The blurring between online and offline is now a necessity for marketing versus an opportunity. Technology can amplify real world experiences or vice versa driven by increased discovery and richer in-moment fun and joy. The acceleration towards this new reality is being driven by the popularity of “wearables”such as the Nike Fuelband but recent explorations Google will further this. Clearly the more obvious example would be Google Glass (see articles here and here). Select Brands have already ventured into marketing experiments with Glass (see here). I expect many more to do the same once Glass becomes universally available.
While efforts such as Fuelband and Google Glass are big plays in furthering this new “screen & foot” necessity, it will be many smaller experiments that propel broader innovation. Google is among those leading the way. Whether it is their search business, mobile business, and so on, they are exploring different real-life extensions of their technology offerings, giving them greater context, resonance, meaningfulness. I stumbled on three different manifestations.
The first experiment is called Google Outside and takes search “to the streets”. Placed in 160 locations around London, the bus shelter screens provide real-time location-based information about the weather, travel, and local attractions.
The second experiment is called Winter Wonderlabs. These are installations in locations across the US where you can become “characters in a snow globe”. Essentially, you can experience virtual snow and thus bring to life the power of Google technology. The installations are not just cool real-life experiences, they are linked to Youtube allowing you to memorialise your experience. Have a look.
The third Google experiment is called Google HelpOuts. This is more a virtual tool where you find people that can help you in real-time with a problem, whether that is correctly doing your yoga move, fixing a computer issue, learning a guitar note, and so on. The service literally brings the real world to your home so that you can get on with and enjoy the things that you love, or the tasks that you have to do. Have a look at the video below and see their site here – https://helpouts.google.com/home
Other Brands are also finding ways of blending “screen and foot”. Gap has done an interesting retail program called “Reserve”. Through Reserve you can reserve a product online and then pick it up at your local Gap store. This effort allows Gap’s eCommerce and bricks-and-mortar offerings to work incredibly well together and thus adds more convenience and fun in their consumers’ shopping experiences. It also has the potential to be integrated into their overall online ecosystem, notably social media where reservations can be shared and thus allowing indirect recommendations to be publicised. And we all know how powerful peer-to-peer recommendation is when it comes to shopping.
As mentioned in the opening of this article, wearables are the trend in technology that are allowing the “screen and foot” movement to accelerate. The popularity of Fuelband and Jawbone Wristband and the hype around Glass are creating great PR. Smaller wearable Brands are benefiting from this. FiLIP is just such a Brand. What is unique is that FiLIP is for kids. Essentially it is a wrist locator and phone. You could say that it is like a monitoring device for children but it has built-in design and fashion so that it becomes a desired device – utility and technology have become a fashion accessory. Have a look.