More people than ever are accessing the internet, particularly on mobile devices. A lot of these mobile users are also logging on specifically to shop. People are browsing online more and more, and that means it’s increasingly where they’re discovering new brands.

That’s how our co-founder and digital director Jake Xu set the scene for his recent talk at Bath Digital Festival. (Check out his talk on gamification at last year’s Festival here).

This is the environment that brands are working in right now. So how can the latest digital innovations help them to attract new customers and grow their businesses?


Despite online shopping becoming more popular and headlines damning the high street left right and centre, in-store experiences are still incredibly important.

American beauty retailer Sephora is one brand that have particularly aced the in-store transformation. Where other retailers have suffered over the years, Sephora is actually growing and flourishing.

Sephora digital retail

From their Virtual Artists AR tool that lets people try and buy makeup looks, to Facebook chatbots and location-based store companions, they have been consistent and powerful pioneers of digital technology.

Sephora have linked online with in-store incredibly well. Having a seamless experience means it’s much easier for consumers to discover the most relevant brands for their needs.


Did you know that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy if a retailer recognises them by name and offers recommendations based on past purchases? And 74% are frustrated when faced with content that means nothing to them.

So people want personalisation, explained Jake, and there are two ways to give it to them: active and passive.

Amazon hompage

Passive personalisation uses existing data such as purchase history to recommend specific products and services i.e. Amazon.

Active, on the other hand, comes from consumers filling in their own details to receive personalised experiences and recommendations.

Netflix is a great example of passive personalisation. Their algorithm recommends TV shows and movies based on what people have watched and enjoyed. In fact, 80% of the shows that people watch are discovered through their personalised system.

So how can other brands utilise this method?

Netflix Hompage

Imagine if the Boots homepage was like Netflix. You opened it up and it knew who you were. It offered personalised recommendations based on the kind of products you already buy, and made sure everything was in-line with your skin tone and shade.

Boots even have the addition of the Advantage card which can add data from in-store purchases too.

So what about active?

Function of Beauty

Function of Beauty is a haircare brand that makes individually personalised products: consumers put in their hair type, goals and even pick colour and scent of the products they want for a personalised shampoo and conditioner.

Although this kind of personalisation is too specific for most brands (at the moment, anyway), it taps into something really important. Consumers are more attached to products they had a hand in creating, so any active questions can be really beneficial.

Consumer empowerment

In the mobile age, everyday people have a lot more power than they once did. Due to this power shift, the way we discover brands has changed.

Influencer marketing is something that’s particularly flourished through this power shift. Anyone who has an online platform is an influencer in some way. If you have an audience, you have some influence. And this has completely changed the purchase decision cycle.

consumer decisions cycle graph

The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) is when consumers are thinking about the product, perhaps after viewing a TV or magazine ad, but haven’t physically experienced it. The First Moment of Truth (FMOT) is when a consumers first makes contact e.g. tries it on in the store. Finally, the Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) is their reflection on purchase and actually using the product in day to day life.

From the graph, it’s the clear that the ZMOT is much longer now. People trust the opinion of others and buy from that, sometimes before even seeing or touching a product.

There’s also a new Third Moment of Truth (TMOT) where people are sharing their thoughts and opinions with others online.

It’s a very interesting shift and shows the new way consumers discover and look for brands.

Next level mobile shopping

Mobiles have given us the world at our fingertips. Because of that, instant gratification is now expected. More than half of mobile site visits are abandoned when wait time exceeds 3 seconds!

One company tapping into this new mindset is Screenshop, Their app that allows users to shop directly from their screenshots. From saving a picture on Instagram to using Screenshop and clicking through to purchase, the process all takes less than a minute. 40 seconds in fact!

It’s the perfect way for brands to position themselves as answers to consumers searches.


With faster phone networks and the integration of 5G, people are walking around with a games console in the pocket: the mobile.

Gamification is not only just about entertaining, it can be particularly good for product education and therefore helping people discover new brands and things to buy from them.

Eylure product launch game

Jake discussed the example of a game we created earlier this year for Eylure, the false lash company. Although people knew about their lashes, they had an entirely new product they wanted to introduce, called Blend & Care.

The product works by blending users’ real lashes with their fake ones. The game we created for them showed consumers the product’s benefits in a fun and interesting way, helping them to discover something entirely new in the process.

The conclusion: With powerful connected devices in all of our pockets, there are more opportunities than ever for brands to use entertainment to inform and educate.

The future

So where is it all going? What will the future look like?

‘We don’t know,’ were Jake’s exact words.

We can draw on what we know, but digital is constantly changing and evolving quicker than we ever could have imagined a few years ago.

Drones, AR, Amazon Go. Although a few years ago we thought we’d all be using this technology every day, we’re still not. It’s hard to predict what will take off and what will take a little longer.

Each generation brings their own wants and desires. So who knows what it will be like walking into a store in a few years’ time?! We’ll just have to wait and see…

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