Experiential Marketing

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--By Santos Shrestha

I still remember my teenage years at Kalimati, where street vendors used to offer you a taste before you bought a fruit drink. I regularly used to go there with friends or alone just to taste the variety of fruits from so many vendors. We still find them at every corner of the city continuously adopting same marketing strategy. Usually they try to convince their customers to buy a glass by offering a free sample. Buyers also get the chance to check out its quality, taste and value before buying.

Nowadays, the same marketing approach is popular in various business sectors everywhere. If we talk about automobiles, cosmetics, restaurants, electronics, software, home appliances etc, they are all doing experiential marketing. It plays a vital role in convincing potential customers and in generating sales.

Another experience was at Abu Dhabi (UAE). We went to the Merina Shopping Mall where we found an attractive cosmetic store displaying the world’s leading brands. My wife went in and started looking at the various brands, whereas I went to the electronics store with my daughter to save time. When we returned to the same store after half an hour to pick up my wife, I, unfortunately, could not find her! On our third serious attempt we finally found her inside a make-up room at the corner of the same store. She was still doing her makeup, with various brands, through a sales girl and listening to the product’s features also. The beautician fully convinced her to purchase a few items. But, I was worried about the price because they were very expensive brands!

This is an example of how strong such marketing tools are, which we, as buyers, hardly ignore. Experiential events tend to communicate on a much more personal level, generate a deeper level of emotional engagement, result in better conversion rates, and all at a relatively low cost. 

But we don’t need to go far. Our local car seller has already realised its importance and has been doing the same aggressively. We can enjoy a long drive before buying their product. Seriously, we can travel to Pokhara or Chitwan just to test drive a car. Savvy customers always make the best purchase decisions. They normally test drive and confirm whether a product performs as per expectations or not. Various car sellers provide doorstep services with attractive gift hampers only for test drives. Imagine what they would offer if you actually make a purchase! Experiential marketing is a cross-media promotional activity which encourages two way interaction and direct physical immersion into a brand. It’s a relatively young marketing discipline, but is growing rapidly compared to mass media campaigns.

Use of Experiential Marketing
The fragmentation and saturation of conventional media channels has led to the reduced effectiveness of traditional promotional methods. Consumers are becoming immune to advertising by fast forwarding through TV adverts using their hard disc recorders, blocking or ignoring internet banner advertising, and failing to hear the constant bombardment of marketing messages they encounter throughout their daily lives. Experiential marketing by its very nature is a dialogue that consumers cannot ignore, not because they're being forced into it, but because it engages with them on a personal level.

"Experiential marketing builds customer relationships for the long term". It generates sales, increases awareness of the product, drives word of mouth and can align internal audiences with business goals. Experiential marketing can be used successfully to:

•    Raise awareness
•    Build relationships
•    Increase loyalty
•    Establish relevance
•    Encourage interaction and product trial
•    Hi Recall
•    Publicity (word of mouth)
•    Change the mind of dissatisfied customers
•    Create desire to buy a product
•    Verify the target audience

Experiential marketing is a powerful marketing tool which should be considered as part of any integrated marketing campaign. Ensure your events are well run, well targeted and integrated with other marketing campaigns for best results. Do it well and you'll create brand advocates who will further spread your brand messages through word of mouth advertising, and become a loyal customer for life. Finally I can claim that, no one buys any product until he or she is convinced and satisfied with it. We ultimately buy satisfaction with the product and this tool provides an opportunity for us to measure our satisfaction level while purchasing various products.

The writer is founder and MD of Mars Advertising and Research Pvt Ltd, a full-fledged integrated marketing communication company. Email: Santosh@marsad.com.np

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