POV: SXSW 2015 Preview

Mindshare Point of View                                                   

The upcoming South-by-South West Interactive (SXSW) conference is known for highlighting the latest and greatest in technological and digital innovation. Thirty thousand attendees will congregate in Austin, Texas from March 13-17 for presentations, panels, keynote speakers, and networking events, as well as a Gaming Expo, Trade Show, and Startup Accelerator. Now in its 22nd year, SXSW has become a leading incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity. 

What we expect to see…

Digital data usage:   There’s a fine line between using data smartly and creeping your customers out.  One of this year’s themes will be the “schizophrenia” inherent in the relationship between consumers and big data: wanting companies to use their data to help them navigate and provide a personalized experience, while also keeping their distance just enough to make them feel safe. 

The evolution of shopping and eCommerce:  The retail industry has a lot of catching up to do. There’s a number of sessions that will examine the new generation of retail innovators that have entered the picture, and how they’re completely changing the way consumers think about shopping. Companies like Birchbox, Rent the Runway, and more are actually changing the purchase journey itself, by gamifying shopping, enabling virtual experiences, and creating new, unique business models.   

The impact of mobile technology: Inevitably discussions on eCommerce also turn to mobile -   how it’s changing purchase behavior, and how retailers are using it to capture consumers’ attention.  The power of mobile payments, location services, and beacon technology has enabled consumers to get/purchase products more quickly, and enabled brands to provide customized shopping experiences.  Retail aside, there’ll also be plenty of continued conversation around the impact of mobile on experiential marketing - how brands can best use data and tailored suggestions to enhance the consumer experience.

The realization of adaptive marketing: It’s not just about being reactive to pop culture events, news stories, and competitors’ marketing efforts. The future as we know it involves staying ahead of the curve – marketing that’s both less reactive and more proactive. What does it mean to be “on” at all times? How do brands communicate with their consumers on a much more regular and fluid basis?  It’s a new emerging norm, and attendees and speakers alike will discuss the difficulties of entering into consumer conversations, and the brand’s role within them.

Wearables: how to live up to the hype: Big name brands are putting their stake in the wearable technology space – they’re racing to showcase how the technology can be made personal, seamless, and convenient. Expect a number of discussions on how to design for this space, and a look at some of the recent device-and-fashion partnerships. However, real adoption of wearables is still blossoming – as is the actual impact of tying together the technology with a brand’s essence.

New sensory experiences: Reality vs perception: marketers have always realized that sight, sound, and motion are essential in bringing a brand message to life, but with continuous emerging technology, new sensory experiences are elevating marketing to a whole other level.  From edible print ads to holograms, the fusion of physical and digital is pushing the boundaries and creating new, unique ways to engage consumers.   How do we create authentic experiences that delight all of the senses? We’re hoping to see new technology that will be the talk of the industry.


SXSW is shaping up to be another informational ride, packing in more than just your typical industry buzzwords. There will be plenty about the typical business and marketing implications of data and technology – but more importantly, the consumer journey and experience as well. 

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