Let’s Get “Phygital” – Marketers Move to Combine Digital + Physical Experiences

It may sound like a silly word, but it makes a lot of sense when you break it down. The term “phygital” combines the physical and the digital to create a unique combined experience. Though this term has been around for a while now, how it actually manifests in marketing is continually being refined and modernized.

Smart marketers recognize that as humans, we use our senses to create specific experiences and feelings, which ultimately makes those experiences more meaningful. We aim to create emotional connections with our customers, and so it makes sense that appealing to the senses is a smart approach to cementing your brand in the forefront of your customer’s minds. In a nutshell, phygital marketing aims to combine the best aspects of the physical and the digital to create superior experiences for customers.

3 Tactics Marketers are using to create phygital experiences:

  1. Brick and mortar stores using digital interaction
  2. Digital twinning and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  3. Shaping e-commerce with virtual reality

Brick and mortar stores using digital interaction

Amazon and Nike are two examples of brands who have pioneered a phygital experience in their brick and mortar stores. In Seattle, the first Amazon Go store allows visitors a stress-free, seamless shopping experience. Upon entering the store, the only thing users have to do is to scan a QR code on their phones, which unlocks the turnstile allowing them to enter the store. From there, they can choose any items they want, and simple walk out of the store. Their items will automatically be charged to their Amazon account. No waiting. No stress.

At the Nike store in NYC, shoppers have the benefit of digitally designing their own footwear on an interactive display. The shoes will be made immediately at the Nike Maker Studio and are then ready for the customer a mere 90 minutes after they make their selections. This is smart for a number of reasons, one of which is that it encourages customers to leisurely peruse the store, potentially buying other items.

Norwegian fashion retailer Carlings is taking the phygital experience in a whole new direction.

In a clever campaign, they urged consumers to buy a Carlings t-shirt, visit the Carlings Instagram account and choose from a selection of clothing looks. Then, the consumer takes a photo of themselves in the t-shirt and uses a proprietary software application to form fit the clothing on the photo using a tracking spot embedded into the t-shirt creating a surprisingly realistic look. They are encouraged to share the final look on social media. Carlings have essentially bought themselves free advertising by moving up in Google rankings organically, and by donating all of their campaign profits to charity, they demonstrated a commitment to social good.

Digital Twinning and the IoT

As technology continues to advance, and we find increasing methods to collect data on humans through the IoT, many exciting advancements will come to the fore such as digital twinning.

So, what is a digital twin? Essentially, it’s a collection of data points put together to create a virtual model. This data is mapped out onto a physical being using devices like wearables that can collect biometric data. As more data is collected over time, a much more complete picture of the digital twin will emerge.

This biometric data could potentially be used in a variety of ways. For example, if someone wanted to know how a particular medication might help or affect them, this could first be tested out on the digital twin. Or, if they were curious about a particular diet, they could use the data generated by their biometric digital twin to see how that what effects that diet might have on them.

Shaping e-commerce with virtual reality

Marketers are becoming increasingly clever and creative in their marketing approaches. The popularity of virtual reality (or VR) is exploding, so smart brands are using it to their advantage. Take Volvo for example: Customers may want to test drive a car to get a more immersive understanding of what it’s like to be inside a Volvo and drive it around. Using Google Cardboard (a low-cost virtual reality platform) and a smartphone, Volvo takes users on a virtual journey. They are transported to a mountain road from the vantage point of the Volvo driver. Brilliant.

Examples like these show that for marketers, reaching consumers is only limited to their imagination and creative juices. There are so many possible avenues to take, and as digital technology and data continue to advance, the sky is the limit.

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