In a world of digital distractions and shrinking attention spans, brand loyalty and customer engagement often wind up “out of bounds.” But forward-thinking organizations — including the National Basketball Association (NBA) — are using technology to create some exciting new scoring opportunities.

One of the keys to establishing brand loyalty lies in enabling an experience that sparks an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. The NBA is a great example of an organization with an ardent fan base whose loyalty is based on an emotional bond. But to transform that passion into higher merchandise sales and social media buzz, the NBA has been adopting some unique concepts.

Some of this innovation will be on display at the NBA All-Star Jam Session, which will take place in New Orleans, February 13-16. There, the NBA is deploying Cisco’s Virtual Mirror done with partner C-InStore. The full-length mirror enables shoppers to see enhanced virtual images of themselves. And while Cisco’s Virtual Mirror might not make a customer look 7 feet tall (yet), it will render an image of him or her wearing the official All-Star jersey, shorts, and other licensed apparel. That digital snapshot can then be shared with friends and family, capitalizing on the excitement of being at the event. Those who engage with the mirror will also receive a 20-percent discount off event merchandise, redeemable through a coupon sent automatically to their phones.

By using Cisco’s Virtual Mirror, the NBA is creating a seamless, personalized Internet of Everything (IoE) fan experience that begins when participants “wrist in” using an RFID wristband. The bands, which every visitor receives upon arriving at the event, are aligned with a profile provided by the attendees; thus, the mirrors will “know” each potential shopper. In return, the NBA will receive a trove of data regarding who tried the Virtual Mirrors, which products generated the greatest interest, and which of those initial engagements led to sales.

Most organizations don’t have the sort of fans who whoop and shriek with excitement at their product every night. But they still have great opportunities to seize home-court advantage by creating similar emotional connections with their customers.

That deeper engagement is built on engaging the customer better than ever before — and the best way to do that is by leveraging data to make the experience seamless. Just as RFID wristbands enable that magic to happen between the mirror and the fan, they will also present the NBA with customer insights. A shopper’s smart device, coupled with in-store digital experiences, can do the same for a typical retailer. And those digital experiences — along with targeted, contextual prompts, offers, and product advice — will forge a stronger bond with the customer.

The innovations being adopted by the NBA and others are just the beginning of what is possible with IoE. Any retailer that looks to emotionally engage their customers will have a great opportunity to regain possession of the ball and stage a fast break to brand loyalty and customer engagement.

How might your brand drive new relevance for your business? And how can your organization create a unique “fan” experience that takes advantage of an emotional connection?

Join the conversation #NBAAllStar and #NBAJamSession!


Rachael McBrearty

Chief Creative and Group Leader

Cisco Consulting Services