With 83% of consumers reluctant to get hands-on with product this Christmas, creative agency CULT has launched a Virtual Sampling Service for brands seeking to upgrade their online customer engagement this holiday season. The service replicates the customer’s real-world journey to purchase on a device, and includes elements such as initial contact, trial and social shopping.
The Virtual Sampling Service is the first initiative developed by CULT’s innovation arm Cult Futures, in response to the pandemic’s devastation on brick-and-mortar retail. As fears of a second wave cast doubt on a rapid recovery, brands must ensure their real world and virtual presence work in unison. CULT’s ‘socially-distanced’ social marketing strategies help brands prepare for a Covid-uncertain Christmas, leveraging tactics and technology specifically to engage customers fearful not only of shopping in-store, but cautious of any high street sales events.
Nora Zukauskaite, global head of marketing, Ciaté London, said: “Real-world retail is undergoing a revolution, and Christmas is coming. Thanks to the pandemic consumers want digital-first interactions, so beauty trial in the retail environment must adapt accordingly. That's why Ciaté London have launched Makeup Minutes - free virtual beauty consultations. Every customer can book one-to-one sessions with a brand expert to get a personalised experience, be that advice or a tutorial. CULT’s Virtual Sampling Service is very timely, we look forward to working with them.”
With 72% of consumers more eager to buy from digitally innovative retailers, device-based contact has become standard as consumer mindsets and retail patterns of behaviour have fundamentally changed under lockdown, which will only be entrenched into the holiday. The need for tactility and the ability to interact are crucial elements of brand discovery and purchase, but as customers retreat into digital isolation so marketing strategies must change accordingly. CULT has partnered with some of the world’s leading AR creatives, 3D artists and avatar animators to deliver a world-class Virtual Sampling Service for brands preparing for a holiday season unlike any other.
“Brands must now connect with a newly remote, anxious, cash conscious, choice-overwhelmed, fickle audience whilst balancing on constantly evolving digital platforms and using technology to replace physical senses." commented Bridey Lipscombe, co-founder and global CEO, CULT. "Many marketers may find this new world daunting - but it represents great possibility.”
Head of strategy, CULT, Charlotte Bunyan, concluded: “As marketers we have to learn a whole new language if we wish to connect meaningfully and communicate effectively to a consumer that is crowd averse, device-savvy and increasingly ambivalent about in-store experience. The creative application of technology, data and AI is what will define the new order of consumer brands."