September 25, 2014

In order to compete in today’s marketplace, it’s nearly a given that a brand must offer both digital and physical interactions for consumers. Consumers are jumping back and forth across these worlds regularly and rapidly. Marketers are doing a good job creating interactions that take advantage of the strengths of each space, but are those transitions fluid enough to keep people engaged?

Here are three examples where brands are extending the involvement in one dimension into the other dimension, creating tools to bridge the gap, and combining physical and digital elements into one experience—and doing so in ways that seem natural and effortless to consumers.

• Lego’s newest product, Lego Fusion, offers an innovative, multi-faceted play experience. Using physical bricks, children can build cars, castles, and buildings on a special plate. Then by using an app, the object is scanned and uploaded into a digital game. So after kids put their bricks away, they can continue to interact with their creations in a highly immersive online environment. Children also have the option to connect virtually with their friends and see each other’s designs. In order to advance in the digital game, youngsters must build new pieces in the real world. With the effortless back-and-forth between the physical and digital realms, Lego is facilitating the merging of these two domains and driving intense engagement with their products in both.

• Equipped with an RGB color scanner and microprocessor, the Scribble Stylus is an innovative product that can capture the hue of any object in the real world. Simply hold the stylus to an item and the exact shade is analyzed and saved for anytime use. Used together with the Scribble+ app, the information can be used on any mobile device. The applications seem limitless. For instance, if you want to purchase a new rug to coordinate with your sofa, use the stylus to scan the couch and text the color to the furniture store. It fluently translates analog to digital, making it a seamless experience for users.

• Google’s Project Tango and aisle411 have partnered to create a groundbreaking shopping experience for consumers—one that combines physical in-store shopping with virtual overlays to give them the best of both worlds. The technology creates a 3D augmented reality, which shoppers can interact with in multiple ways: find where products are shelved, earn loyalty points, and take advantage of customized deals. Shoppers can accumulate points just by strolling through an aisle. As they walk by a particular product, an offer may virtually jump off the shelf. It’s almost as if shoppers are in a life-size digital game.

While augmented reality won’t work for all brands, the concept behind blending or layering both physical and digital elements is sound.

Consumers will continue to move between domains, tools and products and the brands that can make that crossing seamless and simple will have a greater chance of succeeding. Consider how your brand can guide consumers from one medium to the other and back again. Keep in mind that while the technology behind the product or service may be complex, the transition for consumers should be effortless. To keep them engaged, prioritize the continuity of the brand experience.

For more insight and tactics on how to satisfy consumer needs in both the digital and physical realms, download SIGHTINGS – Building Bridges: Facilitating Passage Between Physical and Digital.