How to measure a brand experience

The best ways to measure a live brand experience, why storefront retail is not dead, & how a company’s social mission can result in brand growth

Millennials have led the shift in many aspects of consumer engagement, none more notably than a move away from traditional approaches and toward ones that are experiential and personal. This change, coupled with the rise of eCommerce, has left many experts declaring the death of the traditional brick-and-mortar retail concept. Yet, many others point out that the data does not support the assertion that consumers prefer online shopping. In fact, it is quite the opposite. So, what gives? Many believe that the retail category, much like transportation, home entertainment, and other industries, is going through a disruption. And the disruptors are putting aside a traditional retail environment in favor of an experiential one. This week, ALB Presents several articles that explore this new reality, and how brands are finding success in providing a tailored in-store experience for their customers.

This week’s key takeaways:

  • Storefront retail is not dead, only “boring, undifferentiated, irrelevant and unremarkable stores” are. In this category, the brand experience reigns supreme.
  • Tracking vanity metrics at a live brand experience rarely provides meaningful visibility into ROI. Marketers should use technology to track consumer behavior beyond the experience to understand the true impact of the campaign.
  • Adapting a social mission might require resources, but when done right, brand growth will likely make up for it.

Storefront retail is far from dead, but its been disrupted

eCommerce has forever changed the way we buy goods and services. Not only can online retailers offer the convenience of shopping from home, but they can offer inventory that is simply impossible to offer in a physical location. In tandem, we have seen several iconic companies close that have relied on brick and mortar locations, from Sports Authority to the very recent Toys R’ Us. This has led many to assume that the online world is responsible for the demise of the storefront model.

But, this assertion is not necessarily true. While online shopping is growing in part due to the factors mentioned above, research shows that people continue to prefer shopping in store. So therein lies an opportunity. Retailers that are creating smarter physical retail landscapes that are driven by the consumer experience are thriving. Large online-only brands like Amazon are opening interactive and compelling physical locations. And, according to the article, those “stores that are swimming in a sea of sameness — mediocre service, over-distributed and uninspiring merchandise, one-size-fits-all marketing, look-alike sales promotions and relentlessly dull store environments — are getting crushed.” Read on to learn why brick-and-mortar is far from dead – it’s just changing.

Using technology and efficiencies to demonstrate marketing campaign ROI

As more companies invest in brand experiences, there is an increased need for attribution technology. As reports prove the significant impact that an in-person experience can have, marketing teams are tasked with tracking and showing experiential ROI.

Many brand activation campaigns include a social media element, from customized hashtags to photo contests. These types of engagement incentives help companies see the social impact that their event had, as likes, shares, and tweets allow a brands message to expand beyond the event footprint. But if these metrics are the only metrics a campaign is tracking, showing event ROI will be a challenge. It is for this reason that many people commonly refer to these as “vanity metrics.” They are great for instant gratification, but don’t speak directly to revenue goals.

New engagement technology allows companies to track key performance indicators related to tying revenue goals to an experience. The article points out that combining attribution tracking technology with strategies to reduce cost per acquisition results in measurable and actionable data. Marketers can use this information to both show ROI and improve brand activation campaigns moving forward. Read on to learn more.

How to embrace the “Age of Experience” to grow a brand

For most brands, navigating the digital space has in some ways become second nature. An online presence is expected in almost every industry, and social media has served as an engagement platform for small business and global brands alike. In some ways, social media has offered a somewhat more level playing field, allowing start-ups to gain national, if not worldwide, attention. The Digital Age has made its mark on modern commerce and revolutionized how we buy, sell, and gather information.

But the very nature of the Digital Age has caused another shift. It has brought on our current environment, dubbed the Age of Experience, wherein consumers covet tangible experiences. Yet, digital is still dominant, and taking these experiences online via social media is all a part of the…well…experience.

As a result, marketers need to create opportunities for their brands to engage with consumers to result in a meaningful, relevant experience. This Forbes article lists 3 ways to boost marketing results by embracing the desires of the Age of Experience with consumers’ need to share

Why augmented reality is marketing’s biggest opportunity

Augmented reality (AR) has recently gained in popularity. Most famously in the form of Pokémon GO, AR “is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” And while it was Pokémon Go that first introduced AR to the masses, AR has been used in several capacities, from gaming to marketing.

Yet, as the article points out, AR can be pigeonholed. As in the case of Pokemon Go, many people believe that AR only adds a “digital something” to the world. But that’s not the case. It goes on to say that “just as much opportunity can be found in using AR to subtract items from view and help consumers focus on specific retail products lost in the panoply of visual clutter.” As consumers continue to become ever-more connected to the digital world, AR provides opportunity. Here AdAge breaks down the what, why, and how surrounding AR and its endless possibilities.

Patagonia’s commitment to a social mission is growing its bottom line

Today’s consumers, often led by Millennial culture, want more out of the brands they buy from. They want authenticity. They want the brand to be more than a logo and a website. And often, they want organizations to stand for something. Thus, purpose-driven marketing strategies have emerged, as brands align themselves with causes to show brand value and differentiate themselves from the competition.

But, while a social mission might be a small part of most companies’ identities, Pategonia’s is front and center. Patagonia is widely known for being a defender for environmental issues, and since the presidential election, the company has upped its commitment. CEO Rose Marcario has taken several dramatic steps. One was launching “Patagonia Action Works,” a platform that allows people to work together to take action on the environment. She agreed to donate 100% of the company’s 2016 Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations. She even encouraged customers NOT to buy their products, and instead repair their old clothing. And each time she took a stance, sales significantly increased.

Her story is remarkable, and one that shows how investing in a purpose and staying true to a mission resonates with consumers in ways that seem unbelievable.

Successful brands are using customer-driven, data-forward, tailored approaches

Marketers talk a lot about how much the landscape of marketing has changed. Many often argue that it’s not just how we market to consumers, but the entire discipline that has changed. Instead of focusing on the four Ps (price, product, promotion, and place), marketers have been forced to rethink the evolution of the brand/consumer relationship. Instead of starting the conversation, we are responsible for nurturing the consumer at the first interaction, through to purchase, and beyond. The brand relationship is just that – a relationship – that requires a holistic, ongoing strategy of engagement.

As this article by Emarsys points out, the most successful brands in the world share three characteristics. “They are all focused on customer-driven channels….managing data (and) creating personalized experiences.” Read more to learn about how this approach has led and continued to foster dramatic brand growth.

Why aiming for average speaks to no one in particular

When I was a university student, a professor told me “the middle of the road seems like a good place to be, but if you stay there, you’ll get run over.” There is often this general sense that playing to average will somehow suit everyone’s needs. But, as marketers know, a lack of targeting is your worst enemy when it comes to making an impact on consumers. The rise in tailoring to the consumer as normative is a small example of how much people love “just-for-me” when it comes to messaging, products and services.

This article from Marketing Week puts a powerful narrative behind this phenomenon. Richard Shotton of Manning Gottlieb OMD tells a story that highlights why designing for one person doesn’t work, and instead brands should design to adapt. He also discusses the power behind social proof and provides other key insights into how marketers should embrace segmentation both in audience and approach.