As brands aim to stand out from the clutter, building an engaging experience around one’s product has become an imperative. Craig Perry, head of sales at DMX Africa promotes the virtues that experiential design can offer.
The state of the South African retail sector is in flux, as businesses and brands are being challenged to meet the growing demand by customers to create more engaging and dynamic experiences. This is a trend identified by Craig Perry, head of sales at DMX Africa, noting that consumers now expect a lot more than a homogenised shopping experience since they want to be “drawn into your business and exposed to something new and surprising.” Consumers want to feel a connection to a brand and their story, yielding benefits from both a brand awareness and reputation perspective.
A harmonious approach
In order to create this connection, Perry advocates the value of experiential design, which he says “gives consumers interaction and an experience they can’t get online or from a competitor.” For a better understanding of experiential design, Perry described it as the integration of every aspect of the customer experience. Each element of the customer experience is designed to work in harmony, and deliver a distinct brand personality and ultimately enhance a brand’s strategy.
Experiential design as a whole, still remains a relatively new concept for many South African businesses, but Perry cited the fact that there is a “noticeable growing understanding” for the need to shift brand message focus, to one that is smarter and more digitally integrated. In order to heighten their own level of experience and overall message, smarter brands are now developing online platforms to interact with their chosen consumer, and according to Perry, highlighting the unique exposure opportunity that online presents. It also carries with it a far more cost effective measure, than physically remodelling a store, and therefore places smaller brands on an equal footing with their larger counterparts.
The power of social
Perry used mobile and social media as a means of illustrating the potential benefits of experiential design, as more and more people use their smartphones as an initial point of reference for brand interaction. It therefore creates an interesting opportunity to target their social media accounts; design location based marketing solutions and share branded content. As a consequence, the ability to bring mobile advertising in-store is greatly enhanced.
The caveat of all this, which Perry was quick to point out, is that bombarding consumers with what he termed as “interruption advertising”, is simply not effective. Instead, businesses should evaluate the growing marketing power of social media, and use it in a way that ensures a longing connection with the consumer can be fostered. A company or brand that’s able to do this effectively, can successfully turn consumers into free brand ambassadors.
For both Craig Perry and DMX Africa, the goal in building an immersive and pervasive brand through experiential design, is to create a story that’s worth telling, and more importantly sharing. Stories however are not dependent on scale or size to be effective, but rather need to be unique and impactful, through integrating an engaging cultural aspect or experience to it. Perry ended emphatically by stating that “the whole of an experience is after all greater than the sum of its parts.”