―Brian Martin, Senior VP-Marketing and Communications at Project: WorldWide
Traditionally, marketing was viewed as a tool used by manufacturers to put their product "out there" for consumers to see and preferably, buy. This was way back in the 1960s, when marketing was steadily evolving.
There was a time when nailing those projected sales figures was all that mattered to a profit-making enterprise, but not anymore. While generating profits undoubtedly receives top billing, manufacturers are now looking towards establishing a more intimate relationship with their consumers, with the motive of involving them into the whole process.
"Bringing brands to life" says the new marketing mantra, and it is slowly but surely gaining momentum.
► We've all witnessed the evolution of marketing as it happened―there was a time when promotional samples and gift vouchers were all the rage. Today, it's all about giving your consumer a front row peek into what makes the product click, and letting him take over from that moment on.
► The low-key economy ever since 2008 has made consumers a bit too guarded when it comes to making purchases. Tried-and-tested forms of marketing are not finding much favor with the masses, giving way for some lateral thinking.
► Experiential marketing promises to broaden the very premise of product promotions. While traditional advertising (radio, print, television) was merely verbally and visually stimulating, experiential marketing targets the emotions of the consumer, thereby engaging as many other human senses as possible. It's not just a foot-tapping jingle or a free sample that's on offer now―relationship marketing takes the consumer through a live experience that is personalized and therefore, naturally engaging.
► One may argue that the reach of relationship marketing in the form of, let's say, a promotional event is limited to about 800 - 1,000 people. However, these are the very people who, if impressed with the promotions, will take it forward on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. Social media is that tool which breathes life into experiential marketing.
► Companies have now come to realize that making your presence felt is simply not enough. If one is looking to forge a real relationship with the consumer, nothing beats the authenticity of reaching out for an emotional connection. A relationship formed this way has little or no threat of breaking, rather than the one formed on the basis of appearances only.
► Ultimately, the entire purpose of this technique is to forge a much-coveted emotional connect with the consumer, with the view of generating a sense of loyalty which is influencing enough to make a lasting impression. A lasting impression which translates into a purchase decision.
Coca-Cola's "Spread Happiness" campaign
Spreading happiness got real for Coca-Cola's consumers in Singapore, where advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather introduced a specialized vending machine that dispensed free cans when given a tight hug. Placed at the National University of Singapore campus, the concept was a big hit with the students, who made a beeline for the free-coke-with-a-hug machine.
IKEA's "I wanna have a sleepover in IKEA" campaign
100 Facebook followers of IKEA, U.K., were invited to an exclusive sleepover at their store, replete with massages, snacks, and a live celebrity reading of a bedtime story. Plus, there were sleep experts who gave these lucky few some very handy sleeping and health tips, and IKEA employees put in extra hours to ensure that the customers went to bed happy.
Consumers present were encouraged to try their mattresses and bedding sets, with the entire event receiving massive coverage on social media. The after-hours event let customers to get that firsthand experience which enabled them to imagine recreating the 'IKEA night' at home.
The interesting part in this case is that this operation was the brainchild of a fan-created Facebook group called "I wanna have a sleepover in IKEA". After fans of the page reached the 100,000 mark, IKEA granted their wish, and won a lot of hearts through the wide social media coverage in the process. Following the success of the U.K. experiment, similar events were since hosted in Australia and Hong Kong, to a rousing applause.
Ben and Jerry's campaign
No one has possibly used Twitter as a means of advertising better than Ben and Jerry's. Who could have imagined that a single, simple tweet saying, "We are in Burlington. Who wants ice cream?" would trigger such a large-scale mayhem among its 60,000 followers? Customers lined up for free ice cream, loved the whole concept, and were looking forward to more such experiences in the future.
All said and done, experiential marketing is definitely here to stay. This also translates as good news for the consumers, since they get up-close-and-personal with the product, making them realistically want to buy it.