Experiential marketing

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Guinness for strength

Guinness for strength

I once Tweeted: “The fastest way to brand loyalty: Don’t take customers for granted and provide them with unexpected, thoughtful product gestures.”

The word in this statement that excites me is gestures. It’s easy to see what a service gesture is, that’s a manmade experience, but a product gesture? Hmm. At the time I’m sure what I meant by product gesture was “service gesture,” or “corporate gesture.” However, now I’m looking at product gesture a little differently. A little more organically.

A rough definition of gesture is: A movement or action that is expressive of an idea, opinion or emotion. So let’s look at that for a second. When you pour a beer, is the head an expression? Of course it is. But of what? Freshness, glass cleanliness, taste? And don’t all beers have head? Indeed they do. Guinness Stout has a head, however that head is richer, fuller, made up of tinier bubbles due to carbonation from nitrogen not carbon dioxide. An organic product expression.  

When brand planners look for differentiation they can start by asking product managers and consumers what gestures derive from the product. Product gestures are part of the consuming experience not the marketing experience.

Tink about it as my Norwegian aunt might say. Peace.

(More on experiences vs. gestures tomorrow.)

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I grew up in an area that produced 80% of the world’s hard shell clams.  The clams had great names like cherry stone, little necksand top neck.  To the uninformed or visitor to the Great South Bay, an opened clam was and is quite a sight. Unlike anything you’ve ever seen, a little neck has some purple and crimson on the shell, pink on the muscle, rich caramels and tans on the meat and a little pocket of black (don’t ask) –a bit like a nursery school drawing.  The clam is nestled in a cool saline broth that to some appears like what my father might have called “the doggie’s dinner.”  

uncle carlEnter Uncle Carl. A transplant to Los Angeles, Uncle Carl had two reasons to come back East. One, to visit family.  Two, to eat clams. And eat he did. Voraciously.  To watch his face, to hear the smile-affected slurp, to listen to his appraisal of each morsel (at my young age I wasn’t always sure of all the metaphors) was to know consumer love.  Without telling me I needed to try them, Uncle Carl was the hard shell clams’ best salesman. He didn’t entertain, he didn’t story tell, he didn’t need a spokesperson – he just shared the experience. Experiential marketing, modeling marketing are two of the best sales tools in the kit.  

Though hard shell clams are not that common here today on the Great South Bay, they are still among for most wonderful treasures on the planet. Treasures I may never have tried had it not been for Uncle Carl Alf. What a salesman, what a teacher. Peace.

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A long-time friend of mine is a big macher in the movie theater business. He offered up some interesting facts and market movers last week. 

The movie exhibition business – the business of the movie house, not the film business – is a crucible of marketing. It’s retail, it’s venue-marketing, it’s entertainment and it is quite competitive…not only with other movie exhibitors but with in-home entertainment centers – e.g., flatties, cable, video on demand in the den.

That said, a night at the theater is still quite an affordable night on the town.

What are marketers doing to push one theater over another?  Lots: IMAX, Wi-Fi, line-busting, reserved seating, food to the seat, new projectors, hi-def shimmering sound and loyalty programs. And they are testing live projection experiences: college sports, opera, etc. 

Theaters, like airline carriers and hotels are in the load management business; they need to put fannies in seats. They are also in the fast food business where they’re trying to get the average ticket price up (not the cost of the theater ticket but the cost of all theater purchases.)

This is a dog fight, no doubt, but my pal is getting it done.   Last year was the best year in 10. And the first quarter was the best in the last 7 years. Of course, the films are important.  In one man’s opinion the movies are getting more expensive to make yet offer less in the way of plot, cinematography and acting. Frankly, some of the best new entertainment now is on cable and there’s not much of that.

But like a meal at a great restaurant, you may remember the dish, but it’s the venue you return to. It’s the venue you give your money to.  It’s the brand you share with friends and family.  Building the experience from all angles is what makes a great theater chain. For tyro brand planners, the crucible of theater marketing is a formative one. For marketers anywhere it is a laboratory we should all pay attention to. Peace!

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