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Virtual Reality = Immersive Experiences

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Virtual Reality = Immersive Experiences

Virtual Reality is finally delivering on its promise of enabling immersive customer experiences and provides an opportunity for customers to engage with a product, service or place without  physically being there. With the advent of Google cardboard, and upcoming releases from Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, there will also be significantly more consumer interest in the area over the coming months.

Virtual and augmented reality will require a rethink of online storytelling techniques. Many notable brands are now introducing these elements in flagship stores where the experience can be predominantly about storytelling and less about commerce. Here are some recent practical applications of virtual reality for brands:


Oakley


In an experiential brand activation, Oakley has built a sunglasses case that lets you see through the eyes of a pro athlete. After purchasing the sunglasses, customers can reuse the box by turning it into a Google cardboard VR device to see Oakley athletes showcasing extreme sports. The campaign allows customers to watch from the wave, the mountain, the dirt, from mid-air or the sky as athletes compete in extreme events.


Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD)


SCAD is providing thousands of potential students the opportunity to take virtual tours of its campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong and France. SCAD distributed 10,000 pairs of the  specially designed cardboard goggles to potential and current students. Eventually the tools are planned to be used to facilitate participation in virtual events at remote campuses.


Ted Baker


Ted Baker’s recently refurbished Regent Street store was the scene for a virtual reality treasure hunt to celebrate the store opening. The experience allowed customers to virtually dash around some of London’s most iconic locations.
 


Content Creation


As usual, it’s not just about the technology, the right creative content approach is required. Virtual reality content creation once required significant custom hardware and software. This is no longer the case with Google recently demonstrating the Jump camera rig (see below) which comprises 16 GoPro cameras in a circular array. The size and arrangement of the cameras is designed to work with the corresponding Jump software to transform 16 separate pieces of video into stereoscopic virtual reality video. The final videos are super high resolution - equivalent to five 4K TVs and shortly YouTube will provide the perfect distribution medium for Jump videos, allowing immersive VR content to be streamed directly to smartphones.  


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Netshoes Tiny Pop-Up Store

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Netshoes Tiny Pop-Up Store

Netshoes, a Brazilian eCommerce sporting goods company has recently launched its first physical store. That 'store' was so tiny that is was squeezed in between two other shopfronts on one of the most popular shopping streets in São Paulo. The pop-up store essentially made over 40,000 products available in a space slightly larger than an iPad. It also exposed the brand to over 35,000 daily passers-by.

The campaign execution is pretty simple and a good PR opportunity for an online only brand. This is further evidence of pureplay retailers continuing to test new retail formats

What other dormant space exists in city centres, malls or airports that could be transformed for your brand?
 


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Realtime Shoppable Billboards

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Realtime Shoppable Billboards

Topshop is again using social tools to drive customer awareness of fashion trends and make those trends instantly shoppable. They have continued their democratisation of London Fashion Week with their latest #LiveTrends campaign which brings the catwalk action to billboards across the UK.

Six billboards in London, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow presented the trends straight from the catwalk. Key trends were highlighted on the Topshop billboards as hashtags. Examples included #checks, #70s or #modernism, which allowed customers to tweet @Topshop and receive a curated online shopping list inspired by the trend. Topshop's eCommerce team had created merchandised looks ahead of time to allow them to respond instantly. All billboards were located within a ten-minute walk of Topshop for those not wanting to get their fashion fix online.

Topshop partnered with digital out of home provider Ocean Outdoor and Twitter for the live stream show, whilst Australian start-up Stackla provided the tools for social curation and aggregation.

The campaign appeared to generate positive results with an average 25% uplift across all featured trend categories (compared to the previous week). In particular, sales of the #moderism featured products were up 75% compared to the prior week.

Live advertising such as this is still in its infancy, but there are strong links with existing customer behaviour. One key takeaway is that customers are now double screening away from home (that is using a mobile or tablet device whilst consuming other media such as TV and now billboards). This will be a media consumption and interaction trend to watch.

See the campaign in action below:

Checkout Topshop's previous Fashion Week social campaigns.


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Lend Your Eyes To The Blind

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Lend Your Eyes To The Blind

Best described as simple and brilliant, the Be My Eyes app enables sighted volunteers around the world to provide realtime help to blind people in need of assistance. 

The tool makes use of relatively straightforward set of smartphone functionality to enable live video chat - essentially allowing volunteers to be the visually impaired person's eyes. Volunteers can assist when they have time and the app features simple gamification elements to encourage participation. At the time of writing over 164,000 sighted volunteers have offered assistance to over 16,000 blind people.

Be My Eyes is a non-profit organisation based in Copenhagen that launched earlier this year utilising IndiGogo as crowd sourced support for their initial funding. That funding is set to expire later in 2015 and they are reviewing alternate funding models such as subscriptions, sponsorships or donations.

Check out the service via the video below:


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Big Data Driving Insurance

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Big Data Driving Insurance

Auto insurers are already using telematics (vehicle tracking & diagnostics) including information such as distance driven and location to assess the likelihood of a driver having an accident. What if your insurer agreed to lower your insurance premiums in exchange for obtaining access to all of you car's data: speed, location, operating hours, distances driven, traffic conditions and mobile usage whilst driving?

Perhaps you’d be concerned with exchanging this significant private information and wouldn't take up the offer, but would you accept it for the teenage drivers in your family, hoping it would make them drive more safely?

AAMI's latest campaign is putting this premise to the test. They're attempting to prove who's the better driver via their AAMI Safe Drive App. The app records your journeys and analyses your driving behaviour. It then provides you with a driving score and feedback relating to your journeys. Factors taken into account include length of trips, speed, acceleration, braking and mobile phone usage. The higher score you achieve, the safer driver they consider you to be.

It's a brilliant strategy with a fundamentally noble cause of making roads safer for all users (whilst also providing AAMI with a richness of data for underwriting that they've never had access to before). The app includes gamificaiton elements such as badges allowing users to climb a leaderboard, rewards for safe drivers with free roadside assistance and a corresponding competition providing the possibility of winning the grand prize of $100,000.

Usage of telematics is commonplace in the UK car insurance market where driver behaviour scores can be used to demonstrate a driver's propensity to have an accident and also enhance insurer underwriting sophistication. The ultimate goal for insurers is to drastically cut claims.

AAMI are upfront in their Privacy Statement stating that they collect personal information via the app so that "we can… [provide] you with any benefits or rewards derived from the App and underwriting and pricing your policy or any of our products or services” as well as “assess and investigate any claims you make”. So effectively they will use the information that they gather as a factor in how your policy is calculated (either positively or negatively).

Are users fully aware of how their data is used? According to the Internet Society’s Global Internet User Survey, only 16% of internet users read privacy policies and of those, only 20% actually understand them. So it would seem that the majority customers wouldn’t have made the linkage of their chance to win $100,000 and the future impacts on their policy.

Could this data also become an asset that could be sold to help better understand driving behaviours and other driving data? Strava, a mobile fitness app that tracks tens of millions of cyclists and runners recently trialed selling aggregated usage data to town planners to help provide better planning and development outcomes for cyclists and pedestrians.

How will the abundance of customer usage data transform your industry? How would you improve your product if you had access to amazingly rich customer data? 

 

See AAMI's app in action here:


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The Power Of Haul Shopping Videos

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The Power Of Haul Shopping Videos

Haul videos are short product review videos posted online (generally to YouTube), predominantly by teens and young women espousing their adoration of recent fashion,  make-up and accessory purchases.

Haul and other shopping related content on YouTube has continued to explode with unboxing videos, product reviews and haul videos all increasing their importance in the shopper research process. Haul video views spike during key shopping periods and peak during the US holiday shopping season - primarily during Black Friday and Christmas.

The trend is clear:

  • Videos with “Haul” in the title have been watched more than 1.1 billion times on Youtube and views are up 170% year on year
  • People watched 5.6 million hours of haul videos this year alone.

This trend has seen the rise of a new generation of fashion influencers like Bethany Mota who is reportedly making half a million dollars annually and has 4.8 million YouTube subscribers (more than Lady Gaga)! There are also some great local examples of haul video success with Shoes of Prey seeing amazing results with a campaign they ran in 2010 with a 16 year old vlogger, Blair Fowler. Blair's video had over 450,000 views at the time and more than 90,000 comments (from people that were encouraged to visit the site, design shoes and write a description of the shoes for a competition). The outcome was that the video was the 5th most viewed video on YouTube for that day and contributed a massive spoke in traffic (although not instant conversions) for Shoes of Prey.

It's clear that video content isn't just being used for research ahead of time. Customers are also consuming video content whilst they’re in stores to help them make decisions. Google research has indicated that one in four shoppers say they've used YouTube to search specifically for a product they’re considering while in store.

Checkout how retailers are using video to drive site conversions for additional examples of video usage throughout the purchase process.


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TopShop Social Commerce

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TopShop Social Commerce

TopShop have upped the social fashion game and created a new Instagram/ Facebook powered social catwalk. The initiative allows people from anywhere in the world to participate in the London Fashion Week event by viewing styles in Facebook as they move down the catwalk and allowing them to be purchased immediately after the show - true democratisation of a large fashion event.

Social commerce = better access than the front row…

Social commerce = better access than the front row…

Also as part of the initiative, 5 VIP Instagrammers gave their own unique take on the fashion show and the behind the scenes action - a great way to scale engaging content and leverage existing social audiences.

Finally, TopShop allowed all customers to participate in the campaign themselves using the #TopShopWindow hashtag which aggregated posts in an “interactive digital mosaic” featured in the window of their Oxford Circus store. As well as showing shiny user generated content, TopShop analysed the style trends that people were tagging and changed featured store stock accordingly – great usage of customer data driving action.

TopShop haven't released any results from the campaign to date, however the #TopShopWindow hashtag had 1,200 posts in the first 3 days.

TopShop have executed a really strong integrated campaign that looks to have set the benchmark for digital in fashion. What other great social commerce examples have you seen?



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