Mixed Reality in Post Digital SA

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Certainly, South Africa(SA) particularly is now embracing change and the shift in paradigm to digital. The country is slowly moving away from singularly focusing on traditional media (print, radio & television) to using other newer methods. Instead, we are currently seeing how agencies
and brands are using traditional and new media together with technology to bring about change in the way consumers are used to experiencing the brand. Guy Berger suggests that “the Internet will find its way into Africa’s media environment via mobile wireless devices…and
African media leaders should be preparing for this already emerging scenario” .

Already, all over the world (more especially in developed regions) we see how technology has boomed enormously and has become a sort of necessity in the everyday life of the consumer. Technology to them has become a ‘way of life’ as it is part of their daily functioning. Technology is redefining consumers when it comes to product preferences. They use technology to explore various products and services available to them, and that is where brand experience and engagement begins. The post digital media landscape of South Africa is  evolving rapidly but has not reached full circle yet. The reason for this is because the South African infrastructure is not wholly fitting for it to compete with global standards. What this means for the connected consumer is that they may face issues such as expensive data costs or a not so good broadband connection.

Technology is the biggest driver of change in the evolution of the media landscape (Holden and Bashford, 2009). What this means for brands is that they need to adjust their strategies not only to remain relevant in the industry but also to ‘fit-in’ into the life of the consumer in a info-flooded (information overload) world. This is to avoid shoving brand messages in the consumers face while they do not understand what those messages mean to them. With innovations such as mixed reality rising, South African brands and agencies need to get with the programme.

The dawn of mixed reality(MR) combines both augmented reality and virtual reality to change the way the consumer literally sees the real world. What brands need to do is integrate mixed reality into their branding and business strategies, their content needs to be compatible with MR.
Brands executing this very well in SA is Samsung with their Gear Virtual Reality as well as iRacing. With the prospect that ICASA will reduce data costs in SA, then this 2016 CES Trend will surely spiral over the coming year(s) to reach its full potential.

Brands that will epitomise on this trend fairly rapidly will be those within the gaming and consoles industry. Thus, other brands within the same or similar industries (electronics, appliances,software & communications need to be open to collaborative partnerships to bring together consumers of different markets to not only enjoy the experience but assist in creating that experience. To add on, with 59% of video
based content being consumed throughout media brand messages need to be tailored in such a way that they are able to speak to this demand in video content. The strategic communicator needs to be able to create a new way of getting the message across beyond the traditional means in order for the consumer to engage with the brand on another level.

The channel planner or strategist needs to then look at the different consumption patterns of their audience and see how they can maximise on this using mixed reality. Because mixed reality has  not surfaced much in SA, brands wishing to use it need to make it fit into the consumer’s life, not only by making them use it, but to use it correctly and have some correlation back to the brand.

They need to be able to see the importance of making use of mixed reality into their daily lives  without it having more negatives than positives. Furthermore, the strategists needs to be in some  way creatively encoding brand messages into the use of mixed reality whether on the device being used or what the sees when they using the device.

However, in SA some things that need to be taken into consideration is whether or not the country’s infrastructure will actually be able to support the use of mixed reality. Another thing that brands need to look at is whether consumers are willing to spend money on data to make use of mixed reality. Mixed reality is not just changing how people see reality it’s changing how they receive brand messages. In comparison to other countries South Africa is moving quite steadily in terms of technological innovations, however bearing in mind that we are a Third World country some of these innovations may take fairly longer to get off the ground compared to how they do in the Global North. We are getting there though.

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