Experience Centers as the 'New-Age' Marketing in the India of 2019
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The new age is the ‘millennial age’. This “millennial population” account for 34per cent of the Indian population and are accounted to be the 47per cent contributors to the Indian economy. This burgeoning percentage of the Gen Z population of India have this one factor in common – a marked abhorrence for brand upselling, a general distaste for static marketing media and an inherent sense of suspicion towards advertising. Thanks to the advancement of technology – shrinking-world factor – the youth or rather the overall consumer base has plethora of choices neatly placed on the platter of internet-based apps no matter which category or product we talk about. The consumer’s wants have become needs, and needs have further diversified, radically changed and evolved with the changing time. Little does the consumer perceive the value of the item/service on the product features and benefits. With such, constantly evolving consumer behavioural patterns, the marketing industry has been in a relentless process of face-lift trying to figure out a way to really penetrate the souk.
Experience is The New Way
Marketing, like war, is a zero-sum game. Unless an agency is willing to upgrade and think beyond what seems far-off, there’s not much difference it can make. So, what are brands in India of 2019 bringing forth for their consumers? The answer is the new trending “Experience Centers”! The core of this approach is to establish a positive and interpersonal engagement with consumer that lasts as a memory, of experience, of what it made them feel, of how they spent their time and shape their perception toward a brand. Experiential way of marketing comes with the incentive of collecting truly relevant customer information, which contributes to developing and implementing strategies that win, with results that can be measured better. Experience Center one of the best solution of ‘Experiential Marketing’ is coming up as one of the best solutions among the latest ever-evolving marketing strategies used by brands big and small, B2B and B2C.
Brands are realising the potential of experiential marketing as a sustainable competitive advantage – it is intangible in the way that it cannot be truly recreated or copied. Every brand, every product will implement this strategy keeping in mind their USP and the experience, emotional connection, or stimulus they want to initiate in their consumer base. This strategy is all about creating a meaningful experience that’ll engage the audiences, in relevant ways. Unlike other marketing tools, this serves as a differentiation that separates the company or the product from competition because it focuses on experience through pragmatic modules – sense, feel, think, act and relate.
Consumers that experience a brand via curated spaces, events, demos are more likely to remember the involvement, view it more positively and result in future purchase, taking services.
Industries across the spectrum are gearing up for satisfactory, live brand experience for its consumers; building experience centers; from brands like Sephora to giants like Coca Cola that has invested in a Coca-Cola Happiness Factory. Brand’s experience center works as the best way to create the ‘wow’ factor and drive them to purchase decision through a journey of engagement and better visualisation. It connects
the consumers to the brand inception while subtly conveying the period of brand survival. It is like subconsciously lobbying the minds of consumers that if a brand has stayed, survived, thrived, and flourished for so long, it’s ought to be the best.
What consumer wants these days is an enjoyable and gratifying experience – throughout from purchase to after sales services. Undoubtfully, very few service experiences leave a lasting impression on the minds of the consumer, but when they do, the impact becomes far more important and relevant. Experience spaces is this new cool thing that is largely responsible for giving this experience by immersing the consumer in the brand. Some other experiential strategies are live events, typical as it may sound, other options can be an installation of a set-up or kiosk that last for a few hours, or a museum like permanent set-up that can be visited and revisited for a lasting impression. This new technique thriving on experience has proven to boost the brand’s ROI and proven to be a breakthrough strategy for marketing executives.
The World is Experiencing it, so are we!
In fact, this new-age concept of giving an experience, as part of marketing, is spreading like wild fire across sectors and revolutionising industries – automobile, Volkswagen (with their Piano staircase in subway stop in Germany, to associate their brand with “having fun”); medical such as Sensodyne Great Sensitivity Test; music, games and entertainment such as Avengers: End Game AR-VR kiosks at malls across India, 2014 US Open; smart home solutions providers such as Bajaj Smart Homes, Panasonic, Godrej experience zone had electronic home security solutions, home safes, wi-fi-based home security solutions, fire resistant and commercial safes; and fashion with brands such as the Tommy Hilfiger having a digital showroom. Even aeronautics took this revolutionised approach when Airbus launched their experience center in Washington D.C. It showcases the impact Airbus is making on the U.S. aerospace and defence industries. Leviathan took the company’s initiative further by being instrumental in providing them with multiple content-rich experiences. Their experience center features a series of interactive, multimedia exhibitions that highlight people and their stories. Today, ABB is a world-leader in the digital industries with its interactive showroom that promotes an advanced user experience via “Interactive Touchscreen Applications” and Bosh, for its power tools, created an array of metalworking tools and accessories including customer experience zones for its construction monster expo that gave real-like experience!
While the whole marketing scenario world-wide is swishing through the rapidly evolving market trends, Indian marketing isn’t far behind. Quickly catching up the trend, India has seen Amway launch its first digitally-enabled experience center in Bengaluru that features multitude of options like augmented reality, gamification, and virtual makeovers; Fab India has executed setting up of experience centers in the form of cafés, studios for interior designs, as well as organic wellness centers; Bosch created unique experiential zones at the India International Trade Fair (IITF) to showcase Bosch power tools for home, hobby and garden applications.
Technology, Social Media and an Experience to Share is all it Takes!
Taking a panoramic view of the marketing industry, technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality are no more restricted to being an online experience but is actively present in experience centers as seen executed by above listed brands. If you open Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, Pinterest, isn’t it all about aesthetically appealing pictures, dreamy appearances of products, people; and attractive spaces? That is what Experience Centers are all about! They give a reason to the audience to share their experiences within their circle by checking-in, tagging, sharing pictures that are “Instagram-worthy”. The social media is leveraged better when these spaces collaborate with established and budding mirco-bloggers that have thousands and even millions of followers. The way social media has deeply seeded itself in the lives of the urban population, it becomes easier to advertise the brand. The nature of the social platform is such that when it is optimized, merged with experiential marketing, it is a sure win.
How Does it Function?
An ‘Experience Center’ per se is meant to leave a memory, a lasting impression, so spaces that give the consumer an experience with family with events or pop-up shows that brighten a dull day, while giving the brand the opportunity to surround its visitors in full-brand immersion, without pressurising purchase seems like the perfect medley for the urban economy. Experience centers, as opposed to the aggressive, hard-sell marketing tactics, give a breathing space to the consumer and let them be themselves. These spaces curated to suit the brand, style, and audience – art installations, coffee bars, themed-events, and innovative technology, museum-like walk through space – where the potential consumer can assess and experience the brand on their own terms is the way forward.