Seen Presents

Digital Brands in the Experience Age

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Seen - Seen This Issue 4 - Experiences

Seen This 4 explores how digital brands are using physical spaces to connect with audiences and build advocacy. It’s no secret that ‘experiences’ are fast-becoming an essential weapon for brands in the fight for consumer engagement, with this discipline being the fastest growing line in a brand's marketing budget.

Twenty-five years after the arrival of the World Wide Web, the ‘Information Age' is now drawing to a close, unseated by a new stage in tech that puts human experience first. Welcome to the ‘Age of Experience’.

In the Experience Age, consumerism no longer equates to materialism. Consumers no longer chase that straight-forward endorphin hit that once came from getting your hands on a coveted item, as shopping becomes something you can do anywhere and anytime. Consumers instead are longing to acquire memorable and distinctive experiences that enhance their lives, as well as their social capital. And, in response, brands are creating complex, multisensory and emotional journeys that deepen their connections with consumers.

For the last six successive quarters, and for the first time in ten years, consumer spending on experiences has outpaced retail spending growth. People are spending less on products and more on experiences. (Outlook for Retail 2016 / Retail Economics)

Is this a reaction to post-recession blues, with consumers now living life through experiences, or, is it a fundamental change in how we value product purchase over an experience? And, it’s not just a millennial driven trend. Less typically millennial focused purchases such as holidays and eating out are driving this trend.

So, if experiences are becoming ever more important for consumers, they’re now even more important for how a brand interacts with its audience. But does this present a problem for digital service brands who may not sell a physical product or have a shopfront? Not in the least. Digital service brands that want to bring their brands to life and refine their customer experiences should look to 2017’s breakout technologies: VR, AI and location services. The first rule to remember is there are no rules.

AUTHORS - Seen Presents

Amy Thomson, Founder & Managing Director

Darren Smith, Innovation & Growth Director

Jennifer Anderson, Group Account Director

Frankie Speakman, Client Services Director

Key take outs:

  • Brands are 'empires of the mind'
    As new media professor at MIT Judith Williamson explains, we are long past the point where digital is just something that happens behind a screen. The first wave of digital life was flat, but today, digital has truly merged with physical reality. Thanks to pervasive internet connectivity and mobile screens equipped with cameras, sensors, AI, and location services, digital life is increasingly 3D, sensorial and interactive. And it’s at this juncture that online-first brands have the advantage.
  • Don't use technology for tech's sake
    Ensure that it has a reason for being. There is nothing worse than a gimmicky or useless mechanic being used to shoehorn in VR or the latest tech innovation. It’s all about using technology for the right brief!
  • Digital brands are using physical spaces for storytelling
    Digital brands have fewer expensive overheads; they have more potential to create memorable real-life, one-off campaigns. AirBnB reached for new heights of theatricality with its collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago, which recreated Van Gogh paintings for people to pay and stay in for a night.
  • How does it make you feel?
    Simply put, a brand experience enables exposure to a brand's culture, energy and excitement in a way that cannot be replicated. An experience elicits emotion: it truly ‘makes you feel’ and it creates memories and stories you want to tell and share. This is why a very simple question ‘How does it make you feel?’ sits at the heart of the agency’s approach.
  • AR will change how we interact with brands
    Brands are keen to use this technology but aren’t always sure how. AR removes more traditional barriers between brands and consumers, and is definitely a technology which consumer demand will only grow for.
  • Digital brands are leading the way for physical experience
    Digital brands have fewer hang ups about creating experience, than more traditional brands. They’re leading the way in seamless brand experiences, moving from physical to digital with ease and creating a benchmark for the changing face of experiential marketing, where technology facilitates the real world experience for today’s audience.


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