Hong Kong is a 7 million inhabitants’ city where everything is accessible within 2 hours transportation and where the internet is omnipresent. Hong Kong makes the physical and the virtual worlds accessible to all.
Yet, the link between physical and virtual remains tenuous and many companies would benefit from a more solid bridge.
Traditional media VS virtual media
In the past, traditional media only offered vertical communication: from the company to the consumer, with little possibility of feedback.
Nowadays, the virtual world provides quantity of new media offering horizontal communication: from the company to the consumer, the consumer to the company and the consumer to the consumer.
This new method of promotion links consumers and companies altogether in a virtual world. But what about the physical world?
Originally, advertising was a way to promote a product for the consumer to physically go to a shop and learn more about the item.
With the rise of the virtual world the rules have changed: there is no longer need for the consumer to physically move to find information. Now that the information is accessible from anywhere, the physical world becomes secondary.
Why creating a bridge
Linking physical and virtual worlds makes complete sense when considering the following two examples:
Ms Leung purchases some cosmetics in a shop. How much information, tips, advice and demonstration does she miss if she doesn’t go online to visit the product’s page?
Mr Chan browses the net and finds a very cool pet’s item he would love to buy for his dog.
As he wants the product right away, he won’t purchase it online. What are the chances that the sale won’t happen simply because the website did not specify “where to buy” in the physical world?
Those are very common situations where both the company and the consumer suffer from a missing bridge between the physical and the virtual world.
By creating a bond between the two worlds you can unify your marketing campaigns and make each worlds benefit from the other.
How to link physical and virtual worlds
Creating a link between those two entities requires work on two levels: the physical one (usually your product and its packaging) and the virtual one (your website and other social pages).
Using QR codes
Like most trends coming from Japan, QR codes are getting more and more popular in Hong Kong. The concept is simple: using your mobile device you simply scan a 2D barcode that links to online information (website, video, pdf, etc.).
MacDonald’s makes a very good use of this technology. By adding QR codes on its products, the brand links the physical world to the virtual one by allowing its customers to obtain detailed information on what they are eating with a simple movement.
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Why does « Hong Kong Business » display its URL on a prime spot of its cover?
Providing your consumers with your URL is a sure way to extend the lifetime of your product and enhance your customer’s experience.
Showing your URL is making sure that when the reader is done reading the latest “Hong Kong Business” edition he can continue his reading experience online. This simple addition creates a bond between the physical product and the virtual world that benefits both the consumer and the company.
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, Instagram, etc.) are extremely popular in Hong Kong. You might even have a large fan base for your products. But do you get the best out of it?
Having a good Social Media strategy is meaningless if you are unable to link your online fans to your physical product.
Have you thought about encouraging your physical buyers to go online and join your community by mentioning it on your packaging?
Have you thought about giving the opportunity to your fans to become “part of the adventure” by posting pictures of them using your product online?
That is what Skittles does and its 25 million fans wouldn’t deny it!
Where to buy
In Hong Kong, everything is so convenient and easy to access that most people still prefer to « touch » the product before buying it.
Even though your product is available online, why not giving the opportunity to your visitors to find it in a shop if they wish to?
Having a page “Where to buy” on your website links the virtual and the physical worlds, making sure you do not miss sales when people wish to “feel” the product before buying.
Those suggestions are only a few examples on how to link the two worlds. Those methods have an ultimate goal: making sure your online strategies benefit from your off-line ones and vice versa. Besides increasing the impact of your marketing efforts, creating bridges between the two worlds also benefits to your consumers.
It is now your turn to link your worlds and get the best out of it!
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Julien Rio has been working in the field of web development and web marketing for over five years in both Asia and Europe.