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Mixed Reality Marketing: Three-Dimensional Storytelling

man with vr goggle on

Marketers are always seeking the next big thing; whether its an emerging trend, a new generation of consumers, a viral social platform, or a technological innovation. Many experts predict that the “next big thing” for brand marketers is the Mixed Reality (MR).

Mixed Reality (MR), including Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), is becoming more and more attractive. Technological advances give customers a whole new way to visualize and experience products in different settings.

According to David Roe in CMS Wire, “MR, also referred to as hybrid reality, is the technology that is used to merge real and virtual worlds and produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.” It is predicted that a staggering 100 million consumers will be using MR by 2020.

In order to ensure future success, brand marketers should stay ahead of the curve and be able to capitalize on the opportunities presented by advances in MR technologies. So, what can brands do to take advantage of MR technologies?

AR on magazine and direct mail

Reimagine Advertising

MR technology enables marketers to be creative with their advertising experience by placing the brand image closer to the eyes of consumers.

Brands can take customers on an experiential “test drive” of their product before making purchase decisions. This builds confidence in their product with ads that can transform UX and the buyer’s journey into the next level.

Using MR technology, brand marketers can also tailor their ads by applying consumer’s preferences where the content of each ad shifts by specific circumstances and even with different languages.

This will help brands tell a better story in a more compelling and a meaningfully interactive way. With Millennials and Gen Z becoming the prime consumer group, the early adopters will have the upper hand in providing a superb customer experience and staying ahead of the competition.

Let Users to Truly Connect

Where there is content, it gets shared. You and five billion other smartphone users instantly connect via various social platforms. AR and VR are the new channels that marketers should consider to increase brand awareness. It is a new way for consumers to connect with your products on a deeper level, from the first-person perspective

For example, home-building brands can implement ways for customers to visually rotate and move furniture online in 3-D, enabling them to more easily see which products look best to them. They can also “see” how various materials and finishes will look and feel in a digital mock-up of a home.

This new trend also bridges the gap between the old and the new. The traditional marketing tactics are evolving as digital and virtual technologies mature, becoming a new storytelling medium for a new revenue stream.

Especially in the form of AR, where no wearable device is required but your smartphone to connect consumers with your products. Simply point and scan brochures or catalogs with an AR app to make a purchase or receive relevant product information and tips.

female using interactive screen to customize shopping

ChatBots 24/7

Some service leaders are now using artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual customer assistants (VCAs) as tools in their contact centers. Brand marketers should consider developing VCAs that can effectively interact with and provide technical support to customers.

By allowing well-equipped bots 24-7 to handle basic customer service queries, customers are cared for when needed, resulting in establishing trust-based relationships between customers and your brand. Using bots can also significantly reduce wait times for customers seeking assistance, which will increase customer satisfaction with your brand.

In the meantime, human representatives can focus solely on helping customers with complex, in-depth issues that require multi-layer customer support. As a result, they will become loyal shoppers and will recommend your brand to others.

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As new MR technologies become more available, brands need to capitalize on the different ways to use them in relation to consumers.

By assigning bots to assist customers with simple service inquiries, giving shoppers the opportunity to virtually test drive your products with AR before committing to a purchase, and provide a meaningful first-hand experience to connect with your products, brand marketers can enhance brand awareness, increasing demand generation to drive sales and revenue.

Related blogs:
2020 Shopper Marketing: Are You Ready For This New Wave of Consumers?
Looking Ahead: What Winning Customer Experiences Will Look Like in 2020
Top Brand Marketing Trends for 2019

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Retail Trends: Defining Your Strategic Roadmap

The retail industry today is more exciting than ever. With increases in technological advances, shopping has become a part of consumers’ everyday lives. Now, they can shop anytime and anywhere at their own convenience. The modern shopper is always in control, always in the “driver’s seat.” And they expect to have their shopping needs met by the brands they choose.

According to Kelly Bransten in Microsoft and PSFK’s eBook, “Success in this new era is dependent on understanding and anticipating the needs of customers at every stage of the retail journey.”

In order to ensure future success, brands need to find ways to capitalize on the emerging trends in the retail industry.

people looking up - crowd

Create Raving Fans

Shoppers want a customer-first kind of experience. And, with increased technology, brands are now able to gather valuable consumer data to help them accomplish exactly that. Consumers today are more open to sharing their data with brands, but they expect a more personalized shopping experience in return.

To deliver a more exceptional experience using customer data, brands first need to understand what kind of information is necessary. Once they have gathered the appropriate data, brand marketers should send personalized recommendations that address the individual needs of the shopper. These recommendations can be delivered electronically as emails or physically in the form of creative, attractive direct mailers. When customers feel their individual needs have been met by your brand, they’ll be more likely to make purchases in the future, and to recommend your brand to others.

Consumers are more likely to give out personal information to brands when they feel they will receive exceptional service in return. So, one way to incentivize customers to share their personal data is to offer exchange benefits such as discounts, loyalty points, and access to special, recommended deals. This exchange of information also helps establish trust between the customer and brand marketer, resulting in a higher conversion of raving fans for the brand.

Ensure Positive Brand-Customer Interactions

In the retail industry, it is extremely important for customers to have positive interactions with brand representatives. As a result, brands need to focus on training employees to be knowledgeable, so that they can provide accurate information when discussing their products with shoppers. They also need to be equipped and ready to present useful solutions to any problem. When brand representatives are passionate about the products they’re selling, they are positively impacting the minds of potential buyers.

As the experts at Microsoft and PSFK explain, “Despite collecting a variety of insights on individual shoppers from their online browsing behaviors, purchase history, loyalty membership and location, most companies fail to develop this information into an actionable customer view.”

Brands need to know how to effectively capitalize on customer data in order to drive sales and increase revenue. And they can do exactly that when they have well-trained, knowledgeable employees representing their brand.

When customers leave your store feeling satisfied with their interaction, they are more likely to shop with your brand again, and to recommend your superior service to friends and family members.

hand holding mobile phone with AR

Capitalize on Advances in Technology

Some brands are differentiating themselves by implementing data-driven initiatives that help them offer innovative products that have not previously been introduced to the market. They are able to do so by analyzing customer preferences and shopping patterns.

To more effectively fulfill customers’ expectations, some brands are utilizing customer relationship management (CRM) systems to unify their customer journeys across all channels. These systems notify employees when a shopper has entered the store, and then automatically trigger the delivery of recommendations. With this technological approach, brand employees are instantaneously informed of the arrival of a new customer, enabling them to more efficiently provide personalized service and assist the customer in their shopping process. This empowers brands to achieve more sales as well as higher customer satisfaction rates.

Brands should conduct Research and Development with customer needs always at the top of mind. By logging consumers’ in-store behaviors, interactions with products and employees, shopping patterns, and feedback, brands can develop a deeper understanding of their customers’ shopping needs. Using this understanding, they are able to respond better to the nuances of their shoppers, thus improving the customer experience.

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The retail industry is changing, and new trends are emerging. In order to remain profitable in this new age, retail brands need to adapt to these changes and find ways to capitalize on them.

Personalizing the customer experience to meet shoppers’ individual needs, ensuring that your employees have the training and knowledge necessary to engage in positive interactions with consumers, and effectively utilizing technological advances to your marketing advantage are important steps you can take as a brand marketer in order to flourish in this ever-changing market. By understanding these useful actions, retail brands are more likely to remain profitable and ensure a successful future for their business.

Related blogs:

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Looking Ahead: What Winning Customer Experiences Will Look Like in 2020

With 2018 in the books and 2019 officially here, smart brands have already begun looking forward to 2020, and the biggest trends for the coming year. And one of the most significant areas where brands are looking to set themselves apart from the competition is with personalized customer experiences.

In fact, according to a recent report by Econsultancy:

  • 86% of customers prefer brands that offer personalized experiences, even if that brand isn’t the cheapest.
  • 73% of customers call customer experience an “important factor” in their purchasing decisions.
  • 65% of customers say that good customer experiences are more important than good advertising.

So, how can savvy marketers and brand directors capitalize on the biggest customer experience trends of the coming year? According to Mark de Bruijn of The Future of Commerce, there are three areas CMOs and decision-makers should focus on.

Let’s take a look at them.

interactive shopping experience-girl touching touch-screen

Hyper-Individualization of Retail Experiences

Thanks in large part to the increase in connected technology known as the “Internet of Things,” brick-and-mortar retail spaces will compete with online shopping by offering unique in-person experiences. How will such a connected retail store look in reality? De Bruijn offers the example of a shoe store.

“The moment a customer passes the store, he or she should get a personalized deal offer on their smartphone, letting them know that the newest edition of their favorite shoe is on sale for 20% off, and is available in-stock at that store, right now,” he explains. But the opportunity for personalization goes further. That customer can then enter the store, and “get measurements on their walking patterns, soles, and weight. Based on that data, they can get advice on the footwear that best suits their needs.” That is an engaging, personalized customer experience worth coming into the store for.

Putting the Customer at the Center of the Product Cycle

Plenty of companies use focus groups and market research during the research and development stage of a product. It’s an excellent way to make sure you’re giving your customers what they want. But what if you could solicit customer feedback and make improvements during the product lifecycle? That’s what brands like Tesco and Burberry are doing with their customer experiences.

Fashion retailer Burberry invited customers to share the ways they personalized their famous Burberry coats, snapping pictures of clever uses and various ways to wear them. Burberry then took several of the most popular suggestions and used them in marketing materials, from print images of models showing the coats worn a certain way to in-store mannequins featuring them.

Burberry saw a 36% rise in sales of their coats during the campaign. Your products should be designed with your customers in mind. Now, you can make sure your customers know it.

augmented reality mobile for shop - retail continuity

Virtual Reality Blending In-Store and Online Experiences

One customer experience trend that will carry over from 2018 is the rise of virtual reality (VR) in shopping. But as de Bruijn explains, retail brands will soon be using VR to bring the in-store shopping experience online. “Consumers will not just use [VR] for gaming, but also for home shopping sessions. They can literally walk through the virtual store from the comfort of their couches,” he explains, adding that retails gain an edge, too. “Retailers will enjoy the traditional advantages of brick-and-mortar stores in an online setting: the element of surprise, the ability to steer impulse buying and strategic product placement.”

Meanwhile, de Bruijn says, brick-and-mortar gets the customization treatment from VR. “The digital setting also offers a unique feature that is not available for brick-and-mortars. The store’s layout and even the inventory are fully customizable to the preferences and habits of the individual customer.”

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2020 is shaping up to be a big year for retailers and marketers. Big on keeping the growing importance of personalized customer experiences in focus, brands can compete and win by delivering truly engaging, winning shopping experiences.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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2019 Retail Trends: Transactional to Relational

female using interactive screen to customize shopping

As the world changes, so does customer behavior. And as customer behavior changes, the ways they want to shop do, too. And perhaps no industry needs to remain more on top of shifting customer trends and behaviors than retail.

Retail, which has already been turned upside-down by the advent of e-commerce, now must adapt to whatever 2019 has in store. With U.S. retail sales up 5.9% in 2018 from a record mark of $5.7 trillion in 2017, retail brands will need to stay sharp to keep growing. According to Daphne Leprince-Ringuet of WIRED, here are some key trends retailers should consider when looking towards the future.

Sustainability Will Be Important to Shoppers

From “hippies” to countercultural “hipsters,” environmental responsibility and sustainability have always been important to certain shopping demographics in society. But in 2019, ecological sustainability will become a major selling point for brands and retailers looking to see a little more “green” themselves. Leprince-Ringuet cites the example of British luxury fashion brand Elvis & Kresse, which reclaims thousands of tons of out-of-service fire hoses in London each year, repurposing and recycling the hose leather to create new premium goods.

“We live in the age of the circular economy, recycling materials instead of letting them go to waste at the end of their life,” Leprince-Ringuet says. “It’s [already] an upcoming trend in retail.” Brands that can position themselves as environmentally sustainable could bolster their profits, too.

shop with digital network graphics - retail continuity

Removing Friction with Strategic Partnerships

With competition stiffer than it’s ever been, and most markets increasingly saturated with choices, brands will need to continue to compete on the strength of their customer experiences – not just on price and product. In fact, a recent PwC study found that consumers will spend an average of 16% more for a better retail customer experience. And that may mean exploring new strategic partnerships for many brands. “Everything we do needs to be done for the customer, to remove friction – whether that means integrating Google Pay, or working with [partners] to develop technologies we don’t have the capacity to work on ourselves,” says Cliff Cohen, Chief Information Officer at ASOS.

What other sorts of “frictionless” experiences will customers expect?

  • “Invisible” payment. Look at Uber. With payment linked directly to customers’ credit cards, users never even think about paying for their ride. It’s taken care of automatically. And that removes part of the friction that makes Uber so attractive compared to, say, going to an ATM and calling a taxi.
  • Multichannel experiences. Today, customers expect brands to recall the entire history of that shopper’s interaction with them and be able to offer them promotions, coupons, and suggestions based on that personal history. And if your brand can’t do this today? Partner with someone who can. Citing one retailer’s strategic CX goals, Leprince-Ringuet says, “The technology is beyond the retailer’s technical capacity, so the company has teamed up with [a strategic partner] – all with the goal of making the customer experience better.”
  • Third-party payment. Not unlike “invisible” payment, millennial consumers are increasingly comfortable storing their payment information with a third-party and allowing that third party to provide that information when they “pay” for things, like Mint and Apple Wallet. This functionality can help make your brand stand out from the crowd.

Physical Stores Becoming Experience Centers with Innovation

With the online purchasing process faster by-and-large than in-store for many brands these days, brick-and-mortar stores are shifting to effectively occupy a new role: experience centers, where customers can touch, try, taste, and be tempted by your products in person. “Future retail is moving from transactional to relational,” says Emilie Colker, Executive Director at IDEO. “Brands will use the offline space to create more opportunities for people to connect with the products.”

For many brands that were once digital-only, like by-mail eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker or online mattress retailer Casper, creating physical spaces for shoppers to interact with their products adds authenticity to their brand’s perception, and is a clever way to create customer experiences that they just can’t replicate online. And to succeed with experience centers, retailers need to be agile, flexible, and ready to innovate. “In the current climate, speed matters,” says Kerry Liu, CEO of Rubikloud. “Tools that can give retailers insight into inventories, financial forecasts, technological skill,” anything that helps create a single point of visibility into marketing supply chains will be tremendously helpful.

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Yes, retail is changing.

But by understanding the most important retail trends before they happen, and by establishing partnerships that prepare your brand for success, companies of all sizes can make 2019 their most successful year yet.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE

Holiday Spending Will be Jollier in 2018: How Retailers Can Engage Shoppers to Increase Sales

woman holding shopping bags walking

As the air turns colder and the year winds down, many retailers’ thoughts are on one thing: the holiday season. The holidays are a critically important time for the retail industry, and businesses have reason to be excited for 2018: the National Retail Federation is projecting a 4.5% increase in retail sales over 2017. That’s thanks to many factors, including consumer confidence being high and unemployment being low.

Steven Barr at Forbes recently wrote about the upcoming 2018 retail holiday season, and what trends brands need to keep a sharp eye on if they want to capitalize on more than just tinsel and snowflakes this year.

Shoppers Are Spending More, Especially Millennials

According to a recent study by PwC, consumers plan to spend 5% more on average than they did last holiday season. Across the entire retail industry, that works out to approximately $1,250 per shopper. When you narrow that figure down to high-earning millennials (incomes over $70,000), retailers will be competing for over $2,000 of spending from each and every shopper. In fact, the same study found that millennials will pay more this holiday season for brands that will offer quality, convenience, speed, and personalized experiences.

Millemmial Marketing

Brick-and-Mortar Retail Will Work Together with E-commerce

When it comes to retail this holiday season, some things haven’t changed, and nothing beats the experience of walking through a store or shopping mall for picking out holiday gifts. 91% of holiday shoppers plan to make purchases at a physical retail location this season, so brands will need to invest in creating winning customer experiences with their retail signage and promotional materials. Creating positive, inviting store experiences encourages shoppers to linger for longer and, ultimately, spend more.

But in today’s digital world, that’s not the whole story. 75% of shoppers “expect an integrated experience across digital and physical locations,” so maintaining brand consistency and creating omnichannel customer experiences that track the buyer’s journey will be critical.

Create Memorable, Shareable In-Store Retail Experiences

As online shopping gets more and more convenient, retail brands will need to find ways to create customer experiences worth coming into the store for. While digital integration will be critical (promotional QR codes, email campaigns with in-store coupons, etc.), even more important will be what Barr calls “grammable” moments, after the popular social media platform Instagram. 

Barr highlights the outdoor apparel outfitter Canada Goose, who designed and created a “cold room” for their flagship retail store in Toronto where customers could try out puffy coats, gigantic scarves, and oversized hats. As intended, the cold room led to many shareable photos, and with a custom hashtag already in place, the campaign took off, and Canada Goose enjoyed a massive boost to its retail sales. 

Shoppers want a holiday filled with cheer. Brands can give it to them by creating these unique and engaging in-store experiences.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE