"Marketers must design Digital-Physical Experiences" - Vasantha V Kumar, Director - Marketing, IBM India


It is not uncommon to hear marketers talking about the marriage of experiential and digital marketing in today’s times. But we were all ears when we caught up with Vasantha V Kumar, Director, Marketing & Communications, IBM India, at the Pitch CMO Summit 2014 in Mumbai yesterday. Mr. Kumar spoke to us about how the digital medium could be used as more than just a support system for creating brand experiences. Here are a few excerpts from the interview. 

EE: You spoke extensively about the role of digital in implementing marketing campaigns. Does the same hold true for experiential marketing campaigns as well? 

Yes, definitely! Digital will do a world of good for experiential marketing. In fact, it will be pivotal to the growth of this industry. Like I said earlier, data will be the natural resource of the 21st century, and smart marketers (or ‘digital pacesetters’) are well prepared to use data analytics to design customer experiences.

Apart from the use of digital as an amplification medium for experiences, marketers must also use it to extract data about the consumer before, during and even after an event. This wealth of data can then be used to get a better understanding of the consumer. This is how digital and experiential marketing can go hand-in-hand.

EE: You highlighted the importance of digital-physical experiences in your talk. Can you elaborate on this? 

Over the past year, several brands have leveraged events to create some really good digital-physical experiences. Using data analytics, the IBM SlamTracker™ at Wimbledon last year created a virtual experience where audience could follow what players needed to do in order to win a match real-time. This is a system that was perfected over the course of many live tennis matches.

Another example is Jaguar. They turned the routine showroom experience on its head by handing over the reigns of customizing the Land Rover to the consumers. Using intuitive hand gestures, a customer could engage and interact with a life-size 3D rendering of the car. It was great because consumers could personally experience a vehicle they designed then and there. 

EE: These campaigns sound great in the overseas context. But here in India, managers love numbers. How do you justify ROI for such experiences? 

I think the objectives matter a lot for measuring ROI. Depending on how high evaluation ranks on your list you can implement necessary systems for measurement. But at its core, an experience is an intimate interaction between your customer and your brand, so the question is, do you want to ‘measure’ that experience?

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