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“Why limit the brand experience to one or two senses?” asks Pernod Ricard chief marketing officer Martin Riley. By providing an experience that embraces more than one sense, brands will have a much better chance of “engaging consumers by bringing something more meaningful, memorable and satisfying to them”, he says, adding that an experience will manifest itself in different ways depending on the brand or service in question.
Engaging the senses is something Starwood tries to do through its W brand (pictured above), which looks to integrate music, fashion and design into the hotel experience.
As part of this strategy, the company has appointed Michaelangelo L’Acqua as global music director – the first hotel to create such a role, it claims – to help develop the sound of the brand and curate the music programme.
And in his new book Stuffocation, journalist and trend forecaster James Wallman suggests that rather than possessions enriching consumers’ lives, they are actually being suffocated by them, sparking a shift towards the need for experience. He cites a shop launch by Louis Vuitton that took the form of an immersive play put on by production company Punchdrunk that helped the brand stand out in a cluttered world, saying that people “are not bothered about the quantity of stuff any more, but they are excited by quality of life – they don’t want more material possessions, but they do want status”.
On a more practical level, for the brands whose budgets don’t stretch to creating entire sensory events, marketers should simply focus on providing a good customer experience every time, says the Direct Marketing Association’s executive director Chris Combemale.
“In 2014 the traditional roles of brand advertising, response marketing, retail promotions and customer service will be broken down and replaced by a focus on creating great customer experiences that add real value,” he says.
Combemale suggests that initiatives such as Nike Fuelband will redefine the role brands play in people’s lives and that these experiences will be powered by data, adding that brands of the future need to create “life-enhancing value” that goes beyond what their products offer.
As consumers become increasingly jaded with traditional, more aggressive forms of advertising, using ‘native content’ looks set to gain traction in 2014. There is much debate about what native advertising is, and it can take many forms, but generally speaking it is paid-for content that is designed to look and feel like the editorial content in which it features.
Insurance company Standard Life has been experimenting with native advertising on Facebook, which digital manager Mickael Paris says has resulted in a 100 per cent increase in click-through rate compared with normal targeted ads on the platform, so it is a concept it will continue pushing into 2014.
“The nature of native advertising is putting relevancy in context, meaning that advertisers change their mindset from push to pull marketing by creating demand rather than advertising a product,” he says.
Ellis at Belron says there is no substitute for good content.
“Everyone is retargeting and chasing the same cookies, so that in itself will not be enough to cut through,” he says. “What we’re trying to influence and buy is the attention of the audience. At the same time media owners are seeing a depreciation in the value of their content as audience and action become more important.
“Native advertising may be a solution for both sides, but only in some situations and only when it’s done [well]. For the majority of brands it will be a question of doing all those things better and maybe the focus will shift back to getting the message right – great creative can’t yet be automated.”
Content has been an increasing focus for Coca-Cola as part of its ‘liquid and linked’ strategy, as Great Britain and Ireland marketing director Bríd Drohan-Stewart explains: “Our focus is on creating ideas so contagious they can’t be controlled. It’s what we refer to as liquid content, set against the backdrop of our business objectives, brand agenda and consumer interests.”
She adds: “All marketers require more content to keep their engagement with consumers fresh and relevant due to greater connectivity and more interaction than ever before.”
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) recently warned marketers not to “camouflage advertisements” in an attempt to clarify what native advertising actually means and advise brands on best practice.
Meanwhile, in the US the Internet Advertising Bureau is looking to form a Native Advertising Taskforce to provide further guidance on the use of the format.
David Deakin, consultant at law firm Wiggin, says the biggest risk with native advertising is not having adequate content clearance.
“As marketing becomes more editorial in style and native in execution it may mean the rigour of the editorial process is overlooked – this can create some risks,” he says. “Standard pre-publication copy clearances should check for issues such as inadvertant misuse of third-party copyright, including music, along with privacy and defamation issues.”
Trends to watch
Growth of aggregators
Dominic Chambers, interim global head of advertising and content at Barclaycard, believes aggregator sites will continue to make ground as they become an increasingly important part of consumers’ buying behaviour. But brands need to be careful not to lose their identity as a result and risk becoming a faceless supplier.
He says: “There’s a real danger in giving it away. Legacy brands will regret that in the future. [Brands] have to keep spending on TV [themselves] and ensure the user experience is good.”
Technology and retail
Most consumers do not feel they are treated as individuals when shopping, which is something O2 says must change if retailers are to improve customer satisfaction.
According to its research into the future of retail, nearly four out of five consumers feel they are not being treated as individuals. And even online, where retailers have more scope to tailor the experience, 51 per cent say the service is still “very impersonal”.
In the past year just 29 per cent of consumers have used a personal service when shopping, but as more than 50 per cent agree technology will help tailor the experience to their needs it is something brands should explore, particularly as 70 per cent feel it will boost convenience and 64 per cent reckon it will increase efficiency.
Have past predictions come true yet?
Those that have
Virtual currency will become a reality
Wearable technology will become mainstream
Earlier this year the Secret Marketer considered whether “wearable IT [is] the answer I have been looking for ” and it is certainly making its mark. Nike has just launched the second iteration of its FuelBand , while Adidas has its own smart running watch, with Google , Samsung and Apple set to follow.
Those that have not
NFC tech will become integrated into marketing
Thomas Cook’s marketing director Mike Hoban said earlier this year : “It’s not just about creating a catalogue online or a plasma screen in a store with web access – marketers will have to integrate campaigns.
We’ll also see near-field communication (NFC) go mainstream as brands take advantage of this.”
However, considering that just 9 per cent of UK smartphone owners even know their device is NFC-enabled, this might have been jumping the gun.
Shopping will be automated
In 2010, Marketing Week columnist Richard Madden advised marketers to think about the possibility of automated shopping .
“The printer cartridge ran out,” he wrote. ”I turned on Red Laser and pointed my iPhone camera at the empty cartridge. Within 10 seconds I’d found the lowest cost replacement and it was on its way to me. It’s not the future – it’s happening now.”
Although online grocery stores suggest products for the weekly shop based on purchase history and ink cartridges can be replaced (almost) automatically when they run out, automated shopping is yet to happen at scale.