Experience Counts

No matter how prestigious your product or service is, it all boils down to a wholesome experience that you as a brand give to your customers.

By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: February 10, 2012

No matter how prestigious your product or service is, it all boils down to a wholesome experience that you as a brand give to your customers.

Placing the customer’s experience at the heart of every brand’s actions has always deemed to be fruitful, not only for the consumer, but also for the brand. Remember the quote by US businesswoman Alice MacDougall? “In business you get what you want by giving other people what they want”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Giving your consumer a perfect experience that he or she will never forget, and rather cherish for life, is one of the best gifts you could give yourself and the consumer. Whether it’s a new consumer or a lifelong devoted one, the only thing that will distinguish you from your one million competitors is the experience that you give them. The experience you give to your consumers might just reinvent your brand’s image for them!

Factors that affect the consumers experience range from their moods to their intentions or even the entire atmosphere or their company. Creating luxury brands is a tricky marketing exercise and requires heavy investment in advertising, communications, excellent product/service quality. But above all, these brands have to try to remain fashionable, which is particularly tricky, but not impossible! Many big and successful brands have done it but are yet striving to better themselves in this cluttered market.

Make the move
As the consumer changes, so will the industry and the value adds to attract consumers. Marketers are moving from the conventional marketing mix approach towards a different concept, known as experiential marketing, which is the latest icing on every brand’s cake. This is where the customers are treated as both rational and emotional individuals who seek experiences from the brand’s products or services.  So, for example, Hermes’ recently launched flagship store in Mumbai, doesn’t only have the brand’s collection, but an art gallery too where consumers can immerse themselves in an artistic environment.

The key is to indulge the customers with a terrific experience around the product/service and develop a relationship with them.  The central aim of experiential marketing is to create an emotional attachment between the brand and the customer.  At the end of the day, the consumer will recall and narrate the experience he had before buying the product or seeking that service again.

Brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Vertu provide this experience through their product image and features, their outstanding service, their exclusive retail environment, their pricing, and complete with their distinct packaging.  Not to forget their brand image which gives the consumers a different high altogether.  Pointers to keep in mind? Ensure that the customers have the right experience so that the desired feelings, images and perspectives become linked with the product/service and their marketing programme. 

Brand talk
In order to understand the essence of experiential marketing, as a brand it is necessary to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and think of what you would expect if the roles were switched. It is necessary for the brand to convey a personality that the customer can relate to, or wishes to aspire to.  Consumers then try and communicate this to others. In many cases, luxury brands are tapping into the ‘aspirational’ buyer market.  These are individuals who seek entry-level products with luxury brand names.  Some luxury brands are targeting both ends of the market - the basic line and the top end. A quick example to this would be Mercedes Benz with its affordable A-Class range targets the masses, while still manufacturing higher end models for the world’s super rich. Audi too stocks its merchandise in their dealerships. So even if a consumer is not able to purchase a car, they can at least have the ‘privilege’ of owning a piece of Audi heritage.

Luxury brands are offering products at different price points with the hope that sometime, during the customers’ lifetime, they will trade up to the more exclusive ranges.  The risk of ‘democratising’ the brand is that they may lose their air of exclusivity – as it can be obtained by anyone and everyone.

Luxury brands rely on the imagery of their products to appeal to the high-end market.  The prominent pricing of their products creates a high quality image and positions the goods in the mind of the consumer as a status symbol.  Coming back to the experience, one can easily attribute the success of luxury brands to quality of service, brand image, retail environment, and management structure among others, and lastly, perfectly balancing these factors to create an elite and special experience. 

A holistic ballgame
If you have experience and grey hairs on your side, then you already know how important the entire experience is to your consumer. Whether it is the way your staff presents themselves, merchandising, window display or advertising, there are a variety of factors that contribute to the holistic experience that any consumer would love. Constant feedback and communication with your consumers will aid in understanding the grey areas, if any, and thus brands should attempt to reinvent the experience that they package to their consumers. Don’t forget your customers after that purchase. Nurture the relationship with event invites, special occasion greetings and chances to test new products. Keep up with changing times, trends and demands, and you will emerge a winner!

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