By Zulfiqar Ali Sajwani
Gone are the days when consumers used to observe a billboard or enjoy a TVC and bang, the buying decision was made. It is only when the brand succeeds on several critical parameters that the consumer agrees to marry the brand.
With this tough challenge on board, brands realize the fact that the informed consumer of today wishes to use all of its physical senses to test the brand on its value proposition. Keeping this idea in mind, marketers have now started practicing a method of communication that fulfills the customer’s craving to interact with the brand. The rule of thumb for most, if not all of the contemporary brands, is certainly ‘on-ground Activation’ or ‘brand activation’.
The popular marketing technique has been practiced in the west since ages. However, we have observed this trend to emerge in the Pakistani market recently.
Brands have now found a fertile field where they can plant their brand activities due to the growth of supermarkets and shopping malls in our market.
Some of the earliest brand activations that arrived in Pakistan definitely took our breath away in the first glimpse. Engro’s Owsum in its early days of existence went out to kids asking them to paint murals which would be turned into an attractive canvas.
Even Dalda did a pretty good job in attracting consumers to buy their’ Manpasand azadi’ oil after trying the fried delicacies in the jail like structure placed in the mall.
We recently saw English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM) using the Ground Activation to promote the mango flavor of their premier biscuit brand RIO. The enormous RIO Biscuit packs, which shone at night, definitely caught our attention.
Another use of this marketing technique was observed at Telenor Sales and Service Centers, where they used colorful balloons and eye-catching stalls to persuade the consumers to interact with the brand.
Even the tea brands have not left any coined unturned in using this marketing method to their benefit. The Tapal tea stalls at Cinepax, one of the ‘recently gone big’ cinemas,did convince the consumers to sip the tea before and after enjoying their movie.
If we closely observe the technique, there are various dimensions to it which the brands can cash on and have to worry about the same time. Like all marketing mechanisms, even Ground activation comes with some pros and cons.
PROS AND CONS
The experience which these activities provide to the consumer translates into an immense brand recall but brands have to ensure that their representatives do not cross the line between persuading and ‘nagging’.
Some consumers believe they are intelligent and risk-taking enough to test the brand themselves, therefore they do not need someone to ‘guide’ them about what they buy.
Another sensitive issue is about the appearance of the representatives. They are a brand in themselves, therefore they cannot afford to make any mistakes. A former employee of Procter & Gamble shared his experience about the criticality of details in Ground Activation.
“The representative of Olay ( a beauty brand of P&G) has to be perfect. She has to have her hair well tied,her hands cleaned and her nails well trimmed, so that she does not hurt any consumer when she is applying the lotion”.
Another very important factor that can go against the brand is over visibility. For some consumers, “if a brand is everywhere, it’s for anyone, and they are not anyone”. Then again, that is a certain type of target audience for whom brands devise more exclusive brand activations.
The brand has to ensure that it comes out with the right timing at the right place for its ground activation to succeed.
The Pakistani consumer is climbing the ladder of brand knowledge every second. With brands going in and out of minds and the brand activation agencies ready to serve you, it is nearly becoming obligatory for brands to adopt to Ground activation. After all, it’s the customer who always comes first.