Shoptainment is a relatively new word to describe the retail tactics to engage customers through an entertaining in-store shopping experience. The idea of creating an exciting shopping experience to be remembered is not a new concept and we have seen in applied under many different forms. Malls invest in events (lotteries, anniversary celebrations, music, street performers etc…) to entertain their visitors and some consulting companies even specialized in creating events that generate an income and are self funding. Brick and mortar players developed sophisticated layouts and way of interaction with the products to enrich the shopping experience. Marketing experts defined the so called experiental or engagement marketing, where basically the focus is not the product / service, but the shopping experience itself and the relationship with the brand, assuming the individual is not simply a rational actor, but rational and emotional.
This happened to pursue a set of goals: leave a more lasting impression on customers, increase brand loyalty, create brand advocates, produce positive PR etc… and in general differentiate from competitors.
We expect that the social, mobile and product personalization megatrends will change the way engagement and entertainment are applied in store. Let’s have a look at some real examples that show the emerging trends.
The british retailer Selfridges introduced the Fragrance Lab, an in-store personalized scent developer, where customers were able to create their own scent based on personality tests. It offered an express (5 minutes) and an immersive (15 minutes) experience, starting with a questionnaire, going to dark rooms where you were invited to touch, sniff and recall memories, ending obviously with the perfume. Interesting enough, the retailer priced the experience, while the scent was included in it and not viceversa. (Find out more in this GQ magazine article).
Collaboration with consumers and other partners is driving innovation in many other fields. I don’t want to be obvious when I mention Starbucks, but the global coffee shop chain has been running the My Starbucks Idea crowdsourcing site for six years. In that time, it has attracted almost 200,000 ideas from customers and over two million votes have been cast. The co-creation initiative has certainly proved fruitful. In its first five years, it brought 277 ideas to life. Moreover, the open innovation pipeline shows no signs of drying up. Amazing. Find more about it, downloading this EY .pdf paper.
Social media and mobile innovations
Marc Jacobs fragrance manufacturer opened a pop up Tweet Shop in Manhattan in February and in Covent Garden in London in August. The innovation does not sit in the launch party, or the comfortable lounge or the free wi-fi, but the fact that it accepted no cash and all transactions were based solely on the customer’s use of twitter with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain, Instagram photos and Facebook posts. Social platform interactions became the currency to purchase the famous brand gifts. (Find more here).
Another good example (among many) of mixing experiental marketing and social media is the activity done by Coca-Cola during the launch of the last 007 Skyfall movie. Consumers were asked to take on the role of a Double O agent and sprint through a train station. After purchasing a Coke Zero, the vending machine challenged drinkers to reach another section of the train station, weaving through pre-planned obstacles, in order to receive free tickets to the newest Bond film, Skyfall. In addition to giving each participant a Bond-like experience they will never forget, an edited taping of those participants went viral (currently sporting over ten million views). (Original source at Creative Guerrilla Marketing).
We are not thinking about Minority Report, where cameras scan Tom Cruise retina, welcome him in store with his name and prompt targeted offers. This will happen in a distant future, but the augmented reality is by fact a reality now. Topshop Kinect dressing room, the Shiseido make up mirror, the American Apparel colour changing app, the IKEA AR catalogue and many other examples are already amusing consumers now around the world. A great list of real examples and videos can be found again at the website of “creativeguerrillamarketing”.
VR is another step ahead. AR is giving us additional features in an existing environment, VR can create an entirely new immersive computer generated environment. The topic has become extremely interesting again (if it ever stopped to be…) when in March Facebook closed a deal worth 2 bn USD to purchase Oculus Rift, a company which is developing head mounted visors. Oculus is not alone in the market, many others are building future visors: Sulon Cortex, Avegant Glyph, Altergaze, Durovis Dive and Project Morpheus and their technologies are described in this external post.
Can retailers benefit of computer generated environments? Some are already experimenting the consumer involvement, as you can see in this Tesco video, but the majority of retailers are beginning to use VR in the background to improve their operations, for example through virtual reality store planning, or their marketing, studying the path of the consumer instore with enriched real time data.
In the meantime we will keep our eyes open and report exiciting news on this topic.
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