The Last Campaign: How Experiences Are Becoming the New Advertising
Red Bull, Virgin America, Uniqlo and Guinness Lead the Way
In fact, any planner worth his or her salt can reel off a stream of statistics pointing to advertising's demise -- or lack of effectiveness, at least: Prime-time continues to erode as all the major networks saw significant declines for last year's season; 77% of U.S. consumers trust businesses less than they did a year ago; consumers trust their peers' opinions online more than any other source and a whopping 83% of Mad Men's supposedly ad-friendly time-shifted audience fast forwards through commercials according to Tivo. The list goes on and on.
But perhaps it's not that advertising is failing but that brand experiences (both on and offline) are really what are capturing the imagination of today's consumer. In FEED, a new report that I authored with my colleagues at Razorfish, we found that digital brand experiences are having an inordinate sway on consumer purchasing habits and brand affinity.
For example, 65% of U.S. consumers report a digital experience changing their perception about a brand (either positively or negatively) and 97% of that group report that the same experience ultimately influenced whether or not they went on to purchase a product from that brand. In a nutshell, experience matters. A lot.
Of course, brands that were "born digital" intuitively know this. Google and Amazon are pioneering experiential brands. That's why Amazon continues to pour money into improving its customer service rather than run traditional advertising or marketing campaigns. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said, "We are not great advertisers. So we start with customers, figure out what they want, and figure out how to get it to them." Zappos (which recently hired Mullen) built its brand the same way, as has Facebook.
But what about more traditionally-minded marketers who weren't born digital? Can they succeed in an experience-driven world? The answer is "yes" and here are some of the best:
Experiences, it would seem, are the new advertising. Experiences reach and engage customers in new and more meaningful ways, they promote "trial" over simply messaging and -- quite frankly -- experiences are much more suited to our digital era when everything is just a click away. Our challenge now, as marketers, is to make sure that our products and brands can actually live up to the experiences that we advertise.
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