Roadmap to the consumer’s brain


Until a couple of years back experiential marketing was a very different ball game altogether. One’s first thought was typically the now dirty word – guerilla marketing. Which meant brand ambassadors would pass out product samples to potential users or a vehicle endorsing the name of the brand would be placed outside an event. Stagnant and boring. Most of the times not even doing any good to the brand. But then came along the rise of SoLoMo (social, local and mobile) technology – and the world was never the same. Brands came to learn the importance of combining digital technology with personal experience to effectively communicate with their consumers. Brands began to recognize that actual physical and emotional experiences, versus just brand swag, help link the offline and online world and build loyalty and trust in consumers, something that really didn’t happen before the influx of digital.

Consumer Becomes King 

The rise of social, local and mobile channels have made the consumer supreme. Now the consumer has complete reign over the experience he wants to have with the brand and share it within his own social channels – albeit any restrains. And everyone knows the value of an independent voice. Check-ins, hashtags, likes, and more have become the de facto standard for many brand experiences and retail doors.

Building on how retail has played a role in this, many brands have started to drive awareness, buzz, and even promotion and CRM into consumers’ lives through the smart integration of digital, mobile, and social technology into their brick-and-mortar businesses. For Kate Spade’s new weekend-wear line, Kate Spade Saturday, the company created four interactive storefronts in New York, all digitally powered and including one large touch screen and zero products. Using the touch screen, consumers are able to browse and purchase products from Kate Spade’s new line--a new version of the in-store retail experience.

The rise of technology has allowed the consumer to interact with the brand in a plethora of ways. The possibilities are endless and the sky is no longer the limit. What one can do with technology these days is no joke, and to use it to build your brand is genius. Gone are the days of museum like brand space where consumers are invited into a stagnant atmosphere and don’t actually engage with the brand at all, apart from a few free product samples.

No More Spams

Experiential marketing used to have a tough time convincing consumers in sharing their e-mail addresses and other details as consumers were afraid of being spammed every day by the brands – case in point – constant spam emails for Viagra. But things have changed. Brands have become smarter in how they reach out to their consumers and have started to respect their privacy. There are no more spams, and consumers have come around, engaging with brands with a sense of security and confidence – giving the experiences the license to become richer and more dynamic.

One to One, One to Many or even Both 

It’s no surprise here that brands that create experiences allowing consumers to interact digitally and socially with both themselves and others will succeed in the long term. According to a study, an average person spends at least 6 hours a day on Facebook. And thus the change in the marketing game. BMW’s initiative on Facebook is a perfect example of how brands are using social networking sites to leverage their brand. If one word describes BMW owners, it would be “enthusiasts.” The people at BMW must know that owners love a chance to show off their beemers, so the company’s Facebook encourages fans to post photos and share where they’ve recently taken their beloved car. By suggesting that fans post pictures of the adventures they’ve gone on in their BMWs, the company connects to the fact that it’s a luxury brand, and those who own luxury cars are likely able to go on frequent trips. Fans happily oblige, but their engagement doesn’t stop there. BMW also puts concept videos and pictures on their Facebook page to show fans what the company is developing and what the next generation of cars will look like. It’s like a personal car show right on Facebook, and every car enthusiast is crazy about car shows. BMW’s heavy use of visuals illustrates their understanding that visuals are important for engagement and allows the company to play to its strengths as an aesthetically brilliant brand.

Overall, when brands try to build relationships with consumers, a simple plan is still the best plan. Experiential marketers must first put themselves in the shoes of the consumer in order to understand the interaction process and the emotions they are trying to evoke from the consumer. Fortunately, technology can’t do the job on its own, nor will our innovative spirit alone propel experiential activations to succeed. Creative ideas and emotional context remain critical for creating powerful and memorable brand experiences. But after the dust has settled, experiential marketing has a lot to thank digital for.

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