Consequently, marketing efforts become more and more important.
Glyn Atwal and Alistair Williams (2009) for instance argue that the creators of luxury products have to use marketing efforts to identify new customers’ needs even before the customers become aware of these needs. In other words, they have to “stay in front of luxury consumers” (Atwal and Williams, 2009, p.338). And in order to do so, the luxury products manufacturers strive to create positive experiences for their customers in order to inspire them and to stimulate their purchase decisions.
Otherwise put, in the context of luxury products, experiential marketing is growingly present and critical and this is due to the complex nature of the luxury sector. Here, the producers seek to transmit the image of high quality, product authenticity, as well as performance. However, aside from these statements, the luxury products must also transmit and sell a customer experience; and this experience is often one which relates the luxury products with the lifestyle of the customers (Atwal and Williams, 2009).
Bernd Schmitt (1999) agrees with the increasing role of experiential marketing in the modern day industry, and, in this line of thoughts, he argues that there are three distinctive means in which the firms can create pleasant customer experiences. These refer to the following:
Sensory experiences, through which the customers are able to feel the experience proposed by the company
Affective experiences, at the level of which the customers in the selected target segment are able to feel the experiences transmitted by the company
Creative and cognitive experiences, through which the selected customers assess the experiences proposed by the firm in terms of thought processes
Physical, behavioral and lifestyle experiences, through which the experience proposed by the company is acted upon and therefore such experienced by the customers, and last
The relational experiences which create social-identity experiences, through which the customers in the selected target market sense the proposed experience by becoming related to different social groups or cultures (Schmitt, 1999).
The importance of experiential marketing is also increasing in the context of a rapidly evolving it community, which impacts virtually all business dimensions, including the marketing operations. Some examples as to how the it community impacts business operations include superior communication opportunities with the customers through new media, such as electronic mailing or the social media, superior tools for data processing regarding customer behavior and so on (Bak and Stair, 2011).
In the context of the digital economy then, firms intensify their efforts of appealing to the customers with the integrated usage of technologies. And this feature applies to the context of experiential marketing as the companies become able to create customer experiences in not only a quicker manner, but with the usage of multiple media that better reach the consumers. Ultimately then, it supported experiential marketing is expected to further boom in the future, and also to be provided at more cost effective rates (Schmitt, 1999).
In this evolving society then, the experiential marketing would be increasing in popularity due to its main four functions, namely the focus on customers, the holistic nature of consumption, the eclectic traits of the methods and the reliance on both rational and emotional features of the customers (Schmitt, 1999). And with the usage of it integrated experiential marketing, the business institutions become better able to assess and know their customers, to create favorable experiences, to influence customer behavior, and to further advance their brand strength, their sales and their final profitability (Smilansky, 2009).
All in all, experiential marketing is here to create complementary solutions by which the companies replace traditional marketing and generate new gains through experiential marketing. This application allows them to better know customers, better influence them and generate new demand and sales. Schmitt (1999, p.67) argues that:
“Traditional marketing has provided a valuable set of strategies, implementation tools and methodologies for the industrial age. Now that we have entered a new era, it is necessary to shift attention from the features-and-benefits approach advocated by traditional marketing to customer experiences. Managers need to consider new concepts and approaches, and most of all, new approaches within the organization to capitalize on the new opportunities offered by experiential marketing.”
2.2. Experiential marketing at Swarovski
The crystal products manufacturer has not, in essence, implemented an integrated model of experiential marketing. Otherwise said, research conducted on the company’s website as well as on other websites indicates that the organization has not taken a clear stand to argue that it would be using experiential marketing in order to appeal to its customers.
Conversely, this does not mean that the company did or does not make use of experiential marketing. By reviewing the literature, it becomes clear to see that the organization has made use of experiential marketing in various attempts to approach the customer, yet it must have paid little attention to the theoretical construct of the concept. In other words, while not clearly recognizing and integrating the theoretical framework, Swarowki has often used the concept and application of experiential marketing in its marketing efforts.
In order to prove this point, the lines below reveal some of these instances when the crystal products manufacturer has employed experiential marketing, with or without a stated intention in this sense. Before engaging in such an endeavor however, it is important to restate the main traits of experiential marketing in order to best identify them in the particular case of Swarovski. In this order of ideas, the primary characteristics of experiential marketing include the following:
The products and services are no longer the core of the marketing message, but they are the mechanisms employed to create a positive marketing experience
Experiential marketing places an increased emphasis on well developed relationships between the company and its customer base
Experiential marketing assesses customers as both rational and emotional beings, who base their purchase decisions on a combination of logical arguments, as well as feelings
Experiential marketing engages some degree of dramatic effects, and last
Experiential marketing often includes a live event, through which the customers can interact with the firm, observe the products, become aware and demanding of them in a wider context and in a positive experience.
Based on the research conducted, Swarovki’s emphasis on experiential marketing has been mostly felt at the level of events. The company as such organizes, sponsors and participates in various events in order to strengthen its brand and position within the market. One relevant example in this sense is represented by the company’s annual sponsorship of the CFDA, where the crystal products manufacturer pays for the awards granted, as well as offers two $10,000 prizes to the best newcomer designers.
The executives at Swarovski, namely the company’s over, Helmut Swarovski, states that this endeavor is a costly one, yet the organization perceives it as a necessary marketing strategy through which to create positive relationships with the customers as well as with the players in the industry. Furthermore, Swarovski uses these events in order to scout for new talented designers, who are essential to the company’s ability to serve its customers (Rushton, 2004).
According to Michael Dunn, the creation of events is an increasingly successful marketing experience as it allows the firm to target specific customer segments and to create pleasant and positive experiences for these customers. Additionally, aside from other marketing tools, events can create far better and superior experiences as they address selected customers, with the usage of the methods to which they respond best. Subsequently, the events can maximize the positive experience for the customers as they can be easily targeted and customized to the specifics of the selected customer base.
Events are often created through experiential marketing with established and powerful brands, such as Swarovski, and the scope of these events is to further advance and strengthen the organizational brand, to create more knowledge and more demand for the company’s products. The events are often popular among the consumers, and the buyers and prospective buyers often look forward to these events (Dunn, 2009).
Swarovki has recently set out to introduce its line of CRYSTALLIZED Swarovski Elements as a noteworthy brand within the fashion industry. With the same occasion, the company strived to enhance its presence and popularity within the Chinese market base. With these two objectives in mind, the organization participated in the China International Clothing and Accessories Fair (CHIC).
The event is one of the most popular ones organized in China and it is cherished opportunity for industry leaders to meet and interact with their customers. It is usually attended by more than 1,000 brands from across the globe and it creates opportunities to interact with both customers, but also prospective business partners. CHIC spreads out through a duration of four days and creates positive experiences for the customers, as well as business opportunities for the participants (Biz Trade Shows, 2012).
In preparing their presence and evolution in the China International Clothing and Accessories Fair, Swarovski solicited the support of marketing specialist firm George P.…