Well over a year ago, I began working with executives at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to help them envision the future of their facilities. Traditionally, subway and train stations were considered to be nothing more than places where people got on and off trains.
That was obvious. Not so obvious is that the MTA is the largest owner of enclosed public space in New York City and that space had the potential to be so much more than passages to trains.
Practical considerations – barely having enough money to run the trains well – meant that the MTA needed to tie in this vision with some revenue. The MTA gets a small percentage of its total budget by selling advertising space and renting the few locations that were appropriate for retail stores.
But many of its spaces were long corridors, funny corners, big open areas and the like – which couldn’t work as a traditional store. In those spaces, however, it is possible to insert a digital retail experience, which would be both a pleasant surprise in the subway halls and a source of revenue where none was possible before.
And, with considerable planning, a partnership of companies that combined digital advertising and technology and an enthusiasm for innovation at the highest levels of the MTA, last week the idea came to life.
In the Bryant Park station at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, riders came upon a digital shopping experience – a first in the New York subways. As pictured below, in the Intelligent Color Experience by L’Oréal Paris, one panel consists of a virtual mirror that sees what the woman is wearing and her own skin tones. Then she gets suggestions on what cosmetics to select and, of course, she can buy the products with a swipe of a credit card.
For more articles on this experiment, see:
© 2013 Norman Jacknis