Product Engagement as Building Block for Brand Engagement

By | March 24, 2010

I was reviewing some quotations I excerpted from my readings on experiential marketing, and I began to see a pattern regarding my thinking about ‘product engagement’, or engaging prospects and customers with a brand’s products.

I see a lot of talk about engaging customers with the brand, but very little about getting prospects hooked on the products.  This seemed strange to me until I realized that the thrust of brand engagement seems to be having prospects feel good about whatever it is that the brand produces.  My impression is that it is about having the company/brand develop a relationship with the consumer or prospect.

If I’m right about this mostly, that’s all well and good–if I am the prospect/consumer, before I buy a product, I evaluate the company and its support to some degree.  If the product sounds fantastic but my impression of the company (in terms of support, or quality of presentation, etc.) is not good, I will be distrustful and perhaps lean towards a vendor who gives me a better feeling about what happens after I make the purchase.

However, ultimately, I am looking at vendors not to make friends, but to solve my problems using their products and services.  Before I’m ready to engage with the vendor, I want to be sure the product meets my needs.  That’s why I think it is so important for marketers to be thinking first about getting customers engaged with their products, as a relationship entry point or building block, and then showing how well the company supports them.

I’m intrigued by postings about experiential marketing because it should be all over getting prospects engaged with products by letting the prospect interact, rather than watching others (videos, pictures, etc.).  I’ve collected a bunch of quotations to that effect.

Experiential marketing often involves events, contests, interactive campaigns to promote, however holistic experiential marketing considers the experience delivered to the customer through the purchase or use of the product or service.

About Experiential Marketing“, Scollin Sevan,  Dec 2009

There it is–“the experience delivered…through the use of the product or service.”

Examples of Simulations in Experiential Marketing

Here’s an interesting description of what Audi did:

Audi – virtual car experience
“An enjoyable experience will leave a product lingering in the minds of consumers. If players have enough fun in a virtual simulation of the Audi R8, they’re more likely to associate the car with those good memories when it comes time to put real money down on the lot”

I agree that having a prospect come away with an enjoyable experience is paramount.  The actual example, however, lets a player drive a simulation in a fantasy game.  I think that would be great if the regular marketing thrust–the one aimed directly at people who want to buy a car in the first place–already allowed prospects to try out the real functions of the car.  Appealing to gamers is great, but it seems a bit indirect to me.  I also ran into this posting about simulating the experience in a 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander, through a “retro-futurist landscape.”  I would love to discuss whether this futurist landscape really enhances the experience or distracts people who otherwise just want to know how the car reacts in real-world situations.

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