The Future Of: Understanding Consumers [FULL PODCAST EPISODE]
Jess: 00:00 This is The Future Of, where experts share their vision of the future and how their work is helping shape it for the better. Jess: 00:09 Hi, I’m Jessica Morrison. With the festive season upon us and Australians believed to have just spent $5.4 billion on record Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, what is it that actually encourages us to spend? To answer this question, we thought it would be a good time to revisit one of our favourite episodes – Understanding Consumers – to remind ourselves about the tricks behind the brands.
It’ll be the first of three episodes that we’ll be re-releasing, as we take a break over the summer holidays. In this episode, my former co-host David Blayney was joined by Associate Professor Min Teah and Dr Luke Butcher from Curtin University’s Faculty of Business and Law. They chatted about the technologies employed to track consumers, and whether Millenials and Gen Z are more savvy about marketing than previous generations.
If you’d like to find out more about this research, you can visit the links provided in the shownotes. David Blayney: 01:02 Min – you recently helped develop a headset that tracks a consumer’s emotional state when they’re looking at an advertisement, is that right? Associate Professor Min Teah: 01:14 Oh, well it's not just a headset. It's actually a combination of various devices that can track and understand a consumer's behaviour in terms of their skin conductance, facial expression and also eye gaze. So it’s actually a combination – a suite of devices. David Blayney: 01:32 Mhm.
Gee, that's a bit creepy, isn't it? Or is it? Dr Luke Butcher: 01:37 We get ethics approval. Associate Professor Min Teah: 01:39 [Laughs.] That's right.
We are ethically approved. Actually, you'd be surprised: a lot of shopping technologies and retail environments have integrated these technologies, especially when you talk about people’s facial recognition. I don’t think it’s something entirely new. And so you can see how that translates into other aspects of businesses these days.
David Blayney: 01:59 And what have you learned from that research? Associate Professor Min Teah: 02:01 A lot. I think one of the things that we've learned is that what people say and what they think they know about themselves and how they articulate it verbally isn't quite true when you actually test them based on their psycho-physiological responses. There is a bit of a contrast. David Blayney: 02:17 So, if I was to say, 'I'm not a cheapskate at all. I only go for expensive things', but then as soon as I see a $2 mobile phone or something like that, I start getting sweaty. That’s an extreme example.
Associate Professor Min Teah: 02:36 You're probably right with that example. Your heart rate increases– David Blayney: 02:41 Or maybe I'd see a cheap flight somewhere– Associate Professor Min Teah: 02:44 Your immediate response would be to click on the button. You might not recognise that yourself, but essentially your responses will tell you otherwise.
You'll probably get excited, your heart rate will increase and you might act on it even though you say you might not. David Blayney: 02:59 And do you have any examples? Associate Professor Min Teah: 03:02 One of the things that we did was with a store. We actually had consumers walk through a simulated store, Gabriel Chocolate, and what happened was when people went in, we were thinking they would be more triggered by all the other elements, like the packaging and all the other store atmospherics. But when they saw cookies, their heart rate immediately went up.
And so that was something that was unexpected. It was hard for people to know what really captured their attention, but actually those cookies made a big difference. David Blayney: 03:31 And why was that? Associate Professor Min Teah: 03:33 I guess one of the things is that cookies have a sensory element to them. So not just visually; it does make people get excited cause they can start to imagine what it tastes like. But, more importantly the waft of the smell triggers a lot of other associations where people think, 'Oh this is going to taste good, this smells good' and it actually creates an atmosphere, which might be homey, cozy and welcoming.
David Blayney: 03:55 It 'smells like childhood!' Associate Professor Min Teah: 03:57 Yeah, exactly right. David Blayney: 03:59 Luke, you were just about to add something. Dr Luke Butcher: 04:01 I was just gonna say that we've used this research in the user experience space as well. It's not like a polygraph machine; it usually measures attention or interest, our emotional response and things like that. So there is a certain amount of emotions or a certain type of emotions that fit those profiles. For example, it might be surprise or things like that.
Through evaluating the different metrics of the skin conductance or the heart rate and then aggregating that with eye tracking or facial recognition, you start to form a sort of an idea and hopefully something a bit more objective about what the participant is observing and what they're engaging within the response that they're getting. Dr Luke Butcher: 04:44 So it's not really like we give them a question and see if they're lying. Understanding where their attention is being drawn is quite important as well. And we've used that in a lot of user experience research and doing testing of apps and websites, where we can start to see where people are looking, where they're paying attention, where they are starting to break their attention, where they are struggling to follow the particular task that they've been given to undertake.
It's just a really a much more objective measure than a self-report measure, like a survey or something like that. David Blayney: 05:14 Do you think there’s perhaps an ethical line being crossed when you’re looking at people's biological responses? Dr Luke Butcher: 05:27 They’re all participants that’ve agreed. There's nothing particularly sensitive that's being done with it. Like we said, we've received ethics approval...
we're taking the participants into a store where you're starting to get an idea about where their attention is being drawn to certain things and their eye gaze and things like that. I don't think there's necessarily any ethical issues with that sort of stuff, but certainly there could be with some stuff. David Blayney: 05:49 What if your local Coles, for example, had all those Kinect cameras that could tell your heart rate? Dr Luke Butcher: 05:54 I wouldn't say 'if'? I'd say 'when'. David Blayney: 05:59 Well, 'when' do you think... Do you think that maybe... Dr Luke Butcher: 06:01 Absolutely.
If people haven't been given consent to be a part of that then absolutely. But, these people know what's going on, they're being remunerated, and at the end of the day, there's no personal data being captured or anything like that. It's all being used in an anonymous or at least pseudonymous form.
I don't think there's any issues with it, nor do the ethics approval people once you get it through appropriately. Associate Professor Min Teah: 06:24 I suppose one of the things that people might find contentious is how rolling it across a large scale and from a commercial perspective makes people feel. There's always been a lot of discussion about an invasion of privacy.
You don't really want people to know how you feel under the skin. And I think that's one thing that people have been reactive around. We talk about things such as facial recognition; do people want their faces to be recognised? And how would they actually think and feel in how their gazes are tracked? From a research point of view, make sure that all these things are kept confidential. It's not to be used for commercial purposes.
Dr Luke Butcher: 07:04 People seem worried and then they go and use a face swapping thing on social media.. I mean I don't think these things are the things we should be too worried about, but there's certainly a lot of things in that space we should be worried about. David Blayney: 07:17 Oh, I guess it's the old question. Would you want a bitter ex to know? Would you want ASIO [the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation] to know? Dr Luke Butcher: 07:23 I don't have anything to hide, for the record.
David Blayney: 07:28 [Laughs.] 'For the record'. Associate Professor Min Teah: 07:29 Well, I guess it has its benefits, whereby you can use it for transactional purposes. There are devices or technologies that have allowed people to track their facial recognition so that it helps them verify that they are who they are when they make payments.
So it does have its convenience if done and used properly, I suppose. Dr Luke Butcher: 07:47 Yeah. I think the bigger issue is the laws for the companies that are getting that data. Whether it be your thumbprint on your phone or facial recognition. What we're doing with that data isn't necessarily anything that – well that I hope wouldn't be seen as being unethical – but certainly some of these other companies that are extracting all that data in the name of security or 'convenience'. David Blayney: 08:11 Certainly, Europe has been doing a lot better than we have.
Are we as consumers becoming a bit more cynical, a bit more discerning when it comes to marketing? What methods are working and what's on the way out? Associate Professor Min Teah: 08:26 Oh, that's a big question. David Blayney: 08:28 It is a big question. Associate Professor Min Teah: 08:29 [Laughs.] Discerning? Definitely. Savvy? Definitely. And I think a lot of the time people want to be able to build a bit of trust and credibility with the company or the company has to do that.
And that is the biggest question here because full disclosure is not often apparent and I think consumers tend to question how to build that trust or whether they can trust this company. Is what they're saying actually true? So that's one of the biggest challenges here. In terms of 'What is big in marketing?', well that's almost– Dr Luke Butcher: 09:02 Well, [it's like saying] what's big in the world? Associate Professor Min Teah: 09:03 Yes. And I guess because there are so many different groups of consumers, you would expect different strategies to work for different groups of people.
Dr Luke Butcher: 09:12 Yeah, I mean I think people are probably a little bit apathetic towards the things that are actually going on if we're talking about the issue of data particularly. I think some are more sophisticated and perhaps a little bit more conscious of what's happening and what can happen with their data and how they go about managing that. But, certainly I think the general population is probably not quite aware of what's happening with it. Generally, there's the tradeoff of 'We'll give you something fun or convenient and in return don't ask any questions about this'. So I think that's going to start becoming a bigger issue within the next few years. But you did mention Europe before and obviously you'll be seeing things like the GDPR [Europe's General Data Protection Regulation] starting to regulate those things a little bit better.
And I think we'll see the same thing happening with social media sites because they've acknowledged now that they can't do it, so the government's going to have to regulate them. Associate Professor Min Teah: 09:57 Well, I think you're right about that because I think a lot of the trust and credibility comes when they have to sign something and essentially provide that much data and in return for maybe a product or service. I don't know if people actually feel that there's a big trade; it's too big for them to actually derive much pleasure from. It’s a big question.
I think a lot of the time we are selling our data in return for some sort of service and product. I'm not sure if people are aware of that or whether people become cynical as a result of that. And we always see scams and spams everywhere.
So, you know, that really makes people think a lot deeper into how we are traveling and tracking in terms of marketing. David Blayney: 10:39 Are there any particular types of ads that we can't really fall for, like banner ads on websites or endorsements by celebrities? Dr Luke Butcher: 10:53 Yeah, I mean I think there's things changing in that space as well. In the last few years, we've seen social media with influencers start to have to have to say if it's a paid or a sponsored post. So people are becoming a bit more aware. They're changing laws in Canada, I think, where they've removed the likes from Instagram to sort of encourage people...
David Blayney: 11:11 Facebook's done that as well. Dr Luke Butcher: 11:12 Yeah. Okay, cool.
To try and address the issues around self-esteem and some people having an addiction to these platforms where the likes become a metric of something that it just doesn't really mean. So I think there's a lot of things happening in that space, but marketing's an interesting industry in that it sort of sits within society and culture, and also being self-regulated as well. Once things get to a critical point or a tipping point where it's no longer considered acceptable in society, that's generally when changes start to happen.
But yeah, I mean every business in the world is practicing marketing in some way so it's very hard to get a uniform response from people or change things. Associate Professor Min Teah: 11:57 The question of what marketers are doing or businesses are doing is actually providing value to consumers in the society. I think that's a big point.
At the end of the day, it's not just about profits and dollars, but again, is it actually meeting consumers needs and actually giving them what they want and identifying those things that make their life easier? How do you balance that? And I think consumers may or may not really know what they are really looking for. And I guess that's where you see a lot of data collected or information collected from consumers to create something that they might want and that they might need and that might actually make their lives a lot easier. And I guess that is the part where it fits into culture and society and really providing value for people. David Blayney: 12:44 Luke, in the video games industry, there's always a bit of a delicate balancing act catering to your loyal fan base, your capital 'G' gamers – apologies if we get letters for this – and also breaking new ground. How's this been going? We've had some pretty bad shockers recently, haven't we? Dr Luke Butcher: 13:07 Yeah, I was told by somebody who's big in the industry that her perspective was that new technologies or new things in culture are first broken through video games and porn.
And I think we tend to see that happen now with AR [augmented reality] and things like that. Obviously, we've come through the Pokémon GO era and all that sort of stuff. Things around microtransactions and other things like that. David Blayney: 13:29 That was crazy when everyone was at King's Park on a week night.
On Fraser Avenue, there were just crowds of people playing the game. Dr Luke Butcher: 13:37 Hopefully interacting with each other, but also, yeah, staring at a phone screen. David Blayney: 13:41 But yes, I did interrupt you.
Dr Luke Butcher: 13:42 No, no, no, that's all right. I think we generally see a lot of these new trends move through those industries because that's where we get a whole bunch of people together and they're very passionate people and they're generally on the cutting edge of technology or whatever it might be. Obviously, VR was the big thing last year , particularly leading up to Christmas. It seems to have probably dropped a little bit down.
But yeah, certainly video games are going from strength to strength, particularly in the mobile space. And also in the social media space. David Blayney: 14:12 Can you think of any games, any titles recently, which have done a very good job at annoying a lot of people? Dr Luke Butcher: 14:20 I think there's always that divisiveness depending on if it's seen as a AAA game or if it's a more mainstream game from a large developing studio.
Fortnite is probably the biggest one over the last couple of years that's really come and got massive and is moving towards the e-sports world. But then there's always the niche stuff and there's still the diehards that are doing the e-sports and then there's the games that slip past most people where they're generally probably seen as artistic in terms of saying video game development is an art. But yeah, I mean that divisiveness always exists. Once the newbs get on board, such as myself, it becomes a point of contention for all the diehard gamers who discovered this game many years ago. I think that Fortnite is probably the biggest example of it. David Blayney: 15:09 Are there any brands, for you, which stick out as being particularly in touch with their customer base? They really know how to market them and to sell stuff to them.
Dr Luke Butcher: 15:21 What do you reckon, Min? I mean, I think in the world of digital stuff, particularly where everything is so segmented, what I'm going to see or what I'm going to be exposed to through digital communications will be different to everybody else. So it can be hard to look into that and see what's happening. I always think that the best example for me of a big mainstream brand would be something like Ikea.
I think it just knows their market and knows how to manage the supply chain and just do the whole customer experience from end to end. What about you, Min? David Blayney: 15:50 They use cheap food into tricking you into buying furniture. Dr Luke Butcher: 15:52 Gets you to stick around, doesn't it? Associate Professor Min Teah: 15:55 That's the whole experiential part of it. I would have to say companies such as Netflix, Spotify, to a certain degree, Zara, for example. I mean a whole consumer culture created around 'chill and Netflix'. I mean, how could you deny that it has a great impact? I think they really understand the customers.
Part of it is because much of their business is built around analytics and they create value for customers by rolling out new products based on what their consumers watch and what genres they're interested in. Dr Luke Butcher: 16:36 And we're in a golden age of companies being highly successful in providing great products and losing billions of dollars every year. So Netflix being one of those and the Ubers of the world and the like. David Blayney: 16:47 The MoviePasses of the world, where a bunch of rich investors, took a bunch of Americans out to the movies.
Dr Luke Butcher: 16:55 So it's great for us as consumers. David Blayney: 16:56 This amazing wealth transfer: brilliant. And can you think of any examples of companies that have just been bad at understanding what their customers need and want? Don't say 'EA'. That's low-hanging fruit. Dr Luke Butcher: 17:14 I'll move away from that.
Often what we see is that when you are trying to do something effectively for one group, sometimes it puts off other groups. Some that come to mind for me would be betting apps and things like that. A lot of people would say what they're doing with their businesses is wrong, but they are highly successful and within those particular crowds they do certainly make the impact that they're trying to make, which does piss off other people. I think you've got to always look in segments and look within clusters of people and who they're trying to reach.
Or just see the businesses that go out of business. They're the obvious ones. But, yeah. Associate Professor Min Teah: 17:56 I would say more challenging would be in the grocery sector. There's a lot of competition and one of the things that people do is 'We're just gonna do price cuts and everything'. I think slowly but surely people just remember them for being cheap.
Not necessarily for value. And you can sooner or later see these brands start to struggle. And they might get phased out as a result. David Blayney: 18:18 Are you going to see ALDI getting fazed out? Associate Professor Min Teah: 18:20 No, ALDI does provide value. David Blayney: 18:24 Not a paid endorsement, by the way.
Just a fact. Associate Professor Min Teah: 18:28 But yeah they say they’re different. How can you argue with that, you see? Dr Luke Butcher: 18:34 When you compete on price, it's always– David Blayney: 18:37 Cheap with value, versus cheap and nasty. Associate Professor Min Teah: 18:41 Cheap and cheap.
I mean, you don't want to be just recognised as 'cheap'. You can't compete on price but there's still value. But if you're just cheap and cheap and you start to lose the whole purpose of why, and again, it's in a very competitive environment, it's very difficult to sustain just based on pricing alone. Dr Luke Butcher: 19:01 Particularly in Perth, smaller economy, harder to move goods over here. And you know, if it all becomes about costs then yeah, very challenging. David Blayney: 19:11 How are companies using technology and data in new ways to attract customers to get money, to get sales, in new ways? It can be in good or bad ways.
Dr Luke Butcher: 19:24 I'm sure they've got new ways every single day. They're thinking up some new trick. David Blayney: 19:29 What's the latest trick? Dr Luke Butcher: 19:32 The big ones on social media seem to be the image-aging pictures and all that sort of stuff.
You know, show us a couple of pictures of yourself and then we'll give you a picture of what you're going to look like in the future. But in the meantime they’re training their algorithms to do facial recognition or pattern recognition stuff. Those captchas are also a great way to do it and train all these algorithms. So that's a big trend at the moment in the world of AI – that shift towards acquiring as much data as possible. Associate Professor Min Teah: 20:06 Yeah, I suppose data is the thing that businesses, brands are really hoping to get their hands-on cause that's really the value of a lot of things and how they can use that data is another point.
When we go to a website, the first thing you do is you put in your details. That is one of the ways data gets tracked. And I think you're giving data relatively freely for maybe 10, 15 or 20 per cent off your first purchase.
But your data is captured. Dr Luke Butcher: 20:37 It's like anything with marketing. It's not unethical about what it's doing until it becomes unethical, if you know what I mean. It's fair enough if people know what's going on and where you're looking after that stuff. But when you see these big data breaches where companies like Facebook or Instagram accidentally gave all the data that they were captured for something, which they've captured for a particular purpose, where they said, 'We're not going to spread this out'.
And then it manages to find its way into an advertising thing where suddenly they're selling all that data to advertisers and we're meant to be led to believe that this was just a mistake, that you know, the best companies in the world with this sort of stuff, 'accidentally' put all that data into the wrong spreadsheet or whatever. David Blayney: 21:18 You sound a little bit cynical, Luke. Dr Luke Butcher: 21:20 Oh, very much so. Very much so.
Hopefully, that can be the theme that comes across with today. Associate Professor Min Teah: 21:26 Yeah, I don't know. We might lose our jobs after this.
Dr Luke Butcher: 21:28 [Laughs.] Associate Professor Min Teah: 21:29 I think some of the times it's intentional, but governance around data isn't done very well, right down to employees, because employees do and can access data. So if they want to sell it, it's very difficult for a company to track unless they monitor that process.
Dr Luke Butcher: 21:46 It only takes one leak to bust out a spreadsheet and that information is everywhere. Associate Professor Min Teah: 21:51 But it's not the intention from the company and the brand. So I guess it's about governance around data and what does that mean and how do you really regulate that and how do you really protect consumer interests in that regard? And making sure that, you know, it's not predatory, it's not abusive, it's not intrusive as well. How do you do that? It's a big question out there for marketers to solve. Dr Luke Butcher: 22:09 Yeah, I mean I'm a little bit more cynical.
I think that it's aligned with people responding to business, responding to incentives and disincentives. And when the disincentive is we'll give you a fine of, you know, $1 billion, but they've made $5 billion off doing that. Then it's like, well of course they're going to keep doing it until we punish them more. David Blayney: 22:26 But you've had some instances where I think that the European Commission fined Google.
I can't remember exactly, but it was a loss of money for competition breaches over Google Shopping. Dr Luke Butcher: 22:36 And the share prices went up that same day, I believe, as well. Granted that that stuff would already have been factored into sentiment for the share price. But again, that doesn't have an impact because it's just a cost of doing business for them. This is part of the process.
David Blayney: 22:49 So even in the jurisdictions, which fine them the most, which have the strictest regulations and the most attack-dog-esque regulators, they're still getting off quite lightly? Associate Professor Min Teah: 22:59 Well, considering everybody's Googling every single day. Dr Luke Butcher: 23:01 Not me, Min. David Blayney: 23:03 Are you 'Bing-ing'? Asking 'Jeeves'? Dr Luke Butcher: 23:04 No, there's lots of other ones. DuckDuckGo is a great one.
David Blayney: 23:06 Ah, DuckDuckGo, yes. I hear about that a lot. Dr Luke Butcher: 23:09 You can use Mozilla.
Their default is a Google Search, but you can take that off as well. There's lots of great search engines out there as well that don't do the same things with your data. David Blayney: 23:20 Yes, but it's not as good though! I can't get 'Street View' on DuckDuckGo. Do I have to use encyclopedias or something, or go to libraries? Dr Luke Butcher: 23:29 Yeah! David Blayney: 23:29 Come on, it's 2019, man. Dr Luke Butcher: 23:31 You can still use Google Maps without having to go through Google Search. David Blayney: 23:34 Fair enough.
Associate Professor Min Teah: 23:34 But still the data is captured. Dr Luke Butcher: 23:37 Yeah. To a degree. David Blayney: 23:38 It's like an Android phone, it's still capturing all that data. Dr Luke Butcher: 23:41 Absolutely.
Yeah. Depending on what browser you're using and things like that. Associate Professor Min Teah: 23:45 I'd like to see you not use Google for a year.
Dr Luke Butcher: 23:47 I haven't used Google for a long time. David Blayney: 23:48 I use Firefox, but yeah– Dr Luke Butcher: 23:50 Mozilla is a great one. David Blayney: 23:52 Still use Google Search, though. Um, the... actually this is a little interesting aside, the other day I got an email from Amazon. Dr Luke Butcher: 24:03 Is that interesting? Just that you got an email, or?– Associate Professor Min Teah: 24:07 [Laughs.] David Blayney: 24:07 Well no, I'll finish the story.
Thank you very much. Dr Luke Butcher: 24:08 I can forward you as many as you like as you want. Get you in on some Ccs. David Blayney: 24:13 [Laughs.] I got an email from Amazon cause I subscribe to a certain audio book subscription service. I won't name it because that would be unethical.
But of course, you know the one I'm talking about: it's the one everyone flogs on their podcast. But not on this one. I got an email from them that said, 'Hey, we'll send you a free smart speaker if you order one'. Why? Why did they want to send me a free smart speaker in the mail? Dr Luke Butcher: 24:38 Cause they want to hear everything that you were saying and that everyone else in your house was saying so they could serve you up some advertisements.
Also probably to train their algorithms on the Australian accent, I would suggest, is probably an area where they're going. So yeah, I mean I think it costs them about AUD$10 million to do all that sort of stuff, but you know, that's pocket change compared to what they're going to get from it. And then competitive advantage.
David Blayney: 25:00 Was I an idiot for ordering it and picking it up from the post office yesterday? Dr Luke Butcher: 25:05 Ah. Maybe? David Blayney: 25:06 Am I a naive moron for accepting something that was free, Luke? Dr Luke Butcher: 25:10 If I had to say one word, I'd say 'yes', but that's your call. There's nothing wrong with being an idiot. We're all idiots for certain things. It's all right.
David Blayney: 25:17 [Laughs.] Dr Luke Butcher: 25:19 As long as we know what's going on and we're okay with that, I think it's fine. But yeah, I'm sure there will be some great inventions and things that will come out of these sorts of technologies so it will help it. But at the same time– David Blayney: 25:30 At the same time I've got a microphone in my room– Dr Luke Butcher: 25:31 That's constantly recording. David Blayney: 25:34 Well, you can 'mute' it.
Dr Luke Butcher: 25:36 Can you, though? David Blayney: 25:37 You didn't see the air quotes I did. I'll help to train some robots at ASUS or ASIO. Looking at physical stores, Min, what are some of the new ways companies are getting us to buy? What are they going to be doing in the future? Associate Professor Min Teah: 25:55 Well, I wish I had a crystal ball to talk about the future. But I think currently– David Blayney: 26:00 Well, it is called 'The Future Of'. Associate Professor Min Teah: 26:02 Oh, well I think, Amazon, Alibaba, they have advanced technology, robotics, AI, and I think one of the things that you'll see is a lot of integration between offline and online.
So just a physical store itself is not going to work. It's not going to cut it. And this goes back to a lot of the time, you know, having access to data, I mean just walk-through technology; essentially it's just gathering data. You scan, you walk through, you pick up things, you walk out. It's understanding what people are buying and what it's doing well and tracking that and to pretty much know what products are doing well and what to stock up on and what to actually do your next promo and next discount, your next catalog and next spam to your email to entice you to click on that 'free' thing button.
And I think one of the things would be again, like Alibaba's robotics in their stores and having a bigger experience, not just buying something, but actually having a dining experience in store that uses robots and you can order and have menus. So, all of these things are currently happening. I'm sure that at some point in time it's probably going to happen in the future. David Blayney: 27:10 And what do you see the store of the future looking like? Dr Luke Butcher: 27:16 I don't think it'll look that different, to be honest.
Associate Professor Min Teah: 27:17 It probably won't. Well... David Blayney: 27:21 More glass? Dr Luke Butcher: 27:22 Perhaps.
Yeah. I mean I think to have a retail store you're going to have to provide something of value to go to that retail store. And we see a lot of shopping centers refurbishing and trying to make more of an experience out of it and more entertainment and leisure-based stuff. So I think we'll see a lot of that happening.
We will see more people going to a shopping center or a store rather to select perhaps a product and they might not pick it up and take it home with them then. That might be something that gets delivered at a later point or whatever it would be. Associate Professor Min Teah: 27:51 That probably is [true]. People won't be carrying their goods out of the store.
It will probably be buying in store online and then delivering it straight to their house. And you probably won't have customer service as in people, it will be robots or things that are self-service and you'll probably see that people are in store for a different experience, not just to buy, but really maybe to interact or for entertainment value or for some other value that is probably not just because they want to pick up that broccoli for dinner tonight. Dr Luke Butcher: 28:21 And when we think of robots, it's easy to think of the Jetsons and things zooming around. But I don't think that's how it will be. In Ikea, again, as an example, just having bought a couch from there... a really great
thing there was this little virtual desk where I could select all the different couches that were there and then all the different configurations and put them all together in different ways and things like that. And I think that sort of technology is what we'll see happening more. And obviously that being integrated with their supply chain management systems to know that you could click on that and see this is on in stock now or it's in stock on Thursday or whatever it might be. As well as then clicking that through. The person who works at the store can come through and then get a number of that, go to their desk, print it off with all the inventory on there for you to then buy it online or whatever later.
So that's I think where we'll see the technologies and robots. Nobody's going to want to talk to a robot, 'cyber annoying' thing. People are still gonna want to talk to people. And I think the more and more we see that stuff being forced on people, the more people will want to talk to people. It's still a lot cheaper to pay someone $20 an hour than it is to spend thousands of dollars on a robot. David Blayney: 29:32 How is Alibaba using robots? Associate Professor Min Teah: 29:34 I think a lot of the time when we think Alibaba, we think of the digital platform and online stores, but essentially they have a supermarket, a physical store and they use robots.
So, for example, if you want to dine in, you can just order and it has robots or robotic devices to actually deliver it to you. So that's what it does. When we talk about robots, it doesn't have to be, you know, what we think of a human-like robot.
David Blayney: 30:02 We got robots on the self-serve checkout at our local Coles and Woolies. So not Jetsons-esque. Kind of annoying, but also cool as well. Associate Professor Min Teah: 30:12 Yes, it's efficient and I guess a lot of the time it's about a form of reduction of manpower and labour and probably distributing that labour to other aspects of, of a business rather than, you know, for other tasks that can be done by robots. David Blayney: 30:31 Well, that's all quite interesting. The future is coming at us fast and it's being built right here.
Thank you very much Min and Luke for sharing your knowledge on this topic. Associate Professor Min Teah: 30:41 Thank you, David. Dr Luke Butcher: 30:43 Thank you.
Thanks for having us. David Blayney: 30:44 You've been listening to The Future Of, a podcast powered by Curtin University. If you have any questions about today's topic, please feel free to get in touch by following the links in the show notes. Bye for now.