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Marketing with 3-D printing is uncharted territory. What was, only a few years ago, a novelty hobby for only the most tech-savvy early adopters is quickly becoming a mainstream phenomenon, creating opportunities for brands to engage with their customers in groundbreaking new ways.
According to a recent study by Canalys, the global 3-D printing market is predicted to grow by 500 percent in the next five years, to a whopping $16.2 billion. With this level of growth and development, and the opportunities 3-D printing offers, this new industry is poised to make a huge impact on the way marketers do business.
Already, some of the most innovative brands are making long strides into this new territory. Here are a few of the most successful 3-D printing campaigns, and what you can learn from them.
This October, sneaker retailer Asics and ad agency Vitro launched a multi-channel campaign that celebrated New York Marathon runners by creating 3-D printed models of them mid-stride along the route. Five hundred runners uploaded headshots, which were printed into little statues and photographed at different locations in the marathon. When the runners passed those locations, the corresponding photo was uploaded onto his or her Facebook profile.
Great, engaging campaigns like this are really paving the way for the future of 3-D printer marketing. Asics encouraged participation by using the technology to create thoughtful, personalized content.
On a completely different note, Belgian insurance provider DVV and agency Happiness Brussels used 3-D printing to create a service called KeySave, which lets users reprint lost keys so they never get permanently locked out of anything. They just scan their keys, converting them into digital files which will save on the cloud. If they ever get locked out, they can print out the keys out at a local 3-D print shop.
This program created an extremely useful service by reimagining what could be done with 3-D printers. Instead of just engaging and entertaining consumers, DVV was able to invent a useful, unique new service.
In 2012, Volkswagen and DDB Copenhagen launched The Polo Principle to promote the Volkswagen Polo. The German auto manufacturer invited its fans to design a custom VW Polo, and selected 40 of the best designs to be 3-D printed and displayed at a special exhibit. The winning design was actually turned into a real-life Polo car.
The Volkswagen campaign shows the potential 3-D printing has on the co-creation of products. Brands can use the new technology to invite their customers into the design and development process, introducing a whole new level of consumer interaction.