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Experiential marketing: Getting under the consumer’s skin via the activation route

Experiential marketing: Getting under the consumer’s skin via the activation route

Author | Shikha Saroj | Friday, Jun 30,2006 7:42 AM

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Experiential marketing: Getting under the consumer’s skin via the activation route

With marketers increasingly realising the importance of adding emotion while selling a product, marketing is moving away from just selling a product to establishing a connect with consumers. Marketers are now focusing on sense, feel, think, and act to make a real impact on consumers and establish a lasting emotional bond between the consumer and the brand.

Experiential marketing is broadly defined as live event marketing experiences where consumers interact with a product or brand face-to-face. According to marketers, experiential marketing is growing as it drives fast results, increases return on other marketing investments, enhances brand perception, and is effective across several product categories. Experiential marketing is a culture that is all about building brand awareness and fiercely loyal consumers by being relevant and talking to consumers when they shop, work and play.

Some of the best examples of experiential marketing can be seen in the malls and multiplexes.

Fame Cinema’s foyers are a great venue for such experiential marketing because of its varied target audience mix. Fame provides an ideal setting for various product categories that want to try out experiential marketing. Various brands such as Hitachi, Citibank, Sunsilk, Nokia, UTI Priority Banking, Asian Paints, Samsung, LG, Videocon, Hindustan Motors, Tata AIG, ICICI Bank and others have conducted experiential marketing activities at Fame with the clear objective of getting consumers to sample their product and experience their brands.

The key activities most brands carry out include product sampling / trials, freebies, lead generation, product demonstration or signages to increase visibility.

Rahul Merchant, Head of Sales, Fame Cinema, said, “Prominent brands are certainly taking notice of BTL activities through multiplexes as there is a heavy mix of target audience. Experiential marketing in multiplexes is no shot in the dark as there is certainly a strong and direct connect with consumers who visit multiplexes to have a good time.”

Merchant further said, “Experiential marketing can be more effective than mass marketing as it is more engaging, interactive and brands can communicate with consumers in an environment that is conducive for shopping.”

Citing some examples of experiential marketing at Fame, Merchant said that when Hitachi displayed its products through stalls and displayed products in the lobby and exit areas, it received an overwhelming response with a footfall of over 20,000 and numerous leads generated, resulting in a significant number of conversions.

UTI Bank has a tie-up with Fame cinemas across the country to garner leads for its Priority Banking division and offer rewards to existing Priority Banking customers through ticket discounts, premiere passes, contests and promotions and special offers on Fridays, the first day of the release of a new film. HLL, too, has partnered with Fame for the promotion of their new variant of the Sunsilk shampoo. Patrons were given a free hair wash by professionals using the new variant of Sunsilk shampoo. When Fame decided to install luxury seating, Asian Paints branded the Fame royal class and gold class with specially created seat covers.

Fame also kicked off Nokia’s cinema branding initiative as the cell phone company takes experiential marketing seriously and has concerted marketing monies for multiplexes reinforcing their visibility through internal / external branding at key locations, kiosks on weekends that engage consumers with their latest product offering, and ticket jacket distribution with every ticket. When patrons were shown Nakshatra’s (a diamond jewellery brand) ad, Fame created an artificial sky full of stars to enhance the brand’s message.

Though Inox is also actively into experiential marketing, it is particularly selective about the brands that it showcases. Some of the brands at Inox include Omega, HSBC, Coke, Nokia, and Standard Chartered. Shrikant Hazare, VP, Marketing, Inox, said, “Experiential marketing through multiplexes is beneficial as you have a captive audience for at least 15 minutes before the movies starts. This makes experiential marketing much more focused as people do not get distracted as they do because of mass advertising.”

According to Hazare, each month Inox got 20,000 visitors in each of its properties with 60 per cent consisting of the weekend crowd. This gives brands a sure shot chance to interact with a large number of consumers.

However, Hazare is quick to point out that experiential marketing has to be a well-thought process. He said, “It is important to tie up with brands that have characteristics similar to that of your multiplex. For example, Omega launched one of its watches in Inox, Mumbai. Omega’s brand ambassador Pierce Brosnan was the guest and Inox had a special Brosnan film festival and contest. Inox is one of the premium multiplexes and Omega is one of the best watches in the world.”

Niranjan Prakash, GM, Sales and Marketing, Fun Republic asked, “Mass advertising is all about grabbing attention, but do these necessarily convert into sales? With so much advertising clutter, how will brands ensure an effective communication with consumers? This is where BTL and activation help as the brand’s message is embedded in the activity.”

Fun Republic has promoted brands such as Tata Salt, Royal Challenge, Leo Mattel, and Hutch, among others. Fun Republic promoted Tata Salt by serving salted popcorn in Tata Salt tubs that took forward Tata Salt’s message – Chutki Bhar Vishwaas – as the tubs read ‘Chutki Bhar Comedy’, ‘Chutki Bhar Entertainment’. This pushed Tata Salt’s brand communication forward in a subtle way.

As Prakash said, “Consumers are very smart. They can immediately figure out if your message is sticking out like a sore thumb and they will not accept what you have to say. Experiential marketing allows brands to get under the consumer’s skin by embedding their message subtly yet cleverly.”

He added, “Touch and go scenarios in advertising should stop. Activation offers brands the opportunities for ‘perfect fits’ while communicating with consumers.”

Cinemax promotes products based on certain sectors such as airlines, textiles, communications, etc. Said Cinemax’s Devang Sampat, “BTL is all about personalised branding and this certainly pushes sales. While people appreciate movies, they also appreciate what a certain multiplex stands for and the experience while visiting a multiplex is what results in loyal customers for both the brand and the multiplex.”

The question that arises is whether BTL and activation is sometimes more beneficial for a brand than mass advertising? Prakash felt, “Activation is a good revenue stream. But we need to first realise that people visit theatres for the love of movies. Brands are still waking up to the benefits of BTL and activation. Benefits of mass advertising are immense, but after a certain point, BTL is what addresses consumer thoughts.”

Coming to the consumer’s perspective, the presence of an on-site brand representative is the number one factor that makes a brand experience most interesting to them. They also said they would prefer to try a product as part of an experience that included entertainment rather than just sampling the product.

Tags: e4m

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