by Tenielle Maris. ‘Playsumerism’ is one of the megatrends defined by Trendwatching in 2016 and it encompasses those brands and campaigns that make life more enjoyable, simply by bringing a sense of unexpected entertainment to the consumer arena. This very definition, however, has evolved into something that is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for consumers but is demanded from brands vying for the scarcest resource — their attention.

This endless quest for fun and excitement has been proliferated by the explosion of accessible digital interfaces and platforms, where interactions and connections are more liquid and seamless than ever before. The result? Consumers no longer see the walls between the physical and digital worlds, and neither should we.

Blurred worlds

It’s certainly not new news that consumer touchpoints are no longer linear: they are multifaceted and layered, where physical platforms are fast becoming content-rich destinations, and with consumers engaging multiple platforms simultaneously. Beyond relaying brand storytelling, digital integration within physical spaces means that audiences have access to make more-informed decisions than we’d ever anticipated. These decisions go beyond relying on brand and product information, and now extend to consulting social networks for exclusive content and instantaneous peer-to-peer recommendations.

Uber, Apple and Spotify are among big-name brands that are shaping the future for contextual content: “In order for brand content to succeed it must exist where the consumers are already spending their time — and not necessarily on digital destinations, such as brand websites.” —CampaignLive 2017

The experience economy

We are seeing a seismic shift in the collection of experiences over products, where experiences are the new forms of status symbols. Whilst this was previously more true for affluent consumer groups, tech is now transcending conventions by making digital experiences a form of tailor-made self-expression which is accessible to wider audiences. What these experiences offer consumers is the ultimate form of escapism.

Good Housekeeping’s latest launch of The Kitchen of the Future is a shining example of a brand that is evolving with its audience by placing content-rich experiences at the epicentre of its offering. By inviting readers into its traditional test kitchen space for personalised and sensory-filled dining experiences, the publication has, in essence, developed its very own content-creation hub to generate a plethora of magnificent brand content to be seeded across social media.

Not ‘tech for tech’s sake’

In an award-winning campaign last year, The Automobile Club of Romania and Publicis Romania launched an interactive game through the App store, Mr Bear Driver, to overcome the high incidence of accidents resulting from speeding on Romanian roads. The app was born from the human truth that adults are biologically programmed to respond to children’s voices. By adding a new speed-tracking feature to a popular game, children were prompted to get their parents to slow down in order to continue playing the game. Pretty darn compelling, no?

A human touch

AI, VR and a host of other digital buzz words all contribute to more-enhanced consumer experiences, no doubt about it. What brands and marketers need to get right, however, is not forgetting that they are talking to human beings, who will ultimately connect with human brands.

To get tech really right, they need to look beyond the tech if they want to make a deep and long-lasting impact: they need to leverage a powerful human truth in a (fun) way that may be seamlessly integrated into a brand’s story.


Tenielle MarisTenielle Maris is strategic director at TTL agency, 34°, in Johannesburg. Beginning her career in branding and communications, she has spent the last decade in the marketing industry where she has worked upon big brands spanning the African continent. Having found her passion in understanding what drives human beings to connect with particular brands, her time is spent getting up close and personal with the people whom brands are trying to connect with. Tenielle contributes the monthly “Headspace” column, which unpacks anything and everything that helps marketers and advertisers understand why people connect with brands, to

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