As Product Editor at Wired, Jeremy White is in the business of knowing what's coming next for consumers. His unique position on the cutting edge of tech gives him a terrific view of the digital horizon, so here he reveals five key developments and trends that smart marketers need to grasp if they hope to reach consumers in the months and years ahead.

October 2015

At Wired, our observation is that consumers often take the lead when it comes to digital adoption and marketers tend to follow. But that's not surprising, so don't be afraid to fail fast. Try things out. See if something works — if it does or doesn't, establish that quickly and move on. Here are five digital developments marketers can get to grips with right now to maintain the pace.

1 - More luxury in the digital space

Traditionally, luxury has not been a leader in marketing online or in a digital format — 40% of luxury brands don't sell online at all. This stems from worries about lack of control, threats to brand safety and price transparency. Selling last season's high-end goods online, YOOX Group provides an example of the huge opportunities in catering to luxury consumers digitally. Other players have undoubtedly taken note of the successful stats coming out of the YOOX HQ: in 2014 it posted revenues of €524 million while making deliveries to 1.8 million customers in more than 100 countries.

2 - The rise of the chief digital officer

While YOOX is one example of the luxury trend in digital, LMVH is another. That powerhouse just appointed its first chief digital officer, which in itself is a development worth noting. By the end of this year, 25% of businesses will have a chief digital officer. In 2011, there were only 75 worldwide!

Against this backdrop, Gartner estimates that in five years marketing departments will be spending more on IT than chief information officers. Technology and marketing will be linked, with the chief digital officer bridging the gap. Unlike the CIOs, CDOs aren't concerned with equipment, but with how data is produced, where it's going and how it's used. This ability to see all digital touchpoints across an organisation will enable a more focused picture of customer experience.

3 - New payment systems transform transaction

Bitcoin, Google Wallet and Samsung Pay — which has had more than $30 million in accumulated transaction volume since its South Korean launch — illustrate the rising importance of new payment systems. For marketers, this represents a key trend to get to grips with as soon as possible. This is very much Model T Ford country right now, but it's coming. And consumers will adopt it very, very quickly — as they already are.

4 - Crowdfunding: Not just for startups

Huge numbers of established companies are using crowdfunding platforms to do research, development, marketing analysis and advertising — for free. It's not just companies that aren't established. Now we're seeing companies that have been around for decades using these methods to test whether the consumer is actually interested in their products.

5 - Virtual reality becomes the consumer's reality

Virtual reality headset startup Oculus is one high-profile crowdsourcing success that has proved hard to ignore. After appearing on Kickstarter in 2012, its launch video on YouTube clocked up 560,000 views, while 10,000 fans spent $2.5 million to help the company reach 947% of its goal.

But that's not the only reason to keep a close eye on Oculus — virtual reality is a significant development that should be on every marketing team's radar. From Google Cardboard to HTC Vive, VR is only set to proliferate as we move forward. This is not just about gaming. It will be about people walking around virtual shopping malls, galleries, events, movies and concerts. The opportunity to market to and reach your consumer in the virtual world will be absolutely phenomenal.