Will 5G bring the tech benefits that consumers and marketers expect?

Photo: @vitaly via Twenty20
Mar 15, 2019

MarketingCharts staff

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.

According to a Verizon survey of 295 advertisers, about half (49 percent) believe one of the benefits of 5G is that it will provide a better customer experience, while close to half (47 percent) likewise view it as an opportunity to use new or additional creative formats.

Other benefits that advertisers predict include advancements in real-time location-based targeting (46 percent) and better access to high-quality data (43 percent). A third of advertisers are already planning for 5G.

An accompanying survey of 1,779 consumers finds seven in 10 people have heard of 5G. Young consumers between 18- and 34-years-old are the most familiar with the technology, with around 23 percent being “extremely familiar.”

Not surprisingly, 72 percent of consumers are most excited about the prospect of faster data transfer. With many smartphone users of every age streaming video from social media and apps on their phones each day, it’s also no wonder that consumers said that high definition video content (57 percent) and consistent and constant video streaming (54 percent) were features they were excited for.

Half of the consumers surveyed said they were excited about better and faster connectivity for wearables. Data from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) from July 2018 shows that wearables are increasingly becoming part of everyday life. Three in 10 U.S. consumers own wireless earbuds, 25 percent use wearable fitness trackers and 18 percent own a smartwatch. Even VR headsets are making their way into U.S. households, now at 11 percent penetration.

Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) could also benefit from 5G. The majority of consumers (85 percent) believe that 5G will benefit AR while eight in 10 believe it will also benefit AI-powered experiences.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where do you see the main benefits from 5G networks for retailers as well as consumers? Where should retailers be investing now to capitalize on related opportunities and overcome any likely challenges?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"The ability to enjoy the benefits of speed and increased data transfer are defined by who is designing what for the system, the strength of the network, etc."
"It takes time for things to catch on, and it will take time for customers to upgrade their devices."
"The main benefits of 5G have not been created – those enhanced consumer experiences. "

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "Will 5G bring the tech benefits that consumers and marketers expect?"

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Paula Rosenblum

Speed is always good, and while I don’t think I’d recommend 5G as a primary network, it makes for a great backup network, or a network for customer-facing apps.

But … there are people who are terrified that 5G is going to destroy the world with microwaves. It’s the oddest thing, but has been showing up on my Facebook news feeds from “alternative” sites. I can’t figure out if it’s a deliberate anti-China thing (since Huawei is providing infrastructure, at least in the EU) or your garden variety paranoia, but if you Google up “5G health risks” you get a lot of them right away.

We probably should figure out how pervasive this sentiment is.

Neil Saunders

There’s no doubt that a faster connection will make functions like augmented reality more feasible. However, my suspicion is that a lot of advertisers and retailers will jump on the bandwagon without looking at how relevant their marketing or services are. Consumers are already bombarded with meaningless and pointless functions, having more of the same – albeit in a more immersive format – isn’t going to move the dial.

Ryan Mathews
The benefits of 5G are speed — in this case defined as the ability to transfer more data, more consistently, with improved connectivity in less time. But that said I think of 5G a bit like a race car. Race cars have the potential to (literally) lap production cars, can execute hairpin turns at high speeds, and fully optimize the entire drive train — but only when a highly trained and experienced driver is at the wheel. Most retailers and consumers aren’t making full use of 4G — assuming they are in areas with good cellular network coverage. So the ability to enjoy the benefits of speed and increased data transfer are defined by who is designing what for the system, the strength of the network, etc., etc. In short, a 5G phone alone is not enough to get the full benefit of 5G technology. And then there is the issue of usage. Of course high data transfer speeds and reduced latency (another critical benefit of 5G technology) improve AR, VR and AI — but… Read more »
Art Suriano

5G is exciting, but for most consumers it will not have the impact that the tech companies are thinking. It takes time for things to catch on, and it will take time for customers to upgrade their devices. However that said, eventually it will be a must-have primarily because of speed, and many app developers are smart to make sure their apps no longer work at a certain point on the older 4G systems. Retailers need to make sure that their mobile sites will be 5G capable when the time comes. As for all the additional bells and whistles 5G may offer, it’s probably best to wait until all the kinks are ironed out before heavily investing in any new unproven technology. Speed will be the big driver of the 5G system, and everything else it may provide will take time for consumers to take advantage. So my advice to retailers is to proceed with caution.

Shep Hyken

Fast and instant connection to just about any form of communication is a huge benefit. No waiting, lagging, etc. If the customer wants to be connected to the retailer, there will be many opportunities to interact and give a personalized experience that could deepen the relationship with the retailer.

Harley Feldman

The main benefit of 5G will be faster access to data and screen painting. 5G will provide a better 3-D or video experience. However, it will be quite a while before most consumers will be able to experience the higher speed. For example, the next iPhone is not currently scheduled to have 5G capability. Retailers should only invest in 5G as their customers’ purchasing of 5G devices evolves. It is more important to the retailer to invest in content and evolve to 5G later when their shopper base reaches a substantial base of 5G users.

Gene Detroyer

When we first interact with 5G we will say “way cool” and be impressed by the speed. Within days, it will be ho-hum and we will never think about it again. Of course, the speeds that impress us today will quickly become unacceptable.

But people won’t be embracing 5G benefits mainly as consumers. It is in every other aspect of our lives that things will change — things that we will have little control over. Self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, trains and planes, supply chain, 3D printing, entertainment, data feedback and the list goes on.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.

The main benefits of 5G have not been created – those enhanced consumer experiences. The tangible benefit now is faster speed. Those who are downloading a lot of material are excited about that benefit. Without other tangible benefits those who do not download or stream a lot may not see additional speed as something to be excited about.

Ken Morris
Ken Morris
Retail industry thought leader
1 year 2 months ago

The rollout of 5G networks will finally usher in the age of “real-time retail.” The speed will allow for IoT connectivity between all the smart devices, products, infrastructure and people so they will communicate in real time and create a sense and respond retail environment that responds to the slightest flex in the market. Customers can get the Amazon experience at store level, retailers can know when the lights are out in aisle three, the shelf is empty in the coffee section, product in stock is not moving because it is in the back room or the sales signage has not been placed in-store. They will be able to do this in real time without concern for bandwidth limitations. It will allow us to run big chains as if they are a single entity run by a combination of technology and a central organization (brain) that controls the many parts.

5G is the enabler of the next generation of retail!

Doug Garnett

Advertisers need to approach the promises of 5G cautiously. At this point, it has become a point of hype for cell companies but there’s little reality backing it up — yet. In part, customers have been burned by the over-statements about 4G and other cell advances promising “speed” but which delivered “a bit more speed.”

I do believe that eventually it will deliver good and noticeable added speed. But the rollout of an advance like this happens slowly and incrementally. Wise advertisers will put their efforts elsewhere until this shiny bauble gets treated with a bit more reality.

Mark Heckman

My guess is that the enhanced speed will translate into more streaming services and more content being directed towards mobile devices and a corresponding shift away from advertising on more expensive, less targeted venues like cable TV. None of this will happen overnight, but those technologists that I have talked to about 5G believe the changes it will bring to both business and personal communications will be dramatic.

Ralph Jacobson

The benefits of 5G are supposed to include things like next generation of mobile internet connectivity, extreme (in today’s standards) speeds, more reliable connections on devices and better battery life. Sounds to me like 5G is just the next version of data transfer. And, its availability will be even more limited than 4G still is to this day. There are much bigger fish to fry for retailers right now: Blockchain (to finally have true inventory visibility), AI (Real machine learning for the most advanced demand forecasting), etc. Bottom line, not excited.

"The ability to enjoy the benefits of speed and increased data transfer are defined by who is designing what for the system, the strength of the network, etc."
"It takes time for things to catch on, and it will take time for customers to upgrade their devices."
"The main benefits of 5G have not been created – those enhanced consumer experiences. "

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