Re. the digital realities of our lives and other themes we’re thinking about at PSFK

Hey everyone… sharing a few of the more progressive ideas that we are bookmarking as we do our research at PSFK and the patterns they seem to be fitting within. I hope you get some inspiration from the latest bi-weekly post from PSFK partner Scott Lachut.

As I close the books on my second semester of teaching this week, I’ve been consumed with all things brand experience. For their final project, my students were tasked with reinvigorating one of five CPG brands with the goal of connecting them to a younger audience. I’m happy to report that the future is in good hands. Across the board, the 13 teams of two presented a thoughtful mix of ideas that reinforced a lot of the research we’re seeing on what matters to consumers today — meaningful conversations that highlight, connect and activate community, a doubling down on purpose — wellness, sustainability, diversity, etc., education and play to bring product benefits to life and optimize the experience throughout ownership and an increasing desire to replace screen time with face-to-face interactions. As a send off to my class, I give you the all brand experience edition.

Immersion Therapy

The idea of immersion always makes me think of jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool as a kid, floating, unmoored and completely surrounded. Equal parts scary and exhilarating. For brands, immersion offers an opportunity to wrap their audiences in everything that’s special about a brand from its story and history to its products and POV, which hopefully unlocks some of those same emotions, albeit erring on the side of excitement. When done well, these moments create a 360-experience, add value and further the relationship with the consumer. In an increasingly hybrid landscape, more and more of these executions are taking place in a digital context though with the reopening of the world, I’m looking forward to a resurgence of IRL activations complete with long lines and unruly crowds.

While much ink has already been spilled about NFTs and their dubious value and environmental impacts, they remain a fascinating curiosity and area ripe for experimentation. From a brand point-of-view they seem to signal an interesting opportunity for brands to identify and engage fans in something akin to membership. At Fox’s upfronts, the media conglomerate announced the creation of their Blockchain Creative Labs and new animated series Krapopolis that “will curate and sell digital goods, ranging from NFTs of one-of-a-kind character and background art, and GIFs, as well as tokens that provide exclusive social experiences to engage and reward super fans.”

For many, sports fandom is all about the numbers. Poring over box scores and stat lines to track their favorite teams and compare the performance of star players. With the popularity of Fantasy sports and widespread legalization of betting, the push for more robust data in and around the game has gone even further. Now fitness wearable WHOOP has upped the ante with the sharing of partner athlete biometrics, even displaying live heart rates of pro golfers during a recent televised event.

In the US, Live Action Role Playing or LARPing as people in the know call it, is most closely associated with fans dressing as their favorite elves, orcs and other fantasy characters to act out elaborate storylines ripped and of course, bash each other with foam axes and swords. In China, however, the increasingly popular pastime (84.9% of Chinese netizens reported LARPing) more closely resembles a murder mystery dinner party, often taking place in an elaborate setting with period specific costumes. Given its social and community value, some view LARPing as a natural opportunity for brands, particularly in the luxury space, to get involved and contribute to the quality of the experience.

Given the digital realities of our lives over the past 12+ months, the metaverse — social, explorable online worlds — seems to be a term that’s top of mind for many. Given the popularity and creativity afforded by platforms like Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox, there is a lot of potential for brands to tap into. Enter the Gucci Garden, a simultaneous virtual (via Roblox) and IRL (in Florence) experience, that brings elements of the luxury fashion house’s recent campaigns to life for audiences

The relationships between pets and their owners have always been a little obsessive but the recent work from home phenomenon has turned that up to 11 (as I write this my puppy is sprawled out in front of my laptop). People’s cats and dogs are valued members of their family. So it should come as no surprise that pet food brands employ classically-trained chefs to help create their formulations. To celebrate the release of its Petite Feast meals, Purina’s Fancy Feast has released a companion cookbook to share the recipes that inspired the new line.

Twitch launches a dedicated ‘hot tubs’ category after advertiser pushbackThe growing interest in livestreaming platforms like Twitch highlights a marked shift in how audiences are spending their time these days and the value that community, social interaction and authenticity bring to the entertainment experience. And while gaming is still very much the main attraction on the Amazon-owned channel, the variety of content being streamed is sure to connect with almost any desired psychographic, meaning brands are paying attention. To ensure their valuable ad spend doesn’t cross paths with anything too salacious, Twitch has created a dedicated category for “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches” though sunscreen and swimsuit makers still may choose to test the waters. Also worth noting, in an effort to make the platform more inclusive to marginalized communities, the streamer has added in 350 new tags for everything from sexual orientation to abilities.

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What We’ve Been Working On At PSFK

That’s almost a wrap for this edition but if you find you need a framework to help you consider all the ideas that hit your in-box each day, check out the latest round of reports we’ve been adding to the PSFK Research Library (350+ reports). By subscribing to the PSFK Weekly Debrief, our weekly, analysis email at $650 a year, you can receive a free report from our library.

Consider our latest report Next-Gen Convenience: Innovations in Automation and Self-Serve. It’s been making waves with our PSFK iQ Members. In this research paper, the PSFK team explores the self-service tools, technologies, and locations brands and retailers are launching in order to integrate convenience and drive sales. Learn about the pre-, during, and post-purchase solutions that offer consumers an entirely contactless journey. From featured trends and highlighted examples, discover an approach to service that utilizes technology, robotics, and automation in order to provide maximum personalization and convenience.

Innovation think-tank. Publishing the most progressive ideas in design, retail, work, advertising, travel and health daily. http://www.psfk.com/reports