Digital reality in the Consumer Industry | Consumer Products | Deloitte Netherlands

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Digital reality's potential for consumer products companies

Change the customer journey and build a closer relation with the end-consumer

Digital reality has the potential to completely change the customer journey as well as create a lot of buzz around your brand. How are big CP-companies currently using it? And what can digital reality do for your company?

April, 2019

Digital ecosystem of digital reality

What if customers could experience and interact with your products prior to buying them? What if your company could host live product briefings or safety trainings for employees all across the globe? With the help of digital reality, scenarios like these could very well be real in the future for consumer products companies. Comprising innovative technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), digital reality will create new opportunities for better shopping experiences, thereby attracting more customers and reaching a higher conversion rate.

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Digital ecosystem of digital reality

Digital reality: the world at your fingertips

Right now, the majority of the uses cases of digital reality for the consumer products industry are focused on shortening the customer journey, says Michiel van den Heuvel, partner at Deloitte Digital Customer Solutions. “With digital reality a customer can check out a product at their own leisure, for instance by placing virtual furniture in their living room.” Another interesting consumer use case is combining digital reality with blockchain to let consumers trace the origin of a product, he says. “By simply aiming their smartphone at a little sticker on a banana, consumers can get information about the sourcing of bananas. With digital reality, you have all of the rich product characteristics that you normally cannot find on a physical product at your fingertips.” 

And it’s not just the consumer that benefits, says Rudy Soerodikromo, digital reality expert and senior design consultant at Deloitte. “Letting customers preview a product and providing them with additional relevant information through digital reality helps them to make a more informed purchase decision.” This can reduce both customer service costs as well as return rates, says Soerodikromo. “By offering a new and unique experience, you can reach new and more customers and a higher conversion rate. From a business perspective that’s very interesting.” 

Use cases

Building a closer relation with the end-consumer

Digital reality isn’t widely adopted in Europe yet, says Van den Heuvel. “In the Netherlands, it is experimented with, but we haven’t seen it used on scale. It’s still regarded as a digital shiny object, rather than the game-changer it could be.” However, Van den Heuvel doesn’t recommend experimenting with digital reality just for the sake of experimenting. “You should use it because of the business rationale. What business problem do you want to solve, does digital reality offer an adequate solution, and can you come up with very clear key performance indicators (KPIs) to test your innovation?,” he says. “Digital reality creates lots of buzz and excitement. It’s great if you can combine that with sustainable results.” 

It’s very important for the consumer products business to stay connected to what customers want, adds Soerodikromo. “They don’t need another gimmick, but if digital reality can provide them with more information, allows them to compare products or have an online experience inside your store, that’s added value for them.” It also gives consumer products companies a chance to bond with the end-consumer. “With digital reality you can do proper storytelling, instead of having to depend on the retailer that sells your products,” says Van den Heuvel. “Digital reality is a great means to build a closer relationship with the end-consumer. Something that everybody wants to do these days.”

The bigger picture: there’s more than DR

“When we’re working on 2030 strategies, we talk about digital reality. In fact, we talk about all available technologies,” says Soerodikromo. “But we don’t push certain technologies - we work with our clients to find the right strategy and then find the technology to support it.” Deloitte asks what sort of problem you want to solve, adds Van den Heuvel. “If you want to change your consumer journey, digital reality could be a means of getting there. But maybe blockchain, artificial intelligence or another technology would be an even better fit.”

First find a problem worth solving, then look at the available technologies, says Van den Heuvel. “Digital reality could be a really interesting option and it will establish you as an innovative player. But when we talk about innovation, we want to build something that is feasible and viable, as well as desirable. Deloitte combines those three facets in one strategy.”

Digital reality in practice: what are major companies currently doing?

Deloitte designed and developed a VR experience for the United States Postal Service (USPS). Using VR, operators of a mail sorting machine are able to peer into confined spaces, inspect each cog and belt, and manipulate machine parts. This experience provides them with an enriched training experience, reduces need for travel, and better ensures mastery of skill. By replacing on-location training with VR, USPS potentially saves millions and provides a high-impact learning experience.

USPS trains operators using a VR experience

Mattel deploys AR to both attract and allow shoppers to experience its Hot Wheels line to make an informed purchase decision without needing to spend money. When in stores, consumers can point their smartphones at the toy box to generate a virtual setup of Hot Wheels, allowing them to visualise and experience how the car would traverse through the track.

Mattel uses AR to allow consumers to preview its Hot Wheels playsets

Deloitte conducted an experiment at the 2017 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity where over 100 delegates were asked to describe two glasses of wine blindly tasted, while in two separate VR experiences: a darker, cooler indoors tavern and a sunny, open-air meadow. Unbeknownst to them, both glasses of wine were identical, with most consumers perceiving a preference or tasting two different types of wine. Perception is reality.

Cannes Lions experiments with VR and perception

Make impact to your company with Digital Reality

Do you think Digital Reality could have value for your business? Or are you wondering whether it might? Feel free to contact us - our details are below. 

Need a bit more background first? Check our report on Digital reality, which deep-dives in its opportunities, and shows what companies like Facebook, Google, and Walmart are doing in this area.