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Experiential marketing makes a solid comeback with brands spending 20% more

The last 18 months almost killed the most personalised form of marketing. Now with the Covid-19 pandemic subsiding and revenge buying on the rise, brands are undertaking innovative experiential marketing campaigns to attract consumers

After an almost 18 months hiatus, brands are embracing experiential marketing like never before.

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Most brands are capitalising on the pandemic led digital fatigue to get more attention towards experiential marketing.

Brands including Spykar, Pepperfry and others have started to expand their offline experiential stores after a year long hiatus.

Industry leaders told BestMediaInfo.com that brands, at this front, are upping their spends up to 20% and some are doubling the current spends. However, it might take another few months to reach pre-Covid levels.

Shankar Shinde

Shankar Shinde- Chief Operating Officer, VMLY&R Commerce, said that the agency’s clients in the FMCG, confectionery, indulgence, construction and retail categories have come back to pre-pandemic phase, in some cases the spends are up by 100%, but average spends are up by 25% over Q4 2019 & Q1 2021.

“It has surpassed in certain categories like fintech, e-com, retail and indulgence categories and certainly growing but yet to get back to Q4 2019 level in other segments as far as experiential is concerned. Q1 2022 is going to be high on experiential, will see spends coming from all sectors, especially this being the last quarter for many Indian companies, it will see lot of activity in all sectors, including the ones which have remained in the wait and watch mode through this festive period,” he added.

Priyadarshi Banerjee

Priyadarshi Banerjee, AVP and Head, Marketing and Digital Solutions, Worldwide Media, The Times Group, believes that marketers should approach experiential marketing in a considered way as it will be crucial for brands to reconnect with consumers after so long apart.

“Experiential marketing is an important aspect as we believe on ground activations/ hands-on experiences create great impressions on the consumer's mind. However, the outbreak of the pandemic impacted the world of live events and brands have had to learn to explore and embrace both virtual and hybrid experiences to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands. With the introduction of newer formats and platforms such as the Filmfare OTT Awards, our campaigns have been enjoying great affinity with our audiences and therefore, we will continue to wow them with the hybrid model and ensure we create the right moments and experiences,” he added.

Preeti Nihalani

Although large-scale experiential events are not feasible just yet, Preeti Nihalani, Chief Business and Revenue Officer, Mirchi, said that engaging a small, rather focussed target audience is proving to be a good alternative for multiple sponsors. Many events are getting a go-ahead from state governments in limited capacity formats and all such events follow safety norms and receive consumers’ support since their interest lies in entertainment.

Mirchi Live events like concerts that have been carried out for product launches targeting smaller focussed groups have been working well for its sponsors and consumers. It has recently launched e-events too under R&R events (Rewards and Recognitions), which is a specialised product that has been created to give a grand award-like experience for Corporate employees.

Hybrid events and small format experiential events are getting back into shape gradually. However, she added that reaching pre-Covid levels will require some time.

“We have just about reached 50% levels on revenues from core experiential events,” she said.

Rajesh Radhakrishnan

Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Chief Marketing Officer, Vritti Solutions, said that his clients have increased their ad spends by 18-20% towards experiential marketing.

Categories such as FMCG (OTC Healthcare products, food products, tea etc), fintech companies (Banks and Insurance companies), consumer durable companies and agri-marketing companies have increased their spends.

When there is a restriction on the movement of sales personnel, fintech companies are planning to make greater inroads into the rural markets with 360 degree experiential marketing, while agri marketing companies are increasingly reaching out to farmers experientially.

“The ad spends in the above categories have definitely gotten back or even crossed the pre-covid levels. We are expecting a growth of about 20% in the next quarter and the year. The marketers are definitely on a revival path, although it may take some more time to reach the pre-covid levels,” he said.

The agency has been doing successful 360 degree experiential promotions through Audiowalla Bus Stand platform and has acquired the license for audio advertisements on Passenger Information System across more than 500 bus stations in the country.

Sidharth Singh

Sidharth Singh, Co-founder, CupShup, said that the experiential marketing industry is nowhere close to pre-pandemic levels- maybe close to 60%. But if compared with where it was posted Covid-19 first or the second wave, it has grown multi-folds.

And therefore, he is not advising clients to go for it full-fledged as of now.

He said, “Keeping in mind the sensitive times we live in, negative publicity can outdo the good equity a brand built over years. Thus, one must stay cautious. But there is also an interesting phenomenon emerging from the situation. Firstly, brands are cutting the flab out of activity to keep it lean but doubling down on investment if you are able to get the RoI expected. Secondly, there is definitely a digital overdose and hangover palpable at the customer’s end. There isn’t just pent-up demand in the market but also a pent-up demand for human interaction.”

CupShup’s business has grown 3X to that of pre-pandemic levels month on month fuelled by new-age start-ups looking for worthy customers to bring to their fold. Digital integration of human interactions is the way forward if indicators are anything to go by, Singh said.

He believes that the brands will monitor the situation for a couple of months and it will be back to pre-Covid levels by the start of CY 2022, if all goes well.

Sharing more insights on how start-ups are extremely bullish on this front, he said, “As far as RoI-focused experiential marketing is concerned, new-age start-ups looking to bring newly converted digital Indian natives to their fold are very aggressive. They are open to all channels and aggressive offline as well with a digital integration that brings transparency to the process. To them, conversion comes first and counting on the superior products to convert first-time customers into loyal ones. Even established brands too are waking up now and smelling the coffee on the need to re-establish the lost connection with consumers. Having said that, they can afford to take their own sweet time as the conversion isn’t a metric they are after. Experience matters to them and they are counting on rekindling it at a later stage for which planning is on.”


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