Guest Column: 5 reasons why brand experiences matter

In a market where each product is as good as the next, experiential marketing makes all the difference, says Ankur Kalra, CEO & Founder, Vibgyor Brand Services

e4m by Ankur Kalra
Updated: Jul 12, 2013 1:18 PM
Guest Column: 5 reasons why brand experiences matter

In this world of abundant choices and easy options, what is it really that makes your brand better than the others? Don’t all shampoos promise to make your hair softer, silkier and smoother? And what deodorant does not guarantee drop dead gorgeous women getting inexplicably attracted to you? In a market where each product is as good as the next, experiential marketing makes all the difference.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon says that brands are formed not by what companies say, but by what they do. I call it the gospel truth for brands when making their marketing strategies. While most companies focus on claims – newer, better, whiter, fairer, tastier – they forget that so is everyone else. That is why the smarter brands are choosing to rely on experiential marketing to invent new experiences, new ways to interact with customers. Right from the bigger brands like HUL, L’Oreal, Sony and Barista committing a substantial chunk of their marketing budgets to BTL, newer and smaller brands are also discovering that BTL is a better return on their marketing investment.

Broadly speaking, experiential campaigns let your consumers get up close and personal with your brand and see how it fits in their lives. Apart from delivering deep impact for the brand, experiential campaigns can play a decisive role in:

Connecting with Consumers
A sales pitch in the garb of a marketing campaign is not fooling anyone. An insightful and well thought out experiential campaign gets the brand and its customers to participate in something new and exciting. As they let go of the seller and buyer roles, this is no longer just a marketing gimmick forced on them, but a shared adventure that helps connect with consumers when they’re not on their guard. A Vibgyor campaign for Bausch & Lomb literally opened the eyes of people saddled with glasses for so many years by letting them take ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture with and without glasses; they could finally see for themselves the change it brought to their personality. The campaign posted these pictures on their social networks and the compliments and likes promoted the Bausch & Lomb lens that made it all happen in an extremely subtle yet highly effective manner.

Encouraging interaction
Today, brands are getting more and more social. They don’t want to be the only ones talking and experiential makes marketing a two-way street. And it doesn’t get more real than users vouching for a product and sharing their experience. Experiential marketing urges consumers to do just that – interact with brands in new and exciting ways and share it with people – post it on social media forums, pass it on to other users or even text a friend.

Increasing loyalty
Brands are increasingly wooing customers with deals and offers that are getting harder to resist. Does that make brand loyalty a thing of the past? Not if you ask me. With the threat of losing customers to a rival brand looming large, brand loyalty takes on meaning now, more than ever. Experiences – good or bad – shape consumers’ attitude towards a brand and can buy their loyalty or destroy it forever. Interacting with a brand in a fun activity, taking home a freebie, getting pictures clicked during a campaign – all amount to happy experiences that in turn translates into loyalty.

Making your brand more relevant
Experiential marketing campaigns are based on an insight – they intend to solve a problem or appeal to an aspiration. Steer clear of marketers who make your brand or product the hero of the campaign – the true hero is the experience and that’s what makes it relevant to customers. The best campaigns are those that are designed around the lives of your customers and fit the product seamlessly in. That is why you will see campaigns by international agencies like 7Up’s Melting Machine, Sprite’s Soda Shower and Coke’s Frozen Bottle in hot countries in the summer, where people are looking for some respite from the heat and have time to engage with during the summer break. One of the best internal examples that I can think of is Vibgyor’s on-ground promotional campaign for Maybelline. The brand is perceived as fairly international and reaching out to Indian women was posing a bit of a challenge. So, we proposed a campaign during Karva Chauth, promising free mehendi application in exchange for purchase of Maybelline products. Based on a great insight, the campaign hit the nail right on the head and the results were phenomenal.

Increasing trial
In times when the average consumer is exposed to over 4,000 brands daily, customers tend to stay away from marketing gimmicks. Experiential campaigns seamlessly blend the product experience into a broader theme so that it does not feel forced. A Vibgyor campaign for Maybelline New York SuperStay 14 re-created life in the busiest city at a Mumbai mall. The difference a long lasting lipstick could make in the lives of these women was felt by them in this 14-minute campaign.

The writer is CEO and Founder at Vibgyor Brand Services, a leading experiential marketing agency specialising in brand activation, consumer engagement and events.

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