According to the Future of Experience report by Adobe, produced in collaboration with Goldsmiths, the customer journey no longer exists.

Instead of concentrating on the traditional path to purchase, brands need to consider the customer’s experience as a whole. 

And to truly connect, this experience must be meaningful.

That's easier said than done, so here's a look at five ways in which the report suggests brands can create meaningful experiences.

Use technology to drive emotion

Most consumers crave experiences that connect on an emotional level. 

For brands, this means using technology in more creative ways.

With their ability to transport users from reality into an entirely different world, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) are the most obvious tools to use.

However, it can only work if the technology and content work in unison.

If it allows the user to connect with an idea or other person (as opposed to isolating them from the world) then it moves from an immersive experience into an empathetic experience – one that’s driven by emotion, regardless of the channel or platform.

Another way brands can promote empathy and emotion is through social good.

One example of this is Lush, a cosmetics retailer that runs charitable campaigns and supports grass-roots organisations.

By giving the consumer a meaningful reason to buy, it also provides them with a very good reason to come back.

Creating new and unexpected experiences

Is there such a thing as too much personalisation?

Some say there is, with tailored recommendations and highly curated feeds taking away the element of surprise (a key factor for a meaningful experience).

So what’s the answer?

To ensure that human, one-to-one creativity works in conjunction with technology to create a contextual experience for the consumer.

A good example of this is when brands only work with influencers when there is benefit for all parties involved. 

If there is a lack of natural affinity, not only will it harm the reputation of those involved, but it will also alienate the audience. 

Providing a value exchange

When it comes to technology, privacy and data protection is a hot topic.

However, a new conversation has recently started in relation to technology actually creating or aiding moments of privacy.

As we’ve seen from the growing popularity of ad blockers, consumers are increasingly keen to take control over their own digital worlds.

Input from brands is often seen as an intrusion or unwelcome distraction – unless there is an exchange of value.

And where does the value lie? Again, the report suggests it's in that meaningful experience.

Whether it’s help to get fit or map out a journey, so long as brands provide something of value (as well as complete transparency), consumers are likely to accept their data being taken in exchange. 

Offer practical and progressive experiences

With 54% of people citing that a good digital experience seamlessly integrates into their own lives, experiences don’t only need to be emotional to be meaningful, but helpful and practical too.

If an experience helps a user progress some way, they are automatically going to want to use it again.

With machine learning and artificial intelligence constantly evolving, brands need to learn how to interpret and use data for the benefit of the consumer.

Provide a connected experience both on and offline

While consumers value technology-enabled interactions, 64% of people said they prefer engaging with a human being. 

In line with this, we’ve already seen many brands attempt to blend the physical and digital worlds, using both to deliver inspiration and discovery.

While ecommerce companies are most obviously suited to this, other industries can still take heed by focusing on a seamless experience across all touchpoints. 

 

Nikki Gilliland

Published 15 July, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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