In this article, we are exploring the holistic approach to the consumer experience. It’s not just metrics and cold rationality but also experience and emotions that companies must consider when crafting their marketing strategies. We will be discussing the difference between traditional and experiential marketing, how value is measured in experiential marketing and how to sustain these experiences so that we can ensure company equity. So, let’s dive in.
Traditional vs experiential marketing. What’s the difference?
Familiarity with traditional marketing may not necessarily translate to a solid understanding of experiential marketing. Below we will discuss the difference in focus, scope, consumer mental model and marketer’s approach between the two.
Table 2 Traditional versus experiential marketing (Kirezli, 2011, p. 180)
If in the past your marketing may have focused simply on the features and benefits of your product or service at the point of sale with experiential marketing will require a much broader approach. You will need to consider all your promotion and distribution channels and those of the stakeholders you choose to do business with even if you believe that they won’t impact on your customers. There will be a greater focus on personal relationships, developing, enhancing and maintaining these will be critical. (Ailawadi and Farris, 2017; Lemon and Verhoef, 2016; Verhoef et al., 2015 in Bèzes, 2019, p. 94). It’s no longer enough to just sell. The consumer wants more.
Traditionally there was a limited way in which consumers could search for and consume products. With experiential marketing, however, consumers have far more control over their consumption experiences. You might see this in the difference between traditional printed catalogues, manned fitting rooms, and standard check-outs versus “touchscreen displays, virtual fitting rooms and self-scanning checkouts (Bèzes, 2019, p. 96). Experiential marketing means “it is consumers who trigger the experience and acquire information themselves, rather than going through the sales staff” (Collin-Lachaud and Vanheems, 2016 in Bèzes, 2019, p.97). Activities like locating a store, checking opening hours, comparing prices, checking for product availability or promotional offers, searching for additional product information or securing a product for later purchase and delivery can all be done by the customer (Bèzes, 2019, p.96).
Customer’s mental model
Whereas previously we may have only considered the cognitive aspect of a consumers experience (the function of educating and presenting information about the product or service we sell) we must now also consider the sensorial, social and relational aspects of their experience. After all our consumers are thinking and feeling beings, not just machines. What they see, smell, hear, touch and taste when they experience our products and services in-store or otherwise must be considered. The scent of a cream, the weight of a tool, the visuals that accompany website creation service all convey different things to the consumer and evoke different emotions within the consumer.
Instead of only looking at metrics such as sales revenue, net profit margin, sales growth per year, qualified leads per month, etc. Companys need to also consider the fact that “sensory, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and relational values (may indeed) replace functional values for consumers” (Schmitt, 1999a in Tümer Kabadayi & Koçak Alan, 2014, p. 216). The aim of the company must be to create a holistic experience which takes into consideration the five senses so as to “induce positive feelings, thereby forming a memorable and emotional connection between the consumer and the company” (Hulte, 2011 in Wiedmann, Labenz, Haase & Hennigs, 2018, p. p. 102).
How is value measured in experiential marketing?
Now that we’ve compared the traditional a
nd new method of marketing, we will have to delve deeper into how value is measured in this new kind of marketing. For value, isn’t simply a question of extrinsic value but also intrinsic value. So, what are the extrinsic and intrinsic values we must take into account? These are playfulness, aesthetics, CROI and service excellence.
Figure 3 Typology of experiential value (Mathwick, Malhotra, & Rigdon, 2001, p. 42)
Intrinsic value comes from the visual appeal or entertainment value of the consumer experience. The consumer experience is transformed then from a mere commercial transaction into an opportunity to savour and appreciate every aspect of interacting with the company. Value is measured in terms of “the use of color, graphic layout and photographic quality” (Mathwick, Malhotra, & Rigdon, 2001, p. 44) for example to provide an opportunity for pure enjoyment, escapism or joy for the consumer.
Extrinsic value comes from the efficiency of the consumer experience or the quality of the product or service being offered. This might relate to the perception of the price of consumption being “ﬁnancially, temporal, behavioral and psychological” (Mathwick et al., 2001, p. 41) worth it. Additionally, consumers will consider if the company has “demonstrated expertise and task-related performance (Zeithaml, 1988 in Mathwick et al., 2001, p. 42).