Do you remember the last time you had a great interaction with a brand online? Probably not, as good digital purchases are designed to be seamless, but not necessarily memorable. But in a world where consumer attention is a valuable currency, the ability to captivate audiences in digital spaces is a game-changer.
Here is where immersive virtual experiences come in. Going beyond the creation of realistic replicas of products in 3D, developing a remarkable digital environment for a brand means creating an emotional connection with the consumer by leveraging technology to access channels and experiences that are not available in the physical world. The goal is to create unforgettable interactions, with a digital-first mindset.
It is important to go beyond simply facilitating the purchase decision. It’s about opening new and meaningful touchpoints for the brand to connect with consumers across all channels. Whether through website experiences, mobile apps, social media, or emerging technologies like augmented reality or other immersive models, brands can create experiences that extend the traditional boundaries of marketing. Here are a few steps that we follow at S-iR to help your brand create a purposeful experience in the digital space:
1. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR AUDIENCE
Understanding your consumer is the cornerstone of creating immersive experiences that resonate. Catering to the preferences, behaviors, and desires of your brand’s target audience is crucial. But also, anticipating their future needs connected to the industry’s disruptive developments.
A recent consumer insights report by WGSN highlights that “as disruption, volatility and uncertainty continue to affect markets in the future, companies will need to apply this creative and adaptive problem-solving approach from the top down. Succeeding in 2025 will require brands to think differently, placing investment in strategic imagination. This will not be artistic virtuosity, but the ability to envision ideas and solutions that do not yet exist.”(1)
The strategic mindset of today requires a thorough understanding of existing technologies and consumer behavior. It is necessary to create solutions that are not simply driven by technology, but are meaningful and valuable to the user. This concept can be observed in other moments of technological disruption, such as the launch of the first iPhone. Even though the technology itself was already available, it was the unique combination and the opportunities it created that made it a groundbreaking product.
As consumers are increasingly becoming technology natives, their needs are also changing. At S-iR, our role as co-creators of the future of brand experiences goes through the use of augmented lenses to anticipate consumer needs. This allows us to open up space for innovation, serving as a purposeful tool for brands to tell their stories. By enriching the customer journey through a hyper omnichannel experience, we can create stronger emotional connections.
2. DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE IN THE DIGITAL LANDSCAPE
To differentiate itself in the digital realm, a brand needs to have a clear purpose regarding the why and how of using technology to enhance its brand story. Is it to target a new audience? Is it to enter new markets? Is it to experiment with innovative ideas and products?
Immersive experiences should always align with your brand’s identity and values. Art Zuijderwijk, CEO at S-iR, emphasizes, “It’s not just about being digitally present; it’s about making a meaningful impact that aligns with the long-term story your brand is trying to convey. If your brand values high-quality experiences, all your channels should reflect that.”
A common purpose for fashion luxury brands is to create a crafted experience using high-quality materials. This can be challenging to convey solely through digital channels, but it is not impossible. By striking the right balance between high-tech interactions, like digital fabrics that respond to haptic touch on the screen, and preserving the personal touch, such as offering plenty of options for customer personalization, it is possible to create an equally valuable and disruptive fashion luxury experience. Immersive technologies, like those used at S-iR, are dedicated to enhancing the tangible experience and bringing new value to it by focusing on quality and craftsmanship.
3. CLARIFY YOUR GOALS AND INTENTIONS
Before diving into the process of creating immersive experiences, it is important to define your goals and intentions. Are you aiming to boost brand awareness, drive sales to a specific new audience, or foster a sense of community? Each immersive experience should have a purpose that contributes to the overall objectives of your brand. Clarity in goals ensures that your digital initiatives align with your broader business strategy.
One of the most important goals for the fashion industry in the coming years will be to implement and demonstrate the results of sustainability actions. According to McKinsey and Business of Fashion (2), “finding a balanced way to implement sustainability improvements and risk-reduction programmes with competitive advantages is likely to be a key challenge for fashion executives in 2024.”
Technology plays a crucial role in achieving these goals. To prioritize environmental consciousness, tech solutions like those offered by S-iR are designed to effectively reduce production excesses, making a significant contribution to advancing a more sustainable industry. One example is the use of digital twin products to minimize the production of unnecessary samples and unrequested pieces throughout the entire supply chain. This includes fabrics, leather, materials, prototypes, sampling, and initial collection deliveries.
4. CREATE ENGAGING AND RELEVANT CONTENT TO BUILD LOYALTY
“After years of relying on performance marketing, brand marketing may increasingly take center stage in the year ahead, with 71 percent of executives planning to spend more on brand marketing than in 2023 in a bid to cultivate emotional connections with customers”, says McKinsey and Business of Fashion (3).
Good content is at the center of any brand marketing strategy, to create a meaningful brand story and provide true omni-channel experiences. It not only enhances immersive experiences but also attracts people to return for more. Whether it’s a digital shopping window, an augmented reality, a try-on experience, or a virtual branded space, the content must be engaging and relevant. In the digital space, consumers have a wealth of options. To build loyalty, your brand content must not only be visually stunning but also emotionally resonant. It’s about creating an immersive narrative that consumers want to be a part of.
As consumer expectations evolve, there is an increasing demand for personalized and interactive experiences. The technology is expertly developed to meet these expectations, offering exceptional and tailored encounters that deeply resonate with a diverse and digitally savvy audience. But it is crucial to maintain a delicate balance between customization based on the provided data and the privacy of the consumer. Responsibly and adeptly navigating these issues is crucial for establishing and maintaining trust between consumers and their favorite brand.
5. COLLABORATE WITH OTHER INNOVATION PLAYERS
Collaboration is essential in disruptive industries, as well as in creative ones. Co-creation provides a solid path towards innovative solutions by bringing together talented minds to think about solutions with the potential to positively impact the entire industry, rather than serving a single purpose.
In the process of innovation, a collaborative mindset plays a crucial role in generating disruptive ideas. It relieves the pressure of needing to know everything by allowing brands to focus on their own expertise and share knowledge with trustworthy partners who have complementary skills.
Your brand doesn’t have to do all the work alone. Partnering with other innovation players can bring fresh perspectives and amplify the impact of your immersive experiences. Lorenzo Pedergnana, one of our technology experts, comments, “Collaboration sparks innovation. When a brand brings us a problem to solve and we co-create an outstanding solution, the entire industry benefits.
THE TRUE DISRUPTION OCCURS THROUGH PURPOSE, COLLABORATION, AND AN OPEN MIND.
As we navigate the digital landscape, it is crucial to recognize the significance of partnering with established experts who have a proven track record. And to create meaningful brand-consumer immersive experiences in digital spaces, a strategic approach is necessary. This involves agility in adopting new technologies and a deep understanding of evolving consumer expectations. From understanding your audience and defining your purpose to crafting engaging content and collaborating with industry players, each step plays a pivotal role. As the fashion tech landscape continues to evolve, staying at the forefront demands a blend of innovation, empathy, and a willingness to embrace new ideas.
Remember, in the digital realm, your brand is not just selling products; it’s selling an experience. Make it immersive, make it memorable, and make it matter.