The Ghost of the Christmas Future

Our Christmas series has shown that not even the most characteristic components of Christmas are immune to change. Christmas constantly evolves to suit the times, so what will it look like in the future?

I’ve looked at three classic Christmas presents – a winter coat, chocolate, and the Secret Santa gift – and pondered how these might change in the future.

A Digital Winter Coat

From the very first days of virtual worlds, think Sims or Grand Theft Auto, people have taken avatar style seriously. Nowadays, microtransactions within Fortnite bring in billions of dollars in revenue, offering character customisation through clothing or ‘skins’. Last month, Moncler launched a Fortnite skin with a puffer jacket that changed colours in line with the in-game altitude, aligning with the brand’s alpine associations.

You’re probably wondering why someone would buy a down jacket stuffed with pixels, a fair concern. Call me traditional, but I tend to wear clothing that exists in the physical world. However, in the future, luxury brands could sell pieces of fashion that unlock digital replicas, incentivising physical purchases through the creation of rare and valuable digital pieces.

Digital fashion isn’t limited to gaming either. The fashion platform DressX sells a range of high-fashion pieces that are essentially graphics professionally overlaid on an image of your choice to create the ultimate ‘#ootd’ snap for Instagram.

So, expect digital coats to be placed under the tree – somehow – and look forward to being unfashionable in a whole new dimension… I would log on tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to wear

Guilt-Free Chocolate

As we all know, the world’s supply of cacao is due to run out around 2031, so start planning for a Christmas without chocolate.

I’m kidding, of course. Chocolate is a central part of Christmas that is not going anywhere. What is changing, however, is the interest consumers have in its production. Investigations into and public awareness of working conditions and fair-trade practices have put top global brands under scrutiny, forcing businesses to change for the good. Tony’s Chocoloney is one notable and delicious brand that has been ahead of the curve and owes much of its popularity to its sustainability rating, fair practices, and 100% slave-free production.

In future, blockchain and other technologies will be used to verify supply chain standards from growing cacao right through to the first bite. Third-party verification platforms, such as Provenance, already use supply chain data to substantiate social and environmental claims and visualise product journeys from raw materials to the supermarket shelf.

Technology that can verify and visualise ethical production standards will make it necessary for chocolate brands to have their house in order. This increased transparency will allow consumers to enjoy a tasty Christmas treat guilt-free in the future.

Jeff Bezos – Secret Santa?

Despite privacy concerns, most people willingly hand over their data to companies to personalise their services every single day. Take Spotify Unwrapped, for instance, a highly successful use of earned media that repurposes behavioural data and is loved by many.

More of our shopping is moving online, and, increasingly, the devices we use collect a range of health, behavioural and environmental data. From our shoe size to health concerns, Big Tech companies have more data on us and our loved ones than they know what to do with.

One day, then, we could hand the reigns over to Amazon when shopping for Secret Santa gifts. In the spirit of self-love, people might recruit Amazon to buy mystery gifts for themselves. While speculative, this points towards fascinating data developments in retail, as Amazon is looking into the use of emotional data captured through voice-assisted devices to optimise product recommendations.

Maybe in future, Amazon will know what we want for Christmas before we do ourselves. Santa might be able to fly, but even he can’t compete with that.

By: John Barnes

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