With gyms and fitness classes shifting to the digital channels, increased gamification is also introduced into the exercises to keep people engaged. As gaming’s cultural influence continues to grow, don’t be too surprised when one day soon healthcare brands find themselves in need of a gaming strategy beyond marketing purposes.
Amazon Completes Its $8.45 Billion Takeover Of MGM [Engadget]
Amazon has officially closed its acquisition of MGM, as the ecommerce giant is expected to absorb the famed Hollywood legacy studio’s entire content catalog, which includes the James Bond franchise, into Prime Video. No words yet on the fate of Epix, the pay-TV and streaming service owned by MGM. With Amazon hosting its own premium streaming service in Prime Video, as well as a free, ad-supported service in IMDb TV, it is unclear if Epix is still necessary as a channel. Perhaps its distribution deals with cable and satellite operators could stop it from being eliminated immediately, but in the long run, it’s likely a goner.
Last April, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared that “as Prime Video turns 10, over 175 million Prime members have streamed shows and movies in the past year, and streaming hours are up more than 70 percent year-over-year.” With HBO Max and Discovery Plus are set to be merged into one combined service once Discovery and WarnerMedia have merged into Warner Bros. Discovery, and Paramount (neé ViacomCBS) are set to incorporate Showtime content into Paramount+, Amazon’s content arsenal replenishment comes at just the right time. As the streaming wars continue to escalate, expect to see more content partnerships and M&A moves.
Beyond the obvious content angle, I am also interested in seeing if Amazon can build its own IP flywheel a la Disney by leveraging its ecommerce and logistics capabilities to build out merchandise and other IP-powered commercial opportunities. Given Amazon’s rather distributed organizational structure, plus the adult-learning nature of MGM’s IP slate, this seems not particularly likely to materialize. But wouldn’t it be cool to order the martini shaker featured in the next Bond film with just one click in Prime Video?
The global streaming and theatrical movie market raked in nearly a combined total of $99.7 billion in 2021, eclipsing pre-pandemic sales. In 2021, the digital movie market accounted for 72% of the combined theatrical and home/mobile entertainment market, compared to 46% in 2019, according to the annual report from the Motion Picture Association.
The report has also found that in 2021, subscriptions to streaming services, which jumped 14% in 2020, reached a global total of 1.3 billion, a new record high. In the U.S., the estimated number of films that debuted online exclusively was 179, up from 113 in 2019.
The consumer backlash against social media is affecting their perception of social media advertising, according to CheetahDigital’s 2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index. 79% of respondents said they’d rather brands invest in loyalty programs than social media marketing. In particular, 63% of respondents would like to buy from brands that do not advertise on Facebook, a clear sign Facebook and Meta’s series of privacy and political mishaps affect advertisers.
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