Consumers are willing to pay more than five times the price of an ordinary cup just for the experience. This truly demonstrates the power of experience creation, marketing and awareness building through word of mouth. This is not to undermine the basic quality of the product which is definitely a hygiene element in the whole plan. There is coffee and then there is star bucks coffee. Coffee has come long way from being just a commodity to being an experience to savor. But it does highlight the fact that how the consumer experiences the product supersedes the product. This brings the brand very strong loyalty indeed.
Interestingly, though experience marketing is mostly associated with services organizations, it is now being perceived as equally critical in case of product-based organizations and is becoming the single largest differentiator.
The New York Times recently published an article on the BMW wealth project. BMW wealth is a cathedral like showroom. Rather than picking up a new car at the local dealership, consumers who pay about $630 extra for the privilege come here to receive delivery of their vehicles, finding them bathed in a spotlight and rotating on a turntable and the customer is willing to pay this additional amount for the experience.
So what are some of the imperatives of creating, embedding and delivering a brand experience?
Integrating brand value with experience:
This is the key to creating the experience- the brand value to brand experience connects seamlessly and the customer should not experience any break from expectation to actual delivery. While everyone is attempting it the opportunity is much more with services organizations, the experience has to be completely reflected in the interaction that the consumer has with the service.
For example, for an airline, safety and punctuality are essential brand values and hence the safety drill and references to time keep coming up in consumer interactions. However for southwest fun is an essential part of the brand value too, so the whole experience to bring this out strongly.
Ownership for the consumer experience:
It is fallacious to assume that the delivery of the experience to the consumer can be an â€˜operationalâ€™ responsibility alone. It is essential for marketing professionals to take as much ownership of driving the consumer experience on the floor as it is to design the experience in alignment with the brand values. It is critical to consistently evaluate the fulfillment of the experience at an execution level.
The challenge however is to create a signature experience that leaves an indelible imprint on the customerâ€™s mind. To make the experience come alive, some organization use a multi-sensorial approach, one that involves the five senses of touch, hearing, sight, taste and smell. Singapore Airlines though the â€˜Singapore Girlâ€™ as well as with other signature elements subtly woven in, has created a powerful signature experience.
Along with consistent delivery of the signature experience, it is critical to keep the excitement alive by constant innovation in delivery
It is easy to get carried away by the experience creation and delivery process to an extent that the core value is over shadowed. To avoid this one must work on â€˜experience layeringâ€™ where core propositions are covered with multiple layers of experience but the core remains to the whole experience.
In action it means that the layers never overshadow the core deliverable and excitement can be generated by changing the layers. For example in a spa, or a skin clinic, the sensorial experience could be varied by changing the music played to take away monotony at specified intervals. All airlines despite other elements, will keep the safety part of the core intact in the experience.
An example of making the client or consumer feel that he is treated specially is that at some prestigious hotels they welcome clients by name at the entrance as they disembark from their vehicles.
Each consumer expects to be treated specially. The experience design therefore has to focus on need assessment, finding deeper client interest and so on. For a service provider it means focusing on â€˜listeningâ€™ rather than â€˜talkingâ€™. It involves keen observation of client behavior.