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TBWA\Helsinki Brings First Ever Physical Web Cookie to Shopping Center

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Agency's innovation unit \Pilot launches beta test for opening of the Keskuskatu pedestrian area
TBWA\Helsinki Brings First Ever Physical Web Cookie to Shopping Center

The Citycenter shopping center brings not just a completely new look at Helsinki’s Makkaratalo complex but also technological advances that enrich consumers’ shopping experience. TBWA\Helsinki’s innovation unit \Pilot has developed and patented the Physical Cookie® system, which entered its beta‑testing phase, Thursday, August 28th, at an event held for the grand opening of the Keskuskatu pedestrian area.

‘We were thinking about whether technology could make a shopping experience more pleasant and, at the same time, increase the value of the tenants’ floor space. Instead of complaining about how online shopping is killing all the little shops on our streets, we could draw inspiration from online technology and create new innovations. Physical Cookie® brings the best lessons from online shopping into the stores themselves. It’s great to be able to be part of this invention, the first in the world, right here in Finland,” says Theodor Arhio, Creative Director for \Pilot.


The key element in the innovation is literally a keychain. With this physical keychain, called the Citycenter VIP Key, customers unlock a whole new digital level for the traditional shopping experience. In the beta phase, holders of the VIP Key are entitled to exclusive offers and events – the key guarantees them special, first-class treatment. The digital monitors at the shopping center recognize the VIP Key holders and display special benefits and offers generated just for them on the basis of their shopping history. The system does not identify people, just the keychain, so each user’s privacy is completely protected.

“Many customers flow through Citycenter, but our task is to consider how we could make the shopping center provide more experiences, so that people enjoy their time here even more and, therefore, use more services provided by our tenants,” says Henrik Stadigh, director of operator Sponda Oyj’s Shopping Centres division.

With data as the new oil, the customer’s shopping experience provides an even more important competitive edge, even if this is not yet clearly visible in day-to-day operations at shopping centers. Most operators only know how many customers enter and exit via each door.

“We wanted to construct Citycenter as the most intelligent shopping center in Finland, a center that would serve our customer companies and their customers as well as possible. With the help of the VIP Key, we can bring the large offering of our customer companies together with the demands of consumers,” says Pia Arrhenius, Sponda’s Senior Vice-President for Corporate Planning and Investor Relations.

“The outdoor-advertisement companies have brought digital surfaces both to the streets and inside shopping centers, but these display formats have mainly converted traditional posters into digital form rather that utilizing the potential to create more intelligent marketing that is provided by digital technology. Until now,” says the head of TBWA’s \Pilot unit, Juha-Matti Raunio.

Why a key? Arhio explains, “We all carry a wallet, a smartphone, and keys with us everyday. We analyzed the options provided by these three items from the perspective of building a loyal-customer system that would be as easy as possible for consumers to use. We didn’t want the system to require the use of a Bluetooth beacon, apps, or plastic cards for its operation. Adding intelligence to a keychain immediately seemed so obvious a solution that we were certain someone had already done it. However, we couldn’t find a similar solution on the market, so we decided to create one. At the same time, Sponda, a good customer, wanted to find new ways of serving its customers and tenants, so it was only natural to start a bold cooperation project to figure out new concepts for catering to loyal customers at the new Citycenter.”

The system displays general location- and time-specific advertising on the shopping center’s commercial monitors but also shows some very targeted messages. The system evolves, studying how key-carriers react to these offers, in operations reminiscent of those seen with the home page of online retailer Amazon. In the background are analytics and a live team to develop the marketing on the basis of the data gathered. The effect of each message is examined, and the results are used in continuous development of the messages and user benefits.

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Categories: Retail and Restaurants , Retail Stores

TBWA\Helsinki, Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:32:55 GMT