Mobile & Computer screens have become the coveted real estate for experiential marketers now: Ranjit Raina, CEO, Geometry Encompass
Raina spoke exclusively to EE about the changing dynamics of experiential marketing.
With a rich experience of close to three decades, Ranjit Raina, CEO, Geometry Encompass is a veteran when it comes to experiential marketing.
In an interview with BW Applause and Everything Experiential, Raina spoke about the changing dynamics of experiential marketing, how covid will shape the experiential industry and how the brand-agency new dynamic is panning out.
What has been the impact of Covid 19 on experiential marketing?
The experiential marketing business is about engaging and human interactions. With the pandemic and the social distancing norms it seems like somebody has hit the pause button on the experiential business.
Do you think brands will cut down on experiential spends in a big way till Covid crisis persists?
It is not a question of brands cutting down on expense but there is no avenue that is available right now. Brands have to re look at how they would do the same thing in the current environment. Understanding how you create an experience that is supposed to connect with people and drive human connections at a time where we are telling people not to do that. Brands need to re-imagine the way in which they do experiential marketing.
How do you see virtual events? Will they be supported by sponsors even in post corona time?
Event and intellectual property is a model that is predominantly supported by sponsors in our country. Ticket sales is a smaller piece of that revenue model. With it moving online a lot has changed. It changes how talent engages, production costs involved and more. This means that the revenue model changes because the cost structure is impacted. In some cases we have seen a ticket based model working well without there being any sponsor.
Sponsors are always going to look at an event or an intellectual property in terms of what it will deliver to them. We are all figuring out different revenue models because this is a new learning process.
What are some of your biggest learnings from the current situation?
The first learning is that a virtual event is not a replication of a real event. The real world and virtual world are two different spaces. We need to understand how people react and behave in these spaces and then re-imagine the experience. The second learning that we have taken from some content creators is that there is a difference between being present and participating.
Content consumption is not similar to participation, and understanding the difference becomes very critical. The third learning is we need to remember how we are enabling that human connection which makes it a live experience and not just an engagement with packaged content.
What are some of the new initiatives that Geometry Encompass has come up with to deal with the pandemic?
We began with creating a practice for live virtual events which is called ‘Pro.Digi.’ It tries to take learnings from our past of creating experiences and doing events. This kind of consumer behaviour is new even for us so it is a learning process and we need to figure out how engagements work better.
What are some of your suggestions for smaller agencies? How do they deal with this situation?
At a certain level a smaller agency has a great advantage at a time like this, because these are more agile. It is not to say that the entire industry will go digital forever but in the short term definitely it seems that digital will be a very important platform and a space you cannot avoid. Big or small, the faster the learning curve the better it is. The best way to learn is to see everything that is happening across the board and judge what works for you. I think this pandemic is a big leveler. At a certain creative level, big or small we all are at the same starting point and whoever best reimagines the experience in the moment will always shine.
What are the brand expectations from experiential agencies in these challenging times?
It really goes back to why brands look at experiential as an important part of their marketing mix, and the reason is that it allows you to connect with your consumers in a very different manner. It is active and participative. Brand demand is really the same, but because a certain kind of experience is unavailable, that does not mean that they don’t want to engage with the same consumer or the same community. We have to see how we use technology to do that and how we can use a virtual platform more effectively.
Considering all the limitations that we have of travel, time, space and moving people, the screen has suddenly become a coveted real estate for experiential marketers also. Once you are on the screen you are competing against the content, traditional marketing and a lot of other stuff already resting upon it. So how do you differentiate and how do you get people to engage with you becomes important.
How will the road to recovery pan out for experiential agencies?
The very first thing is to get a sight of when this pandemic will end. It is uncertain but the fact of the matter is that experiential would have changed and it is changing. I don’t mean that it is all going to become virtual and digital. I think people crave human connections and want to be with other human beings, and so experiential will find its own space.
What will emerge in the post Covid world are hybrid events where everything that we do will have elements of the real and the virtual. This will make those experiential projects much deeper because you will be able to extend the connection with that audience and the community far after you know when you have left the physical space. I think a lot of these developments will take place. A lot of evolution in the virtual events space is actually yet to happen and we will only see that post the pandemic. The whole experiential thing will be reimagined.
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