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Experiential Marketing LUBNA LAKDAWALA

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What is Experiential Marketing?

As a unique approach to the task of marketing goods and services, experiential marketing is a concept that integrates elements of emotions, logic, and general thought processes to connect with the consumer. The goal of experiential marketing is to establish the connection in such a way that the consumer responds to a product offering based on both emotional and rational response levels. Here are a few of the basics of experiential marketing, and how this process can often succeed when other marketing strategies fail. Appealing to a variety of senses, experiential marketing seeks to tap into that special place within consumers that has to do with inspiring thoughts about comfort and pleasure, as well as inspiring a sense of practicality. This means that the marketer needs to have a firm grasp on the mindset of the target audience he or she wishes to attract. By understanding what the consumer is likely to think and feel, it is possible to get an idea of how to steer the customer in a direction that will relate with the product, and entice individuals to act on that impulse to purchase. In order to engage in experiential marketing, it is necessary to engage as many of the senses as possible. Striking displays with powerful visual elements, such as websites, and visual media such as print ads should not only be visually appealing, but also conjure up daydreams of locales and reminders of sensations that are enjoyable to the individual. When used to create customer experiences of this nature, a sense of rapport between the product and the consumer is established that helps to make the good or service more desirable with each encounter. Because experiential marketing connects with the consumer on multiple levels, the strategy is ideally suited for contemporary sales and marketing campaigns. Shortened attention spans demand that any ad campaign make a quick impression, or the opportunity to engage the consumer will quickly pass. While thirty second ads on radio and television once had a great impact, many people now use modern technology to avoid this sort of marketing approach. This means that ads on the Internet, in print media, and on modern billboards must immediately catch the attention of prospective clients and hold that attention long enough to make an impact. Experiential marketing holds the key to making this happen. By appealing to all the senses, and making the connection quickly and seamlessly, this approach to the marketing task ensures that businesses can still attract and satisfy the needs and desires of consumers. The idea of experiential marketing reflects a right brain bias because it is about fulfilling consumers aspirations to experience certain feelings comfort and pleasure on one hand, and avoidance of discomfort and displeasure on the other. In contrast, traditional product centric marketing reflects a left brain bias because it generally seeks to persuade consumers by invoking rational factors that position the advertised brand as better than competing brands. Product centric marketing presumes a degree of rationality in consumers decision-making that contemporary brain science refutes. Consumers decisions are much more influenced by emotionally generated feelings than by their rationally derived thought.

Indian Example
An example of Experiential Marketing is Mahindra in India, Mahindra Tractors wanted to launch their Hy Tec brand which was a strong hydraulic tractor aiming to help farmers saw the field. To show this technology to the farmers they engaged them through a technique in which sensors were fixed to the hydraulic and a large LCD monitor was placed for the farmers, which captured the movement of the cultivator on an ECG graph. This activity was easily understood and remembered by the farmers and the sales graph was tremendously increased

Experiential Marketing can be easily be combined with Word of Mouth Marketing and affects can be astounding .An experiential approach to launch a brand may be more effective and relevant than anything that television advertisements can offer. One of the best example is Absolut vodka. In Australia, Absolut Vodka launched a brand called Cut, through a strictly experiential marketing point of view. Using public relations, point-of-sale, online and event marketing, Absolut was able to eschew traditional advertising altogether, something unheard of when launching a spirits brand. In a rather astounding bow to experiential marketing over mass marketing, Absolut leased two bars in Sydney and Melbourne, put on DJ sets, band concerts and photo exhibitions in these spaces. Visitors to the Absolut Cut bars got a free bottle of Cut, and consumers were given a chance to contribute their photos to the exhibits, generating what Absolut hoped would be a viral element to the campaign. The campaign flew in the face of traditional ways to launch a brand. Instead of using mass marketing to blanket the millions in order to reach the few, Absolut chose to target the few to eventually reach the masses. Experiential marketing helps the customer in retaining and recalling the service or product offered by companies. In other words, Experiential marketing helps brand marketers gain valuable insight by interacting directly with consumers outside mass-media landscape.

Experiential marketing: A Differentiator

Experiential marketing is the next marketing methodology that can bridge the disconnect between customers' increasing demand to engage marketers and brands on their own terms and the slow-footed reluctance of traditional marketers to move away from mass-media marketing. Today, traditional marketers continue to contend that mass media is still relevant to the customer, especially while launching a new brand. However, they need to understand that there is an increasing demand for out-of-box ideas and experiences that the mass media may or may not be able to offer. Experiential marketing provides experience of the brand and not just the product. The innovations, designs and concepts cut through the clutter of thousands of impressions that people

are bombarded with each day. The innovative and multi-dimensional experiences create emotional resonance; strengthen the bond between Brand Identity and Brand Loyalty. A strong brand can no longer shield a company from competition, nor can it ensure that customers stay loyal to it. Products are also becoming congested with too many features, making it difficult for the customer to distinguish one product from another. This environment forces brand managers to find new ways to create and maintain a relationship between their product or service and the customer in a way that makes their brand more than just a fancy nameplate in front of a product. Perhaps this is why some leading companies are choosing to forgo brand extensions for something more experiential. As empowered customers are increasingly demanding better products and services, and thereby disproving the notion of brand loyalty, brands are beginning to team up with each other to offer customers a new type of brand that answers this demand. It is now no longer surprising to see two, three, or four separate brands combine their core competencies to launch a so-called "branded brand." Like Rin and Surf Excel, the leading clothes washing bar, coming together with the dual branded bar. Customers are more skeptical than before about marketing and advertising, and often tune out marketing messages completely. This only becomes imperative for brand managers to find out and appreciate how their brand is understood by the customer and how they are interacting with them differently than before. By engaging in experiential marketing campaigns, brand marketers are able to gain valuable insight into this realm by interacting directly with consumers outside of the mass-media landscape. With Indian markets getting more complex and demanding, mass media is working less and less. Today, the best marketers have a skew that is 55:45 mass media to experiential marketing. According to a study done by HPI Research Group, 68 per cent of surveyed marketing executives spent more on experiential marketing in 2006 than in 2005 and half of those executives expect to increase spending in 2007. Currently, BTL holds 15 per cent of the total advertising expenditure which is expected to grow by another 10 per cent in the coming years. Brands are now also being driven by the customer themselves, through experiential elements like Converse's co-creation marketing or Nike's id system, design your own shoes. Nike came up with an innovative idea to gauge customers by giving them an experience of being themselves. Customers can design their shoes according to their likes and dislikes, material, colour, shape etc which was definitely creating an identity for themselves. More far reaching is what experiential marketing holds for the future of our everyday experiences with brands and services. Experiential marketing can make brands important again. Instead of marketers spending their time on new products, line extensions, or new-and-improved packaging, they should concentrate on their existing marketing strategies to see how they are engaging, benefiting and empowering their customers.

The Benefits
Experiential marketing is a fabulous approach for bringing a brand personality to life. For example, if you have energy drinks that targets sporty, energetic people and the brand personality is active and bubbly, then the interactive experience will be focused on a similarly energetic, active and bubbly interactive activity, such as a game that involves jumping on a branded trampoline whilst surrounded by blown bubbles. The product would be featured as part of the experience through product trial and the brand imagery would be represented through the colour scheme, look and feel of the experiential set. However, the actual interaction is inspired by the brand personality. Therefore, once a consumer has engaged with the brand, he or she is left with a memorable understanding of complex brand values and will automatically affiliate the product with that personality. If this experience were targeted effectively and reached its target audience, it would connect with the aspirational and lifestyle aims of the consumer (to be energetic and active) and result in a genuine connection, strengthening the relationship between the brand and the purchaser. This live brand experience, which is focused on an interactive game, can also be amplified through all the marketing communications channels, for example digital gaming and ads. Experiential marketing also creates brand advocacy. It drives wordof-mouth through personal recommendations that are the result of consumers feeling that the brand experience added value and connected with them through relevant interaction. The obvious results are strengthened brand relationships, an increase in customer loyalty, and therefore a more long-term strategic approach to gaining and maintaining market share. Sometimes the product itself is truly superior to its competitors, with innovative features and benefits that can only be communicated through experience, which is why experiential marketing campaigns often have the objective of driving product trial.