Ken Lonyai

Digital Innovation Strategist, co-founder, ScreenPlay InterActive

Ken is a 15 year veteran of interactive project development including some of the industry’s most unique experiential systems. His skills span the on-line world and nearly every realm of human/computer interface used by brands and retailers – mobile, interactive kiosks, experiential displays, and more. Known as the man with the miniature R&D lab in his head, when he’s not working on a client project, Ken can be found designing, tinkering, and developing some cool new experiential device in SPIA Labs.

He is a consumer engagement expert using cutting-edge, unique, and enticing brand experiences that encourage “like”, “share”, and “buy now” behaviors, as well as a creator of true consumer excitement by baking-in fun, social, and gamification actions that generate results. Focused on producing “amazing user experiences” for brands and retailers, he helps companies transform into destinations that consumers seek out and want to interact with.

Ken is a subject matter expert in user experience, most things interactive, experiential marketing, mobile app strategy/development, and digital UX/UI.

Additionally, he is a co-founder of NUI Central™, an organization to promote using natural human traits (voice, gesture, eye movement, etc.) to bi-directionally interact with smart devices.

Other Links from Ken Lonyai:

Perspectives (blog)

  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Can parking lots save the mall?

    Parking lot mall events are a band-aid trying to cover an underlying problem. If that's the strategy to revive/save malls, time to kiss malls goodbye.Festivals don't change the fundamentals of retail and the fundamentals (in an e-commerce world) are what is killing malls.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Can tailored digital video messaging transform grocery end-caps?

    I suppose that if you have no background in experiential technology this seems like something new, but it's not, it's just finally gotten the attention of someone with financial impetus.As each new technology comes to the fore (digital signage, QR codes, beacons, etc.) there's a buzz about how it's the solution to every marketer's problems. The reality is that in-store experiences, particularly technology-based ones, need to be technology agnostic and, instead, based on user needs/desires. For some shoppers beacons to phone messaging will work, for others this type of signage and for others various forms of interactive engagement. It's going to take a long view to truly know what mix of technologies in what settings and demographic markets provide the best results. There are some downsides to personalized messaging via signage too, so I wouldn't bet the farm too quickly that this is the radical breakthrough Coke has been waiting for.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    Price wars become nothing less than commodification and commodification can only be sustained by large players, especially if they have other revenue streams. So when it's Walmart leading the price cuts, grocery competitors have reason to be concerned.Walmart is legendary for its ability to squeeze more product out of a dollar than anyone, so the three main ways to fight back are unique experiences, convenience and personalization. In grocery, those are harder things to achieve than in other categories. I think Kroger is on the right track and that they should really look at convenience tactics, like two-hour home delivery or cart scanning checkout, but anyone with deep pockets can match those services.Having said all that, moving to non-commodity brands and unique products will also thwart a price competition, but it's very risky for an established merchant to migrate shoppers to new brands and products in amounts sizeable enough to matter to their bottom line. Very risky.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Is personalized packaging going mainstream?

    While this sounds cool and seems smart, ultimately I'm going with this being a fad that will not add much bottom-line value.It's sort of like bringing social media to the physical world, but just like seeing Facebook posts and tweets reposted, after a while, people find that the shine wears off and the wow factor goes away. Especially when everyone has had the same experience.I think that will happen with these types of personalizations. After someone has shown coworkers, friends and family that their name is on a bottle, that a picture of their cat is on the box, or that their favorite animated character is messaging them, the allure of buying products based on this flavor of kitschiness will likely fade and the basics of what traditionally drives purchases will prevail.From a brand perspective, the costs and logistics of maintaining a truly personalized packaging ecosystem will likely not significantly improve profits and just like the panacea over QR codes ended quickly, this too shall pass.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2017

    Will help PetSmart gobble up the online pet market?

    PetSmart would be wise not to mess with the Chewy model, rather they should keep the brand and support it.For an independent, the company has done extremely well. To kill the brand and absorb it, would potentially destroy the gains the acquisition provides. Although Amazon is bigger, I do not believe they have the same product mix and pet owners often prefer a more focused seller (as the market share numbers support) for their beloveds. Chewy's prices are probably better as well.Petco is the one that should be most worried. They have to battle on every front and what PetSmart loses/lacks in-store is now instantly propped up by this acquisition -- a fallback Petco does not have.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2017

    Are consumers’ AI fears rational?

    "Only 41 percent knew AI was present in Amazon Alexa and 57 percent in Apple’s Siri."That statement underlines the whole issue of consumer AI perception. It seems that many or the majority of consumers are very unclear what AI is and perhaps are more influenced by Hollywood than experience, so that alone negates some aspects of the survey. Additionally, people respond with concern when surveyed about privacy or security yet divulge intimate details on social media and use weak/obvious passwords. So what respondents say and what they do are unsurprisingly two different things. In time, perceptions will change as users gain more exposure to real AI, so smart brands do need to be open about its implementation and considerate about user concerns and user rights.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    Are outlet malls an outlier?

    Outlet malls are only an outlier for now. To think that they are immune to the digital commerce sea change is folly.Consider department stores as the low hanging fruit, first to be picked off by digital commerce and changing shopping habits, followed by traditional yet weak malls. That's not the end though. In time every weak category and business that is uncompetitive and unable to totally meet changing consumer expectations will be hammered and broken. There's no reason to believe outlet malls (as a category) are exempt. Those that get it and get with it will survive, maybe thrive, the rest shall perish too.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2017

    Is ‘experiential retail’ taking a new form?

    "Everything in life is an experience" -- that's my mantra. Retail is no exception. But "experiential retail" is the newest buzzword trend (displacing showrooming) because it sounds cool and is vague enough that it's easy to claim as a merchant's goal. Therein lies the problem.It's easy to talk "experience," hard to deliver unless you know what experience customers are looking for.So things as subtle as a hiccup-free e-commerce checkout, accurate real-time inventory information, pricing accuracy, knowledgeable staff, fast checkout lines, hassle-free returns, personable/immediate phone support, attentive management and about 10,000 other small factors cumulatively all contribute to delightful experiences. Sometimes it is enabling customers to experience products before buying in simulated scenarios and sometimes some WOW factor (retail as theater) is experience as well, but if the little details aren't right, all the high-touch moments won't prevail enough to matter to shoppers.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2017

    Will struggling retailers find new lives as pure play e-tailers?

    Tony: you and Ian are on point about the social change, nevertheless the mall/retail vacancy rate is going to expand. My research says that these are still early days of the transition and in a few decades retail shopping will be unrecognizable to those still around that remember the golden days of malls. Like it or not it's social evolution and a smart society will find new ways to create community and social experiences if that's important to them.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2017

    Will struggling retailers find new lives as pure play e-tailers?

    This is a great litmus test to prove that with e-commerce's maturation, we are over-retailed.Flipping to online-only is a trend that I expect to see continue probably for the next decade or more as weaker chains make a last gasp at survival. When there was no digital commerce, they could exist in their niches. Now the light of day is shining upon them and those that don't have the strength to stay profitable operating stores will try to leverage their buying/warehousing infrastructure for one last go of it without the cost of operating (often mall) stores. For many though, it will just slow the inevitable.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2017

    Can compete on experience over price?

    I'm not seeing the breakthrough here. This is what all retailers must do. The fact that they've waited so long to "get it" underscores why Amazon has gotten as big as they are.The technology has existed to make this type of "omnichannel" experience possible for a long time. It has simply taken (as we've said many times before) retailers this long to finally begin to feel the impetus to invest in it. Nordstrom might have some benefit from getting there ahead of some competitors, but anyone that wants to survive needs to move in this direction quickly. So Nordstrom would be smart to get more innovative or before they know it, others will be on equal ground.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2017

    What happens now that Alexa is on the iPhone?

    Alexa just gained the potential for greater ubiquity while Siri stagnates.Rather than having to sell more devices, this opens the door for Amazon to get into people's pockets (literally) without asking for money. Plus, it allows Alexa to function anywhere, something she cannot do comfortably when she's tied to a tabletop device. In a way, it's Bezos' dream of a Fire Phone without the mess.I disagree with Brian Barrett and believe the uphill struggle is Google's and not Amazon's and that he and others miss the data gathering uptake this mobility will deliver to Amazon.Lastly, just two night's ago I co-hosted an Alexa Evangelist at our monthly HUI Central (Humanized User Interface) meetup and can state from some of the casually mentioned new capabilities that Amazon is working on fully enabling Alexa to be an "assistant" even though they don't like her called that.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2017

    Has Walmart found a digital answer for empty store shelves?

    I'll be the flack magnet today on the endless aisle kiosks topic ...Endless aisle kiosks are great in theory and have their place, but they fall somewhere between a Band-Aid and a Hail Mary pass. Some people will use them and find benefit, but most shoppers don't. Making them justify their expense is difficult and the net gains are typically modest or negative.I have been designing advanced kiosk software since 1999. Users do not go shopping in-store to replicate what they can do at home. Endless aisle is a fallback for out-of-stocks (which need better solutions) and the opportunity to offer expanded product choices and some selection guidance, for the minority of shoppers that have the patience to browse that way. It's cumbersome to really shop standing at a kiosk, exacerbated by having to wrangle children while doing so or with other shoppers breathing over your shoulder waiting for a turn. Then there's the argument that they serve shoppers without Internet access which fails to recognize that more than 76 percent of U.S. adults have smartphones and those who don't have a smartphone or PC probably can't/won't purchase through a touch screen in-store.Macy's (Intel-backed) endless aisle kiosks have been super-effective dust collectors and at Sears I may have seen a customer use them once or twice.So for the pundits that disagree, please share your experience mapping out the customer journey, user research and UX for endless aisle kiosks. Also, I'd like to see studies that show conclusively that they offer true ROI taking the full spectrum of deployment costs into consideration.As for Walmart, I don't have insider information, but this very well may be another stab in the dark to combat their nemesis named for a river.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2017

    Is the sole proprietor toast?

    You're implying that I support a "head in the sand” mentality. Although I work with very advanced technologies, AI, etc., there is a reality as to who the majority of mom and pops are, their resources, and willingness to embrace new thinking, regardless of what you want them to believe. When I consult, my role is to serve clients best interests -- technology or not, given who they are and their comfort level, not to force technology for technology's sake on them. Not sure what the new wave of agencies is supposed to mean, but pushing an agenda that suits their agenda only, "WILL fail."
  • Posted on: 03/08/2017

    Is the sole proprietor toast?

    "innovative technologies like Cloud, PaaS, IaaS and IoT ... " That's Latin to 98 percent (or more) of mom-and-pops. As noted above, most have yet to offer a true value added website. As useful as those technologies are, only very savvy and often young entrepreneurs have the ability, resources and bandwidth to look in those directions.

Contact Ken