Only Human

Human Connections Continue to Trump Technology 

At a time when brands are increasingly turning towards the use of experiential and immersive experiences as a method to engage consumers, according to a study by Harris Group, more than three out of four Millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable, and 55 per cent say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before.

But is the experiential world of advertising actually involving less human interaction and developing an over-reliance on technology?

Shoba Sreenivasan and Linda Weinberger claim that it doesn’t matter how technologically sophisticated we become; emotional connectivity remains a core part of being human. We need each other and that need remains essential for psychological survival and in turn for our ability to build connection, trust, familiarity and emotion with any brand.

The technology giants themselves are leading by example, investing in well-trained brand ambassadors to support in the immersion of their product offering. Take the new Samsung experience-led store at Coal Drop Yard, Kings Cross. Not a shop but an interactive showcase space of some of their most advanced products. However, step inside and there is no shortage of friendly and welcoming staff to help consumers feel at ease, provide context and build belief behind what the brand has to offer. Something that only human reaction can assure.

Another example is in the world of gaming. Forbes noted that the gaming market generated around $138 billion in revenue last year and 2019 figures are set to show an increase of 9.6 per cent. These figures have resulted in huge investment from game developers such as Square Enix and Activision not only on the games themselves but on the promotional events that act as the perfect opportunity to educate, excite and immerse current as well as new video gaming fans.

Take EGX, a trade fair event for video games organised by Gamer Network and held annually in the UK and Germany. It’s a fully interactive event that brings multiple gaming opportunities and showcases some of the very best that technology has to offer. However, even with interactive content screens, in-game guidance and VR and AI activities being used to help guide and inform consumers, one of the biggest investments for brands showcasing is its people. Every stand is flooded with brand ambassadors, often one per gaming station as well as numerous around the general event space.

Technology does play its part. From the basics such as efficient data capture and security, to the ability to create multi-sensory environments through smell, sound and touch. For example, Marriott Hotels used a VR headset that allowed its customers to experience being digitally transported to vacation destinations that Marriot had hotels in. It allowed them to see popular spots and also experience smells and sounds associated with these areas. The aim was to help customers to decide if they would want to go to this destination in real life and stay with Marriott Hotels.

However, striking the balance between speed, consistency and keeping up with future technologies with the primal instinct of human connection is key to ensuring brands are delivering truly impactful and personal experiences, to not only capture but build trust and loyalty amongst an ever savvy and fickle consumer.

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