WWE: It’s all in the experience — April 26, 2015

WWE: It’s all in the experience

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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Starbucks Adventure leads to Theory — April 18, 2015

Starbucks Adventure leads to Theory

Picture from Google Images
Picture from Google Images

As I sat in class on one of the hottest days in London, I knew that I wanted a cold coffee Frappuccino. I already envisioned what I wanted – A Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino Blended Beverage- as advertised by Starbucks on their website. My expectations were high. As soon as class broke for the afternoon, I headed to my nearest Starbucks.

I joined the queue, to wait my turn but on arrival at the counter, my dreams were shattered. They didn’t serve that one there. I desperately asked, “Is there anything similar that I could order?”

I was expecting a knock off order from the menu. Boy was I surprised. The lovely barista told me that if I could purchase the chocolate from Starbucks, he could add vanilla and the pieces of chocolate to make something similar to the drink that I previously requested. I was so taken aback. In short, I was extremely delighted as not only did I receive a drink that met my need during the hot weather but unexpected excellent customer service as well.

This experience brought to mind two things:

1. Threshold and customer expectations

According to Jobber (2009), customers have thresholds, that is, standards which should be met, in order for them to conduct business with a company. Having these standards neither dissatisfy nor satisfy them but it is expected that the company must have them, as others in the industry do. In this case, companies advertise their products on their websites and are expected to have these products in stock. Therefore, I expected Starbucks to have the coffee made drinks as advertised. When I found it was not so, I was extremely dissatisfied, which matches with the theory that if thresholds are not present, the customer is dissatisfied. However, if the company adds something unexpected, beyond the threshold, such as the production of a custom-made cold drink as in my case, customers are delighted, which I was !

This also made me think of how meeting and exceeding customer expectations impact how well a company does. If he probably suggested something off of the menu, I would have continued in my disappointment and took my business elsewhere. However, due to his ability to gauge what I wanted, meet my need and fulfil my expectation, I not only bought the drink, but the chocolate to add to it. This brought my bill to £4.55 instead of around £2.40 (another ice drink in comparison). I did not intend to spend this much but the delight or benefit that I was receiving, overcame the cost.

This links to another theory on perceived benefits versus perceived costs. The benefits of a product or service perceived by customers must exceed the perceived costs in order for customers to derive value from the said product or service. For me, the perceived benefit of getting the drink that I wanted, exceeded the cost. Starbucks definitely created value through the level of service they offered. Definitely a big thumbs up!

2. Employee Empowerment/ Organisational Culture

What also came to mind during this experience was the fact that if Starbucks did not have a customer oriented culture, wherein employees are empowered to take their own initiative, I would have been issued a standard response:  “Sorry, we don’t have that drink. Would you like to order something else?”

On its website, Starbucks has prided itself on creating the full experience- from coffee, to breakfast items to music and atmosphere. It invites people to get to know them, as they are so much more than coffee (Starbucks, 2014). This is the reason behind their level of customer service, behind the freedom to customise and tailor the product to customer needs. They have founded the company on creating that atmosphere, and becoming a part of their customers’ everyday life.

This is confirmed in a study done by Foster-Fishman and Keys (1997) which shows that organisational culture and employee empowerment go hand in and hand. The culture must be one which allows for employee decision making, as seen in my Starbucks experience. According to New Charter University (2015), employees in a customer service oriented culture like Starbucks readily take initiative to solve customer problems.

I could go on and on. These are but a few of the theories that I could have applied. As you can see in just an everyday experience, the theories and concepts that we have learnt at different stages of our academic journey, can be easily applied. It adds a new dimension to normal transactions, making use of our vast but seemingly unnecessary theoretical knowledge. So give it a try and let me know how it goes.

If you like this post, please feel free to comment and share. I’ll be back next week to share more of my experiences.

Bye for now,

Astrid Lewis

References:

Jobber, D., 2009. Principles and Practice of Marketing. 6th ed. Berkshire: McGraw-Hill

Foster-Fishman, P. and Keys, C.,1997. The Person/Environment Dynamics of Employee Empowerment: An Organizational Cultural Analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology, [online] Available at: <http://systemexchange.msu.edu/upload/org%20empowerment.pdf&gt; [Accessed 18 April 2015].

New Charter University, 2015. Organizational Culture. [online] Available at: <https://new.edu/resources/organizational-culture–9&gt; [Accessed 18 April 2015].

Starbucks, 2014. Our Company. [online] Available at: <http://www.starbucks.co.uk/about-us/company-information> %5BAccessed 18 April 2015].

Hi there! —

Hi there!

My name is Astrid and I’m currently studying my MBA in London. As a student, you always hear that work experience is required to get a good job. It’s very disheartening. People always say theories have little to no basis in the workplace. And frankly, I’m tired of hearing that. So I started this blog to show that while students consider the theoretical side of business, we can utilise our knowledge to evaluate everyday business experiences and add just as much value as if we had work experience.

So, please feel free share, like and comment as I believe students have as much to add to the business world as practitioners themselves. I will endeavour to post my experiences every week. I do hope that you enjoy my blog and being apart of Experiences with Astrid!

Bye for now,

Astrid Lewis.