Experience Management

6 of the best breakthroughs of 2019

From upsetting Wall Street to ethical eating – here are some of the best breakthrough brands of the past year...

Meat-free in the mainstream

Whether inspired by Netflix documentaries or by Climate Rebellion’s spotlight on the climate crisis, record numbers of people are embracing vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.

And the products are catching up. First there’s the specialist producers like Beyond Meat,  which expected to deliver $358m in revenue between 2019 and 2020 (its total revenue for 2018 was $87.9m!!).

Then there’s the big name brands like KFC which capitalized on the trend in 2019 buy adding their own vegan options to their menus.

Folding phones became a thing… kind of

Not since the Motorola clamshell phone 15 years ago have we been able to comfortably fold our phones in half and tuck them away in our pockets.

That is until 2019 when the folding phone came back.

There was the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, followed soon after by Motorola’s Razr 2019.

They’re not about to have Apple, Google, Huawei and co quaking in their boots just yet, but the impressive engineering feat provides a glimpse into the future — folding phones with more screen real estate without the extra heft in your pocket.

As the technology develops, expect to see them hit the mainstream, opening up more mobile gaming and video potential in the next 5 years.

Echo-just-about-everything — the Amazon landscape expands

It feels like we’ve been talking about smart homes for almost the last decade. And yes, once again 2019 was going to be the year of the smart home.

Okay, so we didn’t all suddenly dive in with both feet but there’s no escaping that smart home devices are big business — $23bn a year in fact, with an annual growth rate in the double digits.

And so 2019 was the year Amazon went BIG. We’re talking rings, clocks, earbuds, and even cookers all joining the Echo family in 2019, helping to bring the Amazon experience to just about every part of the home, and taking on Apple and Google at their own game by offering an entire ecosystem to make the smart home experience that much simpler for the end user.

Patagonia calls time on Wall Street’s branded vests

Few brands connect with their customers when it comes to their core values than Patagonia. And never has it showed more than in 2019 when Patagonia upset Wall Street workers by confirming it would no longer partner with financial services companies and tech firms.

Instead, Patagonia said it would focus on Certified B Corporations, charities and non-profits as it wanted to prioritize companies that put the planet first.

And oh, how Patagonia fans applauded!

The Apple + Google duopoly was broken

Okay, it’s Amazon again. But this time, it’s not just its product breakthroughs that stood out in 2019.

For more than a decade Apple and Google have been ranked as 1 and 2 in the world’s most valuable brands. Cue a 52% increase in Amazon’s brand value this year and the tech giant found itself as the world’s most valuable brand in 2019.

Meanwhile, the BrandZ rankings were also good news for luxury retailers, which also saw impressive growth as consumers dug deep into their pockets in search of more experiential purchases.

The explosion of subscription services

Remember when DVDs arrived in the mail, signaling the end of the video rental store? Well, they may have moved on to streaming now, but plenty of other industries have now followed in their footsteps with subscription services.

Want all your meals for the week delivered to your door, pre-prepared and ready to cook?

Or clothes for that party you’re going to but would never, ever spend that much for something you’ll only wear once?

Or how about make-up from the best independent brands on the market?

Or smoothies, ready-made with the perfect nutritional balance?

Or spin classes, delivered live on demand?

Just about anything can be packaged into a subscription service today.

According to McKinsey, the subscription box market is worth $10 billion in the US alone — and that’s before you count things like Amazon subscribe and save.

In 2019, big retail got involved too with the likes of Nike, Macy’s, Bloomingdale's, and Urban Outfitters all entering the market.

And while the rewards for those that get it right, the subscription box market is tough - with higher churn rates than other retail offerings, consumers are quick to cancel and switch to new providers that offer a better experience.

It all comes down to convenience, personalized experiences and being surprised and delighted, according to McKinsey’s research into the booming sector.

SAP + Qualtrics bring X and O together

In 2019, the world’s biggest X-data company (that’s us by the way!) and SAP, which handles around 70% of the world’s O Data came together as one company.

It’s all part of helping organizations around the world deliver breakthrough experiences that lead to breakthrough business results.

So here’s to 2020 and ALL the breakthrough experiences on the horizon.

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