Behind the brand: Renault's changing outlook on experiential

Mark Waller, senior communications manager at Renault UK, discusses the automotive brand's changing experiential outlook and the challenges that go alongside.

Renault is appearing at Goodwood Festival of Speed from 29 June - 2 July
Renault is appearing at Goodwood Festival of Speed from 29 June - 2 July

Renault is appearing at Goodwood Festival of Speed from today (29 June) until 2 July, and will be bringing to life the past, present and future of the brand during the automotive event. Since the brand is celebrating 40 years of working with Formula One at Goodwood this year, Mark Waller discusses the changing shape of the brand's marketing strategy, and the challenges faced as Renault moves into a more experiential landscape.

Essential experiential

Waller believes that experiential is necessary for the brand's integrated marketing strategy. Events become part of online, above-the-line and below-the-line marketing, as they are developed to work alongside wider campaigns that the brand is delivering, and also produce further content for online engagement.

Waller says: "Everything a brand does has to be integrated. Over the past five years, the explosion of social media has been vast, so we know that we can engage with a greater number of customers, as well as prospective customers, via social channels."

Renault used to measure the success of its appearance at events such as Goodwood using leads. But now, it's all about the social media engagement post-event. The experience delivered at Goodwood Festival of Speed will take on a second life online, giving more opportunity for consumers to interact with the brand, even if they weren't at the event itself.

Discussing the Renault experience at Goodwood, Waller said: "We’re a brand that’s 120 years old, and at Goodwood Festival this year we have something from the past, something from the present and something from the future. The festival allows customers to get up close and personal to our products, whether it’s a heritage or classic car rushing around the track; or a current model that’s part of the moving motor show that they’re able to test drive; or the concept cars, which represent our vision of the future, that will be displayed on our stand. It just allows customers to engage with the brand in a way that they wouldn’t be able to do if they were simply at a dealership."

Taking the brand out of a traditional sales environment, and placing it within an experiential setting is key to allowing customers to explore the products and get to know the brand. Guests at Goodwood Festival this year will be able to get a sense of the brand's heritage and history, it's current products and models, and it's vision for the future.

Easy on the detail

Experience is no longer a secondary priority, Waller says. Staff working on Renault's stand used to be clued up on every single aspect of the products, from performance to pricing, and the detail was considered more important than the customer experience.

"We’ve turned that completely on its head. Of course the staff need to know about the cars and pricing, but they don’t need to know every single detail. The customer is likely to have researched the product beforehand, and will know most of the details anyway. We’re more concerned with the way the customer is treated as they spend time at the stand, that’s the most important aspect."

Renault will also be appearing at The Big Feastival from 25-27 August, and London Design Festival from 16-24 September. Both events will give customers a chance to see the brand operate away from a traditional motorsport environment, and Waller says that it's important for guests to Renault's stand at both events to explore the brand at their own pace. 

"It’s important for us to allow people to see the Renault product outside the standard motor show, and outside of a Renault dealership. It really helps to place the product in people’s minds, and allows them to experience it at their own leisure if they’re around for the whole of the duration of the festivals. They can create their own timescale to immerse themselves in the brand in a manner that suits them."

An eye for design

London Design Festival, taking place later this year, provides an opportunity for the brand to showcase its innovative design, and for festival attendees to engage with the brand's techniques and ideas for the future. Renault has formed a partnership with Central Saint Martins, which will be brought to life at the Design Festival and will encourage the art school's students to design cars and modes of transport for the future. Not only will the event be a step forward for the brand's experiential outlook, but it's a key moment to showcase how Renault intends to keep its audience engaged.

Waller explains: "In terms of experiential, we’ll have already engaged with the students before the event, they’ll be an active part of the event when it takes place at the festival, and we’ll make sure to keep in touch with them afterwards."

Taking on the challenge

As Renault moves further into the experiential space, a number of challenges have arisen. 

"The challenges vary depending on whether the experiential event is taking place within the automotive industry, or outside it. Non-motor events such as The Big Feastival or London Design Festival, you’re not having to compete against other motor manufacturers; instead the challenge at those events is making the brand’s presence as engaging as possible for that audience," says Waller. 

The experience the brand is creating at London Design Festival will revolve around the Trezor model –Renault's latest concept car. The elements of futuristic innovation and creativity should appeal to the design students and design-orientated audience that will most likely attend the festival. For The Big Feastival, Renault's experience will revolve around its Crossover range, which Waller believes will be relevant for the guests over the weekend.

However, events such as Goodwood Festival of Speed present a different kind of challenge – a challenge which is mainly focused on the idea of standing out in an environment saturated with other automtive brands.

"Goodwood Festival is a totally different challenge because it’s a motor industry event and it’s likely that other automotive companies are attempting similar things to engage the audience. The challenge is to really stand out and to make the presence more desirable and engaging for those attending the event."

More: Behind the brand - Wahaca on experiential

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