Michele Fuhs: get your "phygital" experience
Circle4x is Munich, London & worldwide based brand+retail experience company. Michele Fuhs founded Circle4x after leaving BMW AG after 18 years where he started his career in the year 2000 working first for the Motorsport Division, the In-house Consulting Sales&Marketing, the Region China and the MINI brand in Italy.
Now Circle4x is a network of highly experienced people who are passionate about Retail Experience and who strive to bring fun and emotions to retail and remain relevant by first inspiring our clients with the amazing opportunities they have to turn Retail into a jaw dropping experience and then support them in turning their dreams into reality. And Michele Fuhs is one of world's best experts on event marketing and premium customers experience.
Why has the consumer experience become even more important today than before?
I believe that we are living in a moment where the experience has become the new status symbol. People don’t speak about what they own or have. But they speak and talk about what they have experienced. If you just watch the social media and the content of messages and texts shared, the big mass is about experiences and moments of experience. So, for brands it is important, yes to have a product, but even more to have experiences related to it otherwise the product is not relevant for the customers.
Does the concept of consumer experience also include consumer experience in social networks and the Internet?
Well definitely. There is no separation between virtual experience to physical experience. I call it the ‚phygital‘ experience. In our behaviors and habits we have moved from channels to networks and there should be no boundaries between the physical and the digital world. I would even say that seeing some of our species walking around and seeing that the smartphone is part of our existence, the human being is in the transition to being ‚phygital‘ himself. So if a brand wants to get in touch and interact with humans, today they need to be ‚phygital‘ too and include the consumer experience into all physical/digital/virtual channels.
You have launched projects related to the future of retail - what will it be? And how do you see the future of humanity in general, do you fantasize about this?
I like this question! :-) Especially because, yes, I do fantasize about the future of humanity and it has nothing to do with the future of retail. Being a little bit an idealistic person I think the most important thing is to create a relevant future for humanity that is outside of personal wealth only and that we should all be trying to live in a world with more respect for different cultures, views and especially a world with no wars.
What will the future of retail be? Well, if I could tell with certainty I would have witchcraft. LOL. I see the future of retail of being something where humans exchange experiences without buying a product in the old sense. But where, depending from the emotional situation, you as customer are, serviced and personal support will be offered by involving you in different ’ecosystems’ or ’relational networks’. The classical retail as selling and buying, will only be an exception.
How is your creative process built? For most of people it is difficult to think outside the box when you've already gained a lot of experience and you can't abstract from it.
I don’t have a fix process behind my creative work that I could describe and hand over to others to use it as a kind of guidebook. My creativity is quite spontaneous and does not follow a system.
I am driven by asking myself ‚what if?’ or ‚why?‘ is something like it is. I try to describe an existing challenge or situation and to peel down the obvious reason for being - like the skins of an onion - to get down to then layers of the kernel reason for it to be there and then move back by thinking of what would have happened if other forms or ways of creating the situation or challenge would have been chosen. In other cases I just play around like a child with Lego: build and destroy ideas in my head and build again and destroy again. What I find helpful is to accept a certain ‚childishness‘ and just let it run to fill out post-its with ideas and after that sit down and collect the best of it.
Are there life hacks how to make the brain work extraordinary?
Well, I think yes there are: don’t think you are a fool when you as a grown up long experiences professional act as a child does. Play! and enjoy playing with the most crazy ideas. Have fun! And the end of the day you will find many ideas lying on your desk you can build upon.
You describe yourself as an intercultural person - why is it important while working with big brands, as well as important just for the modern person?
Our Earth has changed a lot in the past twenty years. Societies have mingled and boarders have vanished. Not the physical unfortunately. But those for many human beings traveling, living and working abroad. In many parts of the world the nationalities are living in mixed cultures and enjoying to exchange views, ways of life, food, work, etc. To have an intercultural view on things opens up your mind and makes you understand the approach of others. You start realizing that the viewpoint that you have or have been told to have, is not the only one that works or brings to success. Big brands who are present worldwide and interact with different customers in the world need to have this intercultural asset to be able to transport their identity into the different cultures and to be integrated in the lives of these cultures. I think that we can only win - personally and professional - if we start to understand that there is not only one ‚mono-cultur-way’ to see things.
You are a master of strategic planning, but sometimes circumstances are stronger than us, what do you do if something goes wrong?
Life is a big surprise! And even though I love strategies and strategic planning, I am fully aware that things will come up other than predicted. If things go wrong then there is a reason for it. And even it is only that it was not the right day. Making mistakes or ‚failing‘ is something we need to grow. Getting older I have learned to be quite relaxed when something goes wrong in my plans or things that I do. Interesting enough in some cases I have understood only months or even years later why I needed to learn this lesson. So today I try to stay calm, breath deeply two three times, and go back to work or to the thing that I was doing. But leaving the time in-between, in order to deeply understand the why and accept it.
Why did you agree to speak at BFEF 2019? What are you going to talk about? And what results do you expect from the communications at this event?
I agreed to join the BFEF 2019 as I have not had the honor so far to speak at an event where the main topic was „events“ and where the audience is full of experts in events. For me as a passionate person for ‚human experiences‘ and someone who has tried and is still trying to understand the psychology of human experience, events are about the channel that most strongly can transport the essence of experience. So one reason is to have the chance to discuss with those people about what events can do for retailers to get the best of experience in their spaces. The other is to learn about Events from professionals and finally to network with interesting people from different countries of the world.
I will be going to talk about the psychological elements of experience and of how events are one of the top activities a brand could use to create an unforgettable experience around its brand and spaces. But I have yet not finalized my presentation, and liking to provoke my audience and to get a discussion running, I might bring some other aspects into it that I don’t know yet (see above about creativity and new ideas).