Phygital, the new marketing: a mix of empathy, experiences and storytelling.

The phygital phenomenon, i.e. the use of technology to combine the physical and digital worlds, is on the rise. And marketing is turning it into a new frontier. Phygital is becoming one of the new watchwords of innovation. The constant, intense interaction between physical and digital, which characterises the times in which we live, has led to the coining of this buzz word, the contraction of “physical” and “digital”.
How do those working in the world of digital communication view the phygital phenomenon? We asked Rudy Bandiera, consultant and author of books on innovation, technology and communication, content creator, lecturer, TEDx speaker and inveterate gamer.
Phygital has taken over our world and our lives. Nowadays, customers are hyper connected with an increasingly close (sometimes symbiotic) relationship with technology, thanks to which, they are able to simultaneously inhabit two worlds, the physical and the digital one. How do you envisage the evolution of this phenomenon?
“The Metaverse could also be the next big change in our relationship with the Internet, only in a different way than the one described by Mark Zuckerberg. In a widely shared Twitter thread, Shaan Puri wrote that we should think of the Metaverse not as a product or place, but rather “the moment in time in which our digital life is worth more to us than our physical life”. To this end, we are already moving towards the Metaverse and we probably won’t even notice the exact moment in which we start to spend most of our time in it”.
The goal of a phygital strategy is to provide the user with quality interactive experiences, but what does that really mean?
I think it means “human experiences”. From my previous answer, you might notice a deviation from the technological point of view, a deviation that disappears when our services are close to people. Politely answering an email within a reasonable time can be incredibly important, more than the quick response produced by a BOT.
The father of economics, Adam Smith said that, “the real engine of change is not so much specialization as the ability to combine different and diverse knowledge.” How do you see this idea applied to digital marketing?
I am certainly not going to argue with Adam Smith! However, I think that his ideas are as refined as they are utopian. He wasn’t the father of capitalism for nothing which, like the previous models, is starting to crack in places. In any case, to keep my feet on the ground and to highlight how important these concepts can also be for marketing, I love repeating the phrase “anyone who only knows about marketing, knows nothing about marketing”, to paraphrase Mourinho. I still think this is becoming increasingly true.
In a market in which algorithms dictate the rules, what are the elements for building stand-out communication?
Understanding the algorithms! We shouldn’t see them as something bad but as a language. What is better than knowing Italian if you want to understand the Divine Comedy?
What instruments would you recommend using to improve customer experience?
I’ll answer by telling you about a fun thing that actually happened to me.
A couple of days ago, I ordered a small fire extinguisher on Amazon to keep in my home. A few days later, while I was in the office, an email arrived from Amazon saying “package delivered”, but in actual fact, no package had arrived and no courier had rung the doorbell, so I immediately fired off negative feedback because I was annoyed and selected “package not delivered” and a request for a phone call from an operator.
A mere fifteen seconds later and my cell phone rang. It was Matteo from Amazon’s customer service department who, very politely, asked how he could help me. In the meantime, realization dawned on me as I looked at the delivery destination which was not my office. I had sent the fire extinguisher to my home because I needed it there, not in the office, but I realized too late, caught up in the irritation of the presumed failed delivery. So, I said to Matteo: “Sorry, I apologize, I’ve already sorted it out. It’s my fault” – and then explained the situation to him. He politely asked me if he could do anything else to help me and I answered: “No, thanks. I’m an idiot and I apologize” – and this is when the magic happened. Matteo answered me straight away with perfect aplomb, “Rudy, don’t be so tough on yourself”.
Now, regardless of what you think of Amazon under the myriad of aspects by which it is judged, its customer service is really amazing. Not just as fast as the wind, which is unthinkable for other services, but above all, with staff “trained” for anything, ready to respond, people who think on their feet, are humane, fast and kind.
This is customer experience.
What does living phygitally mean to you?
It just means living now, nothing more. 73% of Italians look at their cell phone as soon as they open their eyes in the morning on their way to the bathroom. If that isn’t phygital, then what is!
What was your experience like with Arrital during the Wellearn programme?
An amazing experience that confirmed one thing about which I have long been convinced: from a digital perspective, we are all convinced that we are experts and understand the dynamics. A bit like football, in the digital world, we are all the coaches up until the moment that we realize we have a lot to learn.
All of us. So, I think my experience in Arrital was to teach and learn at the same time.