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.