The Physical Experience is What Matters Most

There are many who say that for physical experiences to be at their best, “leave the technology at the door!”

 Secret Cinema is a case in point. Upon arrival your phone has to stay in your bag in a sealed envelope, it keeps the experience secret and doesn’t detract from the event. If you are caught with it, you are out! (Or, at least, warned). The number of people sneaking looks at how many likes their Facebook post gets is hilarious. A covert operation.

In contrast, the intertwining and improving of the physical experience with digital is becoming more and more prevalent. A visit to Disneyland, with their magic band, means that your whole day is mapped out as a curated series of experiences. You have planned it digitally, so that you get every penny of your physical experience from that entrance fee and avoid spending the majority of it in a queue.

One thing’s for sure. Whether your phone is in an envelope, in your hand, or, left at the door, the physical experience is what matters most. Digital is improving physical experiences through integration and through competition.

 A still pertinent 2014 quote by Darrell Rigby, Bain & Co, in his Harvard Business Review article,  “They now weave their digital and physical worlds so tightly together that they can’t fathom why companies haven’t done the same”. He cites examples, such as Disney, where a fusion of digital and physical has delivered significant business benefit.

Generation Z is a whole new level of consumer. Digital reliant and expects instant entertainment and a seamless service experience. Their real-life experiences have to be as slick as their digital experiences or they will under-rate and reject them

IBM report that 37% of marketers say their 2017 goal is to tie the customer experience journey together across both physical and digital engagements.

Gartner has reported, ”89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator in 2017”.

Stephen Dorio, a contributor to Forbes, comments that, “To the digitally empowered customer, products and pricing matter less. Experiences matter more”. But, a key challenge is occurring. As the digital experience is honed to the customers’ perfection, there a is risk that the physical experience lags or worse. Sears Holdings, who defocussed their bricks and mortar assets in favour of online investments, have seen a huge deterioration in their share price.

A number of major publishers are recognising this. Conde Nast is expanding its experiential and event hospitality and ticketing businesses. Their objective: to create customised events and experiential marketing opportunities for major advertising brands. Similarly, last year British publisher Informa paid $1.56 billion for exhibition and conference organiser, Penton.

Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report highlighted “a $22Bn lost advertising opportunity in mobile” . Just this month, TV advertising lost Adidas, according to Forbes,  “the third most valuable sports brand”. Also, Meeker reported that “Gen Y and Gen Z consumers put a premium on authentic, personalised brand experiences”. This has to be a must objective for all interaction experiences.

People will always seek enjoying and fulfilling experiences. It’s human nature. Not just to post and boast online. We all seek to enjoy life to the full and to fulfil our dreams. For the most part, we do this through physical experiences, rather than purely digital experiences. To quote Mosaic President Jeff Stelmach “Using live experiences to create content for the rest of the marketing mix is one of the fastest-growing trends in the world.”

So, when it comes to brand marketing, no longer can the physical experience be average. It has to be an absolute assault on the senses. Better than ever. The Secret Cinema to Netflix. The Disneyland to the Disney Kids app.

Physical brand marketing is upping its game as a direct result of digital.

Experiential events and all forms of physical content have to grab people’s attention. To inspire involvement in the ‘here and now’. Listen up, be alert, engage.  Rather than the luxury that digital offers to ‘consume on your own terms’.

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