Looking into 2016, the words on everyone's lips are VR, customisation and personalisation. Yet, often in the real world, the challenge that brands face is marrying these big ideas with the reality of product catalogues and work flows.
At INDG we specialise in transforming often unwieldy product lines into digital, virtual versions that consumers can experience, customise, and most of all, play with. Brands such as Ralph Lauren, Adidas and Yamaha have been among the first trailblazers for this new, immersive way of communicating with their customers, but today's technology offers incredible opportunity for retailers in a wide variety of different sectors.
When whole product catalogues become available in a digital, virtual version, suddenly, brands can take giant leaps into the realm of offering extremely tailored advice to each of their consumers. This, in turn, impacts the way people take inspiration from products, the way they learn everything about them, can discover the perfect one for their needs and, ultimately, make them their own. Mass-personalised, one-on-one communication between a brand and a consumer on a very intimate level, suddenly becomes a reality.
And the best bit? It opens the door to real collaboration between brands and consumers, whereby consumer loyalty - the Holy Grail for any modern marketer - skyrockets, and customers become ambassadors. And, through each interaction, the brand can learn more and more about its consumers. In every conceivable retail industry, this is taking place right now - although the degree to which each player is jumping on board varies greatly, from automotive to consumer electronics, to fashion, to furniture.
The maxim ‘innovate or die’ has never been truer than right now. Content is becoming richer and richer. Visual gratification through social is something that consumers both expect and demand. Side by side with this trend is the fact that many consumers pride themselves on making very considered purchases – be that of a new car, a washing machine or a pair of trainers – and want to use social and digital as a way of fact finding and decision making. The biggest brands on the planet know that they must aid consumers to do this. However, when they decide to create interactive, digital product experiences they often run into issues.
To combat these issues, they must first set up a digital ‘supply chain’ of content for all their products. Taking this step allows them to come one step closer to achieving the goal of engaging with customers on a mass scale, whilst also reaping the benefits such as cost reductions, through optimisation of the internal design process.
The next big thing to come will be the ability to market products without ever having them physically there. Just think of the new dimensions of scalability that this unlocks: no physical product required, engagement possible anywhere on earth and unparalleled flexibility in changing and iterating the virtual product.
We predict that this next development will be absolutely crucial to brands in the future. Combine this with robust, scalable software aimed at creating product engagement and people will be able to receive a totally personal experience for any conceivable product. Hey Presto! That dream of mass-customisation and one-on-one marketing between consumers and brands becomes a reality.
Frans Vriesendorp is CEO and Micha Savelsbergh is CMO at INDG