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Consumer Play Patterns and the “Phygital” Experience

As consumer behavior continues to change along with the ebbs and flows of the pandemic, what lies ahead for the digital shopping experience? What does the “average consumer” even look like anymore and furthermore, how do brands create an authentic and cohesive experience for them? Enter the “phygital” experience – those that put physical and digital at play simultaneously, creating one connected world.


A recent Podcast episode of Brand-Side by Celtra looks at phygital experiences from a CPG standpoint, where Christopher Keenan, SVP and Executive Producer, Global Content Development and Production at Mattel, talks about the importance of connecting online and offline experiences. For Mattel, connecting these experiences stems from the question of “What’s the play pattern inherent to this content?” Meaning, how will kids continue to engage with characters or a story once the TV or iPad is turned off? Will they play with a toy, read a book, play a game, or perhaps put on a costume? The nugget is to understand how to authentically extend the experience so it’s truly 360, engaging kids across different platforms and all kinds of activities accessible via a wide variety of both media and product.


Phygital experiences look different across industries, of course, and while the idea of a “play pattern” might seem specific to kids, it applies to adults, too. In the same way a kid might transition from consuming online character content to playing with a physical toy, an adult might transition from engaging with online content to experiencing the physical product – for instance, pricing out a car online and then taking a test-drive. Creating a cohesive experience across physical and digital is the key in both instances.


As phygital experiences grow, shopping will continue to become more and more personalized, which will only highlight the need for a cohesive customer experience across platforms for kids and adults alike. Analytics will need to become even more granular around consumer preferences and digital shopping behaviors, and will also need to adapt to leverage data that is less predictable due to the pandemic. Becoming more granular and adapting to less predictable behaviors can help brands expand into creating and measuring a world of phygital experiences – one where they generate convenient, cohesive, and useful shopping experiences wherever the consumer might be.


At the end of the day, the most successful brands will be the ones that figure out how to authentically connect with consumers in both spaces. Whether your consumer is pricing out their next set of wheels or is trying to convince their parent to buy a new set of Hot Wheels, one thing is certain – knowing your audience and creating a personalized phygital experience will be impactful along their shopping journey.