COVID-19 and Virtual Experiential Marketing (VEM)
Actual brand-to-consumer, person-to-person interactions reign supreme, but let’s face it, experiential marketing as we’ve known it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a viable option too soon. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for virtual experiential marketing (VEM), and brands need to be sure that they’re ready to ride this new wave to reach consumers. So, let’s talk about what we know about VEM, what we’ve seen so far and how this new model can be applied to evolve your marketing strategy.
Don’t think of things being 100% “touch free”
We recommend that brands not expect experiential to be completely “touch free.” This just isn’t what experiential is about. Instead think about “light touch” experiences in the near future. Humans will always crave some element of touch as this is one of prime “six” senses (yes, we said six) of touch , taste, smell, sight, sound and the elusive sixth sense of experiential marketing, intuition or clairvoyance. For more on the sixth sense of experiential marketing, check out this article.
What can we expect to see in the very near future of “light touch” experiential marketing?
Experiential marketers will take a deep dive into the world of, not only augmented reality, but mixed reality as well. Augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are both considered immersive technologies but differ in many ways.
As the name indicates, mixed reality is an extension of augmented reality that allows real and virtual
elements to interact in an environment in a nearly-identical way as they would in the real world. Since mixed reality remains partially connection to the real world, it is not considered a fully-immersive experience. Wherever you go and look within an MR environment while wearing MR hardware, objects you encounter within the 3-D content will react in the same way as they do in the real world. For example, an object will move closer to you when you move closer to it and you can interact with it, e.g. turn/move an object around using gestures.
Tech such as Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 or Samsung Odyssey will allow marketers to achieve this MR experience. The conceptual holo-display will present a 3-D overview of any product and/or physical foot-print experience. This “god’s eye view” can be a true sensory takeover and leave a significant impression on the consumer who’s interacting with the experience. They will feel as if they are part of a larger experience. This type of MR will allow brands to participate in a multi-layered approach to interactive such as, but not limited to:
- Air Tapping – A proprietary, conceptual term to describe when you use your hand in the air to activate things, just as you would a with a touch screen. You literally move your hand over a collection of sensors and perform tasks. The movement of your hand and allows you to go through different functionality.
- Turning a small foot-print into a full AR interactive experience
- Participating in a larger group/event of Virtual Experiences; from a multi-location point brought to one virtual location
- Reviewing brand products in 3 and 4 dimensional viewpoints
- Interacting with a product specialist in a VEM atmosphere remotely
- Gamification to interact with the brand
- Product sampling with a mixed reality of VEM and Real-life
The list goes on as we continue to developed and create new ways with individual brands…
Using Holographic Technology
Holographic technology which will allow real-life interactions and imagery with live and canned responses for consumers to interact. Holographic tech will be and is taking on many shapes and sizes that will allow us as marketers to scale the experience dependent on the experience created and level of interaction and participation from the audience desired. Holographic technology will allow brands to participate in a multi-layered approach to interactive such as, but not limited to:
- Through animated and live interviews of product specialists
- 3D interactive views and detailed views of products and services
- Video streams showcasing the product in use
- Q&A interactions with the interface
But the tech does not stop there!
The term “wearables” has been pretty ubiquitous since Apple and Samsung began launching smart watches a few years ago. Check out a few pieces of wearable tech that will more than likely be altering the way we cross the boundary of VEM and real, everyday life:
Quick Experiences That Don’t Break the Bank
Right now, many brands and agencies are sending outreach and gifts to their current clients and/or close prospects in order to keep stay top-of-mind. Sure, gift baskets may have worked in the past (or not worked if you think about Michael Scott from The Office), but it’s been done and continues to be done without consideration for all of the options.
There are simple, “off-the-shelf” solutions out there that can be implemented to create engaging experiences. Experiences that will allow your team to really stick out and be remembered among all of the others competing for your customer’s attention. For example, send AR-compatible bottles of wine, such as Gentleman’s Collection Wine that offer a quick but memorable AR experience for the consumer (see video below). And if you have a little extra budget for the initiative, you can even create your own personal AR content to share with your clients and prospects from afar that they won’t soon forget. Better than a can of assorted nuts and a tiny jar of strawberry preserves? We think so!
Want to begin mapping out your virtual experiential marketing strategy? Have a strategy in mind, but you’re unsure where to start? Give us a call, we’d love to help you work through your challenges.