I recently joined a discussion group, Adrants, to learn more about what’s going on in marketers’ minds around the country.
This morning I got into a thread devoted to defining “experiential marketing.” I was inspired to respond to one person’s definition of “experiential marketing” that left me a bit wanting:
With due respect, Brad, when I read experiential marketing defined as "a fusion of non-traditional modern marketing practices integrated to enhance a consumer's personal and emotional association with a brand," even as I thought the definition read a bit like bureaucratic prose, I wondered what you meant by "non-traditional modern marketing practices."
It seems to me that XM is a particular mindset rather than a system of marketing practices. After all, direct mail, point-of-sale promotions, programmatic product placement, broadcast communications, etc. are as applicable to XM as to any other approach to marketing.
By my lights, "experiential marketing" is the antonym of "product centric marketing," which makes "customer centric marketing" somewhat synonymous with "experiential marketing."
Importantly, the idea of experiential marketing reflects a right brain bias because it is about fulfilling consumers’ aspirations to experience certain feelings – comfort and pleasure on one hand, and avoidance of discomfort and displeasure on the other.
In contrast, traditional product centric marketing reflects a left brain bias because it generally seeks to persuade consumers by invoking rational factors that position the advertised brand as better than competing brands. Product centric marketing presumes a degree of rationality in consumers’ decision-making that contemporary brain science refutes. Consumers’ decisions are much more influenced by emotionally generated feelings than by their rationally derived thoughts.
I may have been the first person to talk about experiential marketing when I wrote about "products as gateways to experiences" in my book Serving the Ageless Market, written going on 17 years ago.
Just as Serving the Ageless Market was going to press in 1989, for the first time in history people 40 and older became the adult majority. My prediction concerning the coming of a time when the customer experience would generally transcend product attributes in importance was based on a well-established tenet in adult development psychology.
Generally speaking, as people move through the second half of life they become less influenced by materialistic or physical values (such as heavily promoted in product marketing) and increasingly more influenced by experiential or metaphysical values. Thus a marketplace dominated by adults in the second half of life naturally more heavily reflects the worldviews, values and behavior of consumers in this age group than the worldviews, values and behavior of the young.
In essence, then, experiential marketing is not an innovative creation of marketers so much as a response to the more mature “mind of the market” that exists today.