2014 Experiential Trends: Wild, Wired World

  

By   Blake Bowyer, Digital Strategist

So long, 2013: You came in like a   Chris Bosh photobomb and  out like an   Amazon delivery drone. You gave us a glimpse of how cool (and  awkward) Google Glass can be and  expand ed the definition of the vending machine, dispensing beer, coffee,   champagne, and    live crab (yum?).

It was a big year for experiential, as wearables, gesture technology, and  augmented reality took big leaps into becoming mainstream.  Creating a brand ed experience is both easier and  harder than it ever has been.

The good news is, data speeds are catching up with our imaginations and  we can create more complex, immersive experiences for consumers near and  far.  Let’s look at three trends that will influence what we do in 2014.

Trend 1:  Digital Gets More Analog

Kids these days.  With their vinyl records and  hand written notes, it’s just – wait.  According to estimates, U.S. vinyl sales are the highest they’ve been in   20 years and  the global stationery market is expected to top   $110 billion in 2017, a 25% increase over five years.  More than that, Millennials report to have a fondness for physical mail, business cards, and  the smell and  feel of books.  While it sounds like an alternate reality, we’re seeing a strong attraction to the tangible.  In an age of bits and  bytes, consumers are looking to interact with physical objects and  make unique, personal things – a sensibility experiential marketers can leverage again.  Where does digital come in?  3-D printing, smartphones, and  services like   Instaprint that bridge the digital-physical divide.

Trend 2:  Rise of the Social Machines

Somewhere in the middle of the offline–online spectrum are social machines.  A social machine is a device in an offline environment controlled through digital/social activity.  These executions are used to engage consumers from varying distances – from the next room to the next continent.  A great example is the   Redd’s Apple Launcher, developed by iStrategyLabs.  Consumers anywhere could vie for control of a fully-functional apple launcher located in a Washington, D.C. warehouse.  Once it was your turn, you could aim the launcher at bullseyes throughout the space and  win Redd’s prizes if you were on-target.  Look for more of this style of execution in the future as brand s look to engage more people than those on the ground.

Trend 3:  Immersion Delivered

An experiential holy grail, experiential marketers have dreamed about immersion for decades.  And consumers are demand ing it – a recent study from JWT   showed 71% of consumers said they like it when brand s ‘make an active attempt to capture my imagination’.  Remember that moving box in the middle of the shopping mall in the 1980s?  It was taking people on a virtual roller coaster ride, between a Zumiez and  Banana Republic.  Immersion was around then – it’s not a new concept. However, with the rise of heads-up devices like the aforementioned Glass and  virtual reality headsets like   Oculus Rift, brand -driven immersion will start to happen this year.  And it’ll probably be dorky.

2014 Wild Card:  Leap Motion

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could control computers with our hand s rather than a lowly mouse?  That’s exactly what Leap Motion – a gesture control technology – has in mind.  With a flick, wag, or swipe of your finger, the small device will make you feel like you’re Tom Cruise in Minority Report (before he got weird).  While many reports say the tech isn’t ready for the big leagues, future versions will create intriguing possibilities. Leap Motion’s belief that “touchless 3D interaction will open up a wide range of new immersive experiences for people to explore” could have broad application in experiential environments.  Imagine an interactive consumer experience that doesn’t require wires or controls or even touchscreens – just gestures.  Sounds cool for everyone.

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