Few brands will continue to deliver great experiences beyond the World Cup final

Few brands will continue to deliver great experiences beyond the World Cup finals, writes Robbie Robertson. Yes, it’s something to talk about right now, but a consistent purpose is what the retail industry needs.

 

For brands such as Nike, Adidas and Playstation, today marked the climax of a main event four years in the making. At a time when retail forecasts point to declining sales, the World Cup was an oasis for these brands and others jumping on the bandwagon. It has been their platform to create great experiences that hopefully turn customers into brand advocates for the next four years and beyond.

Viral videos engaged, applications helped to create and share content and in-store and pop up experiential activities enthralled. Retail spaces – physical and virtual – integrated.

But, few brands will continue to deliver great experiences beyond the finals. Fewer still will continue developing customer experiences that not only add value and interest, but also make lives easier.

Harvard Business Review recently said that marketing hasn’t kept pace with the change in business. Marketers need to be ‘experience designers’ and engage with authenticity across all channels.

In the country with the highest penetration of smart phones globally, where 70% of customers use multiple channels to shop, over 76% Australian retailers do not have a customer experience strategy. If we want to see positive retail forecasts, this needs to change.

 

Don’t try to fit in  

In a world driven by ubiquitous data, multiple choices and content overload, retailers need to create connected experiences that make lives easier intuitively. The strategy should be less about trying to fit customers into existing digital and physical frameworks and more focused on building narratives that fit customer’s behaviour.

Like Google Glass, when you think about solutions that work around the customer, you stay ahead of the pace of change and maintain control over the narrative. As Jack Welch famously said: “When the pace of change outside an organisation is greater that the pace of change within, the end is near.”

107-year-old sneaker company Nike and 158-year-old luxury brand Burberry have become role models for innovative marketing that seamlessly integrate product, store, digital and culture into individual experiences. They have made connected experience a business imperative to stay ahead of changing customer behaviour. Local retail needs find customer centric solutions instead of trying to fit customers into standard touch points.

 

Intuitive design is more important than ever

At Good Design Australia’s recent Design As Strategy Forum, global product and service design specialists discussed social and economic prosperity through design. The consensus was product, location and digital design need to work together to achieve prosperity.

Design is moving beyond aesthetics to experience. Look and feel will always be important, but creative strategy and design thinking will play will play a bigger role in addressing business challenges and developing solutions to these problems – not just deliver on the brief. Intuitive design will be intertwined with customer’s behaviour.

 

Simplify the challenge

Too often, we marketers and retailers get caught up with individual tactics and lose sight of the end result. Success gets equated to or confused with the delivery touch point and not measured for cohesive brand experience. While measuring returns from a point-of-purchase unit or outdoor campaign, we are losing sight of the customer and their interaction with the brand as a whole. They end up becoming another number on the bottom line.

Rather than rote delivery on brief, maybe it’s time we take a step back and ask simple questions. How can I make my customer’s life easy? What matters to them? How can I enhance their lives? How can I take them on an interesting journey? How can I leverage my brand in a way that is relevant to the customer?

Nike does not try to fit in itself into new media platforms because it has to. It uses innovative technology, behavioural science and customer values to deliver simple and individual experiences. Technology for Nike is the enabler to conversations, experiences and a humanistic approach. It delivers emotion for World Cup fans, ease of use for in-store shoppers and a community for runners.

 

Co-creators will be the new normal

No one knows for certain what the future holds. However, the present sees six-year-olds buying iPad game add-ons such as clothes for dolls and wheels for cars. They are growing up wanting the same experience in-store – now and in future. They will soon be our customers, and we need to be ready to provide them an experience they find compelling.

This is a generation for whom digital, co-creation and online identity is a way of life, not an expectation. They won’t just use technology; they’ll modify it to suit their needs. They won’t just want products off the shelf; they’ll expect to co-design to suit their needs.

For Nike and Burberry, and others who deliver immersive connected experiences, customers are their connection out to the world – one to one and one to many. And, they are co-creating physical and digital narratives that customers can amplify across their networks.

 

Retail as an industry needs to take a step back from chasing bottom line to see what really matters to customers. While the World Cup gives brands a compelling topic to talk about, strategies that don’t have storytelling at their core will struggle later. Brand and content need a sense of purpose.

We need to evolve through awareness, creativity and problem solving and be ready for the new normal.

 

Robbie Robertson is the director of Mash Up, a specialist retail consultancy delivering connected experience across physical, brand and digital.