The next gen of product experience is 3D. From our research, five leading strategies brands are employing to offer loyalty-driving support, resources and amenities around an anchor offer

Previously, we wrote about what our research predicts the next generation of retail stores to look like, based on emerging trends—and the answer was that it will have a harder focus on services, as stores shift away from pure sales. But what of the product experience in all of this? Even if sold online, what will the next wave of consumer goods center around to better meet the needs of customers?

Our researchers have found that, like stores, product experiences will be integrated into a larger story of service, layered with amenities like on-demand support, accompanying lifestyle content and pairings, and collaborative brand relationships that not only add value to the purchase, but also foster ongoing rapport and deeper customer loyalty. Here are five emerging trends our research team has spotted when it comes to creating product offerings as part of a larger brand service experience:

Lifestyle Branding — In an effort to differentiate their offerings and connect with consumers beyond their core products and services, brands are creating media and educational resources around adjacent interests and passions. Yes Plz, a DTC subscription coffee box, is elevating the DIY cup-of-joe experience by wrapping its roasts in the pages of its very own weekly magazine—giving customers some old-school media to flip through while they caffeinate for the day.

Conversational Support — For moments when customers get stuck in the midst of a project or activity, brands are offering always-available experts through chat-based platforms to answer questions, help move past issues or obstacles and continue learning by doing. Skincare startup Versed is doing so through its hotline resource that lets customers text the company team directly, Monday-Friday, and receive skincare routine and product advice in real time from the pros.

Tailored Formulations — In an effort to cater to the unique needs of their customers, brands are utilizing technologies like image recognition and AI or at-home test kits to gather key pieces of data that can be analyzed to establish a baseline for tailored formulations. Leveling-up the lawn care experience, startup Sunday will create its subscribers custom lawn care kits for quarterly issue, formulating and curating products after analyzing a sample of customers’ terrain, as well as adjusting for location and climate.

Collaborative Relationships — To tap into valuable skills and expertise of brand fan communities, companies are creating projects and platforms that encourage members’ ongoing participation, while sharing the benefits of taking part. Snack maker Frito-Lay went as far as reportedly inviting brand fans to partake in its Snack Society club, where they had the chance to contribute to social media content creation and special events, as well as enjoy an insider app experience, and, of course, freebies. 

Closed-Loop Commerce — Sustainability is becoming the new baseline. Accordingly, brands are designing platforms and services that directly replenish and deliver products to the consumer, eliminating the need for single-use packaging while building an ongoing, circular relationship. L’Oréal Professionnel’s Source Essentielle created recyclable, refillable and stackable haircare product containers, allowing consumers to visit participating salons and replenish their product to reduce their plastic consumption. 

While many of these trends emerged before stay-at-home measures went into effect around the world, our research has seen an acceleration of them as consumers look to get the most out of their purchases and experiences remotely through guidance, support, and complimentary resources. For the entire list of trends and related industry stats & quotes, check out details on accessing the full research paper about consumer products as a service experience here.