After entering into the reorganized economic condition, traditional business concepts and strategies became obsolete and the entire business scenario is facing a new kind of reform in which people are provided with vast opportunities to choose the product or services they want. Technology is the major player which opened the continuum of collecting ideas, gathering knowledge and sharing of knowledge and ideas with people around the world. Even though technology paves a smooth way to identify, observe and understand the product and service offerings, consumers’ mindset remains stagnant when they are practically approached by the marketers. For consumers “Features” and “Benefits” are no more the deciding factors. The rationality in consumers is slowly dominated by polished emotional elements. For marketers, it has been a toughest job to identify the emotional state of people to design a marketing strategy. There was a time when the marketers uplifted the features and benefits of their brands in all the promotional activities and gained customers rapidly. But due to societal changes and technological breakthroughs people are no longer interested in hearing the marketers’ shouting loud on the brand’s features and benefits. Most of the marketers have convergent thinking and apply the concept of rule of thumb which will not produce any answers for questions like
i) How to take my brand to the people?
ii) How to make them remember my brand?
iii) How to convert the prospects into customers and then to brand evangelists?
To arrive with effective answers the marketers should be divergent thinkers and should possess perceptual fluency. Because convergent thinkers are more likely to skip the emotional state of people. Now there arises another big question, what is the relationship between emotion and marketing a product or service? Eventually there is a great relationship. Emotions are the greatest factors which make every human to act, react and affect. If a person is emotionally connected with something it will be very hard to forget and get rid of it. So if a marketer is smart enough to capture the emotional elements of the target customers it will be easier to connect the brand with them. And if the brand is tied up emotionally with the people there is a high chance for the brand to capture a place in their minds. The process of connecting the brand with the target customers is called as experiential marketing.
Most of the marketers say that putting customers first in all aspects of business will create a good customer experience. For example: Timely response to customer inquiries, faster service, round the clock services etc, which are only rational in nature and will not give haunting, evergreen and live brand experience. More than half of the customer experience is subconscious or subliminal and how a customer feels.
THE RURAL SEGMENT
Almost 83.3% of people in India live in rural areas with betterment of economic and social transformation, which is the only proof that the rural segments show brighter signals to companies and attract most of the business concerns to concentrate on rural market. The rural market is considerably expanding to an extent which created confidence in the marketers to focus more on the rural segment. However the rural market needs separate concentration, examination and identification as it significantly differs from the urban market. Dealing with rural consumers requires good understanding and clear ideas on the total living pattern and buying behavior.
Source : (E-Estimate) AC Nielsen, TechSci Research, Dabur Reports.
WHO ARE RURAL CUSTOMERS?
Rural customers have some attributes which are totally different from urban customers.
ON THE BASIS OF BASIC IDENTIFICATION
- People with low literacy level.
- Homogeneous in type.
- Highly traditional in nature which steadily influence the buying and consumption habit.
- Agriculture is the main occupation.
- Highly routine in nature. I.e. they tend to work even on Sundays.
- One fourth of the rural segment is with low per capita income. But increasing steadily.
- Have good savings habit, but in an unorganized manner.
ON THE BASIS OF MARKETERS’ PERSPECTIVE
- With low shopping frequency.
- Not brand addicted, but have great a sense of cost effectiveness on products they buy. Hence they are not brand loyalists.
- Totally trust on word of mouth of people who previously used a product or consumed a service.
- Highly price conscious.
- Durability of products matters a lot.
- Not attracted towards stylized glorification of products or services.
OUTLINE OF EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING
Experiential marketing is a tool or strategy which creates live brand experience that allows the consumers to feel the brand and create a thick bond. It is an approach to make the brand reach the consumers through real time two way interactions. Consumers are engaged during the marketing process through any form of (live) events which acts as a platform to interact with the brand. Generally activities are conducted as a motive to create live brand experiences through interactive sensory connections. Consumers are completely focused and engaged in a manner so that a pure form of brand remembrance becomes highly possible. The consumers are made to get emotionally connected with the brand.
EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING FRAMEWORK
Experiential marketing involves in creating an avenue to make the consumers get really closer to the brand through some of the stimulus (Physical or Virtual) which results in positive enquiry. When the consumers get closer to the brand they initially tend to know about the brand (Features and Benefits) but only have assumption and not real experience. Then the perceptual and sensory system of the consumers gets slowly activated through activities and complete knowledge about the brand is perceived. And the end process deals with feedback from the consumers who experienced the brand which results in lead generation.
SCOPE AND APPLICATION
1. As Experiential marketing never enclose any information about the price and technical description about the brand at the initial stage, the rural consumers first tend to experience the brand lively and then decide the value of the brand on their own. So, if the brand really meet or exceed their expectations it can be assumed that the product is worthy for a rural consumer.
Assumption: Marketers can evaluate their brand more effectively.
2. When the rural consumers try the product with some extra activities, they never forget it as the campaign will create real time flaunting experience. When the consumers are engaged effectively they emotionally get closer with the brand and will identify the brand even after decades whenever they see or hear it.
Assumption: No special effort is needed to place the brand identity in the minds of rural consumers. Moreover there is a chance that remembering the activity may result in the remembrance of the brand.
3. The reality of the brand (Attributes, Features and Benefits) will be directly experienced by the rural consumers. So, the brand is taken very closer to the consumers without huge investment and effort. All the campaign need is an only good sales personnel team, and great activities.
Assumption: Taking the brand very close to the rural consumers effectively with seamless effort.
4. As the brand it taken directly to the rural consumers, they will never hesitate to test it and give feedback. So, the perceptions of the rural consumers can be easily noted at a shorter period of time. There is a possibility to measure the intensity of the “likeable or dislikeable” .
Assumption: The brand value can be evaluated more effectively as the feedbacks are given only after pure experience with the brand. This help in developing the brand image and take the brand to the next level or the marketer can clearly understand the pit falls of the performance of the brand.
5. The experience of the rural consumers with the brand will be exclusively different. So the marketer can analyze what type of experience can be provided and how it can be provided with a new appeal.
Assumption: Instead of concerned with developing the same benefits for a brand the marketer can think of adding new attributes and create value to the brand.
6. When the rural consumers gain some wonderful experience the message of such events will surely be conveyed and shared with the rest of the people around the vicinity. Brand information will be transformed quickly to others who may turn into prospective consumers.
Assumption: The messages are transferred in a rapid phase. The company can save promotional cost up to an extent. More over the reachability of the brand image to a larger geography becomes simple but effective.
If a brand is experience oriented and if the brand is emotionally connected with the consumers then it is always considered as unique, and the brand will surely take a place in the minds of rural consumers. The marketers can focus on long term trends and expand their views on adding more values to the users. The experiential marketing strategy is non conventional in nature. Hence it can be applied to any type of product and service offerings. When a company adopts the experiential marketing strategy it can focus on long term sustainability.