New technology is emerging at lightning speed. As industry and consumers become accustomed to these advancements, it’s beginning to impact the way brands are doing business and communicating to their customers. In 2018, there will be innovative ways in which companies are capitalizing on technology to create meaningful experiences. Experiences being the operative word. Technology should not be used just for the sake of incorporating the latest shiny object into a campaign. The goal is to create the most memorable experience that fully reflects a brand and its message, using technology as a vehicle for the overall consumer journey. That is when true success will emerge and engagement will yield the greatest results.
The following technologies are already playing a role in today’s marketplace, but they will become staples within the industry over the next few years, bringing added value to customer experience every step of the way.
1. Vending machines
The unit known for dispensing food and drink is now becoming an interactive mechanism used in business and marketing as a tool that distributes product or prizing for relevant action. These actions could be in the form of social media engagement or some other type of buzz building activity that is sharable and extends online. Many brands are deciding to use these unmanned stations to scale human interaction and bring creativity to the forefront. Take the Snapchat Spectacles launch where they dropped their own version called a Snapbot in several cities and created demand for an item only sold through this machine. Other companies like Uniqlo just announced that they will start selling their apparel through vending machines — in lieu of their previously planned store expansion, as a way for the global brand to expand with low overhead and greater consumer convenience. Look for more of these types of vending machine focused campaigns in 2018.
These items are not necessarily new even to the casual consumer, but it’s only recently that wearables have earned a prime spot within live events or brand activations. In 2015, there were 39.5 million wearable users in the U.S. That number is expected to more than double to 81.7 million by 2018. While we cannot yet count on every person attending an event with a wearable piece, brands can begin to utilize wearables to facilitate opt-in and pre-registration, allowing a customized conversation to start sooner, while simultaneously collecting data and segmenting the audience. A recent execution exemplifying this strategy was Gatorade’s Fuel Lab at SXSW where attendees could make their own custom Gatorade, delivered to them in a locker with their name on it, based on how they engaged with wearables throughout the activation space. This type of engagement provides deeper, personalized experiences that are truly groundbreaking, while narrowing in on the DNA of a brand.
3. Facial Recognition
Law enforcement, surveillance and counterterrorism have been utilizing the advances made in facial recognition technologies for some years; however, it is now catching on in a much larger way. For example, Delta is launching a new, self-service bag drop powered by facial recognition technology, the first of its kind at U.S. airports. The airline estimates that self-service bag drops can process customers’ bags up to twice as fast as humans can. In addition, the traditional beauty brand, Lancôme, recently utilized facial recognition technology to capture makeup and style preferences, contact information and social media handles. Throughout the activation, they capitalized on this data collection to deliver a virtual makeup try-on experience along with personalized product recommendations and customized digital content. Attendees could also share their brand experience on social media thanks to the information captured at registration. This type of technology not only creates a meaningful experience for the consumer, but shows that an established brand can evolve in a way that keeps them relevant and happens to create success for the company.
With the marriage of creativity and technology, enlargement opportunities are endless. It will be fascinating to see how brands and agencies push the boundaries using technologies like vending machines, wearables and facial recognition, while realizing there is still much more on the horizon.
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