Having recently been to my son’s school play it was interesting to see how parents were reacting to their child’s performance. Unless you were sat in the front row it was virtually impossible to see the children on the stage due to the number of mobile devices being held up to record this very proud moment. So I missed the majority of the play as I watched through a viewfinder whilst using sharp elbows to secure the best spot in order to capture my son’s performance. Whilst I have a memory of the occasion, it is no better than had I been shown it on TV.
This is the world that we live in, everyone has a camera 24 hours a day to record anything of interest and share with the world. However this is to the detriment of the context of these ‘memories’.
So whilst the digital juggernaut will continue to gather pace there is also a growing global trend of pushing back against this life changing technology. For example, and purely anecdotally, there is a game currently doing the rounds amongst friends when out to dinner together. Everyone places their mobile device in the middle of the table. In order to encourage greater social interaction (rather than social media interaction), no one is allowed to touch their device for the duration of the meal irrespective of potential phone calls, messages or social media alerts. Anyone touching their device at any time during the meal results in them having to pay the bill for the entire table. This is a very unscientific observation, however it shows that whilst we are all embracing the digital age this comes with certain caveats. We acknowledge that whilst we can no longer live without the digital world there is a down side as well. For example, the latest National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles published in The Lancet (Nov 2013) observed that the average amount of sex British adults are having is down partly due to digital. The study’s author, Dr Cath Mercer, observed “They are not in the mood for sex………..people have tablets and smartphones and they are taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, answering email”.
Bringing this back for the context of the marketing professionals, we are fully aware of the increasing percentage of budgets that are being allocated for digital activity. However, due to the uncertainty in the world (concerns around economy, environment etc.) there is a push back to a simpler time, consumers are seeking more nostalgic and experiential marketing platforms to complement their digital lives. As a result, progressive, brands are increasingly creating exclusive concepts in order to enrich the consumer experiences by deepening their knowledge and enjoyment of the product. This is because brand experiences which engage, communicate heritage and add richness increase expertise and generate brand advocacy. The global 2013 Brand Experience Effect study (Momentum Worldwide) supports this view by noting that branded live experiences drive 65% of consumers to recommend and 59% to buy that brand (versus 57% experiencing a brand’s mobile app).
Clearly the digital and experiential worlds are not mutually exclusive and should complement each other. I am not trying to play down the role and impact that digital has for the future of marketing however we must not ignore consumer’s needs for more traditional forms of marketing, particularly providing brand experiences.
So during the next school play, unless I find a solution for soaking up the experience and creating a record of the day I might as well stay at work and watch it later on my wife’s phone.