May 12th, 2023

A New Era Of “Phygital”

In part four of our “Tapping Into TikTok” series, we explore how brands can increase offline engagement and sales through the power of social listening – and react to what they “hear”!

Phygital is an amalgamation of the words “Physical” and “Digital, and describes the integration or connection between the two within a retail environment or otherwise. Alongside being able to draw from some of the benefits of both worlds, from digital’s convenience, intelligence and efficiency to physical’s tactility and immersion, there is also a synergy between the two. Phygital retail environments can typically increase purchasing confidence, increase engagement and dwell time, offer a smoother customer journey, increase a brand’s online presence, improve operations, allow retailers to display more (without compromising on aesthetic), command attention through art /entertainment, and aid brand storytelling.


Up until now, brands have largely implemented digital into their physical retail designs through various hardware, such as touch-screen devices for customer quizzes, product customization and endless aisling, RFID tags for following product stock and to activate exclusive or customer-specific instore content, autonomous supermarket technology, face scanners or other bio scanners for a more personalised shopping experience, digital screens for dynamic media display, virtual reality for instore entertainment and product demos, and motion and infra-red sensors to track shopper journeys and serve responsive content. As well as smartphone-led features, such as displaying QR codes to give shoppers access to ‘more’, brand apps that interact with the instore shopping journey, AR for an added layer of content, and encouraging the user to take a selfie instore to enhance online presence.

Whilst all extremely relevant to optimizing operations, we are seeing a new era of Phygital!

For future generations, phygital is the rule, not the exception. Digital touchpoints are being integrated into our everyday environments as standard. Therefore, the integration of tech in physical stores is much less of a novelty among younger generations than it once was. Brands will need to reframe their understanding of ‘phygital’ to blend the online and offline realms in a way that makes sense for up-and-coming cohorts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer doesn’t involve the integration of digital hardware, but rather it involves connecting with youth culture in real-time via social platforms such a TikTok to gain insight into popular topics of online conversation.


Leveraging TikTok offline means deploying a social listening strategy that spawns a connection between the brand and the conversations of (potential) customers online, and subsequently facilitating these trending topics of conversation in the physical realm to better engage with this cohort of customers. A brand might do this through letting the latest TikTok trends guide instore messaging and comms, levels of product stock, and even the design and layout of a store to facilitate a dedicated online trends’ zone – ultimately increasing sales through relevance and connection.

In 2023, social listening is a vital part of a multi-brand retailer’s omni-channel marketing and sales strategy – here’s a couple of instances where retailers have let TikTok guide their instore strategy…

The Chamoy Pickle Challenge. If you’ve been doing any kind of scrolling on TikTok recently, there’s a high chance you’ll have come across the Chamoy Pickle Challenge. Bear with us…yes, pickles are taking over TikTok in a new #foodtok trend, which sees users filming themselves eating a giant pickle, wrapped in a fruit roll up before dousing them in Chamoy sauce and stuffing them with Takis. Among the community of food lovers on TikTok, this bizarre treat seems to be the latest craze… and some reactive retailers are capitalising on the trend via creating and selling bespoke ‘pickle kits’!

Hot On Social. More recently, Sephora launched a brand-new flagship store in London’s Westfield White City shopping centre. Alongside offering several fragrance, beauty and cosmetic products exclusive to Sephora UK and copious opportunities for product testing, trialling and consultations, Sephora’s new UK-based store in Westfield London is demonstrating an appreciation for how influential the online beauty community is to the industry. The beauty retailer has dedicated a corner of the store to spotlighting the current top 10 trending items on social media – named ‘Hot on Social’ – attracting customers who have been influenced by the latest beauty TikTok trends, whilst also providing a suitable landmark for members of the online beauty community to come together in the physical realm.

Final thoughts

Overall, TikTok’s influence on society is significant and is likely to continue to grow as the platform evolves and expands. It has become a powerful tool for entertainment, self-expression, and social engagement, and its impact on our culture and society will likely be felt for years to come.

TikTok’s forecasted influence suggests that brands and retailers should be leveraging this powerhouse of a platform, not only to benefit from the huge amount of information and opportunity that it offers now, but for the opportunities that will present down the line as the app and its users evolve – as well as the ability to connect with future gen customers.

With TikTok being the search engine of choice for Gen Z’s and growing Gen Alpha’s, combined with ‘the average American spending 90 minutes a day on TikTok, more than Facebook and Instagram combined’ it is evident that the addictive app is not just a phase for the kids but is integral in our lives, for any age with no sign of stopping as the app further develops. What else is the app capable of?

In May, we explore why you should be leveraging TikTok throughout your entire marketing operations, both online and offline.

Part One: TikTok: Under The Spotlight

Part Two: Two things to watch out for in 2023 as a B2C marketer

Part Three: How to beat the algorithm & win on TikTok

Part Four: Leveraging TikTok Offline (You are here)

Let’s talk. 

We understand the importance of responding to the future of retail and keeping up-to-date with the latest social and digital trends to create best-in-class brand experiences and customer journeys.