Experience Matters.

Testing, tasting, proving. There’s nothing more effective than letting a customer handle your sample. In an instant, somebody can touch, feel, try and understand. Out of the point-of-sale environment, the proximity between a product and its shopper becomes more difficult, but it is possible to impact people with the same efficiency by creating experiences, inspiring positive feelings, and promoting memories that will create more robust brand recollection.

tarting with a cliche example, when you think about Coca-Cola, a series of benchmark items immediately come to mind: the taste, the refreshing bubbles, the curves of the bottle, but these attributes aren’t all related to the product. The red logo, a tagline, a memorable ad from your childhood, and even Santa Claus combine to make up the universe that you have absorbed via marketing initiatives from the company. For my generation, “Coke is it!”. This means that we all have savored a Coke, but in the end, it’s more than that. We also kept our hearts and minds on emotions promoted by the brand.

The cognitive universe of a product goes way beyond what’s within its package. By way of the Era of Mass Communications, you may be reminded of a TV Spot that is still recorded in your deepest memories. By the 90s, the usage of direct marketing exploded and a brand spoke directly to you, making you feel important and closer to that company because your name was printed in a customized brochure. The first decade of this millennium contemplated the rise of below the line strategies, and promotional marketing tactics, which gives you cool gifts and makes you a target of event blitzes with beautiful models distributing things you never tried, in a way you never imagined. And, siding with it, the digital age brought you free and on-demand content, plus infinite opportunities to have fun or to be informed by portable communication devices.

And what do all of these trends have in common? Relevance. No matter if you’re an old school advertiser and prefer the traditional magic bullet theory, a geek inclined to digital marketing interactions, or a city lover creating experiential urban interventions, When a sender delivers a message to a receiver, or when someone asks a question to a company in the opposite way, it’s crucial to consider that, between those two edges, there’s a gap to be filled – a dialogue to be completed and remembered.

The real thing that I’ve been noticing in the current decade is the convergence on what’s been named marketing 3.0. It has some other nicknames like sensory marketing, value-driven marketing, human spirit marketing. No matter the fancy terminology, this tendency is really a new understanding of the old stuff we’ve been doing for years. It’s an evolution adapted to this collaborative, shareable, on-demand, multitasking, immediatist and also exciting world we have now. We may change techniques and the way we relate to media and communications, but the spirit never dies: you have to find a way to approach and develop empathy with your customers. Without understanding the target and its habits, mannerisms, and languages, no contact will be relevant.

In my opinion, creating experiences is more than street-level marketing, events, and guerrilla tactics. You can blend it with digital, you can merge it with your ads, and really start thinking 360º (yes, that old trendy term the market has been preaching and selling for years but not really believing). You can develop apps that make life easier or games that make your daily routine more interesting. You can generate below-the-line strategies to surprise, and make a beautiful video of it go viral – Coke’s Happiness Machines spread throughout the world or Molson’s “I am Canadian” beer fridge are nice examples of these kinds of tactics. You can now make interactive commercials for remote control lovers, right on their digital landscapes: watching TV doesn’t have to be a passive experience anymore. Combining media, internet and live marketing means being able to deliver interactive content that’s different and capable of shocking, impacting, delivering fun or making the user/customer see something positively different in your communications. Something your competitors never thought about or didn’t have the guts to do.

So, here are my tips for those who want to create cool experiences, no matter the platform. First of all, identify your targets and map every touch-point you can interfere with in their lives – what shows they watch, what needs they have, where they go to have fun, when they are supposed to be happy, and when you’re going to deal with a probable bad-mood. Investigate their behaviours and routines. For example, I once mapped more than 20 different steps for a customer inside a restaurant, from parking the car to going to the washroom, choosing a beverage, selecting food, then paying the bill, for a promo activation. This helped me in discovering the exact moment to interact with them without being ignored, and that exact moment determined what kind of creative we would deliver to impact people within the target positively.

Each situation has an opportunity and adequate media to explore. Think about what you can offer to a group or to a particular person – a beverage to satiate someone’s thirst when they’re willing to discover new flavours, a play that can relieve daily tensions, help in a difficult moment or the correct information with perfect timing. Be relevant, that’s the idea. By doing that, you will find a spot in everyone’s busy schedules to offer sensations, experiences, positive memories, and the opportunity to be a part of their daily lives with a great chance to influence decisions and attitudes.

Our market became so specialized in advertising, digital, incentives, loyalty, internal marketing, events, and all their ramifications within, that professionals have been forgetting the main thing we’re supposed to do: communicate and try to plant a small seed inside someone’s brain. Sometimes it’s branding, selling, creating new needs, displaying innovation; whatever. Brand experiences can be delivered with interesting concept and a tasty headline, a beautiful look, an impactful idea, an unexpected usability, or a different product placement. But not just these. The world is full of creativity that, in the end, if we don’t remember the brand who’s sponsoring it, becomes wasted. In every marketing effort you’re going to work on, no matter if it’s 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 turbo, keep in mind that the primary objective is to provide something original, unusual, and pertinent at the right time and place, so to propitiate joy, happiness, well-being, satisfaction, curiosity and need. Those positive emotions are the ones that will make someone remember your brand.

:: Victor Schmidlin / Creative Director at NGEN

Retail Branding | May16, 2017 | ngen

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