We are living in an experiential society. The consumers are moving towards selecting products based on experiential factors and marketers have the opportunity to sell products at a premium if the product is able to deliver the right kind of experience.
Bernd Schmitt in his book Customer Experience Management: A revolutionary Approach to Connecting with Your Customers; has defined customer experience management as the process of strategically managing a customer’s entire experience with a product or a company. Experiential marketing aims to engage the consumers so that he gets a complete experience of the product or service. Rather than depending on features, brands are looking at ways to deliver a holistic experience to the consumer.
There are many factors that drive this experience economy. Consumers are now armed with lot of information. This information has made many a differentiation irrelevant. Hence more than the product’s features, consumers tend to evaluate products based on their experience with the product and the company.
Marketers earlier had tried to create brand experience through standalone promotional activities. These activities were short-term and were intended to give a peek into the brand’s projected experience. But the situation now demands that the brand deliver its experience every time the consumer makes a contact with the brand or the company.
In this period where product feature based differentiation is hard to sustain, marketers must create a brand experience which can act as a sustainable differentiation platform.
Understand consumer’s world.
The first task for the marketer is to thoroughly understand the consumer’s world. Consumers live their experience from their own world. Hence when the marketers try to create brand experiences it should resonate with the consumer’s own world.
Brands which target children practice this principle very effectively. Take the example of Cadbury’s Diary Milk Wowie. The brand takes the kids through a chocolate world where the hero Mickey Mouse helps the kids to enjoy the chocolate world and protect them from harm. This fantasy world appeals to the kids intensely and the level of involvement of kids in this campaign is very high.
Another critical factor for creating effective brand experience is the relevancy of the experience. For creating relevant brand experiences, marketers must get inside the life of a customer. In the highly insightful book “The Game Changer” P&G CEO: A G Lafley describes the importance of understanding the life of the consumers. P&G made it compulsory for its marketing team to involve deep into their consumers life so that they could come out with products that made their life easier.
The brand experiences that marketers create should be authentic and credible. Fantasy works best for children but for adults, the experience must be based on realism. The promise has to be delivered. This calls for the organization to be highly customer centric.
Kingfisher Airlines created a very meaningful credible experience by making the most of customer touch points. The ushers who helps the traveller at the entrance of the airport to the cabin services and food served created a new brand experience for the travellers.
Consumers should cherish the experiences created by the brand in their memories. The experience should appeal both to the rational and emotional mind of the consumer. Catering to the emotional self of the consumer will help the brand to build attachment with the consumer. Appealing to the rational self will enhance the credibility.
Asian Paints in its clutter breaking campaign “ Har Rang Kuch Kahta Hain “achieved both these objectives. The campaign touched the emotional chord with the consumers and also appealed to the rational mind of the consumers. The brand made the experience more rational by launching sample packs where the consumers can paint a portion of the wall to see how the colour will actually look like.
It is absolutely important for a brand to involve the consumers in any brand related activity if it wants to create a complete experience. The popularity of internet has opened many opportunities for the brand to involve the consumers. The brand can motivate consumers to sign up in an online community, visit the website or play games, share experience etc.
Brands can create involvement offline too. Kinder Joy has a unique method of creating a brand experience by bundling its chocolate with a surprise gift. Kids eat the chocolate and play with the toy and it created a unique brand experience for them which compel them to buy more.
Brands can create involvement by devising interesting brand rituals. Kitkat smartly taught its consumers a unique ritual of eating KitKat. Consumers willingly adopted this brand ritual making the experience of eating Kitkat unique. Brands can extend the involvement with the consumers by introducing memorabilia and collectables which will further enhance the brand experience.