MindFire Communications, Inc.
Sick of hyper-connected world? Your customer may be too!
July 17, 2013 | Inga Rundquist

Be honest – how often have you looked up to realize that every single one of your family members is glued to some sort of digital device. It may be the smart phone, iPad, Kindle or the TV.

The truth is, we are online more than we’ve ever been before.

JWT Intelligence, a research center that’s part of the marketing agency JWT, conducted a survery in February that revealed American adults do more of the following activities online than offline: researching products before buying them, playing games, paying bills, showing someone pictures, buying music, buying books, reading news and listening to music.

No surprise there, eh? But if you’re like us, you’re kinda, sorta starting to yearn for time spent with real people and real objects. And apparently we’re not alone. As digital screens become our portal to the world, JWT’s study reveals that people seem to increasingly seek out physical objects and experiences.

For example, take this Fast Company article that profiles hyper-connected Bartunde Thurston, who challenged himself to disconnect technology for 25 full days. Or take a look at the new Chinet TV spot – "Rediscover the Lost Art of Getting Together” – which hammers home the notion that the most important connections still happen face-to-face.

It’s not that we’re abandoning digital – far from it. But as we spend more and more time staring at a small, lit-up screen, our desire for offline experiences is growing. And as marketers, that’s something we shouldn’t ignore.

How can we appeal to customers who are searching for offline experiences? Here are some ideas:

  • Embrace imperfection. The JWT survey showed that consumers have been seeking "authenticity” from products and services, and increasingly it’s the "imperfect” that feels especially authentic. Take a look at this article, which provides some insight about the great lengths some brands go to in order to make their product feel more "authentic.”
  • Forge connections. Help your customers create more immersive relationships across both analog and digital paltforms. It’s not always about how to make things cheaper or do them faster. How can you create powerful connections across the digital divide? Take a look at Quarterly Co., a subscription service that enables people to receive physical items in the mail from influential contributors of their choice.
  • Find ways to help customers revive older, meaningful traditions that are fading away. The Postsecret website is a great example of this. It’s an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
  • Identify tangible obejcts that amplify your digital offerings. Take Prinstagr.am. The service will "make your (Instagram) photos physical,” with things like memory boxes, calendars and tiny books. If your product doesn’t lend itself to this, simply create an obejct that represents your digital offering.
  • Find ways to use technology to create physical objects. For Valentine’s Day last year, eHarmony Australia launched a campaign in which their "Calligraphy Cupids” crafted handrwitten love letters for their Facebook followers.
  • The transition from physical to digital has rendered many objects obsolete (think stationary or watches). Help your customers find ways to repurpose those old goods into something totally new. According to JWT’s study, Millenials are among the most enthusiastic for this "trash-to-treasure” approach. Look at how Whole Foods is facilitating this process on their Pinterest board.

Bottom line? People aren’t going to give up the digital world. It’s just that some people are realizing it isn’t everything. Remember the offline, analog environment the next time you develop your marketing program!

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