Experiential marketing is a trending concept and for many brands the customer experience can become the main focus. Does this mean product has taken a back seat? And if indeed, are we not throwing out the baby with the bathwater?
That there has been a shift in focus is undeniable. It is true that often, experience is what customers rate and review online and of course the feel-good factor has enormous value. (Read: Experience, the 5th P of Marketing) All of these, however, are only valid if the quality of the product is beyond reproach.
Yes, if the waiter is exceptionally friendly and charming, you might be less agitated about a poor dining experience. But will the waiter be the reason for your return? Probably not.
Experience is easier to understand and rate. Everyone knows what they have enjoyed and whether they have felt special and catered for. Not everyone is an expert on the product. It is one of the challenges of the wine industry – not even connoisseurs always agree on the quality of a specific wine. Experience makes wine much less intimidating and no surprise then that wine marketing capitalises on the golden opportunity of experience marketing. The same applies for many other industries. Does this, however, negate the importance of a quality product?
Never. There is a shift in focus, but for a business to be successful, the quality of the product is still implied, regardless of what quality means for a specific product.
Sometimes the product ís the experience – as in the field of tourism. Addressing the Tourism Indaba in Durban this week, SA Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom said: “We need to invest in the quality of the visitor experience that we offer, in order to attract more investment. To do this, it is important to continuously sustain and enhance our products.” (Read more)
Business today is very competitive and industries and companies have to be very clever and innovative to survive. Yesterday, a listener called into a local radio show saying that he has to close down his factory with 120 employees as he cannot compete price-wise with imported goods from China. Sometimes the quality of a product lies in its competitive pricing, especially in an economy like ours. If the product is not competitive anymore, one has to be very innovative with either the production, the costing or the product itself and nothing about this is easy.
Even strong retail brands feel the pressure. Just consider the recently announced merger of UK Supermarket rivals, Asda and Sainsbury’s. “Coupe, who plans to lead the merged business, said the deal was a “transformational opportunity to create a new force in UK retail, which will be more competitive and give customers more of what they want now and in the future”. (Read more)
Customers are informed by the ease of comparing ratings and prices online. In this competitive environment, brands and businesses have to be creative with their business model. Creating a customer experience is one, very important, way of doing this, but not at the expense of product quality.
The experience can make the product more accessible, less intimidating, easier to enjoy. Experience also creates a platform for social media engagement, consumer interaction and brand loyalty. But for experience to work, it has to be based on a quality product.