Magazine article Marketing

Launches Gain an Edge Via FM

Magazine article Marketing

Launches Gain an Edge Via FM

Article excerpt

Field marketing gets launches to their target.

With nine in ten new products failing, FMCG manufacturers must invent sophisticated ways of getting the brand and the brand message into consumers' hands.

Brand owners need to convert interest from above-the-line activity into purchase more quickly than ever as retailers push underperforming lines off their shelves in favour of big hitters. Field marketing strategies for product launches can get products moving quickly. "Field marketing primes the pump by pulling stuff off the shelf in the crucial first few weeks," says MDI managing director Paul Narraway.

According to advocates, experiential marketing is the best way to turn consumers into customers. Traditional media raises its profile, but nothing gets consumers trying new products like putting them into their hands. "With media fragmentation, it's hard to translate the above-the-line message into a tangible brand benefit. Where traditional media raises interest, field marketing turns desire into action and purchase," says RPM account director Tim Hunt.

Brand owners can no longer rely on distant advertising claims to sell products. Trust and loyalty only come with direct experience and that puts the brand-experience industry at centre stage in the launch phase. So when did humble field marketing become brand experience creation? In short, when marketers realised that simply banging out samples does little to capture the heart, mind or wallet.

Brand experience

Today's field marketing means involving the consumer in an entire sensory experience. Events put the product in consumers' hands, proving its worth through conversation, education, entertainment and trial. The successful brand experience leaves lasting memories in the consumer's mind, not just a packet in their hand.

Why just tell the consumer PG Tips in pyramid-shaped teabags are a good thing not a gimmick when you can prove it and get them to buy a pack at the same time? Creating the perfect brand experience is streets ahead of sampling activity. We may still be talking about a table or truck, but taking field marketing into the big wide world opens up the possibilities. When it works, it changes the consumer from a passive receiver to a willing and involved partner.

For Jane Cottrell, commercial director at CPM, this is a significant change. "Clients now want something far more creative and inventive to take new products to the customer," she says.

Guinness UK wanted just that for the launch of Guinness Draught in a Bottle. CPM responded with an on-trade campaign in young people's pub and club venues. With magic tricks, marketers involved the consumer in a compelling and entertaining brand experience.

While it's not always a question of magic, creating the perfect consumer interaction means getting the location right. Nothing in above-the-line marketing offers that level of control over how the message is received.

RPM's Hunt explains: "If you get the place, context and relevance right, getting the new product into the consumer's hands becomes an answer to their emotional need state and the trust obstacle is removed. If you add value to the environment, it becomes a proactive experience for the consumer. It has to be something people want to be involved in."

With the launch of Lipton Ice Tea last year, parent company Unilever Best Foods wanted fun locations where the brand could satisfy a genuine consumer need -- somewhere the consumer was having a good time and would be thirsty. Notting Hill Carnival, Cowes Week and busy beaches around the UK did the trick, while also being within easy reach of a point of purchase. Never miss an opportunity to convert a consumer contact into purchase, Hunt advises.

It's a far cry from a bored supermarket assistant with a tray of plastic cups on a rainy Saturday afternoon. But the brand experience industry does not mean an end to store-based activity. …

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