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‘Technology is the future of experiential marketing:’ Vidur Patney

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MUMBAI: When talking of marketing campaigns we often come across the term ‘on ground activation.’ While at a rudimentary scale, it’s how a brand markets itself through direct engagement with consumers, its utility and purview is infinitely evolving. The idea is to create a bond between the consumer and the brand beyond ‘buying and selling’ by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience, which evokes emotions within the consumers that they thereafter associate with the brand instead.

 

From a simple handing out of Red Bull cans at a music concert to Multi Screen Media’s open air bus ‘Bulaava Express,’ which toured the country across 13 cities creating euphoria for the 2014 IPL -- the beauty of experiential marketing lies in its flexibility of mode and scale to target the consumers.

 

While the concept isn’t new to marketers, its rapid evolution over the years armed by technology and digitisation has made it increasingly important to understand experiential marketing from an insider’s perspective.

 

With that in mind, Indiantelevision.com approached recently appointed Maxus national director - experiential marketing Vidur Patney to shed light on the changing landscape of experiential marketing, and the role it is going to play in the near future.

 

Purview:

 

From on ground and van activations through major cities to team building activities from brands at corporate level, experiential marketing plays on a wide range, and the possibilities are endless.

 

How you use the formula to connect with your consumer, what chord you strike with them in the process is what puts you at an advantage when it comes to this form of marketing. The idea is to wow the consumers with unique interactions and engagements that leave impressions in their minds. Creating vanilla experiences that the consumers can then start associating with the brand is also part of the process.

 

Though the possibilities are endless, it is getting increasingly challenging to come up with new ways to give consumers that vanilla experience. The only way forward is to use the available digital and technological tools at our disposal. By identifying how the consumers engage with such tools, we come up with concepts that allow us to make the most of it.

 

Evolution:

 

The evolution of experiential marketing has happened in three phases. Often considered an old school marketing art, the first hurdle was to get brands and marketers to realise its potential in the current ecosystem. To make them look beyond the generic TVC marketing and acknowledge that today consumers are not content with just knowing a brand through their television sets.

 

Once that was established, phase two was to explore the various ways in which experiential marketing can be used, and integrated with the headlining campaigns. This was the period we saw an increase in on-ground activities, contests, product launches where consumers could interact with brand ambassadors, etc.

 

Once that was achieved, we had to think how to expand the reach of experiential marketing, take it from being a space restricted solution, to a trigger that leads to conversations and interactions about a brand on a larger scale. That’s why currently we are concentrating on making way for more and more shareable experiences using the digital platforms.

 

Role of technology:

 

There's no denying the fact that technology is the way forward when it comes to marketing, be it at the concept level or while executing. It has become an integral part of our consumers’ lifestyle. We can not only target consumers better with analytical tools made available to us through technology, but also engage consumers to give them the best of experiential.

 

Technology is also the differentiator when a brand wants to stand out and grab eyeballs. It is no longer something people are averse to. People are willing to accept technology into their lives and know more. As a result, to customise for them, to garner more participation and deliver a powerful brand message, technology plays a very important role.

 

The tools could be one on one engagement through technology, giving consumers a virtual experience. Use of technology is important because it is something today’s generation is excited about. If used right, it helps give that wow factor and conveys a much stronger message for the brand. Also, it goes a long way into consumers accepting what you are saying and giving them something memorable.

 

For example, the recent use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality technology can and has opened up new avenues when it comes to experiential marketing. People can now get a first hand interaction with how a brand functions. These are extremely useful tools for automobile and technology related brands where a consumer can see the inner workings of a car or a phone. It has a much bigger impact than simply sharing the specs with a consumer. But its use is endless when it comes to other sectors as well. One may argue that applying virtual and augmented reality in marketing may rack up the cost of marketing for brands but that’s just the initial phase. Just like any other technology, it’s the first investment that costs more, after which one can cash in on them while enjoying more innovations.

 

Going beyond metros:

 

Experiential marketing can be a very important marketing tool when it comes to tier II and tier II cities. We have noticed that while on ground activations work in metros, its reach is becoming limited. It only draws in a niche crowd. The urban consumer isn’t easily wowed by simple events, you need to spend more and innovate your engagement concepts to keep their interest. They get easily bored. Consumers in tier II and tier III cities, on the other hand, can still be catered with vanilla experiences by creating simple engaging moments. With brands now looking their way to expand consumer base, use of experiential marketing becomes crucial in those areas.

 

We recently did an on-ground activation for a movie screening in Indore where hundreds of kids and their parents turned up by simply allowing them to play games on an app we developed for the event. In a metro that would have only interested a niche group, way below hundred.

 

Experiential marketing in sports:

 

If there is one section where experiential marketing dominates, it is sports. We all interact with sporting events for a personal connection, be it our passion for the sport, our loyalty to a team or love for a favourite player. That is why brands love to associate with sporting events. It is easier to create those memorable moments, which brands would to be credited for. They want consumers to associate their favourite on ground memories with the brands.

 

There are numerous possibilities for experiential marketing for any sporting event, be it Indian Premiere League, Indian Super League, Pro Kabaddi League, etc.

 

A holistic marketing solution:

 

Experiential marketing and digital marketing forms two important pillars of the core media solution that we provide our clients. Having an experiential marketing arm gives Maxus an added advantage of providing a holistic marketing solution.

 

It's a three way communication within Maxus that helps us achieve that. When it comes to digital technology and bringing it on ground, we have Metalworks. Figuring out how that technology can be used to wow and create a memorable experience for the consumer is what we at Experiential Marketing do. When these come together with Maxus’s core media vertical, we are able to give brands the best possible solution to engage with the consumer.

 

Going only experiential:

 

So far experiential has worked in collaboration with core media and other arms of marketing. While there are certain brands that can go only experiential as their marketing strategy, it highly depends on the brand's target audience and the type of campaign. There are some products for which experiential gets the lion's share of the marketing budget.

 

While there is no set rule, more and more brands are keeping budgets aside for experiential marketing because it's the last mile of communication between the brand and a consumer.

 

Experiential works best when it’s area specific. If a brand launches a product aimed at consumers of a certain area, having a localised approach makes more sense rather than a TVC.

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