Brand Marketing Reborn: The Digital Experiential Symbiosis

Learn how three massive transformations in our business environment have changed brand marketing forever, and why experiential marketing along with digital, come out a clear winners.

Brands lose influence over an Internet-Enabled Consumer

Traditional consumer marketing was framed around the four “Ps” of Product features, Price, Promotional activity and Place (distribution channel), and within this construct the marketer possessed a highly influential role toward the consumer. Brand marketing over the years evolved into a sophisticated mechanism for defining brands as quality proxies amongst an array of product options in the marketplace. Witness the success of brand marketing in creating strong perceptions around automobiles, convincing consumers that Mercedes meant luxury, Volvo meant safety, and Chevrolet meant value.

Fast forward to today when consumers have access to an bountiful trove of online information, delivered not only by brand marketers, but by consumers themselves, and others who share everything from cold hard facts on actual product performance, stories on corporate brand ethics, to sharing opinions on brands and the companies behind them.

It’s not always a pretty scene.  Traditional marketing has been castrated by the new balance of power between consumers and brands, and brand marketing has had to reinvent itself. Enter Experiential Marketing:  a way in which to create real-time face-to-face engagements, influencing consumers in a world where traditional tools have lost their power to influence.  Geoff Cotrill, CEO of fashionable footwear company Converse, a brand recognized as a winner[1] in today’s changed marketing environment states: “No advertising campaign will get you the kind of credibility that a meaningful experience will.”

Science of Consumer Behaviour proves Feelings, not Facts, Drive Action

The role of emotion in consumer behaviour is now well documented thanks to some excellent research done over the past 25 years. We’ve learned that emotions create preferences, which lead to our decisions.  And it may come as a surprise to some that emotions are a part of every decision we make, out-powering facts and data in influencing our consumer decisions[1]. The Advertising Research Foundation has reported that the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an ad will increase a brand’s sales. Positive emotions also have a greater influence on consumer loyalty than even trust, and judgments based on a brand’s attributes.

Marketers today understand that a brand’s power is measured by its emotional connection to the consumer. And the richer the emotional content, the more loyal the consumer is likely to be.  So a key part of brand strategy is building the “narrative”, defining “who” the brand is and why the consumer should care. Emotions push us toward action, in life and in brand consumption [2].  Global brand experience agency Jack Morton reported in a 2012 study [3] that almost 80% of consumers only advocate brands with which they have had great personal experiences. As a result Experiential Marketing, creating meaningful brand experiences with consumers, has seen itself upgraded from a tactical element to a core part of brand strategy in the 21st century.

The Symbiosis between Digital and Experiential

Digital technology – the use of binary code to represent words and images – has revolutionized our world in the 21st century, including the world of advertising. It has also given birth to social media, providing new communities for marketers to observe, measure and interact with their consumers. Not to understate the impact of digital in our lives, these developments have reinvented the business of marketing. Digital marketing out-muscles traditional broadcast and print media by delivering access to the mass market, and in addition providing infinitely better and more accurate measurement of consumers. Digital technology has created the world of “big data” where our understanding of consumers, their behaviour, preferences, and activities is strengthened by their interaction in the social media playgrounds where this information is shared.

Brand Marketers today manage brands and marketing strategies against four key measures: awareness, perceived quality, mental associations and loyalty. Dynamic and mutable, these constructs were easily measured prior to the explosion of digital in our lives.  In the words of Experiential Marketing pioneer Max Lenderman:  “The modern ecosystem of marketing is the interplay between experiential and digital.” [4]

Within this new marketing framework a key tool in brand management today is becomes experiential marketing, which empowers marketers to increase awareness, effect perceived quality, foster positive mental associations and strengthen loyalty.

As a brand marketer, if you’re not utilizing experiential marketing then you should take some time to explore what this powerful tool can do for your brand…before your competition gets too far ahead of you.

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