The Digital Age isn’t just sharpening our senses. Digital is retooling them. Records of what we see and hear have never been so accurate. Digital is also breaking down the boundaries between the senses and how we approach them. What will happen – and the happening has already begun – when experience in one sense starts colliding with that in another? What, for instance, will the Mona Lisa sound like when we can hear it?
These blogs have talked about attractive accidents – when “raw chance produces a totally unpredictable result.” The attractive accidents on the digital sensory horizon will be a regular State Fair bumper-car ride!
We’re on the edge of an age of crossover such as we have never known. We’ll start hearing art . . . and seeing the sounds of music. I mean in spine-tingling ways far beyond a computer-generated light show.
This isn’t just oh-so-artsy dabbling. Brand managers need to sit up and take heed of what’s coming. A brand once lived in a narrow world of one or two senses. That’s gone. Brands need to compete – that means to survive and excel – in multidimensional worlds of sensation.
The new era of exercise clothing points the way. Reebok’s EasyTone is an entry in the “muscle-shoe” market. This sort of merchandise employs moving air and balance-ball technology. A decade ago, who would have thought consumers would ever want a shoe that caused them to work harder? But, it makes perfect sense.
All buying decisions hinge on that precious commodity time. As others have pointed out, you’re either killing it or enjoying it. If you have to walk, why not expect a payoff for the effort? In other words: Why go to the gym if you can wear it?
Some of still remember when you pumped a treadle (foot-peddle) to run a sewing machine. Maybe someday we’ll be toning our muscles with retro treadles as we power our computers and microwaves.
The information-rich digital world is all about collisions.
Brand managers should reflect on the smell-touch-feel opportunities locked up in their brand. Pay careful attention to exactly how consumers experience, associate and appreciate a brand. Often a brand will evolve with nearly invisible sensory secrets. Edgy digital technology will let us expand and exploit them in tantalizing new ways.
Once you have a clear handle on a cool experience, design a template to repeat it in a positive way. It’s a good time to dust off the principle: When brilliant accidents happen, figure out how to make them repeat themselves again and again!