The Reality Gap

Bridging the physical and digital divide

Kara Melchers

Managing Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Disruption in the retail sector has contributed towards a broader convergence of physical and digital experiences.

In recent years retailers including Burberry, H&M, and Marks & Spencer have moved towards building connections between their instore world and online channels.

Coming from the other direction, brands such as Amazon and eBay have worked hard to close ‘the reality gap’ by creating tangible experiences in the real world. Amazon Dash is one example, a small Wi-Fi enabled plastic button that can be positioned around the home allowing customers to place an order with one simple click.

Recent advances in technology, such as augmented reality and RFID, have had a knock-on effect in product categories from FMCG to sportswear. Coffee brand Carte Noire, together with Work Club and AllofUs, built a motion-sensitive HD window display to engage passers-by, adidas and StartJG developed a ‘virtual wall’ to showcase its entire online inventory instore and Topshop transported customers to the LFW front row with

Oculus Rift. Brands are also experimenting with ‘connected objects’. Diageo is working with EVRYTHNG to turn its bottles into smart digital media assets, that when scanned with a smartphone provide personalised or targeted messages.

What started as a trend in the retail space has now evolved into one where brands of all kinds are building value across touch points. These advancements mirror our expectation to be served seamless and joined-up experiences, regardless of channel, location or device.

Read on for examples…

Maille Uses Rfid ‘Discovery Spoons’ In Store

Unilever’s mustard brand Maille had the goal of increasing instore sign-ups to its eCRM campaign. It wanted to do this in a fun and innovative way that would also drive footfall into the boutique in London’s Piccadilly.

The solution was a connected instore experience - the Maille Discovery Spoons.

Customers could sample each of the flavours at the mustard bar until they had identified their perfect selection.

Then, just a tap on the RFID enabled Discovery Spoon and their favourite flavours were saved. Mustard lovers filled out their contact information on an old-fashioned typewriter in the store to receive tailored email alerts, recipes, special offers and tasting notes.

The activity not only drives footfall to the boutique, but enables Maille to improve the accuracy of consumer product preferences.

Agency: Mr. President, London

RFID enabled spoons
mustards to choose from

Mattesons’ Snacking And Gaming Robot

Mattesons’ Fridge Raiders has built a strong connection between its snacks and the online gaming community. The brand enhanced this link with F.R.H.A.N.K., an artificially intelligent robot that, in its physical form, lives with the popular video game blogger Ali-A. Overtime F.R.H.A.N.K. learnt language and personality traits from the online community as Mattesons’ customers entered competitions to tackle the robot in gaming challenges.

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi , London & WEIRD+WONG

William Hill Transports Customers To The Races

William Hill wants to lead the market and take its customers closer to the action on the racecourse. The ‘Get in the Race’ initiative is a new virtual reality experience that uses Google Cardboard (an alternative to Oculus Rift) and GPS data from horse races to recreate the live jockey experience.

Following a test phase the experience will be available in William Hill stores and on mobile VR headsets for online customers.

Agency: UNIT9

H&M’s Interactive Cube For Alexander Wang

To promote the new collection from Alexander Wang, H&M unveiled ‘The Box of Wang’, an interactive installation in London. Designed to provide fashion lovers with a sneak preview of the latest collection, the box was made of black neoprene, one of Wang’s favourite materials.

The box’s interactive element was a giant ‘Tweet wall’ that displayed items of clothing when passers-by tweeted #AWxHMreveal.

Agency: Circle Agency & UM London

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