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Innovation

New app ‘listens’ to online conversations to predict trends

IBM has launched a new app to predict purchasing trends and popular products ahead of key sales periods.

The IBM Watson Trend app distills the sentiment of tens of millions of online conversations by scouring 10,000 sources across the internet including social media sites, blogs, forums, comments, ratings and reviews.

The app, which is available via a free download at Apple’s app store, is aimed at consumers as well as providing retailers insights into which products will be popular and why.

Using Watson’s understanding of natural language and machine learning technologies, the app uncovers consumer preferences to pinpoint patterns and trends to reveal why people are choosing certain products or brands. The app also uses predictive analytics to forecast if a particular trend is a fleeting fad or will continue to remain strong.

In the future, IBM Watson Trend will add extra features including geographic and language data, and an increased level of personalisation that caters to each consumer’s unique interests and preferences.

Users can view the top 100 trending products across three categories – consumer electronics, toys and health and fitness.

The top products identified by Watson Trend for Christmas  

  • 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 (including the new Millennium Falcon set), Lego City and Friends. Adults and kids alike are excited for the Star Wars product line.
  • Smartphone photographers are looking to upgrade to standalone cameras that offer more features and superior picture quality. Watson identified the Nikon D-SLR camera as the number one choice for amateurs looking to take their photography to the next level.
  • Watson discovered that consumers are flocking to brands that offer “barefoot running” or “natural running” shoes that are marketed to help prevent injury, but Nike shoe owners, particularly, tend to also value the product’s colour and design and their versatility as both athletic and casual footwear.
  • According to Watson, Mattel’s connected-toy, Hello Barbie is at the top of parents’ gift-giving lists and not due to her sense of style. The new Hello Barbie delivers an “engaging and unique play experience” by letting children have a two-way conversation with Barbie.

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