How Marketing Changes When Shopping Is Automated

by MR Magazine Staff

Much of marketing is premised on companies delivering messages to customers to influence their purchases and consumption. Indeed, the largest advertisers in the world are companies such as Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, and Unilever, which sell branded low-involvement products that are routinely purchased and consumed at a regular pace. The purpose of much of the tens of billions of dollars they spend on advertising is to remind consumers to pick up their laundry detergent, soup, coffee, yogurt, or pet food on their next shopping trip. But within a few years, this model of marketing, advertising, and shopping will become obsolete. The beginnings of this are already evident in Amazon’s Dash buttons, which are making routine purchases simpler and even more routine. Pretty soon Amazon and other retailers will know customers’ habits well enough to mail (or drone) them the 200 or so products they regularly consume, based on when the retailers’ algorithms believe they require replenishment. Not long after that, smart closets and refrigerators in the home will place orders directly with the retailers’ algorithms, sparing the consumer the need to prepare shopping lists, remember which products to buy, and go to the trouble of doing routine shopping. Products will flow to the household like a utility, as electricity and water do. For many products, the shopper will be a bot, leaving customers with the sole task of consumption. Read more at Harvard Business Review.