The pandemic has created many short-term shifts in consumer behaviors, but the trend of customers seeking digital alternatives to physical experiences is certainly here to stay…
The past year has proven turbulent, to say the least; but a slow return to pre-pandemic consumer demand, and the bouncing back of industries like travel and hospitality, tentatively signal a positive beginning to 2022. Digital experiences continue to set successful and COVID-safe businesses apart from their competitors, as companies grow and innovate their online interactions to improve customer experiences, engagement and provide lasting impressions.
But now is not the time to sit back and relax. As we move into the New Year, brands must continue to look ahead and innovate their digital experiences for a post-digital, post-pandemic consumer market that demands immediacy, simplicity and safety in its interactions with brands.
Here are the key trends we think will mark the next 12 months, as brands develop their 2022 growth and innovation strategies…
Businesses Should Expect Shrunken Commercial Real Estate
Digital food ordering now accounts for over a quarter of all US restaurant transactions, and that number is only expected to grow. Virtual restaurants are now a very real phenomenon, and QSR businesses should critically analyze the value of a physical dining space in 2022.
Forward-thinking businesses in the hospitality space will anticipate a displacement of real estate in favor of connected experiences, where the popularity of mobile ordering, delivery and curbside pickup will outpace the demand for onsite dining. Businesses should aim to provide dining experiences whenever, wherever and however customers want to experience them, whether that be at a restaurant’s table or in their living room.
It’s Time to Build a Digital/Physical Hybrid
Apps play an important role in meeting everyday customer needs, and in 2022 digital solutions to physical tasks, needs, and experiences will continue to proliferate. Businesses should focus on seamlessly merging the physical and digital divide in experiences, bridging the gap between the two in all kinds of products, experiences and industries.
When it comes to travel, for example, customers will look for a digital avenue that eases the stress of their often tiresome travel experience, turning a pain into a pleasure. Travel operators should incorporate digital tools to aid with flexible booking and cancellation - a necessity in a post-pandemic world - as well as focusing on speed and simplicity in their customer interactions. Digital capabilities which show customers the length of queues, or offer them options to avoid queuing via online check-in, will set exceptional businesses apart in 2022. Since customers value speed, simplicity and safety, it is only logical that apps and online experiences will become the first point of communication between travel operators and their passengers.
QR Codes Are Here to Stay, Convenience is Key
QR codes surged back into the public’s consciousness during COVID-19, when the usual physical touchpoints were out of reach to customers hampered by the need to socially distance. From booking doctor’s appointments and checking into flights, to viewing restaurant menus and placing orders, QR codes were the necessity that stuck after the immediate urgency of the pandemic subsided.
QR codes do not only act as intermediaries in simple, everyday transactions, but they also offer a portal for their customers to climb into a brand’s world, if used correctly and creatively. One such example is the Cygames drone stunt, whereby 1,500 drones built a scannable QR code that hung in the air on Shanghai’s skyline. Thousands of onlookers noticed the code, scanned it into their phones and subsequently downloaded Cygames’ latest video game offering. In 2022, imagination and resourcefulness will be the name of the game for those using QR codes to elevate their digital experiences.
Chinese games and entertainment company Bilibili held a one year anniversary show in Shanghai for the mobile game Princess Connect! Re:Dive (Cygames).— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) April 18, 2021
1,500 drones took part in the show to celebrate the game having been out for one year in China. pic.twitter.com/u1GDTXnM6p
After almost two years of being submerged in a global health crisis, businesses must look ahead to a world permanently changed by COVID-19. Consumers have a new and increased appreciation for high-quality digital experiences, and are inundated with choices when it comes to brands’ online offerings. To differentiate from the competition, businesses should think outside the box. It’s time to get creative with your digital experiences, to avoid getting left behind in the race to innovate.
Here at Bottle Rocket we are experts in cultivating exciting and customer-centric digital experiences. Find out more on our website, or get in touch for more information.