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Future of retail: artificial intelligence and virtual reality have big roles to play

Frontier(less) Retail, the new report from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence in collaboration with WWD
Frontier(less) Retail, the new report from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence in collaboration with WWD

From artificial intelligence to virtual reality, emerging technologies are rewriting the retail playbook at a rapid pace, suggests J. Walter Thompson Intelligence in a new report called Frontier(less) Retail.

Launched in collaboration with WWD, the report explores the idea that brands and retailers are increasingly putting innovation at the core of their strategies. This relates to everything from digital integration through to the more future-looking technologies helping to shift their businesses forward.

Rebecca Minkoff has boosted sales with smart mirrors in dressing rooms, it notes, while Kate Spade has had a hit with Everpurse, a smartphone-charging handbag. It also attributes the success of Under Armour in part to its positioning as a tech-forward brand, and references Topshop’s new incubator program, Top Pitch, as a clever bid to achieve the same at a time when its young consumer base is more likely to spend on smartphones than splurge on streetwear.

Head over to Forbes for the full story exploring the role that artificial intelligence and virtual reality have to play in a data-driven more experiential retail landscape.

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JWT turns brands into cute virtual animations

I love this concept from JWT – the New York-based communications agency  has transformed some 3,000 brands into animated characters as a way of comparing  characteristics.

Referred to as a ‘brand visualisation tool’, Brand Toys as it’s called, includes everyone from Apple to Nokia, with all sorts of teddy bears, cartoon characters and monsters resulting.

It’s not however merely a subjective project, each toy has been created based on quantitative research, with character and personality determined by Millward Brown’s famous BrandZ study (this year led by Apple), and real-time, online buzz data by Social Mention.

Varying body shapes, for instance, depend on scores for familiarity and potential. There’s even a weather backdrop representing online sentiment.

Brands can be compared with others (see my screen grab above of a few choice fashion brands including Bottega Veneta, Christian Dior, Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren – not sure they’d be wholeheartedly enamoured with the designs themselves mind), as well as across the 23 countries included.

According to Brand Republic, Guy Murphy, worldwide planning director at JWT, said: “To ensure a rosy future for brands, it is crucial to consider marketing as a creative discipline. Brand Toys represents brands as consumers feel them—with personality and character, not as a series of numbers or complex mechanisms.”

For those interested in having a play, it’s also possible to customise the toys. Users can then share their creations via social media.