Let’s Get Physical Digital!
This year ecommerce turns 23.
At least 40% of consumers won’t go into a store unless they go online first, and over 80% have been online at least two days before entering a shop.
Meanwhile, not much has changed in bricks-and-mortar retail since 1909 when Harry Selfridge revolutionized the department store by offering a curated assortment of products in a pleasurable environment with good customer service.
Call it multi-channel, call it omnichannel, consumer behavior has changed from a linear relationship between the purchaser and the brand to a multi-touch point relationship.
Super-connected, hyper-aware consumers are in control of the brand relationship. Consumers no longer aspire to be part of a world created by brands through controlled experiences; instead, they’re now the bosses of participatory experiences that brands must sustain in order to capture their loyalty.
Every experience is a shopping opportunity or an opportunity to influence on this new path to purchase.
And yet, most people only spend, on average, seven seconds on a mobile device (tablet, phone) and 30-60 seconds on a desktop.
So how do you have a deep meaningful conversation in less than a minute when the path-to-purchase isn’t exclusively yours?
Instead, brands must blur the physical and the digital to create meaningful consistent interaction everywhere—one brand experience, one brand voice, regardless of the entry to the brand.
Consider ASOS, MatchesFashion.com, and Net-A-Porter. All are digital first, yet each brand prints and distributes glossy-style magazines. Our engagement with print is different than digital and consumers want both (ASOS even stopped the digital version of their magazine because customers preferred print).
“Consumers see brands as people,” says consumer, fashion, and brand psychologist Kate Nightingale. “ We have emotional reactions to brand behaviors just like we do to people,” explains the founder of Style Psychology, a London-based brand experience and consumer behavior consultancy that helps retailers align with human emotions.
“We expect consistency and congruency in brand behavior, just as we do from our friends and the people around us,” Nightingale says. “When these behaviors are consistent, we develop trust. But when behavior is consistently inconsistent, we aren’t loyal.”
“The problem with multichannel is that brands have set these channels up over time as separate parts of the brand, rather than parts of a whole,” she says. “Think of a brand as a human body where the head, legs, and arms are parts of a whole. While each part has a difficult function, it doesn’t behave differently but instead performs together,” she explains.
Social media, online, and in-store behaviors therefore need to be aligned, flowing—a continuation of emotional connectivity, rather than different experiences. Leveraging the emotional brand purchase is vital to omnichannel success.
“Simply listening to consumer discussions is not enough today,” explains Michael Jais, CEO of Launchmetrics. With offices in New York, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Madrid, and Girona, Launchmetrics enables brands to accelerate by building strong and long-lasting exposure through engagement with online influencers that matter to a brand’s consumers.
“Adopt a written content strategy and stop spamming folks,” says London-based marketing content creator and consulting strategist Jon Burkhart. Founder of TBC and UrgentGenius.com Burkhart teaches brands how to connect with consumers every day in bold inventive ways using social media and daily headlines. “You have to be authentic, and you must know your consumer,” says Burkart, co-author of Newsjacking, The Urgent Genius of Real Time Advertising,
“Ultimately everything should work in harmony to amplify the essence of your brand,” says Darren Turrell, founder of estudio, a London-based creative agency that focuses on storytelling and design environments that seamlessly infuse sensory & digital within physical spaces.
“The store is a brand’s opportunity to connect with the consumer in a deep and immersive way. Fashion brands often spend lots of money on beautiful furniture and fixtures and leave the in-store sensory and digital as an afterthought—and unfortunately, it usually ends up looking and feeling like an afterthought,” he says.
“When executed correctly, the in store experience becomes a creative canvas for campaigns, promotions, and events. But it only takes one bad element, such as an ill-placed music track, the wrong scent, or a screen spamming you with offers, to shatter your brand story,” Turrell explains.
“To understand the essence of your brand requires a clear understanding of your target audience, relevant insights into the market gap, and strategies to connect with customers through physical and digital experiences,” says Lulu Laidlaw-Smith, commercial director at Honey Creative, a London-based agency that helps brands identify their DNA and plan strategy from there. “Times have changed,” she says. “Gone are the days of single message broadcasting that leads to brand loyalty. Today, every brand needs a team that fits within their culture to win the hearts and minds of customers.”