Exploring the consumer engagement opportunites through Extended Reality (XR).
Samantha Nutt aka @electric_dreama is an experienced digital graphic designer based in London and Zurich. To explore the oppportunities that exist around XR, retail experience and consumer engagement within the context of jewellery, Juliet and Samantha decided that getting to grips with the basics would inform opportunity for forward-thinking jewellery brands.
Samantha's world sits at the leading edge of this immersive world. Her inter-disciplinary practice is driven by challenging traditional paradigms in conventional graphic design. Nutt has worked with studios including Sucuk & Bratwurst on special effects and 3D visualisation projects. She has also worked for start-ups such as New Life and has a particular interest in Anthropocene themes realised through collaborative projects with an underground group called OperatingSystemz. Read on for the full interview.
Juliet (J H-S): Please define XR
Samantha (S N): Extended Reality (XR) is a broad term that includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). VR consists of any virtually immersive experience such as a 360° Video and fully computer-generated content or a fusion of both. AR is a combination of synthetic content (CG) with the real world. MR is the augmented experience that makes it possible for computer-generated imagery to interact with our real-world in real-time. Computer software and or wearables create these "realities".
J H-S: What are the benefits of an XR strategy for brands?
S N: To be entirely involved in creating an environment that enables our fantasy to run wild is a benchmark for freedom of expression. Images created by man enable possibility and opportunity to enhance visual articulation and expression of the self or brand identity. The opportunity to contextualise and create new forms of expression provides innovative solutions and scope for brands to build connections with consumers.
J H-S: What XR functionalities are key to consumer experience online?
S N: Simplicity is vital when supporting the consumer's visualisation of a product in-store or online. Embrace gaming methods and go for lively, fun interactions. The technology should be user friendly and straightforward. It should support the consumer journey rather than interfere with it. As with any designed entity and virtual experience - functionality, usability, and aesthetic sensibility are essential to a successful roll out.
J H-S: What are the possibilities for the retail industry?
S N: The main advantage is to contextualise, transform and assist ideas in real-time. To deepen consumer engagement with new tropes of immersive storytelling (without leaving a conflicting footprint). Sustainably-minded brands are going for product-less pop-ups for product launches and digital campaigns that align with purpose-driven digital natives.
J H-S: Are there any jewellery brands nailing the XR experience yet?
S N: Together with their technology partner, Tangiblee, Pandora developed a virtual try on in their online store. The feature allows consumers to try products from the catalogue on themselves before purchase.
J H-S: Which non-jewellery brands are pioneering this technology?
S N: Brands such as Nike and ASOS are front runners for smart sizing and implementing XR to support the consumer journey with regards to sizing. IKEA's cutting edge app IKEA Place enables the consumer to to place digital furniture in any given space - a try-before-you-buy concept.
The Institute of Digital Fashion is a game changer in the industry. They have, for example, created digital fashion experiences that the public can easily access through face filters on Instagram.
J H-S: What would you suggest are the first steps a jewellery brand should take to start interacting in the XR world?
S N: Value the needs of the consumer first — understand where change is required. Enhnaced consumer experience is also essential. Digital capabilities will continue to grow, it is worth investing in a new generation of talent for whom communication in the metaverse directly challenges the traditional ways of doing things.