Have you ever wonder how life in a near future will be? and what would be the impact on the way marketing is performed?. These questions are fundamental in order to prepare and evolve in knowledge, understanding, readiness and at the same time processing. In fact, we haven't even notice but dramatic changes are happening in consumers bechaviors that will radically impact the way we currently do things in business. Marketing, is about finding consumer needs and providing them with solutions, what if you will have an intermediary that will provide those solutions or identify does needs before you reach your consumer.
Robots are coming and are coming faster that we have perceived them. There are plenty of current interactions with robots already happening around the world, that we haven't notice because the image we have of robots in our mind. For example, lets start with a country I had the opportunity to live for over 3 years. Japan is home to the longest living citizens on earth and has already the biggest elderly population of any country and is not getting any younger. Between 2010 and 2025, the number of Japanese citizens that will be 65 years or older is expected to increase. Today, 25% of japan population is age 65 or older. By 2020, this is projected to increase to 29% and reach almost 40% by 2050. Moreover, Japan culture is very strong and they like to keep it that way, they have very strict immigration policies. Therefore, all these elderly long living will require caretakers, since population is decreasing due to the low birthrates. So what Japan is doing is welcoming Robots. The future caretakers are being develop in a factory. Toyota is developing Robina and Honda is manufacturing Asimo (picture).
Numerous Japanese companies are challenging big players like Toyota and Honda. Tokai Rubber Industries with RIKEN are developing RIBA. Japanese automation industry call AIST created PARO with resembles many real behaviours as a pet. There are 5 countries that are leading the robotics landscape, Japan, USA, Germany, South Korea and China. Taking all these into consideration, how fast would the rest of the countries would adopt these technologies and follow these leading economies is a matter of years.
There are many companies that are entering this industry to pioneer the development. Google is one example. Google bought Boston Dynamics, leading robot design company and DeepMind which is a leading artificial intelligence company. Other companies compiting are Kawasaki, Epson, Mitsubishi, Foxconn, Toshiba, Bosch, IBM, Hyundai, Amazon, Yamaha and Lego (yes! the Lego group). Robots are already playing a role in many industries and changing many jobs and roles for people. Today, I believe that the field of Robotics is comparable to the world we stood 20 years with the internet, so you could imagine that if we are moving faster today, it wouldn't take 20 years to have massive changes in peoples behaviours.
We are starting to see robots on self-driven cars, here consumers will have more time to consume and consider information. Manufacturing is the most common place to see robotic arms. In the medical application industry robotics are varied from assistance to micro movements support to surgeons. Education is also being changed, by sending a robot into a classroom for a children who can't attend and the robot performs as if she was sitting. If she has a question, she raises her hand and the robot will do the same, having full realtime interaction. NAO, french robotic company product, serves as a teaching assistance for science. Panasonic created a 24 finger hair-washing robot that is being tested in Japanese saloons. Waitress and waitresses are already being replace as test in many restaurants around the world, Robots take orders, serve customers and bus tables.
In conclusion, considering all these massive changes we will be having in a very near future, how marketing will have to change? Would we have to segments a new group of "consumers" that will decide for our current target. Lets say you have a robot-pet, that many people will. Who should be convinced for a specific offer, the Robot, that could convince the owner or the owner that will take the decision?. Something like our kids today. Moreover, what about having a conversation with your self driving car, would you believe and take a recommendation that the self driven car gives you, based on millions of other users?. On the medical side, would you believe to take a medicine that a robot-nurse is providing you, knowing that is owned by the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the medicine?. When in a restaurant, what about recommendations of waiters that talks like you, but has never tried the food or drink it is recommending. However, one thing is sure. Robots will come to change the way we live, think and behave and that will definitely will impact the way Marketing is performed.