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Will retail brands use more immersion in 2016?

Thursday December 31st 2015

By Liz Parry, Strategic Account Director at Teleperformance UK.

Nesta, the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts, is an independent charity working to improve innovation in the UK. They recently published their view on how UK retail will evolve in 2016 and it contains some interesting insights.

The two key insights that Nesta talk of for the year ahead are the use of the omnichannel and brand immersion. Omnichannel is often talked about in terms of communication technologies and channels, brands supporting a multichannel environment, but the bigger picture is to create a consistently good experience with the brand across all channels.

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Great examples of brands creating a fantastic in-store experience that can support their online offering include Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, where diners can watch the activity of a Michlin-starred kitchen team, M&M World, John Lewis where the ‘Man on the Moon’ ad campaign is interactive in stores, and Burberry, where customers can try on clothes and see themselves live on a virtual catwalk.

But Nesta suggests that brands who think more deeply about how customers can be immersed into the products or brand values will find even more success and they believe there is a crossover with the arts – brands will need to consider how they can create a performance that relates to their products and places the customer at the heart of the performance.

The Punchdrunk theatre company created an immersive theatre experience called Silverpoint for Absolut vodka and the British events company Secret Cinema has combined custom-built sets with interactive performance and movie screenings.

I have not seen many analysts talking about this concept of brand immersion, but I can see exactly what Nesta is suggesting – brands that offer a fantastic online experience need to consider how they recreate this in person. A shop with products lined up on a shelf does not necessarily reflect how the brand wants to be seen.