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Retail’s Adversity Has Bred Drastic Innovation

Advertising Agency
New York, United States
Asher Wren, VP new business growth at Firstborn, reflects on what he and his team have learned about virtual retail
Adversity breeds innovation, or so they say, and few businesses have faced more adversity than retail brands in the last 12 months. Particularly brands that heavily rely on the in-store or showroom experience at some point in the customer journey. Would you buy a luxury car if you couldn’t feel the interior finish, smell the leather; or a Rolex watch without feeling the weight in your hand and seeing the light dance on the crystal? Would you buy a garment if you couldn’t feel the fabric, try it on, see how it moves when you walk?

Probably not, and that’s why, with the face of retail changed for the foreseeable future, digital needs to work harder than ever before to fill the void left by the brick-and-mortar experience.

At Firstborn, we’ve been working with brands across a diverse range of categories, from consumer electronics to automotive, from luxury fashion to sneakers, to find interesting new ways to bring the store, or the showroom, to the consumer. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Build it and they might come, but better yet build it where they are. 

With 3D and AR search results, AR enabled across most social channels, native AR built into smartphones, and the prevalence of QR codes brought about by use in the retail and hospitality industries during the pandemic, there really is an opportunity to create virtual product demos that get consumers closer to products, wherever they are. Intercepting consumers in their physical environments, and their digital channels of choice, with content that brings them directly into a virtual showroom experience can be a very smart way to ease the burden on brick-and-mortar retail. What’s more, we’ve seen, 3D and AR content tends to convert considerably more than any other type of content.

Experiences as luxury as the product itself.

It has always been a concern of luxury brands that digital can’t do justice to premium products. This really isn’t the case anymore. A few years back we were working with a world-renowned luxury watch manufacturer and, after some initial push back on creating 3D product renders, we decided to go ahead and do it anyway. When we printed out the render on pearl finish photographic paper the client asked us “who photographed this?” — case in point. Whether it be luxury jewellery, luxury cars, or luxury fashion — or any category for that matter — the technology and capability exists to create a digital experience as premium as the product deserves.

The more opportunities for customisation, the longer and more impactful the engagement.

AR and 3D ad units and experiences allow for so much product customisation — depending on what the product is: colour, size, personalized engraving, materials etc. The more opportunities for customisation, typically the longer the engagement time which typically leads to better ad recall and purchase intent. But not only that, once a customer has personalised their product, you can retarget them with that exact product across digital channels, and even remember their preferences when they go to convert, which improves conversion. 

While brick and mortar will start to see a resurgence as we reach a critical mass of immunisation, there’s no doubting that some consumers simply won’t revert back to their pre-pandemic shopping behaviours. If you need your digital channels to work harder at bringing products to the consumer wherever they are in their journey, give us a shout.