The switched on consumer

"Switch it off" is a message that haunts our nation: 'Save electricity, stop global warming'. However it is becoming increasingly important to stay switched on. Innovation of the consumer shopper process has seen retailers digitalise, creating widespread competition with companies constantly looking for an innovative new USP to help drive sales.

Argos has combined in-store retail and e-tail, to successfully pull off a huge re-branding effort. This new store concept has seen them become one of the most innovative companies on the high street. In their own words: 'Faster, easier and more seamless by combining the best of shopping online and shopping on your high street – an experience like no other.'

With 'The New Argos', gone are the days of flicking through the endless pages of the catalogue, punching in the product code and praying that the item would be available. Argos has completely digitalised the consumer shopping experience, using iPads as catalogues and digital advertising screens.

With this move to a switched-on shopping experience, 'The New Argos' store leads the way within major retailers, as the UK consumer gets used to the digital way of life and staying switched on.

However for consumers who do not want to move with technology and innovation, the opportunity to switch off is increasingly few and far between. Checking social media, responding to emails and even having to pay a machine at the supermarket; these are actions that are now part of everyday life and technology dependent.

Whilst all these innovations develop, some companies are taking the opportunity to go back to basics. IKEA have launched their new 'Bookbook' catalogue for 2015. In a parody of an Apple iPad launch, the two-and-a-half minute ad reveals the Ikea 2015 catalogue. This is up there with my favourite pieces of advertising for the year. The picture (below) adds to the comedy, although unfortunately the catalogue won't be presented like this to us in-store.

The rather cutely named Digital Detox company describe themselves as a 'slow-down, not a start-up'. This pretty much sums them up. Their aim is to provide people with the opportunity to put aside their digital arm, press pause, reflect and re-evaluate their relationship with their devices. They have cashed in on the opportunity to switch off, offering 'device-free retreats & programs helping people find balance & gain mindfulness'.

These companies have got us asking ourselves the same questions: Has switching off as a way of producing content for companies' marketing campaigns and motivation for sales been a genius idea? Is it going to result in them being left behind?

Time will tell, however the fact that 'more than 43% of the UK's population now owns a tablet' is a statistic that can't be ignored by retailers looking to digitalise their in-store shopping experience in the same way as 'The New Argos'. Therefore, perhaps switching off is now a thing of the past.

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