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Guest Column: How not to let Consumer Engagement turn into entertainment: Sriharsh Grandhe, EVP, LinEngage

18-May-2017
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Guest Column: How not to let Consumer Engagement turn into entertainment: Sriharsh Grandhe, EVP, LinEngage

“Everyone in the Bank thinks of ours as the entertainment department…” That’s how a recent conversation with a potential client began. While it was a good icebreaker and helped start with a few good laughs but the seriousness of this wasn’t lost on both sides of the table. How did a sophisticated and mature science like Consumer Engagement, which itself is quite a vast subject, take a not-so-good turn? For the purpose of this PoV, let’s cover Activation and Experiential Marketing as the two focus Consumer Engagement models.

The basics

Let’s begin with some basic tenets. Engagement is really possible when either or both of these two counts are met. First, when a significantly valuable problem of the consumer is solved by the brand. Second, by offering a never-before experience.

Let’s solve a problem

Identifying a significantly valuable problem necessitates a deep grip on consumer behaviour understanding and an ability to view those findings with a media agnostic lens. Today with technology playing a significant role in CX, there is so much of data collected or generated. It is very interesting to imagine the kind of possibilities in engaging with consumers interestingly and relevantly. Consider this situation. It’s again a recent conversation I had with a Building Materials client that centered on a well-designed education program targeted at people who have just taken home loans. There is this segment of IHB’s who begin the arduous journey of home building with so much trepidation. Can a brand play the role of a trusted advisor?

Yes, today it is possible to identify new home loan seekers and with technology, an engagement program is cost efficient, measurable and therefore effective. Let’s consider a retail service business. While the brand studies are usually national, a quick web crawl will be able to identify perceptions and realties for each centre and it’s quite obvious that this is not going to be consistent across the country. But how many of us come across customised activation programs designed to address the differences in each region or a segment? This again is intelligent use of data and effectively solving a significantly valuable problem. In the lack of such approaches, typically most activation programs end up overtly relying on clever ideas to engage with the consumers, which end up looking like entertainment.

Experience matters too

Designing a never before experience requires lots of insights from both the brand and also the consumer. It’s also very important to measure the objective so the ideas can be sized accordingly. A careful approach to experience design can lead to a compelling experiential marketing program. When the desired output is customer delight, it makes it worth the while to invest in a studied experience design to get the timing right for an intervention. This could be a major contributor to making an experiential marketing program great from good. Getting the timing right requires an in-depth study of usage behaviour more than the user behaviour or consumption behaviour rather than the consumer behaviour. When the right ‘timing’ opportunity is identified, the opportunity will define the right media vehicle. Sometimes, the media could be an innovation. For e.g. What is popularly called the roti idea. To remind people to wash hands before a meal, rotis being served in Kumbh Mela langars were branded with messages by a personal hygiene brand. Now whoever would have thought of rotis being used as an advertising medium!  

Getting it right

Hyper local activation programs designed with the help of data driven insights can help create meaningful interactions leading to effective consumer engagements. With careful selection of appropriate channels, it may well become the medium of choice to create brand love, solve real consumer problems, engage with consumers more meaningfully and save consumer engagement from turning into some loose entertainment act.

(The author is Executive Vice President at LinEngage, the experiential marketing & activation agency of MullenLowe Lintas Group)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com. 

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