To answer that question, we have to think about where we are in the marketing world today. We know that "digital" is coming into its golden age, mobile technology is spreading rapidly, and social sharing is becoming more widely accepted. So it seems pretty logical that "digital environments" will take off next and will undoubtedly lead to a rise in digital environmental marketing.
What are digital environments you might ask? Well, they are exactly what you would guess - digital, non-physical environments, like those created through computers and technology. Through digital environments, people can interact with live space virtually. And if marketers find ways to break into these digital environments, people will use the technology for fun and convenience, but will be engaging with marketing at the same time!
And who better to adopt this marketing technique than teens? Teens are the demographic that looks at the latest, greatest, brightest and shiniest gadgets. They are the ones to deem whether or not these objects are "cool" or "uncool" as well. And if the objects are cool -- which digital environments certainly are -- teens will naturally respond and become engaged.
A few early examples of this interactive technique are augmented reality and QR codes. But think about taking it to the next level: Imagine being able to fully interact with a piece of clothing in a store, or at home, by simply using physical gestures. The clothing won't actually exist and will be merely a digital projection, but you'll get the same benefit as you would if you were actually trying it on.
The opportunities for marketers coming from this technique are vast. They would have the opportunity to collect huge amounts of consumer data, such as current teen preferences and spending habits over greater areas, with minimal effort. The intrigue of this technique would merit responses, especially from teens that "get" the technology and are enthusiastic about new experiences. Marketers could use these data to drive new initiatives.
So, how do we prepare for this up-and-coming trend?
1. First, think outside the box -- we live in the days of "if you can dream it, it can be built"
2. Encourage open-mindedness when trying to convince clients that this technology works, and point to examples like Fashionista's great augmented reality application
3. Be ready to move fast -- as with every other technology advancement the brands that place their bets right and adopt early will win big
There's no doubt that teens will play a major role in whatever the Next Big Thing is in 2011, and digital environments are definitely a frontrunner.