The phygital phenomenon: bringing digital into the physical

Phygital marketing is the future of digital marketing

Getting “phygital” will become of the biggest marketing trends of 2013. The term “phygital” is a mash-up of the words “digital” and “physical.” It’s a type of marketing plan that focuses on building integrated marketing campaigns that exist effortlessly between both the digital and physical worlds. The phygital phenomenon has changed the one-directional flow of communication. Whether a company is aiming to build brand awareness, consumer recruitment, volume driving, or brand-loyalty based campaigns; phygital’s recent marketing results can’t be ignored. The speed of change in the marketing world due to the success of phygital campaigns has started to cast huge doubts of the relevance of traditional marketing models.

Phygital is about understanding that marketing success is dependent on the bridge that connects both the digital and physical space. If used correctly, a company can reap the rewards. For example, 1-800-Flowers profited by taking their flower ordering service to Facebook. When someone wanted to wish their friend a “Happy Birthday,” friends could each contribute one flower in a bouquet to the birthday girl or boy. The flowers would be wrapped in paper featuring the profile pictures of all the friends who contributed. Before the digital era, this would have been impossible to do.

In the phygital world, it’s all about timing. A company needs to ensure that their brand is available at the right place at the right time.

Granata, a pet food company in Germany, is a good example of a company who profited from a phygital technique. Granata placed a billboard at a high traffic area where pet owners regularly walk their dogs. The billboard was for GranataPet Snack Check. The billboard dispenses a small amount of Granata dog food when the owner checks in at the billboard’s location via Foursquare.

In Korea, Tesco (known as Homeplus), has taken the phygital paradigm even further. Homeplus has significantly fewer stores than their top competitor, E-Mart. However, Homeplus believed it could become the leading supermarket retailer without increasing their number of stores. Homeplus conducted research and acted on their findings: the working Koreans dreaded their weekly shop. So, Homeplus decided to take their store to their customers on the platforms in Metro stations. People waiting for their train were able to shop using their smart phones. Their goods were delivered after they returned home from work. Now, Homeplus is the number one online retailer in Korea.

The phygital world has created multi-dimensional brand communication. Companies are telling stories, providing entertainment, and building great relationships with their consumers, and their profiting from it too.

Whether or not the term “phygital” survives to become an everyday vocabulary word, there’s no doubt that the concept is here to stay. Globalization made the world smaller and brought both businesses and people closer together. The phygital phenomenon could potentially close the gap between the physical and digital worlds completely. It could change the way we think, the way we buy, and the way our society functions.

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