Anupama Wagh-Koppar, Head - Customer Segmentation, TataTele Services
Brands deliver experiences and do so within a context. As the context changes, so does an experience. This paper discusses a thought called experience marinating and the shift of ‘experience’ to ‘Texperience’ a term coined to express how technology impacts the environment and as a result the experience. The impact of this shift on value systems and change required in marketers approach to deliver Brand messages.
Technology is driving ‘people’ to newer, better, bigger experiences in life on an everyday basis. Technology is not just being an enabler it is beginning to define existence. Rapid technological development and convergence of technologies makes it possible to give more in less: less size- multiple functions in a little package, less time – from punching a button to clicking to just touching.
The ease of access, ability to simulate reality on demand and constant mini multiple sensorial experiences make it undeniable. Technology and the digital age are making our life a series of short lived experiences. The appeal is not just the ‘instant’ ness but in the ‘short lived’ ness created by multiplicity that kicks in a quick rush of adrenalin.
This could cause our ‘bank of memories’ to function differently than it has been doing in the past and have an impact on what and how we relate to Brands.
Unlike earlier, we do not marinate the experience in our minds.
‘Experience’ marinating – As a concept, I define experience marinating as depth of feeling that an experience offers.
The pre experience excitement, the high during the experience and the savoring of the feeling post experience is what leads to marinating of the experience. Today the pre, during and post of the experience happens in such quick succession that the depth of an experience is less. On the other hand the width of the experience has multiplied several times over. Technology has enabled an experience to be delivered in small doses across different medium.
While one ‘experience interaction’ high is just about abetting, we can quickly move on to the next. Either like little frogs we are jumping on from one experience to another at rapid speed or like a ten headed deity we are consuming multiple experiences simultaneously. Even before we have juiced out the emotional richness of one experience, we are on to the next and sometimes having an orgy of experiences.
There is more width and less depth. In the pre digital age, depth of experience is what led to a bank of memories. People, events, Brand had deeper connections and led to long term relationships with people and with Brands.
Today our memory banks are sure to get confused about
Psychologists say that we are a sum total of the learned behavior that we are exposed to. It is documented theory that in the long term, behavior alters attitude and attitudes form basis of value system. Will this high technology enabled traffic of experiences alter our behavior over a period? And slowly but surely change the way we perceive our world? Will it reengineer our value systems?
It seems to me that in the new world order ‘experience marinating’ will happen through width and not depth, or to put it succinctly, ‘depth of experience will come with width’ and this is what I term ‘techxperience’, the new world way.
When the order of things changes it is bound to throw up challenges in the way we are as human beings and this has a direct bearing on us as people and as consumers.
Consumers are born out of real people. People’s value systems reflect in what they buy and how they buy. So it will hardly be a surprise when short lived and superficial experiences lead consumers to treat exchanges with a brand as transactions and not as long term relationships. The possible result could be fundamental change in value systems. Some of these are outlined are:
Superficiality and celebration of mediocrity: For one, superficiality will become acceptable in our society. Most people will be happy skimming the surface and delight themselves with the superficial. Most experiences seem to be like travel package holiday where tourists get a feel of the place but not really an in-depth experience. People get carried away with brief interactions and form impressions basis the little time spent on any one experience. ’Newness’ is being created for the sake of newness and is not really something new.
Impatience and low tolerance: The second thing that will become obvious is reducing tolerance levels. As people try and gather the vast number of experiences, their tolerance levels to even the smallest negative experience will go down drastically. So no experience gets a second chance.
Emotionally hollow: There could be a lowering of people’s emotional quotient. For people to feel strongly about anything or anybody, they need to spend time. While we keep flirting and flitting, it could make people emotionally hollow towards things, people and the world around.
When the above happens, the most challenging task in the coming years will be to create iconic Brands and to enjoy loyalty of consumers. And it is bound to happen, especially since the digital generation is a techxperience generation and knows only ‘width’ of experiences. Unlike the 35 something, cusp generation, who knows both depth and width.
Can marketers deliver effectively to the techxperience species? Yes, if Marketers recognize that creating depth through width requires a new way of designing communication.
Marketers need to be conscious that they are aiming to create depth of experience through width and plan fragmentation of experience in a manner that every bit adds to the whole. This will allow us to Brand ‘stories’ that consumers will grow up with and build Brands that offer a bank of memories to consumers and build long term relationships not just a vacation romance.
To reiterate, The old world communication approach worked on the premise that consumers spent time at ‘a point in time’ at one go on an experience, the new world order requires us to understand that consumers will spend few moments of time over multiple points in time.
‘Instant’ ness, ‘New’ ness and ‘Multiplicity’ together the three form the anatomy of what I call a ‘high traffic of Techxperiences’ in life.
What will help marketers to ensure that they are able to create ‘Techxperience Marinating?’
Use a ‘Synapse’* approach to the way a message is rolled out.
Each ‘unit’ of the ‘whole’ message has to pass on an invisible connection to the next unit of the message. This is possible only when the Brand does not speak from the outside but weaves itself into consumer’s life. It will be important to match message unit relevance to consumer’s life space impacting where, when and how it is delivered. This is a whole new area of expertise and marketers will need to build capabilities to be able to do so.
(*A Synapse is a neurotransmitter between nerve cells in the human brain and it connects each nerve end. Synapses pass information directionally from a presynaptic cell to a postsynaptic cell and are therefore asymmetric in structure and function. The bodily functions and reactions are controlled through these synapses.)
Coherence not just consistency.
Build in the fact that the message is going to be received and consumed in fragments at the conceptualizing stage. The message is thus designed to be fragmented and come together over multiple units’ link to each other in the consumers mind.
Making each experience bigger by Simulating experiences and Converging experiences
The good old conventional way was ‘sampling’, which will continue but Brands will have to go beyond sampling into ‘living and experiencing’ the product through technology
Getting recommendation to work for Brands
Since consumers will be time pressed and less tolerant, having recommendations through networking and word of mouth will prime the consumer to expect a certain ‘Techxperience’ and draw him towards it.
Marketers need to be cognizant of the fact that designing, and distributing communication messages will require a new approach. As they reach out to the ‘width’ generation and help them build Brand s through a bank of memories relevant to them in their world.