Experiential Marketing And Its Importance In The Automotive Sector Today

Guest column by Arvind Balan, Co-Founder at Maxperience for experiential marketing in automotive industry


Back in the day, the good ol’ TV advertising and test drives lasting a mile did the trick for car sellers. However, the automotive market is saturated with superior vehicle offerings in every segment, and now, it’s not just about closing a deal and raking in the moolah. It's about brand-building, careful curation of customer experience, and cultivating loyal communities of buyers and prospective buyers, along with the current trends.

Many leading players in the automotive industry today are shifting away from conventional methods, and driving home an increasingly valid point: Experiential marketing is the way forward. Experience-based marketing tools for the customer are essential in giving them a first-hand sense of the brand and its offerings.

While providing exciting starters for the prospective audiences to be interested in the product, enough to ultimately slide down the sales funnel is an opening move, brands now have to create a unique association for the customer to associate the brand with.

Experiential marketing is an effective way to increase brand awareness and create a stronger desire to purchase, especially with luxury vehicles, by setting off a powerful word-of-mouth process created by giving the customers an eccentric experience.

For instance, Mahindra & Mahindra, an automotive experiential marketing pioneer in India, has organized trail drives since 1996. One of Mahindras remarkable marketing efforts - Great Escape, is a single-day off-roading event. The perfect platform for Mahindra Suv owners to experience the off-road capabilities of their vehicles on trails and terrain chosen by the brand – thereby bringing together customer experience and creating an annual tradition that its buyers look forward to. Going beyond the road, Mahindra also recently announced its Museum of Living History in Mumbai. The museum is designed as a tribute to the 75 years of history at Mahindra, terming it a “timeless piece of experience-centered design”.

For a buyer and enthusiast, the brand bringing together like-minded auto lovers can also knit the community tighter.

Royal Enfield’s rides, including those to Zanskar, Spiti, and other Himalayan regions are some of the most notable examples of such communities.

Similarly, Maxperience curates experiences targeted specifically to the brand's product & services. They custom-design drives such as the MG Astor Adventure Drive to Vishalgarh Farms for MG Car Club India

(MGCC-I), a club dedicated to MG owners,

The pan-India experiential event, Hero Xtracks invites prospective customers & riding enthusiasts for an off-road riding adventure on a specially-curated track while experiencing Xpulse 200 4V.

Such experiences put the customer behind the wheel – quite literally – while strengthening the brand-customer connection in real time.

However, the number of automotive experiential marketers in the Indian market creating such experiences remains limited. Brands will always strive to deliver an experience that engages all of the customers' senses, regardless of what kind of experiential campaign they design.

Here’s why experiential or engagement marketing is vital for the automotive industry to choose experiential marketing.

A sensorial and cognitive engagement

When it comes to buying any kind of car or motorcycle, it takes much more than the salesperson talking customers into a purchase. That’s where experiential marketing comes in.

Traditional media and TV commercials are passe, making them hard-sells at the car dealership or models posing next to a new launch. Today’s millennial & Gen-Z consumers are excited by experiences that leave a lasting impression.

Personal-level messaging

They say that nothing is real until you experience it, especially in the automobile industry. Brand communication becomes more personal with experiential marketing. Consumers form their opinions of a brand through the experiences they have with it.

While it’s true that not everybody is interested in your event for cars and bikes, at the same time, experiential marketing can help hit the right chord with the right target audience.

The publicity that speaks for itself

Experiential marketing is the biggest publicity you can get for automobile promotions, provided, the campaign is designed with a relevant and atypical approach. When the idea behind the interaction highlights the brand’s values in a way that is appealing to auto enthusiasts, people would likely share these personal experiences they had on social media or talk about it which will ultimately lead to expanded customers.

Show, not tell

The bottom line is: Wherever possible, an automotive brand should show rather than tell its audience by creating real-life experiences. There’s no way a digital advertisement is going to replace the feeling of actually experiencing the make and the drive of your product.

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