Paper El Enterprise Operations: Experiential Marketing Has Its Origins in Snake-Oil Salesmen's Medicine Shows, but It Has Become a Legitimate, Effective and Increasingly Sophisticated Brand Management Technique over the Years

By Cook, Graham | Financial Management (UK), November 2011 | Go to article overview

Paper El Enterprise Operations: Experiential Marketing Has Its Origins in Snake-Oil Salesmen's Medicine Shows, but It Has Become a Legitimate, Effective and Increasingly Sophisticated Brand Management Technique over the Years


Cook, Graham, Financial Management (UK)


A brand can be a name, sign, symbol, design, unique packaging or any combination of these. According to Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong in Principles of Marketing (Prentice Hall, 2009), it is a powerful marketing tool in the battle among competing organisations for long-term consumer loyalty and it can insulate a firm from its rivals' promotional campaigns.

All of us would probably admit to being brand conscious to a certain degree. When we're grocery shopping, for instance, there will be some specific brands that we'll insist on buying rather than other products because we associate with them the level of quality that we require. To a large extent they represent safe ground.

Some brands have even transcended the name of the product or service that they represent. How many of us still "Hoover the carpet" when there are countless other brands of vacuum cleaners on the market, for example? Or how many of us "Google it" rather than "do an internet search"?

Brand management can even sometimes be too successful, achieving associations that are entirely different from what was originally envisaged. One of the reasons cited for Gillette's 1980 withdrawal from sponsoring televised cricket in the UK is that the success of its 17-year brand management campaign using this medium made the firm a household name mainly for the Gillette Cup, rather than for its shaving products and men's toiletries.

Planning, control and decision-making are at the heart of what managers do: strategic managers plan long-term objectives; tactical managers set processes and organise resources to achieve those objectives; and operational managers measure the extent to which the objectives are being achieved. Brand management can therefore be defined as developing and implementing a strategy with the long-term objective of putting a brand at the forefront of consumers' minds. This approach aims to influence the initial buying decision and build customer loyalty, creating a habitual purchasing relationship between brand and buyer.

For strategic managers, this will involve aligning business objectives with consumer objectives, which is how marketing in its purest sense is defined - establish what consumers need and desire, and satisfy these needs and desires profitably. The tactical managers' role in this process will be to ensure that appropriate marketing methods are used and sufficient resources are mustered to meet demand while maintaining a consistent level of quality - if a product is out of stock or falls short of what it says on the tin, customers will soon switch to a rival and often don't return. Operational managers will design and implement monitoring systems to ensure that information is fed back to senior decision-makers. This information will be both quantitative and qualitative.

Companies with a wide range of brands often create a product management or brand management organisation. This approach was first adopted by Procter & Gamble in 1929 when its new soap, Camay, was struggling in the market. It appointed an executive to focus exclusively on improving the performance of the ailing product, which proved to be a highly successful move. The company soon adopted this organisational structure throughout the business. Most of P & G's brands have since become household names and many companies in the food, soap and toiletries industries have copied its approach.

Implementing a strategy is widely recognised to be inherently harder than planning one. Different firms may choose identical strategies, but one will be more successful than another because of superior execution. This is where the marketing toolkit that organisations use to build their brands becomes essential. Here, too, it's not so much about which tool you choose; it's how you use it that can make the real difference.

Confucius said: "I hear and I forget; I say and I remember; I do and I understand." Experiential marketing is a technique that attempts to put the wisdom of this philosophy into practice by interacting with prospective customers, often face to face, and encouraging them to use the product. …

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Paper El Enterprise Operations: Experiential Marketing Has Its Origins in Snake-Oil Salesmen's Medicine Shows, but It Has Become a Legitimate, Effective and Increasingly Sophisticated Brand Management Technique over the Years
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