Dec 15, 2021
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Consumers expect hybrid 'phygital' malls says Ericsson trends report

Dec 15, 2021

Consumers expect hybrid malls that include “global experiences, interactions and social connections in a networked physical setting that is close to home” to become commonplace by the end of the decade, a new study claimed on Wednesday.


The latest Ericsson Ten Hot Consumer Trends report said AR glasses, waterproof VR glasses, haptic body suits and tactile gloves could all be part of consumers' gear when they visit malls in 2030.

It’s predicting that a hybrid mix of connectivity-enabled technology, integrated into real physical environments to enhance shopping and buying experiences will be in demand by consumers as the 2030s begin. That could mean virtual beauty treatments and changing room avatars.

That conclusion is based on the views of millions of early technology adopters globally with respondents asked to evaluate 15 hybrid shopping mall facilities that extend the physical consumer experience using digital technology. 

Almost four-in-five respondents believe that all 15 tested concepts will be available in some form by 2030.

Such ‘bricks-and-portal’ facilities “will be enabled by technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and programmable materials”, the report said.

Dr Michael Björn, Head of Research Agenda, Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab, said: “On the one hand it may be difficult to imagine large numbers of consumers with expensive tech gear such as AR glasses, waterproof VR glasses, haptic body suits, tactile gloves and more at massive scale by 2030. Yet, on the other hand, if such equipment could be shared at lower cost it is definitely possible that large numbers of consumers will have it to enhance everyday shopping mall experiences.

“In fact, 35% of surveyed consumers think shopping malls are more likely to feature next-generation technology than homes, compared to just 14% who disagree. Shopping malls have long been high-tech focal points, with many featuring cinemas, game arcades, concert halls, bowling alleys and more. They will likely continue to play that role.”

He also said the report highlights the consumer belief that hybrid malls “could positively and sustainably contribute to local life”. That's something that's becoming increasingly important generally as far as shopping centres are concerned with more and more news stories detailing how such centres are being transformed post-pandemic to better reflect the communities they serve.

“If anything, the future might be increasingly localised, with 32 percent of respondents agreeing that high-tech shopping malls will make moving to small towns and rural areas more feasible and attractive — and just 13% disagreeing with this”, Björn added.

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