Experiential Marketing

We talk about marketing goods and services, but Joe Pine and James Gilmore think that we should be talking about marketing experiences—or designing experiences around our goods and services. The idea has many sources. Great restaurants are known for their experience as much as their food.

Starbucks charges us $2 or more to experience coffee at its finest. A restaurant such as Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Café is specifically set up as an experience. Las Vegas hotels, anxious to distinguish themselves, take on the character of ancient Rome or New York City.

But the master is Walt Disney, who created the opportunity to experience the cowboy West, fairyland castles, pirate ships, and the like. The aim of the experiential marketer is to add drama and entertainment to what otherwise might pass as stale fare.

Thus we enter Niketown to buy basketball shoes and confront a 15-foot photo of Michael Jordan. We then proceed to the basketball court to see whether the shoes help us score better.

Or we enter REI, an outdoor equipment chain store, and test out climbing equipment on the store’s climbing wall, or test out a rainproof coat by going under a simulated rainfall. Or we enter Bass Pro to buy a fishing rod and test it by casting in the store’s pool of fish.

All merchants offer services; your challenge is to escort your customer through a memorable experience.

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