Sunday, January 16, 2011

Checking into to Hauling

In this month's edition of UK Wired magazine, there is a fascinating article called "Commerce Gets Social - How Your Networks Are Driving What You Buy". The piece looks at different ways innovators and consumers are sharing their purchasing data. From Blippy - a site that lets you share your purchases and see what your friends are buying online, to Groupon - a location-orientated deal-of-the-day site, the race, according to Wired, "is on to monetise the social graph".

Furthermore, and in a move that made me feel like the Winklevoss twins to Wired's Zuckerberg, the piece went on to mention the phenomenon for "hauling". In low-fi YouTube videos, girls share their latest purchase, or hauls, with the world. Stars of hauling have earnt hundreds of thousands of views and lucrative promotional deals. Not so low-fi now.

History tells us that technological advancement and consumer behaviour will continue to evolve. So, can we hypothesise on a potential future based on the evidence around us? We are already hardened "We Live Like This" consumers - surrounding ourselves with the brands, products, services and content which seem best to convey who we are and what we like. This brand-orientated peacocking while pretty normal to us, is instinctive to the digital generation. The 'Like' button is testament to that. Combine this with the new behaviour of "checking in" and something interesting presents itself.

In 2010 alone we went from tentatively checking in to locations on Foursquare in January, to happily checking in to TV shows on Get Glue in December. The fast pace of technology is shortening the distance between the absurd and the mundane. So, what if we can start 'checking in' to products? What if "hauling" goes beyond bedroom videos and onto the highstreet? The scope is huge - from checking in to a new purchase to detailing entire outfit.

So, what data sets could we be sharing with our friends, our network and the brands themselves?
Our username
Our location (place and time)
Our context (captions and comments)
Our spending habits (how much we spent, what partner brands we are pairing alongside)
And the exact moment all the brand's marketing efforts translate into a purchase. That's kind of exciting.

Struggling within the confines of "You are not "creative" therefore you may not have In Design installed" as set by the MB IT department, I have attempted to visualise how this future might look. See below.

Maybe checking it to all this data will prove too much. Maybe registering our every move will render us stationary, but - as Wired states - "The new generation want to scream from the mountaintops what they've bought, and to the largest audience" this hypothesis may not be too far from the truth. Time will tell.