Microsoft // Retail Demo Experiences

Perception Change Through Experiential Learning.

How do you design for perception change with a hardened consumer-base with negative assumptions about your brand? Leveraging psychology research on content virality, social currency, and Microsoft's past retail demo experiences, this project demonstrates the strategic capability of immersive storytelling & experiential learning for perception change.


Microsoft's past misplays have led to a hardened consumer brand perception–resulting in decreased customer engagement, negative assumptions of the business, and reduced brand excitement.

Microsoft's Misplays

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Undeniably, Microsoft missed the mark on a few industry trends decisions & competitive product spaces(Vista, missing the mobile revolution, etc) that had created a fairly large negative public perception–suggesting that Microsoft is "uncool", clunky, and merely utilitarian.

Hardened Public Perceptions

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A resulting decrease in new customer engagement and stifled market position was the resulting factor for many years. In recent years, Microsoft has recognized that took action on a new strategy. Concentrating on innovating rather than catching up in certain product categories, they've revamped their vision and focus.

A New Microsoft

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This is a very different Microsoft than of years past. How do you drive perception change to the public and encourage engagement/conversion into the Microsoft Ecosystem?

How do you design something for conversion and investment, while not currently being invested in the ecosystem? Previous to the internship, my last time of intensive Microsoft product usage was years ago. I’ve built up my own negative perceptions about Microsoft products and the ecosystem from past experiences. My perspective was an asset to approaching this problem.


What role can perceptions play in retail? Can perceptions be changed with hands-on experiences and experiential learning?

In this phase of the research, I was heavily influenced by research conducted by UPenn marketing professor, behavioral scientist, and best-selling author, Jonah Bergen.

Overcoming Negative Perceptions

What drives people to share?
“People are more likely to share something, especially on social media if it is more personalized to them, new, or there is some social currency to earn.  People like to feel like they are part of a special club or ‘in the know’.“
"Use feedback loops to exponentially grow social currency"

- Jonah Bergen

Social Currency

What is social currency and how do you generate it?
"Social currency. People want to look important to have social capital. How can I obtain information? The first thing to know about cool stuff. Second, to be part of a small group of initiates. Third, to obtain the status and to visualize it. “Everyone likes to make a good impression, and our products have to help with this.
"...apply the principles of scarcity and exclusivity and allow clients to feel like insiders”

- Jonah Bergen

Design Approach.

Using "word of mouth" & content virality to promote sharing to earn social currency. Give customers access to the feeling of exclusive "insider" status, by giving them a novel experience that they are able to easily share and spread with word of mouth.

Leveraging Novel Experiences to Delight

Use the power of “word of mouth”
- Jonah Bergen

If you can use a novel experience or transformative technology like mixed reality, there is opportunity to create experiences that promote deeper understanding and also delights the user to the point of wanting to share with others. This helps perception change quickly.

Microsoft's Existing Opportunities & Strengths

Microsoft has retail locations where they have had a history of hands-on retail demo experiences with new technologies and they broadcast them to people passing by. This draws them into the store with curiosity.

There is ample opportunity to captivate and engage shoppers that most likely are not a part of/familiar with the ecosystem.

If you blow up their curiosity & interest by giving them a good distraction, you can hold their attention for them to possibly learn about the ecosystem.

Which Personas to Target?

  • The "Drive-By"
  • The "Window Shopper"
  • The "Wanderer"
  • Needs-Based Customer
  • Discount Customer
  • Loyal Customer

Why HoloLens?

  • Captivate using a visual experience
  • Ability to leverage mixed reality/selective reality to explain products/services more powerful than words
  • Immersive AR has not been openly used in retail
  • HoloLens holds a perception of cutting edge innovation which represents Microsoft
  • Interactive way of digesting information

Design Approach.

By staying curious and analyzing the past experience of myself and my peers, I approached this project by leveraging the strategic capability of immersive storytelling, experiential learning, and psychology thought-leadership/published research on content virality and social currency. These elements informed my HoloLens retail demo experience targeted at consumer perception change.

01) Engage

Give them a good excuse to come into the store.

AR/VR/MR are fairly exclusive and new, much that people are still eager to line up to try these new technologies. Using something like HoloLens has a big "wow-factor" that people want to get their hands on and try. Bystanders & people outside the ecosystem with negative perceptions usually have no intention of going into a Microsoft store.

  • Give by-standers an excuse to come into the store
  • Use a good distraction to grab their attention and draw them in.
  • Use new technology such as HoloLens as an alluring incentive
  • Delight and build curiosity by projecting content onto storefront windows

02) Inform & Delight

Informing and engaging through experiential learning is only limited by imagination.

Why do you currently go into retail stores? For the right fit? To feel materials? See if a product will fit into your lifestyle? Let’s do the same with Microsoft Retail. These hands-on learning scenarios are not only new and novel, when it comes to retail demo experiences, but they are much more informative by relating them back to real life scenarios. Users may even see more relevance if they decide to personalize their experience in the beginning.

  • Inform by experiencing the ecosystem & hardware together
  • Hands-on experiential learning
  • Delight users with unique visuals to keep them engaged
Tailoring their immersive experience for deeper experiential learning

Transform their physical environment into selective reality. Using virtual storytelling and selective mixed reality allows the users to touch and interact with physical devices to understand the context in which Microsoft products can fit into your life.

03) Reflect

"Remember this?"

After the experience, shoppers enter email address to receive a OneDrive link which has their experience in segmented video files.

  • Allow experience to soak in/tell friends via word of mouth
  • After a few days -retrospective reminder of what they saw/learned
  • Seamless sharing to build social currency

04) Share

Social Currency and Feedback Loops

You can then share your favorite clip on any social media platform, telling the world about Microsoft's new retail experience.

  • Social Currency to Start Feedback Loop
  • Create hype and “cool factor” amongst network
  • Drive people into store to experience for themselves or ask questions

Let's Chat.

If you'd like to learn more about my design work or inquire about any of the projects mentioned above, don't hesitate  to reach out. If you'd like to chat about anything else or perhaps grab a drink, feel free to introduce yourself!
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