We are living in an exciting era – but some innovations really are too good to be true
We would be forgiven to believe that anything was possible nowadays.
Consider the following facts:
- It took us at least 100,000 years to go from developing language to writing it down. Then 2,000 years from writing to printing. Yet the past 200 years we have developed photography, film, telephone, radio, TV and now the internet among many other mediums.
- It took more than 5,000 years from the invention of the wheel to being able to fly for the first time. But then only 60 years from flying to conquering space.
- In the past 200 years, we have grown from below 1 billion to 7 billion people on earth. In the same time we’re now 30 times richer on average per person than back then.
- We have gone from taking 80 days to travel around the world to around 2 days.
- What was a luxury reserved to the kings before like access to knowledge or enjoying pineapples are now affordable and widely available.
- We’re now better educated, much more healthier and more prosperous than ever (link)
Yet it doesn’t feel this way. A survey conducted in developed countries revealed than less than 10% of people in Sweden, Germany or the USA feel that things are improving. Partly it is the fault of news media, which tends to focus on and magnify shocking news, while improvements tend to be gradual and struggle to be newsworthy. Part of it is that we very quickly get used to new things. The brilliant comedian Louis CK shared a joke that when high speed internet momentarily went down in the first plane testing it, someone was fast to judge the situation as “bullshit”. We expect things to work the second they are invented, even if we didn’t contribute at all to said invention.
The technological advantages mean that innovation is perhaps occurring at an unprecedented pace even for wine. There are more packaging types available, more closures, more types of wines, from natural to added flavours or unusual colours, the ways of communicating with consumers is also richer than ever with almost instant communication and apps that aggregate reviews.
While at Wine Intelligence we monitor the innovations we also need to separate the real from the fake, the real genius improvement from the clickbait.
A great example: Jeff Bezos said in 2013 that Amazon was developing drones for delivery but that they wouldn’t be in place until 2015-2016. The announcement gave him an estimated $3m in free advertising (link).
Where are the drones? Well, still under development. Since the first successful free advertising Amazon has announced that packaging might drop in parachutes, their first semi-public delivery in the US, the development of robotic legs and arms, claimed that the military is copying them, posted a video with Jeremy Clarkson, announced the first UK delivery in 13 minutes… With technological innovation of course Drone delivery is possible (and I’m sure the drones are amazing), but will it be practical, safe, regulated, how will it deliver to homes without a garden and most important of all will it be cheaper and faster than a guy in a moped?
Back in the day Waterstones had the perfect response to the hype generated around drone delivery: they said they were going to train Owls to deliver books to UK homes (link). So far both seem equally unrealistic in the short term, yet we expect many more news articles about Amazon drones that’s for sure. As brand owners we should focus on what is really a trend and not a fad. Distinguishing between them is becoming more difficult.
Author: Juan Park