CETW12: Digital Darwinism means only the engaging survive (Video)

To survive in today's age of "digital Darwinism," retailers and brands have to adapt to the changing world of individualized customer engagement and consumer expectations, or die.

Customers don't just want, they demand, individualized, tailored engagements with the companies that want their money, and will give their hearts — and their wallets — to the ones that provide those engagements to them.

That was the crux of the presentation "Creating Meaningful Connections Through Experiential DOOH Campaigns" at this year's San Francisco Customer Engagement Technology World. Delivered by EWI Worldwide President for Digital Engagements Andrew Austin and St. Joseph Content VP of Marketing and Creative Michael Chase, the session took a look at today's changing consumer expectations, and then provided engaging examples of digital out-of-home at work.

In the past, Austin and Chase said, brands and retailers carried on a one-way conversation with consumers, talking to them, but today's consumer demands a two-way conversation and "meaningful connections."

The new retail paradigm is now how you build a personalized, empathetic experience for customers, Austin said.

"Customers are raising the bar of where they think the personalization bar needs to be set to win their hearts, and their wallets," Austin said.

According to Austin, digital out-of-home and mobile are the keys, and brands have to integrate mobile technology to reach consumers — for instance, by using the popular "Shazam" app in digital out-of-home and even in-home television commercials to get consumers to engage via their smartphones.

"You've got to have mobile touching everything," he said.

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Mobile and tablet technologies, Austin said, are being used in connected homes, in agriculture, in health care and in people's cars.

"There will be more than one connected device per consumer in this decade," he said. "There will soon be an entire generation of people who never use a computer to access the Internet."

And brands and retailers need to have the same conversation with consumers, across channels, and applied regardless of connection, Austin said. And those conversations have to be personalized, and speak to the consumer directly and individually, to become "a trusted adviser," according to Chase.

Digital out-of-home can be a great facilitator for these interactions, Chase said, and offered up several examples of strongly engaging experiences already out in the marketplace (and three of which we've embedded videos of below):

McDonald's "Pick 'n' Play" in Stockholm:


Kraft and Intel's Diji-Touch:


And Timberland's new "Retail Experience":


The presenters also looked at the rapid turnover in top retailers and companies in the last decade, showing that a significant percentage of those at the top 10 years ago either no longer exist or are just hanging on.

"If we don't embrace it; if we don't adopt it and if we don't adapt to it, (the companies that don't) are going to go away," Austin said. "The evolution is moving at a staggering pace, and digital Darwinism is adapt-or-die ... We have to keep up with the pace of change and change the game at the same time."

Read more about digital out-of-home.

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