Looking for the constantly lost and found consumer

In search of the found lost and found customer

They’re out there somewhere.

Whatever the consumer journey, there are only two points of easily understood significance: the moment they first register on our radar and the moment they actually take action to close the deal. The interval between can be measured in Nano-seconds or take years. (I have a client that works on prospects for 2 years plus.) During that long drawn out flight from awareness to conversion and beyond, we get everything from glimpses of positive buying intentions to the kind of misunderstanding that leaves us standing at checkout with our EPOS system hanging limply in our hands.

It gets worse.

To make matters worse, media fragmentation, 24 hour shopping and the spontaneous one-click satisfaction of needs, wants and desires by the big boys often puts the boot into sales opportunities created by smaller companies in the first place. It must be great knowing that your tiny budget is working hard on behalf of the likes of Amazon which has an ad spend of over $2billion in the USA alone. Aren’t we considerate?

What choice do we have?

We’ll we can’t out spend them, so we will have to out-think them by recognising that we need to do two things:

1. Find ways to understand the nuance of intention through modeling the recency and frequency of those fleeting interactions across all intermediate touchpoints

2. If possible infiltrate the everyday lives of our target audiences by being useful in ways that view ROR (return on relationship) as a precursor metric to ROI.

Monitor intention.

 I think monitoring intention is an interesting byproduct of Gmail splitting the inbox into sections. It is also something that allows us to hold off the serving a display ad until a visitor has been back to a page or content on multiple occasions – recency and frequency can tell us when they are in responsive buying mode. We can also use proximity triggers to send sales messages when they are out shopping or passing the bookies on the way to work.

Facilitate intention.

As for integrating ourselves into the lives of customers, I am a big fan of augmented reality getting in on the act. Since long before my mobile and signal strength would cope, I have played around with Layar. Back in 2009, Layar got my attention as one of the first mobile augmented reality browsers to hit the market. Today, it helps bridge the gap between the print and digital worlds. In one campaign Layar(ed) creative developed a 135% increase in likelihood to buy when viewing an AR version of a product versus looking at a product image. I still prefer playing with LayAR when out and about. It must be potentially the best estate agent, museum, art gallery zoo and tourist tool ever.

Seeing beyond Glass.

Maybe Google Glass will hurt its development (or buy them out) but not everyone will want to wear them and having it on your smart comms device will do the trick for most of us. I have also heard a lot about gamers being blown away by the awesome next-generation immersive reality gaming headsets from Oculus VR. Gamers and game developers are drooling over the experience at shows. If you look at their website, they are hiring like there is no tomorrow. The headsets are currently a bit Flash Gordon but that will change over time.

wikitude-3d-lg-optimus

The future is IDOW.

Ultimately, I look forward to the age of IDOW (Information Displayed on the World), we will simply see AR content floating in front of whatever we look at via a glasses, contact lens or retinal implant. The contact lens gets my vote but info-fashion frames and lenses bode well for the future of the 3D Glasses business I am a pruners in, Oskav.

Some AR to get you started:

Augment is an interesting AR company  allows you to se all sorts of cool augments such how that new Panasonic 3D TV would look in your front room before you buy.

Zombies Everywhere AR Shooter is a shoot em’ for almost real app that uses your location as a backdrop – waiting for the commuter train and in need to stress relief is an interesting experience.

My personal favourite, Wikitude is just fantastic for all sorts of augmented moments – watching local data links propagate on the real world is engaging and enlightening.

Let’s not forget Layar below perhaps the most commercial AR team and the ones who got me into the AR all those years ago. Personally, I think they are the future of the direct marketing industry if nothing else.

Where next?

The bottom line is that Augmented Reality is a brilliant way to keep in touch with your customers during the walkabout period between first contact and the final act of conversion. It’s not the only way to serve the ever-changing needs, want and desires of potential customers, but it is the coolest. All we need is for technology to get out of the way. Eventually the Augment will happen in front of our very eyes. Imaging being able to see the answer to any question right in front of your eyes anywhere in the world at any time of the day or night. To the facilitator (or sponsor) will go the long-term spoils.

Ikea does it for real.

Swedish furniture retailer Ikea has added an augmented reality function to its 2014 catalogue, allowing customers to see what products will look like in their homes. The 2014 Ikea catalogue works with the Ikea app on a smartphone or tablet. Customers put the catalogue on the floor as a marker and can then select the product they want to see in that location. Check out the excellent intro video:

News Flash:

Stuff happens while you are busy writing ‘thought leadership’ content and shows you are already behind the curve:

Washington-based startup Innovega is coming up with what they call a natural eyewear-based platform (that’s contact lenses with LED in them to me and you) – called iOptik – that promises to transform how we engage with all kinds of data. The company demonstrated their new technology at the ongoing CES 2014 tradeshow and reports indicate it caused quite a stir. Looks like they are working along the right lines but I expect Google Glass will get there first in some form or other. What most interested me (from a 3D glasses point of view) was  their promo video which also demonstrates a designer glasses AR versions shown below:

smart glasses innovega

Another company working on SMART glasses is Vizux . It already sells the world’s first commercially available “Smart Glasses but they look like military hardware. Not sure about the design at all but the concept is up and running and the important sign for a developing market is that more and more people are talking about it. The implications of wearable tech are endless.