Creating and Sustaining Customers Through Experiential Marketing
Marketing is an evolutionary and fluid process that needs to be continually adapted to consumers in order to keep them coming back time and time again. With increased competition and volatility on a global scale companies must strive to differentiate themselves from competitors. Managers should be aware that consumers are changing at an increasing rate as they become more informed, and should shift from a product and service orientation to a consumer focused orientation. Simply focusing on an exchange is no longer applicable in today’s economy. Pine and Gilmore (1998, p. 97) have stated that we have entered the “experience economy”, and consumers are reaching out for businesses that can offer an experience in addition to quality products and services (Walls et al, 2010). Smilansky (2009, p. 10) states, “Experiential marketing allows brands to engage with their target audiences through initiatives and engagements that aim to achieve marketing communication objectives, and add value to consumers’ lives”.
Competitive offerings through experiences can be a relatively overlooked approach that can allow companies to survive in the long run (Leighton, 2006; Gentile, Spiller, and Guiliano, 2007, p. 395). These offerings are often hard for competition to mimic or duplicate (Berry, Carbone, and Haeckel 2002; Day, 2000). Business that do not adapt within this competitive run the risk of being faced with disadvantages, loss of market shares, and potentially forced out of the market by competitors. Experiential marketing is a recent driver of change in how consumers are engaged during the buying process. Day (2000) states, “Central to every market relationship is an exchange process where value is given and received” these values can be positive or negative, hedonic or utilitarian, and have tremendous influence over the consumer buying process, and leave lasting impressions. The focus of marketers should be to embrace consumers in all of their sensory and emotional perceptions, and drive brand awareness deep into the conscious mind, while creating and maintaining lasting relationship through memorable experiences.
A Shift from Traditional Media
Marketers in the current economy are finding it harder and more difficult to reach consumers in an effective meaningful manner. Traditional marketing channels have become less effective due to a shift in generations along with recent advancements in technologies. Some of these technologies are digital video recorders (DVR) such as Tivo in the United States and Sky Plus in the United Kingdom. These DVRs allow consumers to skip through commercials making traditional television advertisement less effective in reaching their target audiences (Smilansky, 2009, p. 8).
Additionally, the internet has become one of the widest used advertisement media since its creation, but even internet marketing is being limited by the use of pop up blockers and a “media-savvy generation” that is immune and unsympathetic to traditional mass media channels. This media-savvy generation is the generation of social net workers where everything and anything can be discussed in a few short clicks of a mouse reaching millions upon millions of users. The use of word-of-mouth or word-of-web has had an unprecedented revival through social networks such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and many other social platforms (Smilansky, 2009, pp. 8-9). The use of media budgets of marketers is being thrown away because of consumer ability to disregard advertisements. The use of these budgets can go to better use by creating experiential offerings attached to products and services that are suitable to the interests and needs of the postmodern consumer (Caru and Cova, n.d.)
Although technologic advancements have a negative connotation in the ability to reach target audiences it should not be overlooked in the...