The importance of physical realm in a digital world
THE IMPORTANCE OF
PHYSICAL REALM IN A
While we spend more time in the digital
world, it is the time spent away from our
screen that we always appreciate more -
time spent with real people and real things.
*Access the study: http://bit.ly/NwFftq
Frank Rose, JWT « Embracing Analog : why physical is hot »*
IN A WORLD, MORE DIGITAL THAN
EVER, EVERYTHING IS DEMATERIALISED
From currencies to cultural products, up to invoices,
everything is digitalized. As our data is stored in the
Cloud, we realize how less control we have over what
belongs to us.
HOWEVER, WE REMAIN
CLOSER TO PHYSICAL THINGS
The digital world is functional by essence. The
physical one, affecting our senses, our bodies and our
humanity, is more alive. Far from mere fetishism,
what is real remains key in people’s experiences, due
to emotions attached to it.
What we can see, feel, touch and test is reassuring. All
that is material, palpable and real gives us the impression of
having more inﬂuence and control on what surrounds us. What
we experience seems more authentic.
A FORM OF
For favouring in-store purchase, 61% of French
quote the fact of seeing the real product and
50% talk about being able to touch and feel it
Study "Web-to-store" Livre Blanc Mappy / BVA / Novedia Group (September
"In streaming, there is no physical trace of the product which is to be
consumed. The evanescent cloud is against the need for reassurance.
This need is similar to partial source of pleasure that one experiences in
contemplating his library: ‘I read it all, I am not uneducated’ "
Translated from Cyrille Frank – Mediaculture.fr
Read article: http://bit.ly/1llfVFc
The digital world allows to access anything without
effort, but with mechanical sharing and buzz, we are all exposed
to the exact same content. In addition, a digital experience is
easier than a physical experience, which requires commitment,
effort and involvement. Thus, the uniqueness of physical
experiences is what brings greater value to it.
Over 90% of British youth aged between 16 and 24 reported that
eBooks should be cheaper than their physical equivalent, because a book
has more value (Real object, trophy, physical link)
Voxburner « Buying digital content »
Access to the study: http://bit.ly/1etPERy
Masato Yamamoto – Fujiﬁlm Executive
Read the article: http://on-msn.com/1fqEfNV
« People crave something real, a physical object that is
unique and that you can hold in your hand »
The digital does not allow us to satisfy our almost
compulsive need of human exchange. Sometimes, frustration arises
from the distance it creates between people. We are physical creatures
and need to see people and objects for ourselves. The physical world
brings what the digital one doesn’t: personal attachment, which gives
more meaning to our experiences.
84% of respondents say Internet
lacks human warmth
Survey on the physical trade, IPSOS April 2013
IPSOS, about a survey on the physical trade in April 2013
Read the article: http://bit.ly/1mHbO85
"The French fear living in a dehumanized and disembodied world (...) They seek to be
increasingly supported in their purchasing activities, especially when the price is affected
and they "remain very attached to the experiences of real life which can be more intense,
more surprising, more humane"
MUSIC AND THE RETURN OF THE LOST MEDIA
Even if the contraction of the music market is undeniable, it may be surprising to notice that the majority of sales are still
physical1. Among them, purchases of revived old physical media bring about a vintage trend. They also allow us to rediscover
a real quality of listening and the pleasure of living a different experience.
If gastronomes can say you eat with your eyes, music fans will tell you
that you also listen with your ﬁngers. The touch of the cover, the very
speciﬁc rough disk and the use of the record player give a new value to
the practice which was said to be lost. Vinyl has progressed in recent
years (sales have more than tripled in the US2) and may not stop there.
Good news for record stores!
The "Cassette Store Day », a festival celebrating the return of K7 in
France, took place in Paris in September 2013. Better sound quality,
cheap format, childhood memories: the retro design and ultra-ﬂexible
packaging of this format gently returns to the landscape of the music
industry. We sell 2 millions of these per year in the UK3, a ﬁgure which
is constantly increasing.
FILM CAMERAS, REVIVED BY DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
At a time when we post more than 55 million photos per day on Instagram4, we love photographic effects more than ever.
Real enthusiasts return to processes that require technical skills and time for the sake of the art.
While the "Impossible Project" sells old equipment listed from the now
shut-down Polaroid company, Fujiﬁlm sells millions of instant cameras
per year (2M between March 2012 and 20136). These devices are still
popular because we like the ﬁlter effect, vintage format and ability to
instantly share a memory with our friends.
If its pure technical quality may be questionable, lomography, with its
retro vignetting, its saturated colours and very speciﬁc devices, is a trend
that heralds the revival of ﬁlm photography. Its current symbol: the
Lomography company and its ﬁlter effect devices (re-popularized
through apps like Instagram), which grew at an average annual growth
rate of 30% between 2007 and 20125.
ONE LAST CHANCE FOR PRINT MEDIA?
The written press is in a very bad position at this moment: a 90% decrease in sales7. To reverse the trend, new titles and
formats are emerging.
Meganews, a Swedish company, is testing on-demand printing press
kiosks, offering 200 different titles. This device allows one to consider
innovations in the press distribution system for a more environmentally
friendly and less expensive model to print discounted titles several times
THE « MOOK »
Between the magazine and the book, these magazines create a new
craze around paper publications. These formats take the time to process
the information and deliver innovative stories quarterly. Their media
mix, editorial quality and design are often advantages, in the face of a
dying press and publishing groups rooted in the time and current events.
THE PAPER, ALWAYS POPULAR
At a time when many web applications facilitate note taking and communication, posts-its, paper, cards and books are still
selling billions each year. Paper remains popular because we love to write, scribble and maintain written material that we
receive, along with the more intimate and personal documents.
LUXURY AND PREMIUM STATIONERY
If Moleskine, sector emblem with $ 13.7 million in net proﬁts in 2011, continues to
attract a wide clientèle for its papers products, it is due to the premium and luxury
stationery market which is growing. End of 2012, Louis Vuitton launched into the
sector by opening a writing ﬁrm, closely following other luxury brands like Hermès,
breathing new life to the mill.
LOVE FOR POSTCARDS
For the holidays, for vows or just for fun, postcards are very popular
today and always shall be, with growth of 2.3% in value in 201210. With
more value than email, we can now create them ourselves from our
holiday pictures for an even more personalised effect.
64% of the French like to receive mail personally11. We love it because
we are directly addressed and these are consumables over a longer
period of time while being non intrusive. Receiving mail says that
people/brands think of us and that we are in a tangible relationship
with another entity.
RITUAL OF PACKAGES
With e-commerce, we have begun receiving more parcels. Our shopping, books, gadgets, gifts: everything is exchanged
through impersonal packs, which are primarily functional in nature. But the packaging is as important as the content. The
opening ritual is full of experience, the promise of a future discovery.
THE BOX, A SUCCESS
For the pleasure of testing products every month and the joy of surprise, boxes are
becoming increasingly popular today. Hundreds of variations exist12 . For many e-
shop or lifestyle sites, it is also an effective way to materialize their world, to make
their mark in the real world, just like My Little Box or Fancy Box.
For luxury brands, the quality of the packaging should be a reﬂection of
the quality of their products: impeccable! It is an extension of the brand
and a product in itself. Louis Vuitton, Hermes and even Apple are some
of the many brands that are developing their packaging to offer a global
« UNPACKING »,
A GEEK PERVERSION?
We all know the excitement of receiving something new and being torn
between the desire to tear the package and the desire to enjoy every step
of the opening. People rely on these universal feelings to create popular
movies (some videos have more than 500,000 views13). People ﬁlm the
opening of a package and describe what they see and feel.
MORE EXPERIENCE, TO THE RESCUE OF PHYSICAL TRADE
The point of sale remains the most inﬂuential contact for buyers (with an average inﬂuence index of 74. as against 56 for web
and TV14). But today, the development of online retailers provides unparalleled shopping facilities and stores must rethink
beyond sales targets, to offer real experiences to share.
PREMIUM IN-STORE COUNCIL
Nespresso offers its customers an exclusive and real expertise of its products. The store
staff are trained to value the consumer, to accompany them in their purchases and to
know the products like true experts. An advisory service that brings value back to your
Faced with the decay of the physical model and the surge of e-
commerce (11% S1 2013 FOR Darty15), Fnac & Darty have adopted a
unique view of the customer to streamline the process to the maximum.
They both include new sales practices (testing, mobile search, etc.) but
do not forget to develop the complementarity of their touchpoints,
thanks in part to the "Click & Collect". This withdrawal of store product
is fast and reassures the customer about the ease of access and exchange.
Brands like Starbucks and McDonald's now offer ordering via mobile on
the way to the store and receiving your order immediately upon arrival.
A practice that reduces congestion in the stores while providing a real
service to people in a hurry: a "win-win" for retailers & consumers.
GAMES CROSSING THE BORDERS
At a time when more than 35% of gamers playing on smart phones16 , many games mimic their traditional model on apps
(Monopoly, Playmobil, etc.). But game publishers go further and converge the real and virtual worlds.
The Skylander video game ﬁgurines have features that directly interact with the game.
By connecting the model to the console, the character comes to life in the game and
the game is saved into the ﬁgure. Better, with the Swap Force version, you can combine
the top and bottom of two different characters to play a character with unique
attributes and powers. Over 19 million ﬁgurines have been sold since the launch in
201117 . Disney Inﬁnity takes on the concept of connected ﬁgures, where each
ﬁgurine is connected to the user and has its own backups.
CONNECTED BOARD GAMES
ePawn and Game Changer are among those systems that provide
dynamic new gaming experiences. They make the most immersive,
audio, visual and instinctive games. Other systems, such as online dice
(Dice) pawns, books or connected cards (Volumiques Editions) can be
used to play multiple games, via any medium.
LEGO LIFE OF GEORGE
"Life of George" is a game that invites us to make LEGO constructions
as fast as possible in order to pass the different levels of the mobile
application. We can play alone or with other players.
WHEN OUR SOCIAL CONTENT COME TO LIFE
We produce more and more content online which is quickly forgotten, to add more again and again (over 400M Snapchat a
day18). To give life to the elements that really matter to us, we want to give them a physical existence to develop and to have
in hand when a wave of nostalgia occurs.
PRINT OUR CONTENT
All of our content can become physical. Transforming your brief digital photo
memoirs into a personal and intimate gift is a trend that appeals consumers to consider
a Stitchtagram offers. We can now imagine to print our digital activities through
services like Postagram and My Social Book.
SAVE OUR DIGITAL LIVES
The Digital Slide Viewer is a kit consisting of an old projector and
digital vignettes that make it easy to store our photos, transferred from a
Flickr account. An old and technical retro object to preserve what is
dear to us and give more depth and value to our viewings, whether
alone, or with friends or family.
Are our Instagram photos an art form? It is now; thanks to this virtual
gallery, spreading over 25,000 pictures of users19 who in early 2014,
opened a physical gallery exhibition, showcasing the most beautiful
creations of the 17 instagrammers who are the most followed in the
MEETINGS: IRL, DOES IT MATTER?
The digital allows us to get in touch with people that we could not have come across in real life. But it is not enough to deepen
our relationship. Via social networks, video games, websites and forums: there always comes a time when we want to put a
face to a name. So we meet, to experience real things together.
The success of the Meetic evening meet is well proven: out of more than 16000
subscribers who participated, 89% say they want to go back20. In a world where
everyone agrees that it is getting increasingly difﬁcult to meet people, it is important to
bring dating in real life. Many networks, like Smeeters, today make it possible to
connect people to share a lunch or an evening.
« E-SPORT »
The competition is at its peak when the best players of video games
meet in real life, at events organized in true "arenas". The desire to meet
and confront real people and the excitement aroused by the crowd of
fans favour the return to this original physical universe over the digital
world. These events were followed by masses, with a record of 32M
streamers for the ﬁnal of League of Legends 201321.
Many forums give life to their community by offering real encounters, as
Marmiton has done via meetings organized in cities by its members. To
weld the community and put a face to the people with whom we interact
online, these events are particularly important to create a dynamic,
stimulating and durable world.
PURE PLAYERS INVESTING IN OUR CITIES
At the time of cross-channel, anchoring of "pure players" and technology giants in the real world is as important as the
digitization of outlets. To be closer to their consumers, they create points of physical contact, single showrooms or real shops,
and disclaim "online" codes in real life.
TOWARDS A PHYSICAL AMAZON ?
Amazon is multiplying initiatives to enter our lives. After the declaration of Jeff Bezos
stating his desire to open stores22 , we saw the emergence of lockers for quick and easy
removal of parcels. But more recently, the former "pure player" was a sensation with
the Kindle distributor set up at the CES 2014 in Las Vegas at the McCarran Airport.
"TECH GIANTS" ARE ESTABLISHING
In the line of Apple Stores (undeniable commercial success), many "tech
giants" have created their brand spaces to make their world and activity
more tangible. Google Chrome, Samsung, Microsoft, ... Many of them
develop pop-ups and / or "concept stores" to bring their brand in the
hands of consumers and build a stronger contact.
ZAPPOS REIMAGINES THE CITY
Always inspired by its "Powered by Service" promise, Zappos and its
creator Tony Hsieh announced plans to build a city of innovation,
which will be a place for technological emulation. Beyond a simple
materialisation of the brand is the realization of an idea of life proposed
by the leader of the brand that still bears its highest ambition of service.
OUR OBJECTS ARE ALWAYS MORE CONNECTED
Our lives are ever more permeable and everyday objects are reinvented thanks to the digital. Today, everything is connected:
from the house to the city, our cars to sunglasses in order to multiply the possibilities. At the end of 2013, almost 1/3 of the
French were already planning to equip a connected watch, a car or a bracelet23.
CONNECTED BRACELETS AND WATCHES
Pebble, Nike FuelBand, Samsung Gear, Sony Smartwatch, etc. : Connected watches
and bracelets are now legion. Over 1 million of these products were sold in 201324.
Even if we are far from having seen everything, the enthusiasm for the sector is already
present - and some objects are already a must for many people.
NEW EVERYDAY OBJECTS
Our fork (Hapifork), our toothbrush (Kolibree), and also our pillbox
(Imedimac): all the things that accompany us everyday become digital
and help us to better manage our lives by simplifying them. They are
simply objects which are our companions in real life.
Our House is also more and more connected and the solutions multiply
so that it can self-regulate (use of electricity via Nest system) and watch
over provisions via connected Samsung refrigerators. It can save us time
to use a service which is constantly connected with us through our
Time has come for an intelligent
combination between digital and
Quote from article: http://bit.ly/1jA0ohI
IMPACT ON BRANDS /
If you keep in mind that the digital is for
efﬁciency and convenience, and that the
physical is for feeling, depth and balance, at
all times [...] you cannot go wrong.
*Access the study: http://bit.ly/NwFftq
Frank Rose, JWT « Embracing Analog : why physical is hot »*
PHYSICAL PRESENCE GIVES
A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
FOR BRANDS TO FURTHER
DEEPEN THEIR RELATIONSHIP
#1 REACHING OUT TO THE COMMUNITY
Brands bring their their community to life, through events, objects, creations, etc. They develop a concrete existence and help
to create a stronger sense of belonging among their members.
MARMITON & RECIPE BOOKS
This cooking 'pure player’ has already challenged the
universe by creating its magazine. But thanks to recipe
books, it is its community that Marmiton highlights, by
publishing a book composed entirely of best recipes
proposed by its "marmitonautes".
BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT & BLIZZCON
The editor of video games gives life to its community of
players by creating a convention, the Blizzcon, organized every
year since 2007 and which brings together active members
and fans in a unifying event.
VIRGIN RADIO LIVE
To unite its community of fans, what Virgin Radio did was to
give bracelets thereby connecting all participants during the live
show at the Zenith of Paris in early 2014. During the concert,
the physical connection of people and the dissemination of
data collected via the bracelets of a souped-up crowd was in a
manner unmatched for an event even for a tenfold human
dimension. Every band vibrated with the others!
#2 GIVING LIFE TO YOUR BRAND’S UNIVERSE
Through an object, an action, an event, or even a place, brands can demonstrate real commitment behind their brand
promise.. They take their brand further to distinguish themselves through a constantly immersive experience.
GQ OPEN A BARBER SHOP IN NYC
Resurrecting an ancient practice, today associated with the
beards of the hipsters, GQ offers an experience that enriches
its image. Thanks to this physical offer, the brand (paper/
digital mix) proves that it is in phase with its readership
(without falling into the gimmick).
INDOCHINO‘S « TRAVELLING TAILOR »
Indochino, a top e-commerce 'pure player' for men costumes
has exported its premium experience in physical through its
« travelling tailor ». For pre-determined time periods in several
cities in the United States, the brand offers the possibility to
make an appointment with a tailor to have a suit tailored with
unique experience and 100% exclusivity. A beautiful way to
justify its high-quality promise!
URBAN OUTFITTERS’ « FLAGCITY »
Urban Outﬁtters has launched a project of a branded city, to
allow its consumers to extend their experience into a physical
location to create a real lifestyle experience25. The mini-city
Urban Outﬁtters welcomes fans for a day or a short stay, to
immerse them in a still stronger brand experience.
#3 SUPPORTING ITS CONSUMERS IN EVERYDAY LIFE
Reintroduction of physical components in models that are fully digitized allows brands to be closer to their consumers by
touching them in real life, on day to day basis. By better understanding their daily practices, brands can cheer them through
a small attention and facilitate their life by placing themselves strategically in their life.
WARBY PARKER & FITTING AT HOME
One of the brakes of the online purchase can sometimes be
the urge to try before you buy. This "pure player", which
recently opened a few stores, offers a service to test their
products at home. We can order up to 5 pairs to try at home
for 5 days, before returning all for free.
INSIGER DE BEAUFORT’S « SHOE BOX »
For $ 10,000 per year, each client can send all his papers
related to movements of money (bills, leaf tax, ﬁnes, etc.) every
month, through a "box". The BNP Group Bank processes and
returns a detailed account to the client in the days following
the reception of the box. It is a monthly link with the Bank,
bringing still more services to its premium customers, so that
their ﬁnances are not a major cause for concern.
EVERNOTE INCLUDES PAPER NOTES
The brand has understood that we do not use the digital
technology to replace the physical resources and sometimes
resorting to posts-it notes or paper notes is a good solution.
Thus Evernote made its model compatible with these daily
uses, enabling us to scan our paper notes to duplicate them on
our user account.
THE CULMINATION OF THE PHYSICAL/DIGITAL BALANCE?
3D printing will allow anyone to own any object, as long as they possess
the necessary production plans. For brands, it means the possibility of
proposing a totem product, that everyone can print at home. Better,
assuming free 3D plans, any consumer can adapt and customize the
object. Imagine the inﬁnite potential which is open for the brands to
tighten up the brand/consumer relationship.
1 ZDNet « Chiffres clés : le marché français de la musique sur Internet » http://bit.ly/1bWNi7g
2 Business Insider « Vinyl music is surging » http://goo.gl/uR2BLF
3 Le Nouvel Obs « la cassette audio ‘revient’ mais pas autant que le vinyl » http://bit.ly/1psuLdu
4 Instagram Press http://instagram.com/press/
5 Financial Times « An old-fashioned start up » http://on.ft.com/1frvB7B
6 The Wall Street Journal « Shake It Like A Polaroid: Fujiﬁlm Eyes Instant Gratiﬁcation » http://on.wsj.com/OCfNE9
7 20 minutes « 2013, année noire pour la presse papier en France » http://goo.gl/3NaviQ
8 Slate « Ils ont inventé Tetris, le karaoké, le post-it, et ils n’ont rien gagné » http://goo.gl/zXVf7k
9 The Economist « The value of writing in style » http://econ.st/1fryLbF
10 Le Figaro « La carte postale résiste tant bien que mal » http://bit.ly/NwS1Z5
11 E-Marketing « Le courrier publicitaire permet de maintenir un lien tangible avec ses clients » http://bit.ly/1fryjde
12 Paulette « Panorama de toutes les box existantes » http://bit.ly/1ekgvPS
13 The Independent « Unboxing: the new geek porn » http://goo.gl/wH8Ntz
14 TNS Sofres « Points de contact et générations: un média ne chasse pas l’autre » http://goo.gl/kfylTs
15 L’expansion/L’express « Darty alourdit sa perte mais stoppe le repli de ses ventes en France » http://goo.gl/5KLUxp
16 The ESA « Essential Facts about the computer and video games industry » http://goo.gl/WMzhh7
17 20 minutes « Skylanders ou Disney Inﬁnity: pourquoi les jouets video sont un succes » http://goo.gl/kCLnB6
18 « 11 amazing Snapchat Statistics » http://goo.gl/jJk4VK
19 Instagrammers Gallery http://www.instagramersgallery.com/en/gallery.html
20 Hufﬁngton Post « Du virtuel au réel: comment les sites de rencontres reinventent l’amour à l’ancienne » http://goo.gl/Tpmm8v
21 jeuxvideos.com « League of Legends: un succès eSport » http://goo.gl/lwKD9J
22 CNet « Jeff Bezos: we would love to open Amazon retail stores » http://goo.gl/yN1nis
23 E-marketing « Objets connectés: les français prêts à foncer? » http://goo.gl/Ko2wuH
24 FrAndroid « Le marché des bracelets est cinq fois plus important au second semestre 2013 » http://goo.gl/11KtLb
25 Curbed « Urban Outﬁtters to pull an Ikea and develop a minicity » http://goo.gl/5s50I4
Document produced by Paola Craveiro & Mathieu Genelle
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