The concept of 'phygital marketing' refers to the possibility of using technology to connect the physical and digital worlds in order to create unique and interactive experiences for consumers.
Given the constant ubiquity of mobile technologies, people also have expectations of interactivity in physical environments. Especially for the millennial generation, the line between physical and digital is very blurred and 82% of them want to be able to access all products in a shop online.
For this reason, companies have started to offer experiences that blend digital technologies with physical experiences. In fact, phygital marketing allows the benefits of both to be fully exploited.
Especially in retail, large companies are striving to improve the customer experience by providing immersive engagement, stimulating the senses, and arousing strong emotions in the customer. The virtual dimension is therefore becoming more and more involved in every moment of the purchasing process: from web marketing to the integration of digital technologies in physical shops.
But how is this integration achieved?
The meeting of physical and virtual dimensions can be achieved, for example, by incorporating sensors into physical objects. The existence of 'phygital' reality is in fact made possible by three components:
- wireless sensors;
- artificial intelligence, which unlike other technologies allows interaction with humans through the ability of robots to understand and communicate through language;
- and augmented reality (AR), whereby virtual data is added to and incorporated with physical data to create a 3D mixed reality environment.
By harnessing the interactivity of these technologies, phygital marketing can have a positive impact on the customer experience.
In concrete terms, what experiences can phygital marketing offer?
For example, you might buy a piece of furniture and then realise that it does not fit in with the rest of your home. Phygital marketing solutions would allow the consumer to avoid this waste of time, money and effort. People could simply browse through an online catalogue, scan a barcode and point the camera of their smartphone at the place they think the furniture would fit and see how it would look in space.
A similar argument can be made for other sectors. The well-known luxury brand Lancôme, for example, has developed the Le Teint Particulier project. This is a machine which, by scanning the skin, allows customers to buy a 'made-to-measure' foundation from more than 70.000 possible combinations.
Also in the area of cosmetics, Bourjois decided to create a series of 'magic mirrors', which, thanks to a camera and a face detection system, allow consumers to have a genuine vision of the result they could achieve through the use of products.
Furthermore, phygital marketing solutions can also be usefully applied in the field of cultural heritage.
The temporary exhibition 'Invisible Archaeology' at the Egyptian Museum in Turin can be considered phygital, as it is characterised by a fusion of material artefacts and digital content. In fact, the exhibition allows you to interrogate the objects, revealing valuable information about the items in the collection, who created them, how they were used, how they were found and how they were preserved. In addition, a virtual tour of the exhibition is also available. An immersive tool, using 360° cameras, provides a 3D reproduction of the exhibition.
In conclusion, is the future of marketing phygital?
The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent digitisation of many sectors have undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of phygital tools by more and more companies. In 2020, spending on enterprise mobile augmented reality (AR) software was $2,58 billion. Estimates predict an increase to $3,1 billion in 2021, rising to $3,78 billion by 2024.
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