On ephemeralization and infinite market niches (even beyond Christmas trees)

1.2 million christmas trees, per year, for Finnish households. That’s in 2019. We celebrate Christmas with real trees in our living rooms. When I first saw the actualy figure, and did quick back-of-the-envelope calculations, it was a striking experience: mere Christmas tree business would account for some 40-60 million euros yearly as sales. First ingredient.


With technology, we (consumers) are more potent, with less tools, but ever more incapable of actually doing the things first-hand. In other words: we rely on technology. Something along those lines. Ephemeralization is the concept that was the second ingredient in lighting this very article you’re reading.

We typically have thought of “large business sectors” like:

  • banking
  • communications
  • manufacture
  • hotels
  • restaurants
  • education
  • transportation

But think of all the new ones that could be major segments in the future:

  • dishes
  • household cleaning
  • whole clothes lifecycle management (outsourcing)
  • household turn-key waste management (outsourced)
  • household security (already is a big business in 2020)
  • groceries (100% delivered as a service, to the millimeter – in your fridge)

Typical household of 2070s

We’re thus hopping 50 years to the future, which is often radical enough leap to afford radical change in society (I’ve personally already seen the Amara’s Law in action; for example only now in 2020 the mobile digital ecosystem can start to offer things that I saw coming – and in fact, “necessary” – already in beginning of the 2000s).

There’s a saying that an innovation takes about 10-12 years from a laboratory to the field.

Naturally we can’t be sure of the direction of future, but I have a strong gut feeling:

  • homes will be more automated
  • people want to more clearly be spending their time on specific niche skill areas, professionally
  • the prevalence of household tinkering (DIY – do it yourself attitude) doesn’t grow dramatically – on the contrary, it is more likely to diminish, as things get more technical and services are more widely available for a spectrum of problem areas
  • services are clearly “packetized”
  • whether service sales comes directly as a result of product bundling or separately – my looking glass doesn’t tell 🙂
  • services will be abundantly used, anyway, by consumers
  • service delivery happens with help of digital technology and AI
  • AI is used especially in coordinating and scheduling the tasks into a sensible personal “smörgåsbord” (collection)
  • smaller niche tasks are outsourced in a wider range of households

Back to the 2020s – we are witnessing…

  • Uber (a company) which spearheaded…
  • Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept
  • Food delivery companies flourishing (Wolt, GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats, and others)
  • Retail revolution – slowly but surely
  • Groceries in a tumultuous change phase, with rising consumer consciousness and issues regarding environment and ethics of the whole production chain
  • Virtualization of fitting room (in clothes)

In the future, services aimed at households (consumers) will be more fine-tuned, constrained, and the service delivery is much better than today – especially what comes to seamless integration time-wise (scheduling). Utilization of digital service delivery platforms is probably close to 100% penetration; everyone assumes there’s no point relying solely on pen and paper.

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