Shopper Marketer Reacts to Google’s New Scene Exploration Tech, “It’s both exciting and scary!”
Updated: Jan 10
In their keynote speech delivered last week, Google announced that among their many new tech rollouts will be an augmented reality tool known as Scene Exploration. This innovation, along with many other use cases, will allow shoppers to pan their Google Lens-equipped phones across a shelf in-store and get instant information about products, with the ability to filter info and narrow display to only the most relevant item(s). In this article, our founder Pierre Le Grange offers his thoughts on the impact this could have on the retail space in the future.
1. As a shopper marketer, what are your general sentiments about the introduction of scene exploration?
It’s a view of the future to come and a ground-breaking convergence of the digital and analogue buying experiences by offering shoppers the ability to look at reviews and get deep product info before making a purchase decision. Obviously, Google will capitalise on this and allow brands to throw ad spend, ultimately resulting in both commercial and community-driven options. I’m interested to see how the other use cases evolve and disrupt other industries.
2. How will this technology influence shopper behaviour?
To reference the example Google used in their keynote speech of choosing a chocolate for your friend, if you know you want a sugar-free option, rather than having to scan every label, the technology will filter the results in order to show you only the products that meet this requirement. The on-shelf space is still very cluttered from an FMCG point of view, so rather than physically reading every product’s information, this tech goes a long way in being able to remove the discovery friction point where shoppers need to hunt for information. Once we move toward a more augmented world this will become seamless as it will be the norm. But right now, it’s still early days and access to this technology is still limited, so it will take some time before we actually witness the shift in shopper behaviour.
3. How will this impact the retail landscape, particularly from a retailer’s perspective?
Well, it may be something that retailers don’t particularly have control over, they very much want to manage their space and the communication that goes in it. But Google is on a mission to sort the world's information both in the digital and physical spaces to add value to their users. Retailers will not have control over this so it may be challenging in new and unforeseeable ways. For example, if there is a sudden spike in popularity for one product caused by this tool, which could happen overnight, it may result in a supply-chain issue. But again, it's still too early to say what the outcome will be, but how exciting is it to see the future become more tangible!
4. How will this impact traditional POS marketing?
I think a world with fewer physical objects that have to be made is not a bad proposition, but what marketing comes down to is messaging, it’s the platforms and delivery methods that evolve over time. Print media, for example, has fallen out of favour. We may find that the same happens to other touchpoints in the retail environment because as the world changes, we move on. But what is at the core is to create an experience for the shopper that assists them in finding the best product for their needs.
5. With so much innovative technology attempting to penetrate the space, how do marketers evaluate whether something is worth looking into or if it’s simply a fly-by-night idea?
Look, it’s always worth keeping an eye on what’s new in the space and evaluating the value that technology may bring in the future. A notable example of this is the QR code. It was invented in 1994, but it took years for it to become as widely used as it is now. So, you want to be aware of new developments that are being made because the world is evolving quickly, and if you look away you might get left behind.
6. Lastly, what excites you the most about this technology and what are some of the potential use cases you would like to see?
The technology is mind-blowing and choosing chocolate on-shelf is just a single use case of many that could be achieved. We could be able to empower ourselves with the knowledge to do things that we previously were not able to do. Imagine, for example, if I wanted to change the oil in my car, I could load a programme on a pair of augmented glasses that could present me with a step-by-step guide on what to do in real-time! There are predictions of the ‘dystopian future’ where everything in real life is barren because augmented reality has taken over. So, the opportunities this technology presents span far wider than what Google is showing today, and that concept is both exciting and scary. Take a look at this YouTube video by Keiichi Matsuda an example.
To watch Google’s keynote speech, click here.
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