Burberry has just unveiled its latest attempt to humanise the online experience by allowing consumers to seal their electronic messages with a real kiss. ‘

Burberry has just unveiled its latest attempt to humanise the online experience by allowing consumers to seal their electronic messages with a real kiss. ‘Burberry Kisses’, developed in partnership with Google, uses ‘innovative kiss recognition technology’ to allow people to capture and send their own personal kiss to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Customers using a touchscreen device simply need to log onto the site, kiss the screen when prompted, decide which lip colour they’d like and then hit send. Those using an ordinary computer can achieve similar results but will need to use a webcam to create their own digital smooch.

‘Burberry Kisses’ began with the idea of giving technology a bit of heart and soul, in order to drive brand loyalty with customers around the world, according to Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer. The initiative is part of Google’s Art, Copy & Code programme, a series of projects and experiments to show how creativity and technology can work hand in hand.

Some of these projects have been developed alongside various creative teams and agencies, whilst others include contributions from filmmakers, creative directors and technologists. Either way, the idea is to explore how brands can connect with consumers through a whole range of digital tools, including adverts, mobile apps and social experiences.

Examples of this trend can now be seen everywhere. As part of Smirnoff’s innovative Yours for the Making campaign, for instance, three physically disabled music fans create a Drum & Bass track by using their brainwaves as their only instrument.

Creative ideas like these are bound to strike a chord with the digital-savvy Millennial Generation (Generation Y) in particular, which is comprised of 2.5 billion people aged 9 to 30. At the end of last year, Viacom conducted a ground-breaking study called The Next Normal to create the first-ever global portrait of this complex, highly influential group.

In addition to confirming the Millennials’ love of all things digital, the study revealed that these individuals have narrowed their networks in order to spend more time engaging with the people they trust the most. It’s easy to imagine the repercussions that this shift will have on social selling. Facebook’s ‘Like’ button, for example, continues to appeal to many big name brands, including both Asos and Topshop, as a way of helping customers link in to this sense of community.

The amount of time and money being spent in this area helps to highlight the importance that online retailers are giving to the ‘human touch’. According to one recent study, ‘person-to-person advocacy’ has overtaken all other forms of communication as the most persuasive influence on people’s attitudes and behaviour.

In fact, before buying a product, 36 per cent of consumers now turn to personal referrals, followed by trusted websites and email. The website LoopIt seems to have picked up on this phenomenon and thus provides an easy way for consumers to connect with their friends across various social networks. This way, shoppers can get some quick advice when buying online from the people they trust the most - and whose tastes they share.

The internet provides the perfect environment for innovative services like these, whether it’s virtual kisses or something else. Regardless of what form it takes, today’s retailers should be looking for opportunities to incorporate more human interaction into the online shopping experience. Otherwise, they may end up kissing some of their valuable customers goodbye.

  • Dan Coen