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With everyone stuck at home during the pandemic, retail brands are finding it harder and harder to reach their consumers, despite having an online presence via social media.
Brands need to find more ways to stand out, and some have turned to technology like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and gamification.
To Jason Ang, founder of social engagement agency Fotobox, there is no better time than now to encourage the usage of immersive technology in retail. So, Fotobox opened a new division called Conten.T to create something they call virtual retail projects for brands.
“In virtual retail, we design journeys to educate consumers on the brand story and provide exclusive and limited promo codes and discounts within the experience, you can make purchases or sign up to receive vouchers as well,” Jason told Vulcan Post.
Experiences, Not Ads
Having the experience of creating enhanced offline events for brands behind him, Jason realised that younger and more tech-savvy consumers didn’t want to be advertised to. They wanted to be part of brand experiences instead.
This is where Conten.T comes in, and some of the brands it’s already worked with include Mamonde, adidas Malaysia, Coach, and Gucci.
For Mamonde, Conten.T enabled consumers to enter a hyper-realistic virtual environment via a scanned QR code. Within the room, users could explore featured rooms and learn about the brand’s products.
Along the way, they’d find surprises to redeem prizes and free samples. As they also partnered with an e-commerce site for this, users had the option to add products to buy too.
More recently, Conten.T’s project with adidas Malaysia enabled the latter to engage virtual retail for the launch of its largest flagship brand centre in Malaysia. The experience brought users on an AR journey with adidas’ athletes, leading them to the store at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.
To make these experiences more accessible, Conten.T opted to use QR codes over apps that needed to be downloaded, as most users would already have mobile phones with browsers.
A Slice Of A Billion-Dollar Market
It takes the team 1-2 months on average to craft a project, while a longer retainer project may take up to 6-12 months. Each time they create a project, they need to consider 2 things.
“First is the general consumers’ mobile device capabilities, whether it’s good enough to support a smooth experience, second is how to plan an experience that is fast and light, as consumers have very little patience these days. So, we’ve got to make sure we don’t lose them before we even begin,” Jason said.
On the client-facing side, the team works backwards by identifying key objectives of a brand to develop an end-to-end campaign flow that consists of all content creation and technical developments as well as media-buying and sponsored ads to reach consumers.
Thus far, the team has completed close to 40 campaigns both regionally and across APAC since Conten.T’s launch in June 2020.
Fotobox has been working with mid to high-end brands for some good 9 years now, and this made it possible for them to quickly offer their new venture to such brands.
While they’re not exactly targeting established brands, Jason said, “Mostly consumer brands, certainly, after all, we are creating experiences for consumers. But any brands who want to reach out to their audience through immersive tech, we can help.”
Statista predicts that consumer spending on standalone and embedded augmented reality mobile apps worldwide will reach US$15.497 billion by 2022.
This means that Conten.T is currently quite well positioned to get a slice of that pie through its projects that help brands increase sales conversions and product knowledge.
From Malaysia To The Rest Of APAC
Conten.T’s work isn’t just restricted to offline experiences though. “We can help brands increase footfall to the retail stores by creating reward redemptions in the store as well, getting consumers back out there to shop, which then creates a hybrid experience,” Jason added.
There are other Malaysian companies in this space, of course, who are also tailoring AR and VR experiences for brands, but they appear to offer these as one of many services, while Conten.T specialises in such.
Since its establishment, Fotobox has expanded its services to Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and other countries, and now these clients can engage Conten.T’s services too.
Some brands that have worked with Fotobox include Conten.T’s aforementioned ones, with more like Chanel, Fendi, and Estee Lauder on their portfolio.
“For now, our focus is to reach out further to SEA and APAC. I strongly believe we can be a cost-effective and highly skilled tech partner for brands. We are excited for what is installed in the near future, especially with 5G on the horizon,” Jason told Vulcan Post.
Currently, they’re working on a project for a supermarket chain to enable its consumers to shop as if they were in the store themselves.
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