“Experiential marketing works best when it’s personalised”

SP Shukla, President Group Strategy and Chief Brand Officer, Mahindra decodes the power of experiential marketing

by Priyanka Nair
Published - Mar 7, 2013 4:09 AM Updated: Mar 7, 2013 4:09 AM
“Experiential marketing works best when it’s personalised”

If one had to recall the brand building mediums of the 1980s in India, newspapers and government-owned television are the ones that are remembered the most. News then was serious. The scope of advertising was minimal and not very evolved. It was later with the revolution of content on television that the scale of branding increased.

With the entry of private television players, consumers were exposed to content and introduced to audio visual advertising in a big way. That was the first time Indian consumers experienced content and sales messaging in an attractive manner. Human beings learn from experiences. As consumers, we keep in mind the experiences and believe only what we see or feel, be it a product or a service. Brands quickly learnt to tap into this consumer insight and this is how experiential marketing kicked off in India.

With the emergence of new media post 1990s, various brand categories realised the importance of keeping real time experiences at the top of their marketing relevance and started studying consumer needs. Sampling was one of the earlier methodologies used to understand this aspect of consumer behaviour. With this, experiential marketing continued to remain in many brands’ marketing plans.

Many a times brands don’t decode the power of experiential marketing and end up indulging in activates that might not be the right way to approach this area of marketing. According to SP Shukla, President - Group Strategy and Chief Brand Officer, Mahindra, “Experiential marketing works best when it is personalised and is memorable.” He is of the opinion that two people might not perceive an experience in the same way. Similarly, experiences that are memorable could positive or negative ones.

On why brands still go ahead with experiential marketing, Shukla feels that there are consumers who are willing to pay a premium price for getting to experience a product that they have never availed of but definitely interests them. Experiences are thereby used by brands to position their company. They can improve customer satisfaction and help boost sales.

With experiential marketing, brands can not only create awareness about itself but also create an emotional connect. Interaction and product trials can happen using only this kind of marketing. It then stimulates positive word of mouth.

Mahindra as a group can be considered as one the finest examples of a brand that has used experimental marketing in different ways and at different points of its business journey. It may be recalled that the Mahindra Group announced its new positioning, ‘Rise’, in 2011. The new positioning represents a new chapter in the history of the iconic, 65-year old brand and seeks to communicate the new face of this diversified federation of companies with its increasing global ambitions. In the same year, the company announced the launch of a multi-media movement, which was aimed at inspiring and empowering people across India to shape their own futures.

‘Spark the Rise’ was another unique online platform initiated for change-makers across India to connect with one another, collaborate and exchange ideas, procure volunteers and donors, and to compete for monthly grants from Mahindra.

The company has tried adding entertainment to its experiential marketing plans in recent times – be it the Mahindra Blues festival or its association with theatre through META or the Sundance Institute Mahindra Global Filmmaking Awards. Mahindra has also been involved with theatre through Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards. The brand has constantly used creative arts to create a compelling connect.

At the same time, the lifestyle adventure event – Mahindra Great Escape – is another sports-centric initiative that has gained popularity, including Mahindra Racing with Italian CIV Championship. Mahindra Holidays is another business that was created keeping in mind the experiences that it can give to consumers that bring back to them memories that are worth cherishing for a life time.

Experiential marketing is here to stay and will continue to create the feel-good factor for many consumers, who believe in experiences than any other marketing tool.

SP Shukla was sharing his views during his special address on the topic ‘Bringing Your Brand to Life: The Experiential Route’ at the Mumbai leg of the Pitch CMO Summit, held on March 6, 2013. The session was chaired by Pratap Bose, Chief Operating Officer, DDB Mudra Group.

The Summit was presented by Colors, in association with MEC. 

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