Internet Trends Mary Meeker
Mary Meeker delivering her 2016 Internet Trends report

If there’s one place to get a good overview of shifting digital consumption habits, it’s from Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers’, annual Internet Trends report. To save you having to trawl through the 200+ slides from the 2016 release, here are a handful of need-to-know insights for those in the fashion and retail space:

1. Visual platforms continue to win, particularly for those in the Millennial generation (aged circa 18-34 years old today). Leading platforms in terms of both engagement and reach include Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

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2. This is even more the case with Generation Z, who communicate via visuals far more so than text. They also operate more screens than their Millennial counterparts at once (five versus two), and tend to be creators and collaborators over curators and sharers.

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3. This visual playground is Snapchat’s world, and everyone else is just living in it. Snapchat has nailed how to host visual content in an advertising sense that works because it’s authentic, entertaining, in context and often brief, said Meeker. As a result, it now sees users playing with things like its sponsored lenses for an average of 20 seconds at a time.

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4. Let’s not forget, when we’re talking about visual content, video plays a massive role. Its usage, sophistication and relevancy continues to grow rapidly, explained Meeker. Facebook now sees 8bn video views per day, while Snapchat is getting 10bn.

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5. Live video is also becoming more important. Over the past century we’ve moved from live linear viewing on the TV to on-demand streaming, to semi-live content like that of Snapchat Stories in and around 2013, to today’s “real-live” feeds via the likes of Periscope and Facebook Live. Meeker referred to the recent Chewbacca Facebook Live video, which referenced retailer Kohl’s, as “user generated content at whole new orders of viewing magnitude”. Kohl’s not only sold out of the Star Wars mask at the centre of the video, but became the leading app in the iOS app store in the US.

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6. Getting video right – being authentic, creative and valued through your content – is key by the way because ad blocking is also majorly on the rise. Today, 93% of internet users have or will consider using ad blocking software, according to Unruly. This software is especially a big deal in China, India and Indonesia, and around the world 420m users are now using it, which is a rise of 94% year-on-year. “If there has ever been a call to arms to create better ads, this is it,” said Meeker.

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7. The role of messaging apps is also growing and especially relevant for retail businesses. The secret sauce is the magic of the thread – it’s conversational, it remembers identity, time, specifics, preferences and context. Using such platforms is a boon to customer satisfaction, Meeker added, explaining that it’s also leading, of course, to commerce.

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8. Brands emerging in the retail space (and playing with all the aforementioned tools) are being heavily impacted and influenced by the Millennial generation, Meeker explained, with the below chart showing the sorts of companies founded by decade over the past 100+ years. Today, internet-enabled retailers, products and brands are significantly on the rise, bolstered by always-on connectivity, hyper-targeted marketing, the role of images and personalisation. StitchFix is a great example of this, said Meeker, for the fact it brings Spotify and Netflix-like discovery to fashion, with each customer getting a differentiated experience thanks to its advanced algorithm.

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9. All of this also means there are numerous internet brands that have managed to reach $100m in annual sales within five years (including the likes of Birchbox, Everlane, Rent the Runway, Bonobos, Nasty Gal and more), compared to Nike, which took 14 years, Lululemon, which took nine years and Under Armour, which took eight years. “It’s fast and it’s impressive,” said Meeker.

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10. Lastly, when it comes to customer service, no surprises here: social media and instant chat is preferred by Millennials than the telephone is.

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