Immersion in the experience age

Every second article I read has some form of AR or VR commentary or perspective (because I just mentioned AR and VR we can now add this blog to the fold!). I would like to take a slightly different angle and talk about immersion in this increasingly experiential society. A society where more and more people are seeking rich, emotionally connected and life affirming experiences, with less of a focus on ‘stuff’. This trend has been well documented and written about (Joe Pine writes supremely on the subject and has a much deeper perspective on different ‘realms’ as opposed to clear delineations like ‘AR’ and ‘VR’).

For me, immersion is quickly becoming the currency of the experiential age. But what do we mean when we talk about immersion? Technically there are a number of different definitions for immersion, I like two over the others…

1. The action of immersing someone or something in a liquid.

2. Deep mental involvement in something.

In the first definition, If we substitute the word liquid, with words like ‘brand’, ‘physical or virtual space’, ‘a movement’, ‘a new state of mind’, ‘or a new state of being’, then we are actually getting to something more fundamental, more useful than talking about different forms of reality, virtual or otherwise.

It begs the question in this experiential age as to how well organisations are truly ‘immersing’ their customers or partners in their brand, services, products, values, experiences, stories etc. By focusing on, and consistently dealing with the ‘immersion quotient’ (the new ‘IQ’ of the experiential age) of an organisation, we can move beyond tactical questions I hear regularly like ‘should we use 360 degree films in our new campaign’, or ‘should we do ‘something like Pokemon Go’, and get to a more meaningful, transformational thinking place.

I would challenge organisations to develop an immersion strategy that precedes (and empowers) things like engagement and marketing strategies, and ask (not an exhaustive list):

  • What is 'our' version of immersion? What do we mean by it?
  • How might we harness immersion across the marketplace and workplace?

  • What are the appropriate ‘depths’ of immersion that we should use at different points of the customer or employee journey’?

  • What kind of outcomes are we trying to reach by deploying immersion?

Only then should we ask ourselves what are the appropriate interventions that we might use to answer those questions- which may or may not use new technologies like AR, or some other approach like play, theatre, or experiential marketing.

Over to you- how is your Immersion Quotient?

Amy Hore