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Don’t just tell consumers about your brand – have them experience it

February 8, 2023
Ed Keller

Ed Keller

The Keller Advisory Group

As the media landscape continues to fragment, securing reach targets through advertising is becoming more challenging, consumer attention is difficult to hold and trust in ads is middling.

“Are you experienced?” asked rock legend Jimi Hendrix.  

Today the question for marketers is, are brand experiences part of your marketing mix?  If not, they should be!   According to new research, consumers are far more excited by brand experiences on a range of important dimensions, than traditional advertising.  

For decades I have been studying word of mouth, which is undeniably the most powerful form of marketing.  Nielsen’s Global Trust In Advertising Study finds that nearly everyone around the world (88%) trust recommendations from people they know more than any other channel (Nielsen’s 2021 Trust in Advertising Study).  A multitude of other sources find very similar results.

But a lingering question is always, how do I drive word of mouth?  Often, the answer was through talk worthy advertising.  Ads that broke through would get people talking, thereby amplifying the message and adding credibility.  After all, recommendations from family and friends are highly trusted, but ads less so. Back them with brand experiences, however, and the results could be magical. 

The data showing the ability of brand experiences, such as social media content, creator and influencer content, virtual & metaverse engagements and special events and in-person events to drive engagement and brand favorability is overwhelming!  And marketer interest in driving engagement through brand experiences is growing significantly in the face of the declining reach of traditional advertising.

According to the recent research I conducted with Reach3 using
their immersive mobile chat-based conversational methodology, 80% of consumers either have engaged in brand experiences (18%) or would want to (62%).  Younger people are somewhat more likely to have already engaged with brand experiences (1 in 4 have done so), but interest in doing so is high across all age groups. This is an appealing marketing vehicle for consumers of all ages.

Further, the study finds people generally like brand experiences (or the idea of brand experiences) far more than traditional advertising, with 69% saying so as compared to just 48% who said they like traditional ads.

What is most eye popping is the head-to-head comparison. Brand experiences win every time… and by huge margins:
  • Brand experiences are rated by consumers as more exciting (+48 pts versus ads), unique (+61), memorable (+42), shareable (+42).
  • Brand experiences are also more likely to be beneficial to the brand from a consumer sentiment point of view.  Consumers tell us they are far more likely than ads to motivate them to want to try or use the brand (+22), boosting positive feelings (+32) and sparking emotional connectedness (+40).
  • The only metric where brand experiences and traditional ads score about the same is ‘relevance’. 

BE Barometer Blog Image

*Note: %s don’t add to 100% due to people who thought experiences & ads are equal. 
Source: Reach3 & Keller Advisory Group, Brand Experience Barometer Study (Jan 2023) 

Once consumers participate in brand experiences, they feel even more strongly about them.  Among the one in five consumers who have participated in brand experiences, 40% say they outright love brand experiences, and another 45% like them.  By a two to one margin, once consumers engage with brand experiences, they find them to be more relevant than advertising - 51% to 25%, whereas among the total public this was the one metric that was just about tied.

As the media landscape continues to fragment, securing reach targets through advertising is becoming more challenging, consumer attention is difficult to hold and trust in ads is middling.  It’s time to get “experienced.” The brand experience train is picking up steam and consumers are enjoying the ride.  Brands need to hop on and enjoy the ride as well.

For a copy of the full report, click here

Ed Keller is the CEO of The Keller Advisory Group.  He is one of the foremost experts in word of mouth, influencer marketing, and consumer insights, and a member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Hall of Fame and Market Research Hall of Fame. His work and his books (including “The Influentials”) have earned numerous awards as well as multiple patents. His clients include many of the largest and most sophisticated marketing organizations in the world across a range of sectors.

Ed Keller
Ed Keller

The Keller Advisory Group

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