I recently attended Think Retail by Google, an event to launch Customer Match for Shopping (a new tool to help retailers better target existing consumers).
While there were a number of impressive presentations, one that particularly stood out was all about how brands are increasingly targeting the ‘phygital’ generation.
In case you’re wondering, ‘phygital’ (a buzzword if ever there was one) denotes a new type of shopping experience.
As Chris Sanderson from the Future Laboratory explained – it combines the physical and digital worlds for an experience that is full “immediacy, immersion and interaction”.
Here are a few examples of how some brands are already delivering it.
Despite the assumption that the consumer only lives online, in-store shopping remains just as popular as ever.
The challenge for retailers is providing consumers with a store that’s relevant – a place that means something to the people who are likely to live and shop nearby.
A great example of a brand re-thinking what stores mean to shoppers is Nike.
With its Brooklyn-based Community Store, the sports retailer aimed to create a space that fosters community spirit and promotes the unifying power of sport.
By employing 80% of its staff from the surrounding neighbourhood and supporting local non-profit organisations, it has become an integral part of the community – far from a faceless brand.
This also shows that achieving a greater understanding of consumers doesn’t just mean working out what products they want to buy.
Retailers are no longer accepting that the consumer is always right.
A bold statement, I know. But as brands start to focus more on core values and beliefs, many are now promoting a unique point of view in order to generate loyalty, instead of simply pandering to the general consumer.
Take Rei for example. Last year, the outdoor apparel company chose to boycott Black Friday with its bold #optoutside campaign.
By refusing to slash prices, not only did Rei emphasise its position as a voice of authority, but it also managed to promote consumer choice (when every other retailer was pushing the inevitable sale) as well as conveniently highlight its core marketing message of living life outdoors.
The aim for retailers in future is not just to pre-empt purchase behaviour, but to predict the emotions that drive consumers to buy.
This type of ‘mood retail’ is not only determined by data or tools such as Google’s Customer Match for Shopping. We’ve also seen certain brands using mood as a marketing tool.
Last year, women’s retailer Finery launched a microsite that matched products with the customer’s mood.
By using emotions to drive product choices, the site not only gave users a more immersive and intuitive shopping experience, but it also closed the gap on the physical and digital experience.
Before we do dismiss ‘phygital’ as yet another buzzword, it’s evident that consumers are increasingly desiring the best of both worlds.
The challenge for brands is knowing how to effectively combine the two.