Experiences Have The Power To Move People Emotionally : Akshaara Lalwani

With an over-kill of traditional advertising formats, consumers have expressed the feeling of fatigue and distrust writes Akshaara Lalwani, Founder & CEO, Communicate India.


Author Michael LeBoeuf got it right when he said, ‘a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all’, and this has made brands thinking. 

The constant battle of Customer Satisfaction or value for money, brand experience or personal experience, the reasoning to brand affection is endless and so are the solutions to every problem. In my mind, the price, brand legacy, features come secondary to the trust put into the brand. We all have emotions and good stories create great brands that provide the audience an experience for lifetime. 

With an over-kill of traditional advertising formats, consumers have expressed the feeling of fatigue and distrust. Further on because of the ubiquity, consumers are left in the lingo of feeling lost and confused. Hence the rising cost of attention has become a key component for brands. 

For this very reason, experiential marketing has paved its way into strategies of many brands. Inviting the customer into the brand’s ecosystem and creating a memorable experience for them even before they purchase the product has definitely gone a long way in earning trust, and credibility in the product. Case in point would be, when a renowned Australian university was looking to increase enrollment from Indian students, they took potential candidates on a virtual tour of a life in Australia. The university employed the use of VR, LinkedIn zones, interactions and master classes with faculty, and recreated iconic landmarks in Sydney, to virtually transport attendees and give them a near real experience of life in the city, and as a student at the university. This new-age approach to promoting the university fortified their position in the education sector of the country, and has paved the way for out-of-the-box innovations in the marketing space. 

Experiences have the power to move people emotionally and gain loyalty in a way that static marketing doesn’t. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for an experience which may be branded, without ever realising that they are being marketed to. That’s the power experiential marketing holds. 

Experiential marketing over the years has evolved across the globe. It is now not just a tool to have your consumer experiences the product before the purchase but take them through a pleasant experience during the purchase of a service or product. A classic example is the Singapore airport. You do not have to be wealthy to enjoy a dreamy reality; they serve each passenger with equality. Every staff member in the airport greets you with politeness and walks with you answering every small query. A smallest gesture of rating your experience in the loo is taken seriously to a point of getting assistance if rate your experience bad. This has done wonders to promote Singapore as a destination, besides giving travellers a chance to experience the region, without realising that they are being marketed the country. 

Another top of the mind recall is a, first-of-its-kind massager backpack, when their conversion rates soared from 1 per cent through online sales and traditional marketing tactics, to 40 per cent through new-age methods. What was interesting to note, is that while through the former, the brand was able to generate interest, the real sales conversions took place only when customer were able to feel, touch, and experience the unique features of the brand. This, is just one example of how through experiential marketing, the lines between online and offline marketing are increasingly blurring, allowing brands to make the best use of both avenues, thus creating a holistic approach to gain a customer’s trust, as well as enjoying higher ROI. 

Dispelling the common notion, that experiential marketing is a B2C tool, many companies are realising its importance in keeping not just customers, but also employees happy. Moving beyond conventional methods, to give their employees a chance to experience the company’s vision, be it by way of being CEO for a month, or appointing Happiness Officers. Such measures go a long way in penetrating the company’s vision and message, thus creating a memorable experience for everyone involved. 

As a proven strategy, experiential marketing is fast gaining prominence in India. This has pushed brands to innovate, think outside the box, push the boundaries of their imagination, and create experiences that would resonate in the mind of the consumer. However, its implementation is still in its nascent stages. Unlike Western markets, where experiential marketing has already become an important part of brand’s strategy, India still has a long way to go, if we are to fully employ the advantages of this business tool. Unfortunately though, many Indian brands have the wrong notion that experiential marketing comprises only events and can be employed solely by premium brands with high budgets. Experiential marketing in reality can be done anywhere, with anything and with any budget. The possibilities are endless. From vending budget-friendly sanitary napkins at public transit spots, to distributing tablets for in-flight entertainment, what experiential marketing really encompasses is the opportunity for companies to display their products and customers experience them, and strategies here can be flexible, depending on value proposition for each brand.

Tech visionary Scott McCorkle rightly said, “Customer experience has become product experience, and that’s what is creating such massive disruption”. Experiential marketing is thus so much more than what we could have ever imagined marketing to be. It is highly targeted, highly specialised, integrates technology and the use of physical senses, and together creates more than what the customer’s mind could ever dream of.

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