IBM Corp. today is rolling out a new app called Watson Trend, which uses cognitive computing to predict the hottest products and trends for the holiday shopping season.
The app, which is designed for shoppers but has implications for retailers and marketers, uses natural language and predictive analytics to monitor online conversations on social media, blogs and websites to predict shopping trends.
"As we are dipping our toes into the applications of cognitive technologies in the commerce space, why not start with consumers and give them a leg up to be a holiday hero this season -- then take those learnings and apply them to retail and consumer packaged goods industries," said Justin Norwood, partner at IBM
The app is available for free download beginning today at the Apple App Store, and on the IBM Watson Trend website.
"We are out there listening to tens of millions of conversations, and we're looking for consumer conversations that specifically talk about purchase intent, purchase experience and post-purchase emotion," Mr. Norwood said.
The app creates a score from 0 to 100 for each trend, with 100 representing the highest score. Here are some of the top trends heading into the holidays:
1. Buy your Legos now, before it's too late. The new Star Wars movie, "The Force Awakens," has helped make Lego bricks the "it" toy of the 2015 holiday season. Watson predicts three sets will likely sell out: Star Wars, Lego City and Friends. "Watson uncovered that Lego has told the public they likely will not be able to fill all orders," Mr. Norwood said. "If you're a parent and your kids want Legos for Christmas, the time to buy is now."
2. Smartphone photographers are looking to upgrade. "There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about how the cell phone has killed the camera," Mr. Norwood said. "One trend Watson picked up on was that in this Instagram generation, the desire for higher-quality pictures that go beyond the capabilities of what you get in a smartphone are really driving the trend for DSLR cameras." Watson identified the Nikon DSLR camera as the top choice for amateurs looking to take their photography to the next level, and Sony's Alpha 7RII camera for professional photographers, which allows them to record Ultra HD 4k video.
3. Users want stylish running shoes that keep them safe. Consumers are increasingly turning to brands that offer "barefoot running" or "natural running" shoes, marketed to help prevent injury, according to Watson. Nike shoe owners in particularly tend to value the product's color and design, as well as its versatility as both athletic and casual footwear. The most talked-about models are Nike's Free, Air Max and Flyknit racing shoes, according to the app.
4. Traditional toys take on an "edutainment" focus. Mattel's connected toy Hello Barbie is a hot product for kids, according to the Watson trend app. Hello Barbie lets children have a two-way conversation with Barbie, while also providing parental controls. Other "edutainment" toys garnering conversation include the new PAW Patrol Imagicard learning game for LeapFrog tablets and the BB-8 Droid from robotics company Sphero, an app-enabled droid based on the new Star Wars movie.