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American Express brings shoppable AR feature to Coachella

Coachella
Coachella

American Express has integrated a shoppable augmented reality feature to the official app of the Coachella music festival, spanning two weekends in Palm Springs this month.

The payment company’s AR experience allows its cardholders to buy select merchandise by using an AR camera feature when at the festival’s grounds.

Within the Coachella app, Amex cardholders can tap a dedicated Amex tab that will enable the AR experience, as well as give them a series of other benefits and rewards. Clicking the “shop” feature and waving their phones will trigger an AR image of exclusive merchandise, which can be purchased on the spot.

Other cardholder benefits at the festival include entrance into a club area, access to an Uber priority lane and free Ferris wheel rides, while Platinum card members get access to a dedicated house that hosts exercise classes and music performances.

The AR app from American Express at Coachella
The AR app from American Express at Coachella

Amex has been increasingly experimenting with AR technology in order to enable tech-enhanced, real-world experiences that blend discovery and commerce to its cardholders.

It has recently collaborated with Justin Timberlake to launch an experience to promote his new album, titled “Man of the Woods”, within the American Express Music app. The “Outside In” AR camera experience sees Timberlake himself guide users through a Montana setting while he shares details of how his “Breeze Off the Pond” track came together. Users can also shop for exclusive merchandise while partaking in the experience.

Justin Timberlake and American Express
Justin Timberlake and American Express

Brands are upping the ante when it comes to striking the right balance in providing immersive mobile experiences that eventually convert into sales. By its nature, AR technology needs to be deployed in-situ, meaning there is also scope to play with the element of scarcity by making the experience geo-fenced, as seen with the Coachella feature.

Most recently, Nike teamed up with Snapchat to offer early access to a new shoe at a basketball game that could only be purchased by scanning Snapcodes; meanwhile at SXSW this year, hip activewear brand Outdoor Voices encouraged Austin locals and visitors to go outside by creating an AR experience that surfaced particular products depending on location.

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product Retail

Justin Timberlake pop-up cements the mass appeal of hipster tour merch

Justin Timberlake and Heston Preston at the pop-up
Justin Timberlake and Heston Preston at the pop-up

To promote the launch of his fifth album titled “Man of the Woods”, pop singer Justin Timberlake has hosted a NYC pop-up offering products developed through several brand collaborations.

Inside the Wooster St, Soho space, visitors encountered a hipster and nostalgically American aesthetic, similar to Timberlake’s personal style reinvention. Walls were framed with branches, while burgundy rugs and comfortable chairs lined the space. Products were then displayed against a white wall on hooks, plinths and shelves, accompanied by museum-like plaques.

Customers could only order items on display by filling out a paper form, thus giving the shopping experience a more exclusive touch.

Available to buy were one item per song in the album, which included: a Lucchese workman’s boot inspired by “Young Man”, a letter to the singer’s son; a Levi’s flannel jacket inspired by “Montana”; a Moleskine notepad inspired by “Say Something”; and a Pendleton blanket inspired by “Morning Light”.

Also on display was a Nike Air Jordan 3s collaboration with legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, inspired by the fifth track, “Higher, Higher”. The shoe was first available for purchase on Nike’s SNKRS app during Timberlake’s Super Bowl LII half-time show on February 4, and it will go back on sale once the singer’s tour commences.

Adding to the momentum, the singer also worked with Heston Preston, a designer who consulted on early seasons of Kanye West’s Yeezy and has worked with the likes of Nike and Nasa, to design the tour’s apparel (such as t-shirts and hoodies).

Over the last couple of years, artists such as Jay Z, Frank Ocean and Justin Bieber have leveraged hype beast culture to stimulate similar buzz with temporary retail environments promoting their upcoming tours or album releases. Launched in 2016, Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” album pop-ups across multiple cities elevated the artist’s merchandise to cult-like status, and ignited a much-needed refresh of artist merchandise.

Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” pop-up