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Imagining the Future of Consumer

The next era of the consumer sector will expand the possibilities of retail far beyond what we know today.

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By Nik Modi
Published August 16, 2022
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Key Points

  • The next era of the consumer sector will expand the possibilities of retail far beyond what we know today.
  • In tomorrow’s world, demand for companies to deliver customization and personalization at scale will be greater than ever.
  • The future of consumer will take place in a virtual 'meta' world, where virtual and augmented reality will create new, immersive customer experiences.
  • Traditional brands that succeeded for centuries in the physical world will face many challenges to stay top of mind with customers.

The pace of change in the Consumer industry is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Consider this. It took 46 years for electricity to get mass adoption. It took only two and a half years for the iPhone to receive similar status. As technology gets intertwined into more aspects of our daily life, this pace of change will only increase.

The next era of consumer will expand the possibilities of retail far beyond what we know today. The increased adoption of wearable devices that collect consumers vital signs like blood pressure, temperature, respiration activity, glucose levels, offers an opportunity for consumer companies to use the data collected for product development and to recommend products based on tracked vitals.

In the future, demand for companies to deliver customization and personalization at scale will be greater than ever. Over time, this technology and data will enable companies to create personalized solutions for consumers, such as specific meals customized for their unique gut biome.

Into The Metaverse

At the same, the future of consumer will also take place in a virtual “meta” world, where virtual and augmented reality will create new, immersive customer experiences. The consumer industry also needs to be ready for this metaverse of opportunities. Every sector is on the cusp of a multi-faceted transformation.

To be equipped for this hybrid future of hyper-personalized experiences, organizations must think ahead. As consumers and companies work to find their place in the metaverse, their future needs and behaviors will evolve and become more complex and unique.

And as consumers work to find their place in the metaverse, traditional brands that succeeded for centuries in the physical world will face many challenges to stay top of mind with customers. They will need to increase their reach in the virtual world while also rethinking their internal structures to adapt to a new working environment.

Reimagining The Future

While the future brings tremendous opportunities for growth for those companies that have vision, it will also come with risks.

Consumer companies will need to invest substantially in cyber security, AI and machine learning, diversifying their supply chains, even if it means near term margin pressure, and preparing their infrastructures to deal with extreme weather events.

As companies and investors work to manage the impact of multiple converging trends, our role as analysts is changing too. Increasingly, we’re looking beyond past performance and short-term outlooks, because it’s clear that what matters most lies further ahead. In an industry like consumer, those forces of change are becoming increasingly cross-sectoral, with ripple effects that will catalyze different ways of creating value.

RBC Imagine™ is a global research initiative that helps you see the change drivers of tomorrow to sharpen your business thinking today. This unique platform uncovers transformational trends that will reshape our world, pinpointing their impact on key industries. Learn more with our signature report, Preparing for Hyperdrive.

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Ongoing visibility into an ever-evolving future is critical. Explore the RBC Imagine™ Preparing for Hyperdrive executive summary now, and you’ll also receive updates and actionable insights to help bring the future into focus for your business and portfolio.