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Experiential marketing spend poised to grow from 15%

With the sector pegged to grow at 13-14%, brands are likely to increase their spend, say Global CEO of Geometry Global Steve Harding and Roshan Abbas, Managing Director, Geometry Encompass India

Steve Harding, Global Chief Executive Officer, Geometry Global, says India is among the top 10 markets for the brand activation agency. With the organised events sector in India pegged at Rs 6,500 crore and expected to chart a growth of 13-14%, the news comes hardly as a surprise.

While the government of India is a big spender when it comes to experiential marketing (it spent around Rs 900 crore last year on experiential marketing, a number that is expected to increase to Rs 15,000 crore), brands are also waking up to its potential.

“Currently, brands are spending roughly 15% of their marketing budget on experiential marketing but the number is increasing. Brands are now looking to own consumer experiences. For a long time, events used to be ‘nice to do’ and not ‘must do’. But that is changing,” said Roshan Abbas, Managing Director, Geometry Encompass India.

An apt example of this would be the emergence of league sports. When brands sponsor teams in sporting extravaganzas like IPL or Pro Kabbadi League, they can’t simply sponsor a team, there is a need to create engagement around the same and therefore sports is contributing a lot to the experiential marketing scene.

But Abbas warns that brands need to introspect and see what purpose experiential marketing is serving for them.

“The only thing I tell brand managers is that don’t do an engagement exercise just to trend or to get likes on social media platforms. It is important to link it with a goal so that we can measure it,” added Abbas.

While measurability is still an issue, digital has helped. Through feedback and engagement, digital has had a huge impact on the ecosystem for experiential marketing.

“Digital has brought in measurement, feedback and the ability to carry that conversation much further and expand it. A lot of times when we do an event, my biggest brief to my team is what is going to be the tweet that people are going to write about tomorrow and that becomes almost the core creative idea,” said Abbas.

But brand are also sceptical of digital. Recently, P&G cut their digital spend by $200 million. Will that have an impact on the experiential marketing industry?

“People are cutting their digital spend because of the famous line that says ‘I know half my advertising works, I just don’t know which half”.  Digital began as ‘we have to do digital’. Now the question is what kind of digital. Digital has always been a medium that brands did not understand but wanted to be there. Now it has become a medium that brands need to know. A little bit of culling will happen but it won’t change much. Digital spend in India is going up by 30% every year,” said Abbas.

According to Abbas, the biggest challenge the industry faces right now in the country is the lack of infrastructure and a lack of talent and again India has become a focus point for Geometry Global to train and harness the required talent.

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