Magazine article Marketing

Field Marketing: What Drives Engagement?

Magazine article Marketing

Field Marketing: What Drives Engagement?

Article excerpt

Exclusive research has revealed that even lesser-known brands can attract consumers to their experiential activity with free food or an instant reward.

Experiential marketing has been praised for its ability to drive consumers' engagement with brands. But as with much of this emerging discipline, the claims made by agencies have not always been backed up by research and hard data.

So an in-depth study conducted by research firm 2CV for experiential agency iD, and published for the first time in Marketing, makes particularly interesting reading. The research goes some way to explaining why people choose to stop at an experiential stand, and what engages them once they are there.

It was an area ripe for closer inspection. 'There has been a lot of gut feel about where the focus of experiential campaigns should lie. These findings start to give us a basis upon which to decide why we should upweight a campaign in certain areas, depending on the demographic group and type of brand we are dealing with,' says iD chief executive Paul Ephremsen.

The agency chose to research the difference between people who stopped at three different experiential events ('engagers') and those that didn't ('non-engagers'). The three events were for yoghurt brand Yeo Valley, Croft sherry and environmentally friendly cleaning-products brand Ecover. In the second part of the study, 2CV analysed what would hold consumers' attention once they had stopped at a stand.

One major finding is that there are no differences between engagers and non-engagers in terms of demographic profile or personality type Shoppers of a certain age, working status or socioeconomic group are no more likely to stop at a stand than those of another group. Neither are shy people more likely to avoid experiential activity than those who are sociable and confident. It also makes no difference whether a shopper is accompanied by children.

Ephremsen believes that if engagers cannot be defined by demographics or personality, any activity can therefore have the potential to attract anyone. Sharon Richey, managing director of LoewyBe, describes the finding as 'good news', adding: 'It shows that you can talk to many different types of people, as long as your campaign is relevant to your target audience.'

Given that neither demographics nor personality determine whether someone is likely to engage, 2CV set out to discover what dissuades non-engagers from participating. The most common reason cited was that they didn't have time (38%), followed by not being sure what was going on (17%).

When researchers dug a little deeper and asked the group what would make them more likely to stop in future, more time was, surprisingly, not mentioned. In fact, 80% of both engagers and non-engagers said they would be more likely to shop at a stand for a brand that appeals to them. Also scoring highly as a motivating factor for both groups is the giveaway of free food.

This suggests that one of the main reasons non-engagers actually failed to stop was a lack of affinity with the brands running the activity rather than a lack of time. It also implies that making experiential marketing work for less well-known or less popular brands in unappealing sectors is a much tougher brief. Indeed, when asked what experiential activity they had stopped at in the past, survey respondents put food brands top of the list, with financial services and cigarettes at the bottom.

The clear message is that these brands need to be cannier in the way they pitch their activity. Using their brand name as a hook is ineffective; they require something that passers-by will take notice of. Ecover, for example, used its environmental credentials to encourage people to engage, as it believed that this would appeal to consumers more than its brand name (see case study below).

'The challenge for a brand like ours is that the product category isn't sexy and our message about the environment is very complicated,' says Clare Allman, marketing manager at Ecover. …

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