Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE as it is more popularly known, has hundreds of thousands of fans all over the world. In their last event, Wrestlemania in March 2015, had over 67, 000 people in attendance and even more watching through streaming and live broadcasting. I remember asking my friend, “You know it’s fake. I know it’s fake. I’m sure everyone knows it’s fake, so why are we here watching at 2:00am, when we should be resting for school tomorrow?”

He said “Yea, of course, but the drama they create, is worth watching for. With WWE, you think you know what will happen, but they always surprise you in the end so you keep watching”.

It reminded me of a concept that I learnt earlier this semester – Experience Marketing.

This is a marketing strategy where companies invoke feelings in the customers through the use of their product (Schmitt, 2011). Succintly put by Maya Angelou (Craig, 2014), “I’ve learnt that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Companies such as Coca Cola have used this to market their brand through creating an experience for customers.

Coca-Cola marketing initiative: Coke Hug Machine. One hug per coke.
Coca-Cola marketing initiative: Coke Hug Machine. One hug per coke. Source: Google Images

This too is true of WWE. However, it appears to be done on a much larger scale. WWE has built its entire organisation on creating an unforgettable experience for their fans. Everything they do is created with such drama, utilising fan favourites to drive all aspects – episodes, marketing, corporate social responsibility, you name it – wrapping it all up in suspense with unexpected fights, injuries and appearances. The company seems to have combined experience marketing with another concept – holistic marketing. That is, whereby the whole company partakes in marketing the brand, forgoing the traditional approach of marketing through a lone marketing department (Kotler et al., 2002). This is truly the essence of WWE.

It is amazing, whilst not creating a directly personal interaction, WWE has managed to appeal to thousands of people on a distinctively emotional level, creating an “experience” each time you watch an episode or see one of their ads. You could argue that WWE provides a service i.e. entertainment, which is intangible and subjective, based on the experience created by the company. Nothing special; that is the premise of a service based product offering. If so, then WWE is simply providing a service. However, I am reluctant to simply write it off as just another service. For the simple reason, that this is the same with two other very popular companies: Samsung and Apple.

The rivalry between the two companies is immense, with constant legal battles over patents or cheeky advertisements. This battle has transferred to their customers. If you simply ask someone which phone they prefer, Samsung or IPhone, will spark remarks of abuse and defamation of one or the other. That is exactly what these companies aimed for – creating such an attachment – whilst building brand recognition and customer retention. Simply put by Alex Brownsell (2013), “Powerful experiences keep you coming back.”

Yes, it does sound quite deceptive, using our emotions against us for their own personal gain. But that is in essence why we choose certain products or services. We want it.  Plus, you do have to admit, it’s ingenious isn’t it? They’ve utilised the very theories and concepts learnt in business school to their advantage, making them the industry giants in business today.

Again, this is just one of the many examples of theory in practice. So look closely and you’ll see all of the tricks that companies have up their sleeve. Feel free to comment on the post below. Let me know what you think – Is experience marketing a con, or a really good marketing strategy? What new experiences have you had this week?

References:

Kotler, P., Jain, D. and Maesincee, S. 2002. Marketing Moves: An Approach to Profits, Growth and Renewal. USA: Harvard Business School Press.

Schmitt, B. 2011. Experience Marketing: Concepts, Frameworks and Consumer Insights. USA: Now Publishers Inc.

Craig, M. 2014. Maya Angelou: 365 Quotes and Sayings of Phenomenal Woman.

Brownsell, A. 2013. Six things brands should know about experience marketing. [online] Available at: <http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1216926/six-things-brands-know-experience-marketing&gt;

Additional Sources:

Experience Marketing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcOXGuMD_cs

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