Listening to conversations around the office and among my friends, I often hear people complaining about being “overwhelmed” or “not being in control”. Why would that be? Why, while technology makes life so much easier, are we increasingly feeling like we are not on top of life? Are we our own worst enemies?
I am sure there are many answers to this question. Technology might make things easier, but expectations are also higher. Failure is not an option. I am sure that our high demands lead to a lot of anxiety and people trying to cope in a variety of ways – some constructive and some perhaps not. What is however clear, is our need to be in control.
Clever marketers are addressing this trend in a creative way. Customers are given control over products and services to amend it to their needs and likes. New Zealand winery, Scott Base, ran a project through which customers could blend their own wine at home. A case with three different Pinot Noir wines allowed you to blend it in any proportion you enjoy. And US Wine producer, Scratchpad, sells wine with a blank label in order for you to ‘create your own label’. Meeting trends through innovative solutions, is called augmentation.
Augmentation also implies personalisation and this almost follows a natural route to premiumisation. A lot of ‘ations! It makes sense though. If you can pay for a product to fit your own specifications, it is not only about making something more specific, but also something better. Premiumisation is, however, about much more than price. It is about a perception of exceptional quality, value and exclusivity. A personal experience, something not available to everyone or accessible to all. Something customed to your personal needs.
But augmentation has another meaning. More than just changes to the product and its exclusivity, it is also about creating an experience around the product. By combining technology and product, augmented reality creates an experience through which consumers can interact and create enjoyable memories. Whether online or in-store, brands now use the virtual space to enable customers to explore and enjoy. How clever! But don’t be too clever. It is very important that this virtual experience offers something that resonates with the consumer’s needs and is not only a new way of sharing the brand message. “Brands will need to learn quickly how to meaningfully integrate AR into their communications, engagement and customer-service offerings and ensure that their use of emerging technologies enriches customers’ lives or answers a need”, says Tasha Cronin in her article: Why 2018 will be the year of augmentation.
I often preach the importance of keeping an eye on trends and being flexible in your marketing approach, but are we feeding the monster? Trying to meet the trends and finding solutions to that constant state of feeling overwhelmed and out of control, we drive augmentation and premiumisation and in the end, we might even be creating more unrealistic ideals to live up to.
With all the technology and opportunity we have today, I think now, more than ever before, we have to try and find balance in our world.