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Immersive Experiences - Retailing in the Fifth Dimension

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Learn how to create immersive experiences and redefine how your customers interact with your brand

Many retail trends are making headlines and creating significant boardroom chatter: omni-channel, big data, digital marketing, mobile commerce ... all shaping how we define retail today, but these opportunities have one goal in common — creating immersive experiences, experiences that redefine how customers interact with brands. The Immersive experiences are gaining attention and interest of the marketers and designers, and this discussion defines what immersive experiences are, and why this engagement category is gaining such attention. http://www.sld.com

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Immersive Experiences - Retailing in the Fifth Dimension

  1. 1. July | 2015 White Paper Immersive Experiences Retailing in the 5th Dimension Creating immersive experiences and redefining how customers interact with brands
  2. 2. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 2 introduction Think Blink At Shikatani Lacroix, we design compelling at-purchase moments that connect in the blink of an eye. Our philosophy and strategic design approach, Think Blink, is driven by a consumer’s motivation to make a purchase decision. Everything we do is geared to owning the “at-purchase” moment. Our firm has a well-earned reputation for designing integrated brand experiences that effectively connect brands with consumers to drive measurable results for clients. About the author Jean-Pierre Lacroix, R.G.D., President and Founder of Shikatani Lacroix Jean-Pierre (JP) Lacroix provides leadership and direction to his firm, which was founded in 1990. He has spent the last 30 years helping organizations better connect their brands with consumers in ways that impact the overall performance of their business. In 1990, Mr. Lacroix was the first to coin and trademark the statement “The Blink Factor”, which today is a cornerstone principle for how brands succeed in the marketplace. JP has authored several papers, has been quoted in numerous branding and design articles, and in 2001 he co- authored the book “The Business of Graphic Design” which has sold over 10,000 copies. JP can be reached at jplacroix@sld.com and you can follow his thought leadership webinars at: www.sldesignlounge.com. Copyright @ 2015 by Jean-Pierre Lacroix. All rights reserved. ThinkBlink, Blink Factor and Trust Ladder are registered trademarks of Shikatani Lacroix Design Inc.
  3. 3. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 3 introduction Many retail trends are making headlines and creating significant boardroom chatter: omni-channel, big data, digital marketing, mobile commerce … all shaping how we define retail today, but these opportunities have one goal in common — creating immersive experiences, experiences that redefine how customers interact with brands. The Immersive experiences are gaining attention and interest of the marketers and designers, and this discussion defines what immersive experiences are, and why this engagement category is gaining such attention.
  4. 4. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 4 part one Retailing in the 5th Dimension Like all trends, there is a pivotal moment when trends stop being referred to as “game changers” and become common practice, moving from the most talked about, landscape shaping factors and becoming the everyday fabric of the industry. As a designer, I am on the constant lookout for “the next thing” that will have a significant impact on how retailers provide deeper and more meaningful engagement within the physical retail environments. As I scan the retail landscape, I believe there is one trend that stands out above the rest, and which has the momentum of a tsunami and the capacity to shape the future of how we shop, buy and interact with the built retail environments. This new trend is best described as “immersion”—a retail state where the barriers between the physical and virtual worlds disappear and become one. And the new technology and channel proliferation offer retailers the opportunity to move beyond brand engagement toward full immersion in a brand story. However, an immersive brand experience is more than what we define as brand engagement today. Brand engagement takes place when an experience provokes shoppers to act, to create a social media post, initiate a face-to-face conversation or make a purchase. Mobile and multi-touch interactive technologies have elevated this level of engagement to new heights. Immersion takes place when consumers forget they are shopping in a store and when they become an active participant in a story they control.
  5. 5. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 5 You know you are immersed in an experience when the experience blurs the lines between the physical and the virtual, storyteller and consumer, technology and the physical space. Immersive design harnesses the powerful, ever-evolving technologies in order to create these immersive experiences in which the consumer whole-heartedly participates as the brands leverage new insights founded on shopper behavioural science. The result not only converts a shopper to a customer, but also builds tremendous bond between the customer and the brand, between the audience and the story. Today, gaming and HD movies represent main immersion experiences. They allow for the development of rich stories, and we all have experienced these immersive moments that, like in a dream, we need to remind ourselves that what we are experiencing is not real. The IMAX experience, the use of virtual goggles, and the interactive dressing room mirrors are just the precursor of how this technology will impact the role and design of retail stores, and with the continuous technology development – higher quality projection systems, faster computing capabilities, micro technologies and gesture-enabled interfaces – we are witnessing the constant evolution of immersive retail experiences. “You know you are immersed in an experience when the experience blurs the lines between the physical and the virtual”
  6. 6. Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 6 part two Spotting the Five Types of Immersive Experiences Immersive experiences are gaining attention and interest of the marketers and designers. Since immersive experiences are founded on storytelling and deliver in a way that allows the viewer to participate and control some of the outcome, I have identified five types of experiences ranging from the conventional to the futuristic. These include: • Product Placement, • Pop-Up Engagement, • Gamemersion, • Immersive Interactive • Virtual Visualization
  7. 7. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 7 Product Placement What better way of telling your brand story if not within a movie that has a relevant and complimentary storyline? This practice has emerged recently as a powerful tool to drive greater awareness and visibility for brands trying to cut through the clutter and own a 60 second slot of attention in consumer’s mind. The process has evolved greatly to include sponsorship of major events such as PepsiCo’s Super Bowl halftime entertainment show. Brands are realizing that reach and frequency are only relevant when your message is remembered. Product placement and event sponsorship allow brands to tell an immersive story that appeals to customers while their attention also receives a branded message as part of the experience. Future: Look for immersive 3D movies that are funded and developed by large package goods marketers to both, showcase their brands and, more importantly, develop the ability to take storytelling to the next level. “Look for immersive 3D movies that are funded and developed by large package goods marketers”
  8. 8. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 8 Pop-Up Engagement The control over power and visibility continues to rage between retailers and package goods manufacturers. The ability to control immersive experiences in retail stores has been traditionally relegated to tasting booths, one way digital signing and conventional POP. Vacant, a firm who invited pop-up retailing, was the first company to develop the concept in 1999 as a way for smaller companies and non-traditional brands to have a retail presence. This need to build stronger and more immersive relationships with customers has driven many package goods marketers to consider pop-up retail stores that allow brands to communicate richer, more meaningful stories. PepsiCo Canada’s 2013 launch of a pop-up space featuring indie bands invites passersby to stop in and take the challenge, as well as kick back and relax with friends while listening to music. Future: Look for smart supermarket operators to realize the gap in creating immersive experience for brands and developing boutiques in their stores, allowing them to move from purveyors of products to the distribution of immersive experiences.
  9. 9. Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 9 Gamemersion The word I have coined captures the blurring of the lines between what is a game and what is real. The gaming industry has figured the whole immersive experience with top selling titles outperforming the best movie releases. The games allow for rich HD content that can be driven by a conventional controller or gesture-enabled technology. With the advent of 3D glass monitors such as Oculus, this immersive experience will bring the ability of gamers to participate in a near real game to new heights. Using of gaming behaviours as part of software and web platforms helps increase customer engagement and creates a platform for an immersive experience. The ability of allowing viewers to compete for points or levels is another approach to delivering unique stories in compelling ways. Future: Look to see more interactive touchscreen platforms available at retail such as endless aisle kiosk to include gamification as a platform to increase usage.
  10. 10. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 10 Immersive Interactive The ability for digital technologies to allow viewers to control the story and engage with brands has been around since the first touchscreens and gesture enabled software (over two decades ago). Today’s games, televisions and computers all offer a higher level of interactivity and control, from motion sensors to voice enabled avatars. The cost of this technology has seen a dramatic reduction while the size of projection and LCD’s have gone in the opposite direction, and large screens are the norm. The next wave is the development of sensory multi-touchscreens for large LCD panels, computers, tablets and smartphones that give users the sensory experience of 3D touch on a two dimensional surface allowing a richer and more immersive experiences. This coupled with high definition screens and multi-touch surfaces will allow numerous customers to experience and control virtual stories. Future: Companies are testing LCD-enabled paints that can transform any room to theatre style experience. Researchers are working on new types of polymers that feature novel chemical building blocks and inorganic elements that allow it to act as an LCD screen.
  11. 11. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 11 Virtual Visualization What started as virtual training for aviation pilots 20 years ago has spilled to the retail and package goods industry applications. This reminisces the scene in Iron Man where Tony Stark creates his futuristic suit using 3D holographic imaging tools, allowing him to see and test products in a virtual setting. Although the movie pushes the current boundaries, retailers such as Lowe’s and IKEA are already allowing customers use their smartphones and tablets to visualize home improvement implications. In 2014, Lowe’s Canada unveiled the first installations of the Lowe’s Holoroom (http://www.lowesinnovationlabs.com/innovation- holoroom/ ), a home improvement simulator that applies 3D and augmented reality technologies to provide homeowners an intuitive, immersive experience. IKEA’s approach leverages augmented reality by allowing customers to view furniture from the retailer’s catalogue in the actual customer’s home setting. Only now, package goods companies are starting to explore augmented reality applications for smartphones that links their packaging to deeper brand stories and experiences. It’s not surprising that Dussault (http:// www.dassault-aviation.com/en/ ), the leader in augmented reality technology is also one of the world’s largest military aircraft manufacturers. Future: Look to science and the military for the next instalment of immersive experiences.
  12. 12. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 12 part three Know the Six Signs That You Are in a 5D Experience 5D design, better known as immersive experience, is growing as a marketing and branding practice. With all of this growth, have you ever wondered if you have participated in a 5D experience or, more importantly, can you spot one when it’s happening? Here are the six signs that you have participated in what is becoming the next level of brand engagement.
  13. 13. Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 13 1) It’s a Sensory Experience The senses impact our view of the world, our emotions and our behaviour. A 5D experience capitalizes on all five senses, stunning realistic visuals, the tactile feeling as one navigates the environment, the sound emanating from the experience, smell, virtual taste and image association (taste the lushness found in a photograph of an orange). The ideal 5D experience needs to appeal to all of our senses, and also cater to our sense of balance and discovery. 2) It Allows Participants to be Lost in Time We are talking about a 5D experience when the participants loose the sense of time. Gaming is a great example of an immersive experience often resulting in players loosing track of time. Immersive experiences draw viewers in by creating an environment where time has no value or influence. For brand marketers, this is truly an ideal factor where the target group is so involved in the experience, that the notion of stopping seems foreign. 3) Provides a High Level of Storytelling 5D experience is the virtual manifestation of a well-written story that is visually delivered while allowing the participant full control. For an immersive experience to be relevant, it needs to be anchored in a story and all of its aspects from the scene and players to the required behaviour and rituals. 4) The Experience is Stunningly Real Stunning and realistic visuals are the common denominator of 5D experiences. The harder our brain needs to work at discerning the information, the more taxing the chore becomes, and the harder it is for a participant to remove the boundaries between digital experience and the reality. The closer to reality, the more immersive the experience becomes. The brain no longer needs to differentiate between the virtual and the reality. Without the boundary, the brain’s processing power is now relegated directly to the reptilian brain, the brain ruled by reflex and impulse, deepening the reality of the 5D experience.
  14. 14. Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 14 5) Allows for Multiple Participants Humans are social creatures and the closer the 5D experience reflects our social needs, the closer the experience comes to reality. One of the key dimensions of immersion is the ability of being surprised, challenged and engaged with other participants. The ability to contribute and help narrate the story makes the 5D experience that much more realistic and it deepens the experience. 6) Intuitive and Instinctive To the best of my knowledge, the top games do not come with extensive instruction booklets. The games are designed to reflect how humans interact with their environments and as such, immersive experiences are intuitive. Intuitive thinking is not a conscious process and relies on the senses, sixth sense and instincts versus rational thinking. Similar to being stunningly real, 5D experiences rely heavily on the participants’ intuition and instincts to navigate the experience. “The ability to contribute and help narrate the story makes the 5D experience that much more realistic and it deepens the experience.”p
  15. 15. | Immersive Experiences | White Paper | July 2015 15 As I have noted, immersive experiences have been around for quite some time, and brands are now looking at how they can repurpose existing and emerging technologies in ways that will allow for their brands to tell richer and more engaging stories in innovative ways. The true definition of an immersive experience will constantly evolve to a place where the lines between reality and virtual will blur and become one. With retailers having the ability to include all five senses, they are well positioned to create immersive experiences that other channels cannot, and bring the sci-fi scenes from Total Recall a new reality. 5D experiences exist in many forms and anyone who has viewed an IMAX movie, played one of the leading video games, or visited an interactive display in a museum or art gallery has participated knowingly or unknowingly in an immersive experience. As the use of this approach continues to gain momentum, it will become harder to determine what is immersive and what is real, what is virtual and what is reality. conclusion

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