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Changing course – Brand activations redefined

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    Changing course – Brand activations redefined

    We have all found ourselves sidestepping one of those cute promoters in a tight-fitting dress straddling the product isle at our local grocery store. 

    By Talita Myburg, Shopper Business Unit Director | May 5, 2016

    We have all found ourselves sidestepping one of those cute promoters in a tight-fitting dress straddling the product isle at our local grocery store. “Let me tell you about the new…” she starts, but in anticipation you evasively side-step and start walking faster, purposely avoiding eye contact.  Not to be dissuaded she continues with her syrupy pitch, “This product will change your life …” making it seem like this wondrous product will surely change life as you know it, at least forever. You, know you have at least 101 things to do today and do not have time for this frivolity, but you nonetheless politely stop and listen as you feel sorry for the poor promoter, “she is only trying to earn a living after all!”.

    Sometimes we get carried away by product demonstrations or the interesting product displays, perhaps even purchasing the product as a result. But, does it really make us loyal brand consumers in the long run?

    Can one truly connect with a brand based on one interaction?  Activations are after all not just about establishing that intimate connection with the consumers, but also how we inspire them to respond. From a marketer’s perspective, activation platforms provide brands with an exclusive opportunity to closely engage consumers at the point where they make those most crucial purchase decisions. It allows for unique consumer engagement, personalised experiences, operational scalability and accurate tracking of Return Of Investment (ROI). It is a matchless medium with great potential, albeit the cost per interaction may be perceived as higher than some other less intimate marketing channels.

    What is undeniable, in our fast paced digital age, is that interest in personal experiential activations are experiencing an upsurge amongst savvy marketers, but unfortunately brand managers often tend to fall into the trap of restricting agencies to pre-specified marketing disciplines, from outdated, prescribed operating models by procurement divisions. This leads to agencies operating in silos, limiting channel integration and often severely restricting the true potential of a campaign. Given the right leeway and opportunity to maximise their full potential, brand activations have the possibility to be turned into meaningful experiential brand engagement opportunities that will lead to sales and loyalty. 

    Let’s investigate some of the major trends that will help brands to win the hearts and minds of their consumers through effective consumer engagement:

    Mass personalisation

    This is Mass Customisation taken to the next level. Long gone are the days that consumers are satisfied with one way communication with brands. Consumers want to be part of the conversation. Brands need to deliver interactive solutions that display consumer intent at the heart of their delivery, leaving consumers to feel that the brand values them as an individual and are fostering a personal relationship with them. This is an important consideration for the type of tone and manner in which a brand intends communicating with their consumers.  Personalised, face-to-face consumer interaction naturally allows for greater intimacy and impact at a fraction of the cost that other marketing channels can offer.

    Connected consumers  

    Today people are the new mass media with consumers connected across several social channels and spending copious amounts of time communicating on these platforms daily.  Anything from business to social needs are being discussed, with little to no filtering of conversations. This provides the potential for consumers to naturally become key brand custodians, sharing authenticated brand experiences with their peers. Brands should essentially ensure they are part of these conversations, and in so doing creating relevant content to empower consumers to talk on their behalf.  

    Personal devices

    New technologies are constantly reshaping all aspects of consumer behaviour, and mobile devices are the means to tailoring communication to consumers. Smartphones, tablets, wearable technology and gadgets; screens are all becoming smaller and friendlier, empowering consumers with necessary information on demand 24/7. This simultaneously allows for greater brand presence and consistent consumer engagement, stretching beyond just an activations engagement. When used optimally, this allows brands to build more intimate and personal relationships with their specified consumers.

    Integrated channel delivery

    The average consumer shopping journey is far more complex nowadays, with an available mix of online, mobile and face-to-face shopping opportunities, and where integrated channel delivery ensures that brands capture the attention of consumers on multiple levels throughout their shopping experience.  We must however not get caught in the trap of multi-channel delivery for the sake it, but rather with identifying integrated channel solutions that will simplify brand communication and increasing the effectiveness of the consumer engagements. 

    On demand escapism

    Consumer’s demand that brands provide them with solutions that will engage and inspire them, and therefore marketers need to consistently find new ways of breaking through the clutter in the retail environment to allow them to connect with consumers. They have a weighty task of being relevant, while simultaneously delivering to the entertainment demands of consumers. Solutions such as augmented and virtual reality, mobile and digital applications will all provide platforms through which consumers are completely immersed in a stimulating brand experience and allowing for a greater emotive connection.

    In conclusion, in an era where consumers are spoiled for choice, brands need to be innovative in the way that they connect with consumers. Activations need to offer integrated brand experiences beyond face-to-face engagement that will allow the brand to build an intimate and shared long term relationship with its consumers. 

    But it’s important to recognise that a successful inter-personal relationship is based on the foundation that’s built together, and to be effective in their promotional efforts brands need to offer simple solutions through relevant touchpoints that cut through the clutter and allow for effortless, authentic conversations.

    Brand activations can provide the exclusive opportunity to fully immerse consumers into the brand offering, and create emotional interactions that will shape the consumer’s own unique experience of a brand. 

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