Six Degrees of Interactive Engagement

By Ron Bowers
SVP, Business Development, Frank Mayer & Associates

footwear-1013Six degrees of separation is the theory that any two individuals could be connected through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. It is popularly used to espouse the concept that we occupy a small world. We borrowed that concept for a session at a recent Digital Screenmedia Association symposium that I moderated called “Six Degrees of Interactivity.”

The Digital Screenmedia Association is all about connection. The DSA was created to bring the suppliers of interactive technologies like kiosks, mobile, digital signage, RFID and NFC together so we could communicate and collaborate about how individual pieces combine to create a compelling experience around a product. The experience of connecting with a product or environment can set consumers on a path that leads to purchase and initiates a relationship that can lead to loyalty.

Lindsay Wadelton of AT&T Mobility shared how her company’s flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago has transformed the brand experience. It is hard to miss the eye-popping digital signage in the Explore Zone that highlights AT&T’s diverse device lineup and accessories. At the same time, it’s the hands-on aspects of the new store that communicate the company is about more than just phones; they convey a connected mobile lifestyle of convenience and personal services.

The new Connected Experience Zone features “lifestyle vignettes” that highlight categories such as music, home security and entertainment and offer customers a glimpse of how solutions can be used in their everyday lives. The Community Zone features “community tables” that encourage customers to shop and play with apps, accessories and devices. The environments are set up for self-exploration or side-by-side interaction with store associates.

We also heard from Jared Schiffman, founder and CEO of Perch Interactive, a start-up whose interactive table-top displays combine the benefits of online shopping with hands-on product exploration. Perch has offered Nordstrom a successful and innovative experience for their customer engagement. This solution encourages shoppers to touch and pick up products on display. When they do so, they get rewarded with information, animations and media that connect them more closely to the brand.

George Burciaga, CEO of elevate DIGITAL has reinvented the “billboard” through creating a multi-sensory outdoor touchscreen. Burciaga showed displays with large 46- to 55-inch touchscreens that offer not only hyperlocal deals for retailers within the vicinity, but a wealth of content, such as city and transportation information, news and attractions. A social element that allows consumers to take video and photos for sharing via Facebook or email enhances advertising impressions generated by the display.

All three presentations were developed independently. What was confirming for me was that all three touched on the same theme. Interactivity drives engagement, and consumers who engage with a product are more likely to buy a product, connect with the brand or service and create a loyalty relationship based on the interaction.

All three of these companies are targeting consumers who are looking for something beyond their desktops. When millennial shoppers engage they may seek a retail environment and assisted selling, but they are perfectly comfortable with self-navigation and decision-making how, when and where they want it.

The demand for the kinds of self-directed, multi-sensory product experiences showcased at the DSA symposium is here to stay, and we as an industry are poised to entice the next generation of shoppers into retail and out-of-home environments with exciting product displays that help them connect personally and socially with what is before them.

This column was reprinted with permission from the Digital Screenmedia Association and originally appeared here.