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Interview: Hapticmedia & the rise of digital personalization for luxury

Alissa Demorest

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Interview: Hapticmedia & the rise of digital personalization for luxury

Digital sales are taking on even more importance in the context of retail store closures due to the coronavirus crisis. Hapticmedia, French specialist in 3D staging and personalization of products online, is well positioned for this new normal. We spoke with Henri Foucaud, CEO and co-founder.

What are the advantages for brands of visualizing a product in 3D?

From an e-commerce point of view, the main barrier to purchase is not being able to see or understand the product—in 65% of cases that’s why consumers don’t buy online. But with 3D, they can manipulate the product, visua- lize it in a totally realistic way, understand how it works through usage scenarios, and even test it on themselves via augmented reality ‘try-on’ functions. The idea is to facilitate conversion, but beyond that, it can also cut down the rate of returns while creating a differentiating and immersive experience.

One of 3D’s main attractions is that there is a library of shapes and another of materials and these are interchangeable so we can show all of the possibilities. The consumer can visualize in a detailed fashion products that are highly customizable. The more possibilities there are, the more interesting the experiences, without forgetting the financial benefits.

Beyond an unparalleled visual experience, isn’t personalization the real issue here?

Let’s just say that ‘mass customization’ is made possible by the 4.0 industry by making a digital link between the Internet user and the manufacturing site. We’ve applied this idea to engraving and hot stamping, and displaying elements so that the consumer can visualize the product exactly as he will receive it. This is co-creation: the consumer takes on a role that doesn’t fit into the classic industrial scenario, but where he can design the product that suits him best. Some luxury brands are very comfortable with this concept, others a little less so. At Hapticmedia, our obsession is to transcribe a product’s emotion through the digital medium, which is anything but emotional. We want to reach the point where the consumer thinks he is holding the object in his hands simply by visualizing the 3D rendering on screen and especially on his phone.

How does real-time calculation change how an object is rendered?

It’s the user himself who chooses how the object moves and the light and its reflections are recalculated in real time. Our perception of relief is the way the light hits the object and that’s what gives an effect of realism. How do you achieve this level of rendering? First of all, the object must be very light in terms of data. A 3D file is initially generated by industrial software for manufacturing, so it is both very complex and very heavy. Our idea was to simplify the file and take only the data that is used to generate a visible shape. Once we’ve created a much less dense, but nevertheless faithful network, we apply it on top of the textural and light elements to make a dynamic object that is interesting from an interactive point of view.

Which luxury sectors have the most potential for online personalisation?

We see a lot of momentum in premium jewelry, and watchmaking is also showing strong potential especially given the growing market for bracelets. Having direct access to the customer to sell this kind of accessory while ensuring fairly comfortable margins is a real opportunity for brands and for bracelet manufacturers, of course. Young people generally don’t wear watches today, so watchmakers need to reinvent themselves. How can they attract millennials? By displaying values that are out of step with traditional values that symbolize luxury watches, which is exactly what Baume has done.

See the spring issue of our sister publication Formes de Luxe for the full interview

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