Joan Hamburg of WOR radio interviewed Faith Popcorn of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve to get her perspective on Amazon’s purchase of Wholefoods for $13 billion. In a wide-ranging conversation about the shape of the future, Faith shared her perspective on which consumer trends are emerging and what tomorrow holds.
As Founder and CEO of Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, with a documented 95% accuracy rate in foreseeing the future, Faith is known for the innovative strategic work she and her team create for their Fortune 500 clients.
Faith has believed for decades that supermarkets will fall from favor. She sees Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods as ushering in a new era where fresh, beautiful, healthy food will be easily and available to all Americans. Amazon will sell everything from ingredients to prepared meals to the services of a person to come to your house and prepare a dinner party. The network of Whole Foods stores and their excellent food will be connected to Amazon’s superior delivery skills, ushering in a new era of curated, on-demand food.
The next step in this evolution will tap emerging technology. Faith shared with Joan that the Stentrode project is already underway, which involves putting a tiny bit of mesh into the human brain, and using this to connect our minds to the Internet. According to Faith, in the future you will just think, “I’d like some groceries delivered” – and they will arrive. No need to call anyone or order online. The transaction will be totally intuitive and seamless.
But we’re not there yet. Amazon is clearly already interested in being at the forefront of seamless transactions, with their Prime, Now and Dash services, and their explorations of next-generation bricks and mortar. Its recent test of a “frictionless”/no-checkout brick and mortar store in Seattle last winter was the first hint to a future with far fewer cashiers at retail locations worldwide. Could this recent acquisition point to a much sharper tipping point for the industry? Is this the beginning of the end for grocery and other big box retailers whose existence is rooted to the massive real estate upon which they rest? This is a vital step as we transition from the status quo to our tech-enabled, on-demand future. Faith foresees a future in which we move from our current stores to new intuitive ones to virtual ones – we’ll employ our Virtual Reality technology and shop in a universe of stores that are hosted in the cloud.
Faith also spoke with Joan about how this evolution of shopping will impact the work life of Americans. With on-demand services rising, and the consumer expecting customized, delivered items round the clock, a new kind of Gig Economy worker will emerge. Think of Uber drivers, earning money whenever they have time to hit the road. In the future, more and more people will take on “gigs” (without benefits) to earn income. According to Faith, it’s not uncommon for Millennials today to juggle 2-3 jobs simultaneously, and the average 26-year-old has already held about seven jobs. In the future, this will accelerate to people having six or seven part-time jobs. Doing food prep at Amazon—or programming a drone to deliver a meal – may well be one of them.
This new lifestyle – even though our every wish will be gratified in a nano-second – won’t be easy. Faith pointed out that consumers are increasingly stressed. In fact, as much as depression defined the 90s, anxiety will mark the era we are now entering. She predicted that as marijuana and other mind-altering substances and practices become more accepted in America, we’ll learn to manage our stress. Having recently attended the Cannabis Expo in New York, Faith says that it’s clear a huge cannabis marketing revolution is afoot, as various strains and products make their way into the retail landscape. It’s intriguing to notice that as demanding as our future may be, expressed in the 99Lives trend, in which the pace of life continues to accelerate, the solution may be an ancient one, a plant that has soothed people for eons – evidence of the Anchoring, or return to tradition Trend.
Listen to this wide-ranging conversation and you’ll learn how deeply the nature of the consumer landscape is shifting.