Why Experience Truly Matters

February 28th, 2006   •   3 comments   

Recently, at the National Library, I learnt a couple of new things about the importance of experiential marketing from eminent professor Bernd Schmitt.

Let me summarize the key learning points for you.

The Five Dimensions of Experience

The essence of experiential marketing is distilling it into the 5 sensations, ie
– Sense
– Feel
– Think
– Act
– Relate

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is the process involved in managing these 5 sensations through integrating physical, emotional, psychological, communal, intellectual and even spiritual aspects of experiencing a brand.

Examples of Experiential Marketing

– Singapore Airlines new First Class which is a culmination of both actual behaviour AND image.

– The new iMAC’s as well as both iPod and iTunes which not just serve marketing communication messages but evoke experiences.

– Apple’s New Store incorporates Visually Driven Communications in each and every aspect; from architecture, design, events, furniture, Point Of Purchase materials.

– Starbucks Coffee which is about creating an enriching experience beyond just selling coffee beans (commodity), powder (product), and beverages (service). These and other similar brands position themselves as the ‘3rd Space’ other than work and home.

– GE’s newest tagline of “Imagination at Work”, with everybody doing it at their own work.

– UK Government’s Website which entails getting citizens involved in the act too, for example, getting them to contribute ideas for icons which best represent UK.

– Zankel Hall’s “Contemporary Concert-going Experience”

The New Paradigm

1) Focusing on Customer Experience

2) Focusing on Consumption and Usage

3) Impacting both the Rational and Emotional side of customers

Strategic Experiential Modules (SEMs)

These are the modules of the mind highlighted earlier, ie Sense, Feel, Think, Act and Relate.

They also relate to using different experiential factors to engage your customers.

SENSE – The most basic involving taste, touch, sight, scent, and texture. This is also the aesthetics element, eg Godiva Chocolate, Starbucks Coffee

FEEL – This involves engaging the emotions of customers, eg AIG’s “Life Story” campaign

THINK – A more intellectual sort of stimulation, eg Elite Designers Against Ikea, Apple, Samsung

ACT – Behavioural and action oriented, eg Nike’s “Just Do It”

RELATE – More communal and bonding, with similarities to Feel, eg Patek Philippe’s “Passing from Generation to Generation”, Petrona’s National Day Advertisements

Experience Providers (Ex Pros)

These are the factors which need to be defined as they impact upon customers and shape their perceptions of a brand. They are similar to the oft-touted “touch points” in branding methodology.
– Product
– Packaging
– Advertising
– Brochures/ Collaterals
– Store Environment
– Sales people
– Web
– Events

Eg. for tourists coming to Singapore, we need to blueprint the entire experience and touch points, not just focus on the end attraction (shopping centre, restaurant, attraction) itself.

The Experiential Grid

This is a way of mapping the SEMs with the Ex Pros. You align the SEMs on one axis and the Ex Pros on the other.

Different considerations are needed when applying the Experiential Grid, namely:

– Broadening versus Focusing
– Enriching versus Simplifying
– Intensifying versus Diffusing
– Connecting versus Separating

In other words, the degree of experiences in different touch points and their relation to each other should vary according to the product or service categories.

The CEM Framework

An important key point is that we should analyse the experiential world of the customer. In other words, go through the same thing which your customer does and jot down the thoughts, feelings and impressions.

Experiential World of the Customer

There is a need to consider the following contexts when devising an appropriate experiential strategy.
– Brand experience
– Product category experience
– Usage/ consumption situation
– Socio-cultural/ business context

The Experiential Platform

WHAT? Experiential Positioning

WHY? Experiential Value Promise (EVP)

HOW? Overall Implementation Theme

What truly works are things which are:


Internal Engagement

Critical to get employees and stakeholders into the act.

Eg Eli Lilly – Internal involvement through employee activities.

Steve Jobs, Oct 2004:

“Remember that “Think Different” ad campaign that we ran? It was certainly for customers, but it was even more so for Apple”

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