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Mobile marketing is entering an exciting new era. As people spend less time at home in 2022, new patterns of online and offline shopping and entertainment emerged. Brand marketers experimented with new tactics to optimize shifting expectations and desires among customers.
Mixed reality marketing must overcome entrenched challenges. Digital marketing is becoming saturated and cut-through is difficult to achieve. The cost of customer acquisition online is high and loyalty is fickler than ever. Consumer sentiment is strained by global economic uncertainties. Price and value remain key drivers of purchasing decisions, but other factors are emerging.
Consumers want to be inspired to participate in promotions, rather than simply be marketed to. There is a growing sentiment for climate-friendly retail practices, especially among younger consumers. The return of international travel is turning attention toward purchasing travel experiences rather than products for the home. And metaverse curiosity is growing.
Set against Asia’s shape-shifting consumer landscapes, intelligent and interactive technologies are transforming the way brands engage consumers. Eye-catching developments in experiential marketing in 2022 will be refined and optimized for 2023. Here are five trends to look out for in the coming year.
Shoppertainment is a form of brand engagement derived from the usage of social video apps, like Kuaishou, Douyin (aka TikTok), Tiki, and the social commerce site Pinduoduo. Entertaining and gamified video content resonates among young consumers with short attention spans who are bombarded with mobile promotions. A new report by TikTok and Boston Consulting Group uses the term “entertainment-first engagement”. It says brands seek to stimulate emotional responses among shoppers through “a variety of content types including video, live-stream broadcast, shoppable TV and shoppable live events.”
Scenario-based activations deploy virtual and AI technologies to connect people to the moment. In China, Louis Vuitton live-streamed its Spring 2023 men’s collection show from a futuristic beach landscape in Qinghuangdao. Broadcast on eight video apps, the show featured audience members wearing the new lines on the beach catwalk and attracted 330 million viewers.
In Vietnam, a smaller-scale street activation presented an incentivized personal challenge. Carlsberg created an interactive billboard competition to win a free beer. Passers-by were invited to speak into a voice-activated installation and correctly pronounce the brand's name. Their voice was instantly analyzed by an AI tool, and if deemed correct a bar tap dispensed a cold beer.
Asian consumers are accustomed to pop-up stores and installations in malls and plazas. Brands use time-defined concepts and limited-edition lines to drive interaction based on the “fear of missing out” (FOMO), an emotional driver of behavior among young consumers. For this reason, pop-up campaigns quickly achieve a high level of peer sharing and response on social media.
Pop-up metaverses expand these precepts into the mixed reality world. While maximizing short-term engagement, they empower consumers to navigate their experience journey. Pop-up metaverses appear around festivals and celebrations. Malaysia created Merdekaverse to celebrate its Independence Day and Macau combined virtual and real-life dining experiences to increase participation in its annual Macao Food Festival.
Interactive metaverse and augmented meta experiences are also custom-created for the duration of sports tournaments. These include the FIFA World Cup, the Southeast Asian Games, and the Australian Open, which is promoted as the Grand Slam of Asia. During the 2022 Indian Premier League cricket tournament, new franchises Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans launched interactive metaverses to build their online fan bases.
Hyper-realistic, computer-curated influencers, also known as Virtual Idols, are hot properties, and their personas are becoming more human-like and diverse. Brands are custom-crafting lifelike digital ambassadors whose storylines reflect the company’s experiential outlook. Virtual idols engage with young mobile consumers through metaverse, extended reality, and video streaming platforms.
Trend-setting virtual idols such as Ayayi and Noah created a social media storm in China for the 11.11 (Singles Day) online shopping festival. They are also being deployed by luxury brands, such as Dior, Gucci, and Prada, for metaverse-only fashion shows. Meanwhile, the Korea Tourism Organization debuted Lizzie, claimed as “the world’s first virtual traveler”. This stylish avatar visits destinations across South Korea every day and mobile fans can follow “Lizzie’s daily life” on social media and short video apps.
Virtual-to-offline social impact marketing is a trend to watch. Brands are collaborating with interactive tech providers and NGOs to create promotions that tackle issues of social inequality and environmental protection.
In India, chocolate brand Cadbury partnered with NFT on GuardianLink to enable parents to upload their children’s artwork to a virtual gallery. The artworks were curated as collectible NFTs and buyers could bid to purchase each piece. Funds raised were donated to a Save the Children school program for underprivileged children.
In Vietnam, Brokerage firm Vantage teamed with online sports training platform UpRace to host a virtual marathon. Using a smartphone app, runners accumulated race kilometers to raise money for the Association of Vietnamese Handicapped Orphans and Save Vietnam’s Wildlife. The e-sports event also raised awareness about the real-life benefits of active fitness.
Real-life Asian celebrities and pop superstars are expanding their fan bases through metaverse and extended reality experiences. This is reinvigorating the so-called “fan economy” and will drive new marketing strategies and engagement innovations. Chinese internet giant Tencent teamed with Adidas to host the Landing on the OZ Future concert, which featured Asian performers, digital idols, and show-themed virtual merchandise.
Using celebrities for virtual events and endorsements is beyond the financial budget of many companies, but their vast fan bases could stimulate broader metaverse activity. South Korean, Chinese, and Japanese pop stars and actors are popular across the region, and exclusive virtual experiences will encourage more Gen Zs to participate in metaverses for the first time. If they enjoy their experiences, this could create an enlarged populace of regular metaverse participants for brands to engage with in the future.
Dominique Specht joined DKSH in June 2011. He is the Vice President, Group Marketing & Business Development (HOS), overseeing DKSH’s Marketing activities globally and Business Development for Business Unit TEC’s Hospitality Business Line. Over the past 20 years he has been working in international environments, focused on Africa, Asia as well as Central and Eastern Europe.