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28 February 2021
A better way to manage customer experience by using phygital to connect online and offline: A business framework foundation
Consumers increasingly buy experiences rather than products or services (Batat 2019; Jaworski, 2018; Klaus and Nguyen, 2013). They enjoy physical experiences like attending concerts, or buying in concept stores, but also digital ones like playing video games, browsing the Internet, or experimenting with virtual reality applications (Drell 2014). Today, a new set of hybrid consumption experiences “phygital” (physical + digital) is flourishing that are not purely physical nor purely digital, but merging characteristics of both worlds (Batat 2019; Castelli 2016). As a result, understanding and designing valuable phygital consumer experiences has become a top priority for marketing scholars and businesses today. Gartner says that 89% of marketers expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience (Sorofman, 2014).
As digital technologies become pervasive, scholars and marketers are particularly interested in understanding the influence of digital technology on customer experience (Sanjit et al., 2020; Drell, 2014; Denegri-Knott and Molesworth, 2010). For example, consumers enjoy quantified-self experiences where they use apps and connected objects to monitor, control and optimize themselves and improve their health. Augmented reality, digital concierge services, and experiences derived from 3D printing are a few of the phygital experiences that have attracted attention amongst many others. While some consumers find phygital experiences novel, exciting and useful, others discard them as unnecessary technological gimmicks (Batat 2019). Thus, scholars and marketers have limited knowledge of what makes such experiences valuable for consumers because enabling technologies are novel (Rigby, 2011). Besides, current works do not distinguish between phygital and omnichannel customer experience (Batat, 2019).
While omnichannel does apply to the retail sector and the points of sales, phygital is an ecosystem that applies to different sectors ranging from education, banking and insurance, and airlines to health care, hospitality and restaurants, and entertainment. Also, phygital uses a combination of both physical elements and digital devices, platforms, technologies, extended realities, online platforms, etc. to offer unique interactive experiences that should integrate a continuum in terms of consumer value (economic, ideology, symbolic, social) provided from digital to physical and vice versa. That is why in contrast to omnichannel that connects touchpoint by using digital with the logic of purchase and e-commerce (economic value in distribution), phygital as a holistic approach can be used in communication, marketing, branding, advertising, product innovation, pricing, etc. to provide customers with value, not only economic but also symbolic and social, among others.
With phygital, we attempt to understand consumer and brand behaviors in a new environment: the third environment that we need to define what are its elements and how does consumer interact with the brand in this environment in and outside the store. The phygital experience is then the most complete form of omnichannel experience that can be implemented in different sector and not only limited to retail and the points of sales. As far as I know, there has been no conceptualization specific to this. But the concept is used by both researchers and businesses. Also, looking at the two types of literature together in multichannel and omnichannel retailing, we realize that the dichotomous view is present in both of them. Phygital can help us look at these experiences as one. Finally, the implementation of a phygital ecosystem goes beyond introducing technologies in the store as in the omnichannel logic, it requires a new approach to offer the ultimate experience by following multiple stages in the implementation process from the computer science literature (e.g., connection, captivation, contexts, content, collaboration, communication, consistency, and competency).
This Special Issue will contribute to theory conceptualizing how new technologies influence the shaping of the phygital customer experience, helping marketing scholars to understand the foundations of this concept. First, this Special Issue will delineate a new type of digitalized experience: phygital experiences. A new set of hybrid consumption experiences is emerging today that integrates the digital and the physical worlds (Batat, 2019; Rigby, 2011) – e.g. wearable tech services, augmented reality, 3D printing, or digital concierge services. These phygital experiences are not yet fully understood, and this proposal will investigate how they are organized, what makes them valuable for consumers and what drives their emergence. This will give marketing scholars deep insight into how to design valuable phygital customer experiences. Second, this Special Issue will help us define from a multidisciplinary perspective how digital and physical customer experiences differ. Prior research provides important insights into the uniqueness of specific digital consumption experience. However, no general framework explains today how digital and physical experiences relate to one another. Investigating experiences which are simultaneously digital and physical will allow comparing digital and physical consumption experiences. Third, this Special Issue will enhance our understanding of experiential value by identifying new types of value. Several types of experiential value are currently typically distinguished, like efficiency, excellence, status, play, aesthetic, or ethical value (Holbrook, 1999). We contend these different types of values become so closely intertwined in phygital experiences that they evolve into new hybrid ones. For example, health monitoring activities using quantified-self apps continuously merge experiences of self-empowerment (ethical value), feelings of fun (play value) and productivity (efficiency and excellence value).
This Special Issue calls for works from different philosophical and multidisciplinary (e.g., sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics) perspectives and levels of analysis, ranging from micro to macro. aiming at exploring what these new hybrid (phygital) experiential consumption settings are and how they can de developed in consumer and marketing literatures. As such, despite the sheer breadth of topics that marketing researchers have considered over the past several decades, its link to phygital customer experience research remains largely unexplored. This therefore presents an ideal opportunity to extend a growing body of literature on customer and user experience (e.g. Wu and Lin 2006) by advancing the current understanding of consumer behavior and marketing within new phygital consumption settings. In line with the focus of Journal of Strategic Marketing, all disciplinary, theoretical and philosophical perspectives are welcomed. We aim to stimulate research in three key areas:
• Defining and shedding new perspectives on the phygital customer experience research, considering consumer behavior and the challenges and opportunities for scholars and marketers;
• Examining constraints and obstacles related to experiential consumption in a new phygital setting as an emerging field of research in marketing;
• Finally, we also welcome strong conceptual research that challenges our understanding of phygital and its contribution to customer experience, consumer psychology and behavior, and marketing.
Topics for this special issue include, but not limited, to the following themes:
1. How are the phygital and customer experience related?
2. What are the factors affecting phygital customer experiences?
3. What role does consumer psychology play in phygital consumption?
4. How phygital experiences create value for consumers to help marketers design valuable customer experiences?
5. How value changes across the different stages of phygital consumption?
6. What drives the emergence of valuable phygital experiences? What are the consumer and marketing contexts of application where phygital experiences become more relevant?
7. How is the phygital experience relevant in marketing, branding, advertising, and sales?
8. What are the implications of the phygital consumer experience for marketing theory and strategy?
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Inquiries can be directed to the special issue guest editor: Wided Batat ([email protected]). Submissions should follow the manuscript format guidelines for Journal of Strategic Marketing can be found below.
All manuscripts should be addressed with a cover letter and note to be considered for this Special Issue 'Phygital Customer Experience" to the Guest Editor Wided Batat ([email protected]). The deadline for submitting manuscripts for this Special Issue is February 28, 2021.
Expected publication of the Special Issue : December 2021
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