Get Ready for Next-Generation Experiences With a ‘Phygital’ Approach

Modern getaways, shopping, and entertainment experiences are being redefined in ways we’ve seen only in science fiction. Now, being present can mean being anywhere.

Design thinking

“Phygital escapism” may seem more futuristic than other experience-evolution trends that have been identified and discussed in this series. However, working toward being phygital can start now. The term “phygital” describes a thorough blending of physical and digital customer touchpoints. A key focus of the adoption of this new phygital reality is to emulate or make possible actions in the digital world that now are only possible in the physical world — and vice versa.

One of the most important points to understand is that phygital is not a tool to replace one channel or experience; rather, it augments all of them. A better way to think about this trend is that it is a convergence of digital and physical spaces and the attendant experience.

An example of this might be virtually trying on clothing in the digital world — assessing size, color, accessories, and other aspects. This information then is delivered to a physical location where the customer can schedule time with a personal shopper, who already has pulled all the desired garments from the shelves. This is a simplistic example, but it illustrates the ability to do more digitally, link the experience across channels, and provide an experience that stands apart.

As the term suggests, phygital escapism also delivers an “escape” from the status quo. This trend will impact far more than just product sales or retailers. For example, vacation travel is shifting (thanks to VR/AR technology) to more immersive virtual experiences that provide much more useful experiences about what specific locations really are like. In sporting events and concerts, virtual attendance is making it possible to watch “from the sidelines,” have multiple views, or generate personal replays of specific parts of an event. There are, of course, many more industries that will rewrite the customer experience with a design focus on phygital escapism.

Given the dramatic experience improvements made possible with this design shift, we expect it will be the foundation of substantial competitive advantage and differentiation going forward. Brands that can combine the technology, innovation, and operational skills to deliver these enhanced experiences will be the winners in the market.

A good example of this approach is in a project driven by Brown and Hudson, which is working to design one-of-a-kind virtual travel experiences with its customers. Not only does this allow travelers to optimize their journey, but it likely also will result in much better conversion rates. For more information about phygital escapism and other new experiences discovered by Cognizant Digital Experience, go to

Coming next:

Environment-driven design: Our collective environmental impact now is a critical issue for many of us. The shift from human-centric to environment-centric experience design will reflect this increasingly important priority, driven by mounting social pressure and increasing eco-anxiety. It means inventing new experiences, and challenging traditional ones that serve purposes larger than customer satisfaction. Building “partner teams” that can deliver truly sustainable commerce will be a key focus communicated in the experience design. One way to think about this on a large scale is to imagine Airbnb, Uber, and WeWork joining forces to completely rethink the urban living experience to reduce our impact.


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