All hail the era of brand theatre and digital retail

I agree with the thrust of Angus Montgomery’s article (News in Depth, DW 10 December 2009) that retail brands of the future will be characterised more by digital brand experiences than by looks and logos.

Digital technology will drive retail experiences, because digital is powering the ‘experiential age’ in which we now live. Consumers are defining themselves by the experiences they can access as much as by the things they can own, and digital – via social networking, forums, peer-to-peer, You Tube and mobile – provides this access on their own terms. Successful retailers will borrow from the digital world, both strategically and tactically. The signs are already there.

My company is involved in a partnership between a major electrical retailer and a world-leading IT brand. To support computer and laptop sales, we developed software and networks delivering product information, localised pricing and, ultimately, an interactive, menu-based shopper experience directly to the screens of the promoted products, allowing direct shopper interaction while doing away with troublesome shelf strips.
The system is linked to the retailer’s SKU database – networked machines ‘calling down’ the latest product info every ten minutes. If this pilot proves a success then the system would become a differentiating component of the retail experience.

Tactically, too, promotional brand theatre has a role to play – witness Gillette’s recent launch of a male skincare and razor range in Superdrug stores. An integrated ‘retailtainment’ campaign was delivered across various platforms, including digital posters in nearby railway stations, Bluetoothed ads to mobiles, experiential marketing and in-store digital communication.

This kind of campaign – deliberately tech-savvy – helps contemporise both the Gillette brand and the Superdrug shopping experience.

Alex Johns, Managing director, Iblink, London W1

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