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April 4, 2008

RESEARCH ROUNDUP 1: live marketing studies April to August 2006

Face-to-face communication has been around since the beginning of time, but it’s only recently that this medium – in the form of live and experiential marketing – has started to be taken seriously by the marketing community. To get a proper foothold in the marketing mix, the medium must convince marketers of its effectiveness. A key way of achieving this and establishing an intellectual platform is through research, which has historically been sadly lacking when it comes to live events. But all that is changing, led in the main by the up-and-coming experiential agencies and forward-looking exhibition organisers. For proof, simply dip into the EVENTS:review archive and check out the large number of research projects we have reported on in the brief nine months of our existence. In the first of two pieces summarising this research, Ian Whiteling looks at the April to September period…

In April, soon after EVENTS:review launched, we reported on statistics released by global events organisation The George P Johnson Company (GPJ) from research carried out by the MPI Foundation, which showed just how important live marketing and events are to corporates. The opinions of 125 marketing directors and individuals with specific responsibility for marketing in leading European companies were canvassed, and 91% said their spend on events over the following 12 months would either stay the same or increase. Furthermore, 49% said events were a vital part of any marketing plan or the lead marketing tool, with a further 46% putting it on an equal footing with other elements in the marketing mix.

Interestingly, the same sample chose events as the marketing medium that yielded the second highest return on investment, 1% behind direct marketing at 18% of those questioned.

Influencing decisions
Of course, how consumers view events is just as important as marketers’ opinions when it comes to assessing effectiveness, and later in April ER reported on research by the Proficiency Group, commissioned by live marketing agency Jack Morton Worldwide, which surveyed more than 2,500 members of the US public. Out of all those surveyed, 70% said that participating in a live event marketing experience would increase their purchase consideration, while 57% said it would result in quicker purchase. What’s more, 80% of those who had previously experienced a live marketing event said they had mentioned it to friends and colleagues, showing the viral power of the medium.

Further research was released by Jack Morton in July, which revealed that experiential marketing is more likely to increase understanding, lead to action and inspire advocacy than other marketing media. The survey’s 1,625 respondents, aged from 18 to 65 years and spanning the US, UK, Australia and China, revealed that 82% of respondents found participating in experiential marketing more engaging than any other form of communication, with 80% saying it was the medium most likely to give them information and 81% saying an event experience would make them more receptive to other marketing from the same product or brand.

An industry in crisis?
In June, Melville Exhibition and Events Services released the latest CTS exhibition attendance figures, which made grim reading for this sector of the live marketing industry. Under a report entitled ‘Exhibitions: an industry in crisis?’ (see below for link to story), EVENTS:review revealed that 2005 attendance figures had dropped yet again – this time by 2.1% compared to 2004. The study put these figures in bleak perspective, stating that visitor levels had actually fallen by 25% since 1998. Despite exhibitions clearly going through a period of decline, those shows that have been more creative and include more experiential elements, such as Taste of London, MPH, Grand Designs and a number of other events that cross the consumer/trade boundary, have been major successes.

Also on the exhibitions side, as well as covering events in general, the Events Industry Alliance and the Exhibition Show joined forces to produce ‘The Big Survey’. The noble aim of the study was to stimulate debate about the issues facing the exhibition industry and drive change for the better. It looked in detail at those people who make up the majority of the show’s content, ‘the exhibitors’ and found that 67% were also involved in a host of proprietary events, from user conferences (51%) to VIP events and roadshows (40%), media and PR events (36%), private trade shows (35%), product launches (34%) and dealer/distributor events (30%). What’s more, 73% of exhibitors surveyed considered themselves to be growing – this is twice the average growth figure found among those who don’t participate in events in other market studies, directly linking the use of live marketing with business growth.

Read the full stories
George P Johnson/MPI:
Working together
Today, creating a real point of difference for your products and services is becoming increasingly difficult in the face of growing competition from every direction.

Jack Morton Worldwide: Keep it live
The growing global influence of live marketing has been revealed in an independent study recently commissioned by international experiential marketing agency Jack Morton, writes Ian Whiteling.

Related video: Jack Morton Research
Jack Morton’s Julian Pullan explains how the company’s latest experiential marketing survey shows why experiential marketing should be a vital part of any marketers armoury. While an increasing number of marketers are waking up to this fact, there are still, despite everything we read and all the data being presented, a huge number who view experiential simply as an add-on.

CTS Figures
: Exhibitions – an industry in crisis?
Registration services company CTS’s recent figures paint a bleak picture for the future of trade shows, but is their prognosis a fair assessment of the state of the industry? Events industry figures portray a very different picture.

Related video: Hard facts
Leon Clifford, managing director of Melville Exhibition and Events Services, which recently released the latest CTS exhibition attendance figures, talks to James Latham about what they mean for the events industry.

The Big Survey
: Live Marketing Breeds Growth
Following EVENTS:review’s recent report on the Exhibition Show’s Big Survey, Ian Whiteling digs deeper into the study to find its results can be applied to live marketing as a whole, and that this is just one of a number of recent developments in the exhibition industry that breeds optimism rather than pessimism

Related video: Facing the truth: The implications of Exposure's "Big Survey"
Exposure Event Creation's Big Survey may have shown events as a hotbed of growth companies, but it also delivered some biting home truths. Simon Burton talks to James Latham about what the findings mean for the events industry and how it should respond.

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