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June 25, 2007

MORE HUMAN: The rise of the brand experience

When you watch TV, listen to the radio or read your newspaper, it’s probably not immediately apparent that a major change is taking place in the way companies market themselves. There are still lots of advertisements on commercial television and radio, as well as in newspapers, but if you read any of the marketing information channels, offline or online, you’ll be aware of the increasing difficulty these media are having in attracting advertising.

They seem to be becoming the focus for well-established big brands, but others are looking elsewhere to get their message across to consumers. Increasingly they are turning to live brand experiences. Mike Garnham, chief executive of MSF field marketing, explains why.

“Because the media is quickly fragmenting, it is no longer possible to use mass marketing to communicate,” he says. “Some 20 years ago, you could talk to two thirds of the nation simply by buying two or three ads around Coronation Street. Now you would hit a fraction of that number.
“In the past, consumers would happily watch commercial television or read a newspaper in return for looking at a certain number of ads, but not anymore. The internet, replay television and video on demand are changing that. Newspaper sales are falling and the number of magazine titles has doubled in the last 10 years. Getting to consumers is very difficult, and when you talk to them you must address them on their terms, in the right place and in the right way. Live marketing allows you to do that.”

Human engagement
Joss Davidge, marketing director of BEcause Experiential Marketing also believes that new media and technology is pushing companies towards the live brand experience. “With a growing amount of commerce conducted online or via call centres, it’s vital for some brands to find a more human way to engage with their customers,” he says. “A good brand experience provides something of real value for consumers, in a relevant environment, at a suitable time. It enables brands to connect with people at an emotional level, knowing this is far more likely to result in a rational change in behaviour.”

What’s more, brand experience goes beyond simply promoting a physical product, according to Belinda Chambers, director at Closer. “It helps define the image of the brand in the consumer’s mind and allows people to assess whether a product is for them,” she says. “It can even achieve a great deal more than its traditional role of prompting a one-off purchase. Indeed, these days the clever marketer is increasingly using experiential marketing to focus on brand benefits in a way that engenders loyalty by giving consumers a lasting and positive impression of the brand. As a result, experiential marketing can have a long-term impact on how consumers perceive a brand, change behaviour, and ensure a brand remains on a consumer’s shopping list long term.   
“An engaging experience can often be the deciding influence when choosing a brand of clothing, a mobile phone contract or even a drink,” she continues. “Experiential marketing, therefore, has the power to tactically influence sales while enabling brands to build a long-term relationship with consumers.”

Integration and measurement

An increasingly mature approach from brand experience agencies is also helping the growing popularity of live marketing at a time when budgets are tight and procurement professionals rule.

“The discipline of brand experience is evolving,” says Cameron Day, new business development director at iris Experience. “It’s understanding that it needs to be more accountable and integrate better with other marketing disciplines.”

So how can you go about planning a brand experience?
Find out next week on EVENTS:review…

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