Designing '2015 Experiences': 5 experiential marketing takeaways from 2014

Experiential marketing experts highlight 5 key learnings from 2014 that set the ball rolling for amplified, collaborative and integrated experiential properties for 2015

e4m by Deepa Balasubramanian
Updated: Jan 1, 2015 7:43 AM
Designing '2015 Experiences': 5 experiential marketing takeaways from 2014

Experiential marketing is about connecting consumers with brands through live face to face experiences, creating personal and relevant memories.  With consumers being bombarded with traditional advertising, experiential marketing picked up really well in 2013 and 2014. exchange4media spoke to experiential marketing experts, who highlighted 5 takeaways for the year 2014 and expectations for 2015-

Brian Tellis, Chairman, Fountainhead Entertainment

1. Political, festival and the wedding sector are not areas that use to get into balance sheets of event management companies. But in the last one year, there has been a substantial change in that.

2. As far as corporate India is concerned, there was a general sentiment jump towards experiential marketing. This year, some of the brands seemed to increase their marketing spends towards experiential marketing substantially.

3. Whether it is for entertainment purpose or communication purpose, usage of technology played a major role in experiential marketing. Gone are the days when TV screens and projectors were used during events. Today everyone is moving towards LED screens. Social media was used to dress up and enhance the value of events which helped the experience to stay live and advanced.

4. Brands invested more and more on intellectual property events.

5. There was a serious resurgence in sporting intellectual properties. For instance the IPTL, Pro Kabbadi League, Football League, and others saw brands spending huge money.

Viraf Sarkari, Director, Wizcraft International Entertainment Private Limited

1. With a direct drive to sales there is going to be greater ROI pressures from clients and the measurement metrics have to be clearly defined at the start of campaigns to later be able to demonstrate success and this is even more so if there is to be no direct link to uplift of sales. This is also due to the nature of campaigns themselves, as they begin to get more and more integrated and as agencies we have to find a balance.

2. Clearly what follows is that activations must look to lengthen the conversations with consumers beyond just the event and wherever possible and relevant as marketing budgets are being scrutinized ever more tightly.

3.  First mover advantage over gadgetry and digital, fun and completely original experiences coming as a mix of these will become increasingly the order of the day and we need to own them first.  As an example RFID will soon become passé as low energy Bluetooth emerges.

4. Everyone is talking viral and video and as agencies we say it doesn’t work like that, there is no formula for that. But at the core of all viral are original experiential ideas and at the bottom of that is conviction. And it is increasingly taking all the heavyweights the agency can bring to the table to push ideas across with conviction. Therefore internally agencies need to develop client relationships even more deeply. 

5. CSR is already big and will only become bigger, consumers are conflicted between consumerist impulses and the aspiration to do good and be good resulting in a form of guilt. As a result there is a growing hunger for the guilt free kind of consumption, one with less worry. A global study put these kinds of consumers at 2.5 billion (representing one third of the global consumer class). These consumers are defined by their love of shopping (78 per cent), desire for responsible consumption (92 per cent) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (58 per cent). Today brands need to demonstrate their 'guilt-free' credentials and experiential is often the chosen medium to reach this goal.

Sameer Tobaccowala, CEO, Shobiz Experiential Communications

1. The call of duty extends much beyond the ordinary. This past year we’ve witnessed clients seeking much more beyond the regular scope of work. The need for an agency that can add value to a campaign with a 360 degree approach has now seemed to have become the benchmark – something we’ve anticipated and are primed and ready to deliver.

2. There’s always room to outdo and impress I’m sure this is a given, nonetheless a vital point to always bear in mind. And here’s where technology seems to be playing a large roll, in bringing today’s creative ideas to life, thus making brand experiences more tangible and experiential of course.

3. Partnerships truly matter at the end of the day at Shobiz, we take great pride in nurturing fruitful partnerships with some of the world’s leading brands – the likes of the ever evolving Tata Group for example. Year on year, it’s a privilege to support our trusted client base with their corporate advancements and milestones along the way.

4. Excited about new relations established. We’ve made some new friends along the way this past year as well. New clients who have shared a new found appreciation of our service, when it comes to brand creativity and on ground delivery. Seeing these new relationships through this year and on to the next seems very positive and promising.

5. New pool of talent results in new ideas 2014 saw a rise of many young faces in our organization who always tend to bring in a fresh sense of thought and direction. We firmly believe that people are the lifeline of our industry, and so this pool of talent constantly needs to be as lively and energized as ever for the best performance outcome.

Atul S Nath, MD, Candid Marketing

1.  Business expertise is not built in the short term; it takes a long time to hone skills and develop an expert level of delivery. Many in the Activation and Experiential Marketing business are trying to layer on the digital and mobile expertise but most are failing and learning. It will take time.

2.  If it’s on the magazine cover, it’s not an emerging trend, it’s already emerged.

3. Don't just follow the bhed-chaal, create a path for yourself in the experiential space and your brand will rake in the results.

4.  Be Loyal to your agency, and your agency will be loyal to you. Works the other way too.

5. Brand-Activation Agency relationships need to and will climb to the next level, if given a chance from both sides.

Ankur Kalra, MD & CEO, Vibgyor Brand Services

2014 has been a great year for the experiential domain – event properties have been created, improvised upon and strengthened to create powerful experiences for customers. Activations have set new benchmarks and generated interest in consumers like never before.

1. Experiential properties are the way forward

We have seen just about every kind of event property being tried in the past year, some of them have succeed in the very first go while others are struggling to make a mark. However the writing on the wall is very clear – creating a strong intellectual property yields much better results in the longer run than creating one off event experiences. Properties have a life cycle of their own and can be customized, optimized and tweaked to suit consumer and brand preferences. Most have the potential of being turned into powerful brands themselves and influence consumer preferences, case in point being Sunburn and NH7 Weekender.

2. Experiences define events, not brands

Most of the old school experiential organizations have created events around client or brand requirements – this is something that is going through a massive rethinking process. Events are no longer about promoting a brand, that is just incidental. New-age experiential agencies have found interesting ways of integrating brand experiences into events as opposed to the earlier hard selling methods. Brands weave their way in through branded photo-opportunities, contests and live experiences which make the event more fun but are far from its mainstay.

3. Collaborations and Co-sponsorship

The marketplace is transforming from an era of generalists to now an era of specialists. Agencies, companies, creative hot shops are all choosing their domains of excellence and are delivering better value in those specific areas. It now makes sense to collaborate and bring specialists together to create powerful experiences. Various industry platforms such as EEMA have also helped in creating opportunities of different agencies and individuals teaming together to bring in unique combinations of talent together.

4. Looking beyond sponsorships

The experiential industry need not rely solely on brands to fund experiences and properties. Strategic planning and have cast the net wide to include ticket sales, digital, mobile, content/ intellectual property, F&B sales and various other opportunities which are now leveraged to reduce the dependence on just brands to fund properties.

5. Amplification is the Key

The amplification of an event is the game changer, when we are able to amplify experiences of those present through Social, Mobile, Radio, Television or any other medium that is when we can leverage 10X, 100X or 1000X value from it. Events which are not amplified properly are confined to the audience which is attending only which leads to a very high cost per contact and therefore low chances of monetization.

Expectations from 2015

1. Relevant Social Amplification

The Social media explosion has brought about an excess of information on all possible mediums. 2015 should bring about some rationalization in the amplification of messages on various media, brands, consumers; agencies would move towards targeted social media messaging and reduce the clutter caused by grabbing just any platform available.

2. Sharply Focused IPs (Both in the B2B as well as B2C space)

Experiential agencies have woken up the power of Intellectual properties but yet need to sharpen their focus on both the consumer as well as the brand front. Both in the B2B as well as B2C space properties will have to be created which cater to a distinct gap and are able to break the ice with a specific set of target audiences. These properties will have to be distinct, unique and should have the capability of providing exceptional value to the brands associated.

3. Collaborate and co-create

Great experiences are getting inclusive. Something that gets many people involved and working together is bound to attract more interest. The dynamics are simple– more people multiplies the conversation multi-fold. Crowd-funded campaigns, collaborative art installations, collaboration among artists, co-producing, co-creating – the trend of leaving a bit of you in something big, will be big this next season.

4. Consumers will be willing to pay for awesome experiences

It is easy to create an event and get a few hundred or thousand people to attend it – but unless consumers don’t find enough value in it they will not pay for it. This is a trend expected to be seen in 2015 wherein consumers start paying for experiences that they get in addition to the brands paying for them. The true test of a successful IP is that consumers themselves pay for it and demonstrate loyalty by attending again and again.

5. Accountability – ROI Focus

This has been the ‘bad word’ of our industry, often used and abused but the fact of the matter is that accountability is not an option anymore. Unless we are able to demonstrate a tangible way of calculating return on investment to the client we will not be able to get them to spend more on us. The industry will have to devise a way to calculate returns which are quantifiable and comparable. The client should be able to evaluate returns expected from Experiential Property A Vs Experiential property B basis the amount of money spent on them. 2015 should be the year where organisations can offer this matrix to clients.

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