FUTURING. ‘Phygital’ attracts young consumers


Creating a unique customer experience with phygital spaces, bridging between the online and offline world.

Digital innovations have deeply impacted our purchasing behaviour and made consumers more empowered. The lines between the digital and real world continue to blur and consumers exploit different channels before they make a final decision. Consumers no longer make a distinction between online and offline channels and their journey evolves to something more asynchronous, social, hybrid and continuous. This combination of physical and digital experiences is a reality they live in, and new technological innovations that improve their phygital life, is what excites them. 

Digging day in, day out in European youth culture we experienced that young people don’t want to ‘talk’ with brands. Youngsters only want to talk with each other on lifestyle subjects that really interest them. As a brand you can facilitate that conversation. By creating a phygital space, you can offer young people a place and atmosphere where they can study, work, learn, play, and just like to hang out. And where the positive connection with your brand grows on a daily basis.

Be Robin, not Batman

Bright Underground, Trendwolves‘ latest European Youth Trend Report, describes how the experience economy is being pushed to its extremes. Nowadays it’s not enough to provide young people with just a cool experience, you really have to get into their system, get into their lifestyle and create a bigger meaning. Customers want to be blown away by getting a tangible and informative experience that addresses all senses. You can do this by offering the perfect combination of bricks and clicks and tell a unified brand story across all channels.

It’s important that as a brand, you stop being pushy, but that you instead be a buddy. So be Robin instead of Batman and allow youngsters to be the heroes. Brands have to be modest and become facilitators into the transformations of their clients. Trendwolves therefore believes that a phygital business strategy has the possibility to disrupt the (retail) environment. 

Digital and profound personal interactions

Phygital is the contraction of the words ‘physical’ and ‘digital”. It’s a strategy where you create a new ecosystem by building a bridge between the online and offline world. In the retail sector a phygital retail space combines the benefits of traditional retail with the benefits of online retail. Digital elements are seamlessly integrated into the real world, thus creating a phygital realm.

It’s important to understand that the integration of digital elements into a store experience isn’t just a cool gimmick, but is a way to make the retail experience more meaningful and relevant. Phygital is about offering consumers the best of both worlds. They can explore and experience novel things, but there is also enough room for offline and personal interactions. It’s not just all things digital youngsters talk about, they also have a growing craving for profound personal interactions. That’s why it’s very important to cater all of their senses.

Added value

With a phygital approach you can combine the advantages of offline and online retail. Online retail offers ease, flexibility, a broad assortment and rich product information. But the online experience will always stay a two-dimensional matter. Physical retail spaces can offer a personal service and certain product experiences. By bringing the online environment into the offline world, you give your clients the best of both worlds, which creates an enormous added value.

Delivering a distinctive, brand-defining customer experience is a powerful strategy in order to extend your brand engagement. By creating unique and memorable experiences, you can create a long-term devotion towards your brand and price will no longer be the primary motivator. As stated before those experiences have to go a step further than just a cool gimmick. It’s important that you fully understand the needs and aspirations of your target group. Only then you can offer value-added experiences and aid your client’s transformations. That’s why we at Trendwolves place such a high importance on the contacts with our European network of influencers. Truly understanding the needs of your target group will make sure that you can move from short-term transactions to long-term interactions.

Hello bank! ‘s phygital experience

Together with Hello bank!, the mobile branch of BNP Paribas Fortis, a strategy was developed to make 'the bank' relevant again for digital natives (18-27). Michael Anseeuw (General Manager Retail Banking at BNP Paribas Fortis) thinks that Belgian banks have been neglecting this group and at the moment there is no other Belgian bank who works with a distinct brand for this young target group. The pop-up store gives the online brand Hello bank! a physical presence and shows the bank’s human side within the anywhere, anytime economy. For that, flexibility is key. 

Maarten Leyts (CEO Trendwolves), who has a lot of experience with trend implementations, understood that banks just aren't relevant anymore for youngsters as they do not match with their lifestyle. Most banks have a comparable approach and offer a very similar product range, as a result young consumers don’t really know what makes their own bank different from others. Next to that banks aren't associated with bottom-up processes, innovation, co-creation and change. The developed concept combines real-life contact with rich visual and interactive content, bringing that unique selling proposition. 

Xavier Dumon (Marketing Director Hello bank!) saw the first pop-up store in Antwerp as too clean and corporate. It’s very important that you write your story together with your core audience. That’s why we learned some important lessons from our pop-up store in Antwerp. The Hello bank! pop-up store in Brussels has a more urban, raw culture vibe. We fully implemented the young makers trend and designed the interior in co-creation with students from Brussels. We've also expanded the number of activities and start-ups have the chance to use our first floor as a working studio.