Brand activations are an on-the-ground marketing tactic, the art of driving consumer action through interaction and tangible experiences.
In a cluttered world of marketing mayhem, it is getting more difficult for brands to get exposure to their target market. The problem has been exacerbated by digitalisation and the knock-on effect of consumers’ decreased concentration spans.
This is not to say brand activations should be devoid of technology; in fact, tech integration into the activation space helps create that talking point and speaks to the 21st century consumer. Young or old, people are embracing it.
Activations have become an integral cog in the marketing wheel for many brands. They allow brands to pull their consumers away from the virtual world and into reality.
An on-the-ground tactic
Brand activations are an on-the-ground marketing tactic. It is the art of driving consumer action through interaction and tangible experiences. In simple terms, it is a face-to-face marketing technique that has the objective of getting consumers to act.
It is about bringing brands to life via experiences and forming long-term emotional connections with your target audience.
Brand activations allow consumers and brands to interact and it is a platform where the buying and purchasing behaviour can be immediately actioned. Activations are measurable and can give insight into real results from real people.
If an activation creates the necessary talkability, it automatically extends onto digital platforms. This increases campaign reach and brand awareness.
When clients approach us with a client brief, the first question we ask is, what do we need to achieve? Here are some of the business challenges that brand activations can help to solve:
- Achieve sampling targets, market research, and insights.
- Immediate real and tangible results.
- Increase campaign reach and brand awareness.
- Launch a new product to market.
- Engage with your consumers face-to-face.
- Strengthen the relationship between your brand and consumers.
How to measure success
Pursuing any marketing activity without measurable KPIs will result in wastage. Before commencing with any project, we ensure that we have set goals that we agree upon.
We use three touchpoints when measuring success:
Engagement: How many people engaged with the activation as a whole, not necessarily the product? This is a soft measurable.
Sample/Survey: We measure the consumers that interact with the product sample and/or the survey used to capture details about the potential customer.
Sales: How many products were sold or how did the activation affect the sales in the location the activation took place?
Understandably, our client’s ultimate objective with any activation is ROI. We measure this based on the increase of all the above-mentioned metrics. Plus, the cost of the overall activation.
For example, a brand activation costs our client R10 000 and 1 000 consumers engage with it, 500 consumers sample, and there are 250 purchases. The cost per sale is, theoretically, R40 per unit, divided by the 1 500 other people. Therefore the cost per unit sold is only R0.027.
Creativity and brand activations
Creativity is boundless because it’s not confined by a set screen size or operating system. We were recently approached by Nespresso South Africa to create a sampling activation that was not mall-based and would be a talking point for their consumers.
We converted two 1970s VW vans into mobile sampling stations. We knew this would create a stir and become a talking point wherever we parked them, creating the hype our client was looking for.
This activation campaign achieved over 9 000 consumer engagements and 6 600 consumers sampled the new range of Nespresso iced coffees.
I watch SXSW very closely as it has become a stage for brands to flex their creative muscles and deliver some of the finest activations. This year was no different. Our winning pick was the HP Digital Artistry House experience (see feature photo). The one-day pop-up engaged over 5 000 creative professionals, the exact target market the brand wanted to attract.
HP products powered all the activities within the house. The outside patio area had tables, chairs and snacks for attendees to relax and network. A Keep Reinventing neon sign hung above the entrance, a message I feel rings true to the target audience.
Creative professionals were invited into the house to interact with the HP products on display. To create hype and drive engagement, the brand included a Digital Art Competition using the latest range of HP products – giving these professionals an opportunity to experience them first hand.
Projections of the competing artists’ creations were placed on a seven-foot by nine-foot canvas. Winners walked away with HP products.
As a final touch, the brand had digital artists and Adobe trainers to offer advice, tutorials and to manage the activation space. For me, this is a critical element – the inclusion of expert and relevant brand ambassadors as part of your brand activation.
Mitch Bowker is chief operations of Jawbone Brand Experiences. The company manages experiences from the design and manufacturing of exhibition stands to managing and coordinating brand campaign or events, taking control of the entire experience and execution.