The old mantra for marketers and communications professionals trying to connect with consumers online was “Content is King.” It was ground-breaking. It was logical. It was true. After a long and effective reign, content has been dethroned in favor of something far more memorable: experience. When you consider the gradual shift of societal value placed on experience rather than things (thanks largely in part to us millennials) it’s only natural that the marketing and communications industries would follow closely behind. Let’s take a look at how this shift in value is impacting the way brands engage in the “age of experience:”
Goodbye Retail Stores, Hello Retail Experiences
Today, consumers are inundated with numerous options and brand loyalty is dwindling. To stand out from the crowd, or, arguably, to continue to exist in the modern market, retailers must find ways to create unforgettable experiences. It may not be immediately obvious what chauffeured rides have to do with Ralph Lauren selling shirts, or what a fully staffed restaurant has to do with Restoration Hardware selling furniture, but the link is there, and it is important. More time in store equals more sales. Memorable experience equals greater brand loyalty. All retailers need to think beyond their product offering.
Virtual Showroom > Online retailer site
When 56 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores is influenced by digital interactions, brands need to invest well beyond mobile-friendly interfaces. One of the most notable brick-and-mortar retailers in the country is a great example of embracing this shift. Saks Fifth Avenue allows saks.com visitors to live-chat with a sales associate at a nearby store that will make personalized product suggestions. If they would like, the shoppers then have the chance to continue shopping with that sales associate by scheduling an in-store appointment. Businesses need to meet consumers’ expectations of a seamless omni channel experience—and then exceed those expectations.
Introduction—to Inclusion—to Immersion
Consumers’ thirst for and expectation of experiences means brands are marketing to them in a way that bypasses introducing and informing products and services and moves toward including them in the messaging and immersing them in an experience. As augmented reality and virtual reality gain momentum and accessibility, expect to see, touch and feel brands in a whole new way. Check out how National Geographic has partnered with Facebook 360 to let consumers dive into the content of their glossy pages. Ads are everywhere, branded content is everywhere. Businesses that will successfully connect with consumers in this new era need to be memorable. Whether that is through technology or hyper-personalization or another developing strategy. As technology evolves and drives our expectations to change, it’s difficult to say what will be deemed the next King. But as long as experience sits on the throne, businesses need to strategize in ways that engage consumers by meeting them where they are at and allowing them to go places they’ve never been.