The numbers speak for themselves. More than four-fifths of the Czech population (85 %) are overwhelmed by advertising, and according to Focus, only a quarter of them believe it. Those under 35 are less trusting of all forms of advertising (OMG Research). Millennials are much more likely to buy what their friends have recommended than what they see advertised. Generation Z is even clearer about it – they deliberately ignore everything that is presented and sold in the traditional way. Customers have become very promiscuous, and brand fidelity has become under-the-counter merchandise.
The less attention consumers pay to ads, the more brands try to reach them. They remember the golden era of advertising, when media massage worked. Strongly encouraged by information about rising media spending, the advertising industry misused this as a symbol of the success of its activities. In the rush of events, the brand is forced to spend more and more money in both online and offline media in an effort to maintain its position for a while. Microscopically accurate measurement of increased performance leaves the tracking of effectiveness, i.e. the return on investment, in its wake. This increases saturation even more. At the same time, however, it reduces the willingness of consumers to pay attention to advertising messages down to mere single percentage points. Agencies counter this with the argument that there is a need for even greater intervention, so that the brand enters the consumer's awareness. The current situation in many disciplines even rewrote Paret's principle from 80:20 to 60:40. That is, 60 % of your turnover comes from 40 % of your customers. However, the marketing seems to be lagging when twice as many customers generate 20 percent less revenue, loyalty is decreasing, and the price of "possible" intervention is rising.
And another number: 70 % of people (Focus survey) do not trust the content of advertising messages. Does this seem normal? OK. If you chose a hotel on Booking.com for which almost three quarters of users expressed their distrust, would you go there? And if you read in an Internet review that satisfaction with a travel agency's services was around 30 %, would you trust it with your holiday budget? This is what an assessment of the so-called outbound advertising would look like:
And yet, brands are driven to keep putting a substantial part of their budgets into tools that are evidently failing, mostly with a recommendation from an agency that they should be more creative and irresistible than the dozens of others that we, as consumers, have to swallow at the same time. That's why we block ads, delete e-mail newsletters, pay for music and TV channels without ads, and accept the removal of advertising billboards. And this reduces trust in us.
It's like a dog that keeps running away, and the more we shout at it, the more it runs away - more like a chase scene in a comedy film. Without energy and strength, sooner or later we give up. The smarter way is to take a few steps back and shout briefly. With an inspirational relationship and motivation, it begins to run itself. You open your arms and remind it of the amazing world it has with you, instead of persecuting it.
How, then, do we consumers let a brand into our lives of our own free will? And what gives that brand the opportunity to gain our respect and to differentiate itself in such a competitive market, without having to spend more and more advertising money with less and less effect?
Looking at surveys of recent years, it is clear that as consumers, we are looking for completely different values than in previous decades. We prefer to "be" instead of to "have", and "joy" over "money". It could be only a theory, still ... Economists Gilmore and Pine (Harward, 1998) have published an increasingly quoted study defining the replacement of the Service Economy, in which the highest value is the supply of intangible product-related services with the upcoming Experience Economy. The study concludes that customers will pay the most for experiences associated with the use of the product itself. Showrooms, customer service, complementary services, as well as functional and emotional benefits, are an automatically expected part of the brand, and presenting them as a benefit is a waste of money.
Ultimately, since 2016 even the managers of the big brands have been admitting that "it’s more and more difficult to succeed through traditional advertising" (Raja Rajamannar, CEO MasterCard).
Instead, companies need to find a completely new form of communication if they want to succeed. Marketing experience. The difference between the two is, however, so basic that it requires a complete change of attitude to one's work and thought. It requires adaptation to consumer expectations and a fundamental change in philosophy.
Traditional marketing leads to a one-sided monologue and is self-centered. For decades, it has relied on the unchanged marketing funnel model, the validity of which was refuted at the beginning of this century. It focuses on the functional elements of the goods sold, the benefits they bring, and also the brand values. It boasts of them to make an impression and "voluntarily" push the customer to make a decision to buy. It tells us - often to excess - what to do. It concentrates all its strengths on raising awareness in the belief that the point of sale is key. It invests in media and primarily tries to collect more and more hits.
Through traditional marketing, the brand tries tell to us, the customers, how great it is and give us the feeling that we should be part of it. It takes steps to support our loyalty by "buying" us: "collect points and get ... discount, something extra, win...". These are crude attempts, similar to the sale of indulgences, at creating a community of fans around the brand.
Therefore, though these push-and-sell strategies previously yielded results, today a substantial portion of customers perceive them as an annoyance they are forced to endure. And their results are transient. After all, how long does trust last when it is bought for money?
Nowadays, we, as consumers, seek higher values, ways of appreciation and self-actualization (the Maslow pyramid). We pay less and less attention to brands that persistently offer us the satisfaction of physiological or social needs at the level of functional and emotional benefits. Or we ignore them, as these needs have already been met. On the other hand, those who have understood the necessity of transforming their own approach and having an equal dialogue with us deserve a place in our hearts. We want to experience them, to feel them. And then we can become their advocates.
Experience marketing starts where traditional marketing has run out of steam. It is based on the fact that "the beneﬁts are not in the products. Beneﬁts are in the consumer experience" (2009, Chris Janiszewski, President, Association for Consumer Research). It puts customers and their expectations at the center of events. It offers us space for self-involvement and the shared creation of a brand. It realizes that it is unnecessary to pay heavily for awareness. An equal or better result can be achieved through the creation of quality content, so that customers themselves needs to share their experiences with others.
It does not just say that the brand is great. It makes it great and makes it possible to experience its greatness. It invests money in itself and the education and experiences of customers, rather than in the large-scale transfer of money to media agencies and the media.
Managers who draw on experience in experience marketing know that the most powerful impulse to buy is personal experience or a recommendation from a friend. According to Jack Morton Worldwide, 11 of 14 people prefer to learn about a new product before buying it. They want to taste, touch, try, experience and feel it. And what we experience, we believe in 99.9 %. This is a huge difference compared to the mere one-third confidence rating of traditional advertising.
If we want to take the extra step, that is, to become loyal to the brand as a customer, then we must create a deep relationship to it. And it doesn't matter if it's a motorbike, a credit card, a bank or a favourite brand of sweets or coffee. Experience (or engagement) marketing therefore transforms the customer's experience at the moment of brand use or consumption. It involves experiences, emotions, "encompasses all five senses, and creates lasting memories, which is exactly what builds loyalty to the brand." (Bryan Icenhower, President, IMG Live).
Obviously, the thinking of traditional marketing resembles that of a tired man. Pumped with hormones, he rushes in all directions. He takes every opportunity to get in our field of view, without having a plan. It exhausts his energy. Experience marketing has, on the other hand, understood that brand and customer can be partners. It devotes time and money to the quality of the relationship. That's why it's an up-and-coming strategy. It's about us, about the customers, instead of the showy presentation of its values. It inspires us with the world it creates around the brand through its shared experiences and makes us a natural advocate of the brand through its open approach. Even those that we might buy anyway. Examples? Tesla, Harley, M&M'S, Converse, Spotify …when did you last see massive advertising for those brands - on TV or anywhere else? And yet they create a natural environment in which one feels enchanted and taken care of. A world in which we appreciate feelings of happiness more than financial benefits.
It may be more appropriate to view business attention to experiences as a new way of marketing products and services, and even consumer commodities such as salt, pepper, or produce." (Pine and Gilmore, 1999)
Trust in advertising is around 30%? Perhaps it is more the case that 70% of us have significantly different values than those that are currently offered to us. When the brand changes its strategy and offers experiences, then this number will change.
Experience marketing is key to differentiating oneself in the market. Of course, it can be one of many approaches, but still, it is one that is logical and highly appealing to customers. It helps us fulfil our dreams by creating attractive activities and truly connecting brands and consumers.
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